Poetry 2018 New Mexico Book Award

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Poet Bio

I studied writing at Bennington College (BA) and the University of Washington, Seattle (MFA), where I received the Klepser Fellowship in Poetry. Bloodline, my first collection, was awarded the 2018 New Mexico Book Award, and other recent awards include “Fission: 1938” 1st prize, Pacifica Literary Review. My poems appear in FIELD, West Branch, Pleiades, Gulf Coast, Iris, Chelsea, The Bellingham Review, Poetry Northwest, The Taos Journal of International Art and Poetry, and other journals, and my collections have been finalists for the FIELD Poetry Prize, the Alice James Beatrice Hawley Award, the Akron Poetry Prize, and the Persea Books Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Prize. I have taught creative writing in Seattle, Washington; Boulder and Denver, Colorado; and Rome, Italy. I currently offer poetry classes through the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Colorado.

About Bloodline

Winner of the 2018 New Mexico Book AwardBloodline (3: A Taos Press) delves into the difficult family history of the work of my grandfather on the Manhattan Project, building the first atomic bombs in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War II—and how that both brave and heavy legacy has affected the women in my family. The poems trace lives and landscapes irrevocably altered by Los Alamos and its history and the ambiguity of being a part of that story. They also traverse wide, wild spaces where remnants of past cultures and threads of current events intersect. In that sense, Bloodline is as much about the American West, a collection of poems shaped by geology and ecology, as it is about personal and cultural histories.

Through observing the magnificent natural features and scarcity of water in the West, I sought to dig deeper into metaphorical landscapes. Canyons, creeks, and rivers are the lifeblood of our civilization, one that has grown to create apocalyptic technology. In these bloodlines, there is a deep connection to our ancestors, as well as the unpredictable paths of our own lives and how we shape future generations.


New Mexico Magazine “Bloodline succeeds admirably in beginning to answer the question posed in ‘Project Y’: ‘What can I say to my children / when they find hollow, underground test chambers / in the dry, open spaces of their personal history?’”–Peter BG Shoemaker

Terrain.org “The legacy of Los Alamos is a rich and challenging subject; by setting it opposite a meditation on desert landscapes, on people in those spaces, Marcum has opened a new window into intractable questions about who we are and what we have done.” –Amy Knight

Poet Lore “Fusion, fission, breakability, unbreakability, incorruptibility are all themes that the poet works into her lines. This beautiful poetry bears witness without being didactic or overtly political—and its message is clear.” –Anne Harding Woodworth

More Praise

“Some stories have long half-lives. Radha Marcum’s beautiful first collection of poems, Bloodline, describes the personal impact of her grandfather’s participation in the Manhattan Project. Bloodline is both elegy and reconciliation. Like the ghosts diving for bells throughout this work, there is a deeply haunting quality to Marcum’s poetry—(you’ll remember this)/like dust from a blanket. Or—All afternoon the heart/drops notches/blue and then bluer.  And always, the Rocky Mountain West is solace and frame and crucial. Her landscape is closely and truly observed, resonant with meaningLine by line, Marcum cuts her own way toward understanding the deep story she is in, a story we all share.”

—William S. Barnes, The Ledgerbook

“Bloodline is a mesmerizing, intelligent book, full of beauty, science, and ancestry. I love how it subtly weaves the threads of physics, nature, atomic destruction, and family into poems of great music and power. The figure of the grandfather—a physicist working on the Manhattan Project in a desert of blinding light and heat—is perfectly contrasted by the grandmother’s world, a weightier mass of dark rooms and arid gardens. It’s this contrast that brings the granddaughter’s voice—and poetry—into the world. A poetry where one finds a comforting solitude out in nature. These are poems that I won’t forget for some time.”

 —Michael Henry, Executive Director, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, No Stranger Than My Own and Active Gods

Available from 3: A Taos Press or Amazon.