Yesterday I bought a copy of Talisman: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics—the Fall 2007 issue, is it the latest one? Who knows with poetry mags and who cares, really, when good journals like Talisman bring timeless pleasure? Anyway, I snapped it up because among its many inviting pieces was an interview with Maureen Owen conducted by Barbara Henning.
Now, I have an ancient vested interest in following Owen's work and statements; she published two poems of mine in her Telephone Magazine in the 1970s—indeed, the only two poems of mine that have ever seen print. (Not that I have submitted a helluva many anywhere since those college days. Ah, youth!) So, you know, even though I don't know her, I have fond feelings toward Owen and admire her taste.
And her poetry. The occasion for this interview was the publication of Erosion's Pull (2006, Coffee House Press). At one point Owen discusses this poem:
Whenever I Snow
I think of Black
when he was
pulling a cab
under a lamppost
his dark harness gathering flakes
a jet horse becoming white powder
a dark horse disappearing
In the Talisman interview, Owen refers to this poem as "mysterious": "this simple image of an illustration I remember from my childhood book on Black Beauty that stuck in my head forever… I'm kind of overwhelmed by that image. Here is this beautiful animal and he's pulling a cab and it's night and the streetlights are coming on and it is snowing [and] the snow is covering him and he is gone in a way. It's not exactly sad, but it's more like he has flown away. He's disappeared from that path, that job of pulling the cab. It's almost like magic. There are certain things you can do in poetry that are truly magic, and I don't mean in terms of an illusion. You cannot devise this method of magic. It just has to happen. To me in this poem I have succeeded in doing this."
It seems that way to me, too. Hello, Maureen Owen, magician.