When I solicited work for Coconut from Anselm Berrigan, I confess I anticipated the sort of packed, fast-paced, linguistically rich lines I’ve come to associate with this terrific poet. Instead I received something even better—a stunning quartet of beautiful shorter pieces, three of them elegies. “To K,” which addresses the tragic death of Anselm’s half-sister Kate, moved me—and continues to move me — to tears. Now however, after my father’s unexpected death earlier this summer, I understand the blankness he speaks of in an entirely new light. I hope you’ll read not only the poem below, but all four of Anselm’s pieces in Coconut Two.
Anselm Berrigan is the son of poets Alice Notley and the
late Ted Berrigan, stepson of the late poet Douglas Oliver, brother to poet
Edmund Berrigan, husband to poet Karen Weiser, and now father to (future poet?)
Sylvie Weiser Berrigan. He is the author
of three full-length collections of poetry, including Some Notes on My Programming (2006), in which “To K” subsequently reappeared. He teaches at Bard College and Wesleyan University and is co-editor of The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan.
-- Bruce Covey
I'd be walking down the street interviewing myself—questions felt, unspoken answers articulated with measure lifted from interviews I'd read—& I'd read the tonalities into my voices in my head. This was, and is, how I communicate with myself much of the time. Uninterrupted consciousness began at four, when I started reading. I was prepared for Ted's death, without a word to its possibility having ever been plainly spoken in my direction. I don't care to explain that, other than to say it wasn't special, and that I was probably so prepared because he himself was, and I received that through his general calm, being what I mainly felt in his presence other than the times he'd get mad if the fifth sandwich or the right kind of pastry wasn't coming. When Kate was killed I went blank for about a year-and-a-half, a state I couldn't recognize until three or four years after having moved out of it.
-- Anselm Berrigan