Carol Muske has taught in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshops, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of Virginia. Her first book of poems, Camouflage, was published in 1975 by the University of Pittsburgh Press, followed by Skylight (1981) and Wyndmere (1985). Among her awards are the 1979 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award of the Poetry Society of America, and a 1981 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship.
Applause is a collection of poems about joy and dread–mirroring the extremes of the contemporary American experience. Joy is defined in motherhood, self-conscious love, friendship–while dread is described through an accelerating sense of doom, and the failure of nearly all prescriptive political solutions to the world’s problems. The overall mood is one of bravado in the face of ruin–the metaphor of applause, standing there clapping, well-intentioned in a crumbling world.
Wyndmere is a town in North Dakota where Carol Muske’s mother was born, and where she visited as a child. Muske’s grandparents are buried there, and it is where her mother met and married her father. Now almost a ghost town, Wyndmere is the source of imagery in many of these poems, as well as the idea of Wynd-mere, wind-mother, both inspiration and principle of separation.