Honorée Fanonne Jeffers and I have long suspected that we are twins separated at birth. I take the suspicion as now conclusively confirmed by her identifying as the lines that haunt her the last couplet of Robert Hayden’s exquisite poem “Those Winter Sundays.” Those two lines have haunted me for years, and their presence only grows stronger. Is there a more perfectly realized short lyric poem in the English language?
Hayden’s poem can be found here.
Jeffers also gives an interesting rationale for her nomination of Lucille Clifton for President: “I think Lucille Clifton should run for President because Miss Lucille has this way of making people of all backgrounds love her even when she’s telling them difficult truths. That’s exactly what we need right now.” I’d probably have to agree with James Longenbach that having the attributes of a poet implies nothing about having the attributes of a politician, but I’d also agree with Jeffers’ implicit premise, that there may be various attributes (the attributes of wisdom, for example?) that would be virtues in regard to either office.
The Poetry Foundation’s website has information about Lucille Clifton here, along with an archive of poems.
Speaking of the Poetry Foundation, one of its company, Don Share, Senior Editor at Poetry magazine, sent a second to Jill Alexander Essbaum’s mention of George Starbuck. I don’t see a lot of talk about Starbuck any more, but then there are a lot of fine poets whose work, for whatever reason, doesn’t generate as broad a readership or as rich a critical discussion as might be merited: William Meredith and Herbert Morris come to mind for me, the list of women, African-Americans, and members of other often underacknowledged groups would be long, and I periodically see recuperation efforts such as Forrest Gander’s re-calling, in his essay collection A Faithful Existence, of Besmilr Brigham and George Scarbrough.
Here’s another dip into the Poetry Foundation’s website, this time for a few Starbuck shortened sonnets.
Starbuck’s strength is his wit, and apparently Danielle Pafunda’s daughter has more than her fair share of wit, also. Danielle herself, responding to the ‘got any clean jokes about poetry’ question, denies knowing any clean jokes, but got help from her daughter Hazel:
“I don’t know any clean jokes, but this is supplied by my three-year-old:
Apple the dog who crossed the road.
That’s a joke about poetry?
I myself might move that little dialogue to a different location on the twenty questions list. Maybe it’s a joke, but maybe it’s a poem that I love, love, love but don’t understand.
Danielle recommends the blog Delirious Hem, but I happen to know also that she has her own blog, here.
Danielle also nominates Claudia Rankine for Poet Laureate. Hear, hear. Recommending books is probably not in my job description as guest blogger, but the Rankine book that Danielle mentions, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, is amazing.