Week 3: Valley Fever by Julia Bloch



I bought this book when I was living in Central Pennsylvania and in my second or third year of ModPo. Julia Bloch is one of the wonderful people who is part of ModPo- the modern poetry MOOC some of us bloggers are a part of. I had paged through it a few times, but this weekend I sat down to read this cover-to-cover for the first time.

I moved to the Central Valley from 2007-2012, and now I live in Woodland Calif., which is part of the Central Valley so I am quickly getting reacquainted to triple degree summer heat and a dryness that makes you want to sip olive oil until the rains come, if they come… oh yes, and the fires; careful with the olive oil. (We are all safe and doing ok– the fires are slowly dying down for now.) Anyhow– Valley Fever captures the sentiment of the Central Valley well. If you have been in this part of the world, I think you can appreciate some of Bloch’s words– Here are few favorites:

The first two lines of “Bakersfield”

Oil pump

in a field of lettuce.

The last stanze of “Valley Fever”

Dust is like anger, it

can’t be rid

of and has

too many


From “The Tight Pants of the Arts”

Meanwhile let’s overcook

the food, let’s clutter up our salads

I feel good about having read this after unpacking my library in my office, looking for a female writer to read, and rediscovering this far too apropos book of poetry. And she is so right on about the fucking DUST!

How is your reading going?

3 comments on “Week 3: Valley Fever by Julia Bloch”

  1. Ah…Julia. I love seeing her on Teacher Resource Center videos in ModPo. She’s also in that wonderful ModPo video made in Bolinas
    So glad you finally read this cover-to-cover!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My undergraduate poetry professor, Frank Bidart, is from Bakersfield and often talked about what that area was like for him (difficult for a young gay artist). I had only been to the LA area and to the Bay Area when I studied with him, so was surprised to hear about this other area in California that was so different from both the Bay Area and LA.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julia is such an amazing poet and teacher! I remember she once ran a discussion group on Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day from a camping trip she was on at Joshua Tree! I think the poem I like best from Valley Fever is “The Sacramento of Desire” and these lines:

    “Sacramento at night is filed with squares of

    exhausted air that collects the day’s stunted effects.
    You with your shoes plucked from overaerated

    parking lots of desire; I with my unencumbered hair; vague
    figures making a high sound trying to believe their

    luck. Bluish variations in cloud movements
    seem to function as signs of an end.”

    It’s good to hear that the fires have died down for now. I would send you rain if I could, though even out here in the green east it’s been unusually hot and dry.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s