* Kim Addonizio * John Hennessy * Anna Maria Hong *
* Major Jackson * Lawrence Joseph * Noelle Kocot *
* Dorothea Lasky * Dorianne Laux * Amy Lawless *
* Amy Lemmon *Anthony Madrid * Sally Wen Mao *
* Vijay Seshadri * Mitch Sisskind * Stephanie Strickland *
* Wendy Xu *
I’m certainly not going to complain about where I spend my Augusts these days. But I must confess to a little pang of nostalgia when one dear poet girlfriend who lives in New York wrote to tell me about hanging out in the East Village with another dear poet girlfriend who will be staying in New York for the next few months.
How I loved New York in August, especially my old, East Village stomping grounds. You know the story: the city empties out. It’s hot as hell, but the streets are relatively quiet, and you can walk in the shade. You can get a table without waiting 45 minutes. [I’ll never forget: one time my mother came to visit, and our first-choice place for dinner had a 45-minute wait. One of the group went to a nearby restaurant to check out that situation: there, it was an hour and a quarter wait. We stayed put. Mom said, “Now I really understand why you’re so tired when you come home. The hunting-and-gathering here is completely exhausting!”]
But in August, much less so. Or so it was when I lived there. Which (gulp!) I just realized, was fifteen years ago. How did that happen?
And in other news, which I’m sure you’ve heard by now, poetry has died again. Many wise, eloquent, and even snarky protestations have been made. I’m going to add my voice to the crowd averring that poetry is most emphatically still among the living. And I’m going to do it in good Creative Writing Workshop fashion: by showing, not telling.
So if you’re in (or near) New York this August, and especially if you haven’t been yet, hie thee immediately to Poets House for this year’s Poets House Showcase. By popular demand (so there must be a few more people out there who don’t believe that poetry is dead), the Showcase has been extended until August 17. If you can’t find something to your liking among the nearly 2900 books of poetry on display, well, what can I say?
I had the pleasure of seeing the Showcase, right before it opened, when I was in New York in June. I was leaving the next day to get back to Italy, so it was a rushed visit, but Executive Director Lee Briccetti graciously took me through the exhibition space – and of course, I wanted to stay all day. All week, for that matter. And yes, I admit, it’s a particular thrill when you have a book in that year’s Showcase. (Or two, if translations count!)
Here is a listing of the books that are included this year.
Just for fun, I scrolled through this list the other day and saw that Damiano and I have managed to get hold of just about two dozen of these titles. (That’s not too bad, considering that we have to add to the carbon footprint, in one way or another, any time we need to get a book!) I haven’t read every single poem in every one of the books that we have – not quite 1% of the books represented in the Showcase. But, even within such a small sample, I have to say that I have found poems that have made me cry, made me laugh out loud, made me re-examine certain ideas and, yes, even poems that have given me another perspective on Rome, the city in which I live.
And so, to conclude, though it is wonderful and interesting to live a stone’s throw from a bunch of ancient monuments, whenever I visit Poets House, I get those New York State o’ Mind pangs. If you’re lucky enough to be close enough, get down there and see for yourself. It is an embarras de richesses, and you won’t be sorry. Viva la poesia!
(Poets House photo from Poets House website)
For others, bravery in poetry is about the courage to say what needs to be said.
Yet we undeniably live in a time and place where “bravery in poetry” means something very different than it has in the past. This bravery has sometimes meant putting aspects of one’s life on the line.
Still, bravery is and always has been an infinitely broad rage of experience. In some cases it manifests most profoundly in what is not said.
All this and more was broached at The Poetry Society of America and PEN World Voices Festival’s “Bravery in Poetry” presentation last week at The New School. Several contemporary poets discussed the work of poets they feel have demonstrated bravery and risk-taking in their work and lives.
Mary Karr talked about the “brute facts in unvarnished terms” in the work of Zbigniew Herbert.
“Risking something is more than unconventional line breaks,” said Karr, as though reminding us of a different time and place, one in which what was risked was significant, one today’s young poets may struggle to channel.
Yet, to Herbert, who shrugged off such accusations, it was never about bravery—it was simply a matter of taste.
Concluding “The Power of Taste” he writes:
It did not require great character at all
we had a shred of necessary courage
but fundamentally it was a matter of taste
that commands us to get out to make a wry face draw out a sneer
even if for this the precious capital of the body the head
Herbert raises the important question of whose place it is to qualify one’s bravery.
Yusef Komunyakaa talked about “the severe bravery” and “lack of hesitation” in the work of Muriel Rukeyser.
As someone who “breath[ed] in experience” and “breath[ed] out poetry,” Rukeyser’s life and work were about “learning the so-called Other,” said Komunyakaa.
Edward Hirsch’s depiction of Joseph Brodsky as “a party of one,” (in “I Sit By The Window”: “My song was out of tune, my voice was cracked, / but at least no chorus can ever sing it back”) and one who saw poetry as a form of existence for which he must make the largest possible case came closest to my own realm of experience, and the tensions between declaring oneself a poet and standing by the lifestyle (though I would never dare compare my “bravery” to Brodsky’s).
In perhaps the most moving presentation of the evening, Henri Cole took on James Merrill, who eventually succumbed to AIDS-related illness, though he, arguably, never directly addressed the experience of his illness in his work, nor did he tell anyone but his close friends he was sick.
“I hate the word ‘elegant’ to describe him,” said Cole, who sees the word as a slur by critics for Merrill’s homosexuality.
Merill, said Cole, did not want to be treated as a sick person despite the moral pressures of the time to speak out.
“His silence was heroic,” said Cole. “He denied himself the comfort.”
Maybe we don’t have to be as socially and politically courageous in our work as the writers who came before us, though we struggle still, and forever will, to be personally courageous. The bravery our predecessors took on is a luxury for us but, potentially, a detriment as well. Will we ever learn to be as bold as they were—as they remain in their immortalized words—if not presented with the challenges they helped remove?
(Ed note: this is a second review of the May 1 "Bravery in Poetry" event. Read Sharon Preiss's take here.)
A couple of years ago, after reading some Eliot and watching some Jacques Tati, I thought it would be a smashing idea to write a parodic blend of the two and it started thus:
The Hulot Men
Mistah Hulot—lui mort.
We are the Hulot men
We are the French men
Smoking togetherPipe bowls filled with straw.
but it didn't get much further, thankfully. But another entanglement of poetry and Tati has come together in this image of Monsieur Hulot's brother-in-law's swanky new car in Mon Oncle:
for the cover of Heather Phillipson's new book is inspired by this vehicle. Regardez-vous:
and this cover has already had an article devoted to it in Art Review (one of the perks of being a practising artist as well as a poet).
The reason I mention all this is that last night was the London launch of Instant-flex 718 (Bloodaxe) at the Art Review Bar just off Old Street ('Silicone Roundabout' as almost nobody calls it) and the great and the good (although I prefer the term 'the out and the about') gathered to start up this gorgeously hued vehicle and drive it away.
The first words I heard out of Heather Phillipson's mouth, back in 2007, were:
The only men it's safe for me to love are dead –
O'Hara, Stevens, Berryman.
when I read with her at The Poetry Café in Covent Garden and I became a fan at that moment. These are the opening two lines from 'Devoted, Hopelessly', which appears in the book. By the way, the title refers to the type of glue used to bind the book. I could talk about how the title and some of the poems inside speak of the materiality of language as used by the poet. But I won't.
What I will say is that this debut collection contains many hilarious, touching, surprising, and intriguing poems with wonderful titles like 'German Phenomenology Makes Me Want to Strip and Run through North London', 'Red Slugs in Every Irrelevant Direction', You're an Architect and I Want to Make Dinner for You' and 'Actually I'm Simply Trying to Find My Dressing Gown Sash'.
I like a launch to be more of a party than a reading and Heather chose to read a single poem, pushing the needle of the 'launchometer' almost as far away from the 'reading' end of the 'party – reading' scale as it is possible to do. But she left us wanting more, which is always a good thing.
Another good thing is that four of us peeled off to eat fish and chips at Kennedy's on Whitecross Street, which is worth a visit if you're ever out East.
So. As Monsieur Hulot departs at the end of Mon Oncle to allow his nephew to bond with his formerly stuffy father, Monsieur Arpel, so must I depart at the end of my week as guest blogger. It's been a pleasure and there were many other things I wanted to write about, like how can we get people to stop saying "x won the Internet"? but perhaps I will continue with these over at Mo' Worse Blues.
Au revoir. I leave you with an apposite poem from Heather Phillipson.
The Distance between England and America
Much could begin like this: a large man,
tie slackened, voice buoyed up by altitude.
My mind's elsewhere –
the air-conditioning. It's cold.
Above the Atlantic he bellows long vowels to me,
and I'm cabined, window-seated, polite.
With my English tone, I'm inadvertantly provocative –
No more salted pretzels for me, thanks Jeff.
At the sound of Charles Darwin's bassoon,
earthworms, apparently, writhed.
Jeff booms: Pittsburgh, golf clubs, his search for a wife.
I twist in my seat – suggest something,
in my movement, of all evolution.
His blanket folds back like an invitation
to navy shadows and polyester.
Heat and anything could happen under there.
Oh, take your loafers off, Jeff –
throw them in the aisle.
Your gusto can conquer my boredom, our bed can be the sky.
It's warming up. We won't be sleeping.
For almost nine hours beneath United Airlines covers
we'll share everything but thought.
In the morning, white bread rolls and Columbus, Ohio.
Women distribute plastic cutlery in the night.
For more information on Heather, click here.
There's only one reason to go to Piccadilly Circus: to visit Waterstones' magnificent flagship store. Okay, the cocktails at The Criterion are good also. Plus the ICA is nearby. Oh, and it's not far from Cicchetti's either. But remember that this part of London recently replaced the Swiss Centre cinema with M&M's World. I don't really even know what that is. I know that the vicinity smells of sickly sweet chocolate and the edifice pummels the retina with primary colours but I tend to scurry on by.
Anyway, I went to Waterstones last night to see Kathryn Maris, Katha Pollitt and Carol Rumens read from their new and recent books published by Welsh publisher Seren (the editor in chief, Amy Wack, was in town to introduce the three).
It's an odd thing writing up a reading. You're tempted to switch to 'book review' mode but then you'd be kind of reviewing people, which, until Google Glass makes it the norm for us to give each other 'star-ratings' as we walk down the street, doesn't feel right to me.
Plus, compared to reading poems on the page, a live reading has so many additional variables. Like tone of voice, length of intros, particular words that are explained and over which the poet stumbles when they come around in the text; and perhaps one of the poets might knock over a glass of water just before reading a poem about a washer woman. I'm not saying these things happened last night, but they might have.
Anyway, the large and appreciative audience was treated to three readings of great style, wit, emotion and skill. I have all kinds of rules and pet peeves about poetry readings but two halves of ten minutes from each poet worked very well. Certain themes recurred, including ironic, not-entirely-ironic, and rather political takes on Bible stories and experiments with the linguistic style of the King James Bible.
There were poignant reflections on age and youth and the changing relations and attitudes between both, often within the same body. There was also a palpable, creative, tension between American and UK tendencies, especially regarding form. The three poets almost described a smooth spectrum from Rumens's frequent use of form, to Maris's increasing use of form, to Pollitt's occasional use of form.
Some discussion followed about these technical matters in the Q&A but no firm conclusions were drawn. Needless to say, I wrote down many choice lines and phrases in my notebook but I'm not sure they will work that well out of context (a bit like the way lines from poems posted as tweets often don't work) but I can recommend the poets' respective books:
God Loves You by Kathryn Maris
The Mind-Body Problem by Katha Pollitt
De Chirico's Threads by Carol Rumens
I also learned that 'Seren' means 'star' in Welsh. I should have known that, but it was pleasant to learn. I will leave you with one complete poem, from God Loves You. A domani.
This is a Confessional Poem
I am guilty of so much destruction it hardly matters
anymore. There are so many thank-you notes I never wrote
that sometimes I’m relieved by the deaths of would-be
recipients, so I can finally let go of the shame.
I was awful to someone who was attached to the phrase
‘social polish’, as though she’d acquire it through repetition.
I took an overdose at a child’s 6th birthday party.
I was born in a country which some have called
The Big Satan. I abandoned the country for one
that is called The Little Satan. I wished ill on a woman
who has known me for years and yet never remembers
who I am – and now she’s involved in a public scandal.
I have been at parties where I was boring.
I have been at parties where I was deadly boring.
I have worn the wrong clothes to sacraments, not
for lack of outfits, but for a temporary failure of taste.
I’m a terrible, terrible liar, and everything I say is full of
misrepresentation. I once knew a very sweet girl
who stabbed herself in the abdomen 7 times.
She believed she was evil and thought 7 was a holy number.
Besides that she was sane, and told me her tale
out of kindness – because guilt recognises guilt,
the way a mother can identify her own child.
I met her in a class called ‘Poetry Therapy’
in which the assignment was to complete this statement:
When one door closes, another opens.
I wrote: At the end of my suffering there was a door,
making me guilty of both plagiarism and lack of imagination.
I was the vortex of suffering: present, future and retroactive
suffering. The girl tried to absolve me.
‘Don’t be Jesus,’ she said. ‘There are enough around here.’
I know I should thank her if she’s alive,but I also know it’s unlikely I’ll rise to the task.
Yesterday was a Bank Holiday in the UK. This is a day we occasionally grant to our banks so that they can take a breather from refusing to lend to businesses, insisting on unnecessary payment protection schemes, finding ways to turn public bailout money into private bonuses, and so on. They need to replenish their batteries.
And the rest of us need to go have lunch in cafés attached to museums and galleries. For a freelancer, depending on one's success or commitment, either every day is a Bank Holiday or Bank Holidays remain something that only other people enjoy. I must confess, I bunked off and practised my F major scale.
I also had time to reflect on a recent event I organised for the BFI (British Film Institute). The BFI has a generous and welcoming attitude to poets and it enjoys exploring the links between poetry and cinema. Over the last few years I've been involved in their poetry/film crossover event 'O Dreamland', which invited poets to write about their digital archive (The Mediatheque); I launched my collaborative Hitchcock homage Psycho Poetica at the BFI in 2010; and last year Isobel Dixon, Chris McCabe and I premiered The Debris Field there.
This year I was asked to organise something for their recent epic Pasolini retrospective and I considered various approaches. I thought of poetically 're-staging' Theorem using six poets playing each of the main characters, and I also toyed with comparing the 'swinging Sixties' of Pasolini, Antonioni and Bertolucci.
But in the end I took my lead from Pier Paolo himself and his love of the literary portmanteau movie, so I suggested A New Decameron: ten films, ten poets, ten film clips, one evening of poetic and filmic enthusiasm.
I asked nine other poets and writers to join me: Jane Draycott, Charles Lambert, Glyn Maxwell, John McCullough, Valeria Melchioretto, Luca Paci, Cristina Viti, Stephen Watts and Chrissy Williams. We were also lucky enough to have Rosa Mucignat of King's College London reading some of Pasolini's poetry in the Friulian language, with translations by Cristina Viti.
The sold-out show was funny, moving and powerful by turns and I wanted to give you a little taster by posting Chrissy Williams's poem and a film clip here. Chrissy freely admits to being obsessed with Pasolini's clownish muse, the great Ninetto Davoli. I'm currently talking to the BFI and the poets about getting all the work online in the near future.
First a small sample of the irrepressible Davoli from Chrissy's chosen film The Canterbury Tales.
And now her poem.
for Davoli in The Canterbury Tales
"col tuo sorriso, fulmineo e buffo" — Pasolini
"My only enemy is time" — Chaplin
I step to the screen
with your face so big, a kiss
with my arms reached up
would wrap around me whole.
Slip tongue, slip lip to the camera.
I fell in love with a face once
until it swallowed me.
And all him loved that looked upon his face
That each him loved who looked upon his face
No length of time or death may this deface
Step, nod to the screen and wink the bride.
You, happy as a goldfish in a glade.
You, little tramp with laughter for a face.
The bride winks back, slips back into a stolen moment.
Slip tongue to the world and hope for many moments.
and your face is a song, fool
your eyes light a dance, fool
lip-tight on the laugh of language
on the laughter
Step hip to dance with shadows till it's time
and it's always time to dance with shadows.
We dance against the day the music slips.
We dance the laugh of lips in bandages.
Thy face is turned in a new array
Your face is mottled in a new array
No step is left behind,
just kicked in a new way.
Stories shift, dreamed high,
kicked about in an angel's face
which changes, because
everything is always changing
although it stays the same.
No story is left behind,
just slipped on in a new way.
and I'll see you here again and again.
I'll love you here again again.
I'll fall and catch my heart in your constant face.
I fell in love with a clown once,
with a fool. Now I am the new clown
of no good, who falls with a cane
as time rearranges the stories of your face.
Is the face enough?
Is any one face ever enough?
In all his face there was no drop of blood
With his face pale and with a heavy cheer
Now list you down with face all pale of hue
I fell in love with your face once,
with the face I found, and I will follow it,
love, through all our familiar stories.
More about Chrissy Williams here.
If you can keep your head, while Dennis Hopper recites Rudyard Kipling’s “If” on the Johnny Cash Show, then you are a better man than me, my son. Check it out:
The poem (still wildly popular in England) and Hopper are both quite good. Personally, I have been unsuccessful thus far in recruiting celebrities to recite my work on television. My fallback is to read the poems myself, occasionally in public. There's an open mic near me that I like called Carmine Street Metrics, though it takes place on Ave. B (after getting bounced from the Bowery Poetry Club last year). If I have a new poem, I like to try it out there. Reading a poem out in front of an audience has become an important step in finishing it, or in seeing if it is, in fact, finished.
When, several years ago, I started teaching a class in performing poetry (it’s basically an acting class for poets), what struck me most was that performing a poem invariably led to revision. But testing the poem on the voice—where, more and more, I’ve come to feel the poem really lives, i.e., in its spoken music—the rough spots become more appaent. I can easily hear places where the rhythm falters, where the clarity and precision of the expression are obscured.
Not surprisingly, people are often much better at reading other people’s work than at reading their own. The difficulty of presenting one’s own poems is two-pronged, I think. On the one hand, our own poems are so personal, so close to home, so connected to our sense of self-worth that it can be terrifying to present them to an audience. (Even if one's poetry is not autobiographical, it is a charged expression that can be ticklish to read in public.)
And, on the other hand, the poem may have gone cold for us, written, as it was, sometimes months or years earlier. It reminds me of the wonderful passage in G. K. Chesterton’s book on Robert Browning: “There is an old anecdote, probably apocryphal, which describes how a feminine admirer wrote to Browning asking him for the meaning of one of his darker poems, and received the following reply: 'When that poem was written, two people knew what it meant—God and Robert Browning. And now God only knows what it means.' ”
The fact is that, over time, we lose touch with the emotions that gave rise to the poem; we become dull to the very intensities of sound and meaning that we were at pains to include in the poem. In order to give the poem its due in performance, we have to reawaken our emotional connection to the words.
It’s just what we would do if we were called upon to read out the work of another poet, so why not do it with out own work. I’ve gone on too long here, so I won’t get into specific exercises at this point. For an unbeatable example of how to break down the sense of a verse passage and find hidden in each word both meaning and feeling, one cannot do better than this excerpt from John Barton’s “Playing Shakespeare” (the book of the same name is an invaluable text for poets as well as actors). Watch as, at about 2:10, Ian McKellen begins to go word by word through “Tomorrow and Tomorrow”:
(Tomorrow and tomorrow, a look at Geroge Green's poem "Bangladesh" from his new book Lord Byron's Foot.)
St. Mark’s Church | 131 E. 10th Street, New York, NY 10003 | 212-674-0910 |
We're celebrating Wesleyan University Press’s long-anticipated landmark edition of Ceravolo’s poems with an all-star reading: David Lehman, Charles North, Ron Padgett, Anselm Berrigan, Peter Gizzi, David Shapiro, John Perreault, Eileen Myles, Susie Timmons, Timothy Donnelly, Jordan Davis, Ariana Reines, Corina Copp, Corrine Fitzpatrick, John Coletti, Thurston Moore, Anita Ceravolo and Parker Smathers.
Everywhere people are longing for a deeper life.
Let’s hope some acrobat will come by
And give us a hint how to get into heaven.
Robert Bly, awarded the 2013 Frost Medal, read from his work to an enthusiastic overflow crowd at the Poetry Society of America’s 103rd Annual Awards Ceremony hosted by Alice Quinn on April 5th. These closing lines, read toward the end of the evening, from Bly’s “Longing for the Acrobat” echoed Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s citation honoring the first reader, Lizza Rodriguez, the high school student winner of the Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Student Award. Rodriguez and her teacher Jen Karetnick (pictured above with the 2012 Frost Medalist Marilyn Nelson) made the trip from Miami Shores, Fl, for the awards ceremony. Calvocoressi citing lines from Rodriguez’s award-winning poem,
I was dilly dialing
when the phone rang
then I ran out
like red roses
wrote of her “perfect balance of formal rigor and imaginative acrobatics.” From Lizza Rodriguez’s reading to the last lines of “Wanting Sumptuous Heavens,” as Robert Bly, poet, teacher, preacher, reformer, editor, translator, theorist and champion of the work of many of his contemporaries took us through the sounds – grumbles, summer, thumbs, come, grumbling, comfortable, sumptuous -- the evening was lively with words and talent and noisy with enthusiastic applause. Hardly a moment’s dip or lull.
Today the exception to
that every rule has an exception
violated itself into a bright
metastasis of unfastening
while I rested my head against
In her citation honoring Ted Mathys, Alice Notely wrote, in part, “A said thing is only a said thing – though it may be true –but you can just as easily say the opposite.” Negations and reverses of the most pleasing sort, playful but not only, a poem to share with others, it ends (or perhaps doesn’t), with
Lightning can strike the same place twice.
Lightning can strike the same place twice.
Elyse Fenton took the red-eye from her home in Portland, Oregon, to read from her manuscript Sweet Insurgent Friday night.
…but after impact he opened
the door & walked away. Hello
tenacious earth. Sometimes
you have to practice crying uncle
for years to make it stick
Of Elyse Fenton’s poems, which won the Alice Fay di Castagnola award for a manuscript-in-progress, Kevin Prufer wrote “they are alive to our historical moment, inspiring us to re-think our place in a constantly shifting political and ethical world.” Her manuscript-in-progress is now a manuscript out for consideration for publication.
Carol Light may have come farther than any of the other winners to attend the awards ceremony, flying in from Rome where she is teaching spring semester to receive the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award for original work, mid-career, without prior substantial recognition.
The sky is a bouquet of old news.
Its gap-toothed vendor was Italian;
his roses unfurl galaxies.
If history is a map of courage,
then the heart is made of helium.
Her poem “Hertzsprung-Russell” is part of her book Heaven From Steam – twenty-two skies and eighteen yets, forthcoming from Able Muse Press. David Wagoner, citing Carol Light’s work, wrote that she “writes out of the belief that…sound, rhythm, and meaning are of nearly equal importance in a poem…[and that she] is always using formal cadence instead of allowing it to over-control the rhythms of common speech.”
The life of the party slits its wrists. Its wrists
slit their wrists. The wrist of the world
wears a Patek Philippe Henry Graves
Supercomplication. Which is not a wristwatch but a pocket
crowd out the black.
Not one of them
brings me wisdom.
provide no armor.
I still quiver
to anyone's dart.
In the award citation, B. H. Fairchild said, “Ezra Pound noted that poetry severed from music atrophies, and since the earliest poems of her first book, Ring Song, in 1952, Replansky has become the master of a Blakean music radically unfashionable in its devotion to song-like meters…” Before the reading, the crowd included many Naomi Replansky admirers, long familiar with her work and delighted to join in the award’s expression of deep gratitude; after the reading, her fans numbered even more. Her “About Not Writing” is posted on the Poetry Society of America Website along with more complete poems of all of those honored, including those who could not attend the evening’s celebration: Micah Bateman, Greg Wrenn, Paula Bohince, Gary Young, and Lucia Perillo.
Martin Espada, who shares the 2013 Shelley Memorial Award with Lucia Perillo, certainly did not sever the music. He read poems from The Trouble Ball, including “The Playboy Calendar and the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám” and “Isabel’s Corrido,” with these ending lines.
Thirty years ago, a girl from the land of Zapata kissed me once
on the lips and died with my name nailed to hers like a broken door.
I kept a snapshot of the wedding; yesterday it washed ashore on my desk.
There was a conspiracy to commit a crime. This is my confession: I’d do it again.
Strains from this last line resurfaced as Robert Bly read from “Ravens Hiding in a Shoe.”
Robert, you’ve wasted so much of your life
Sitting indoors to write poems. Would you
Do that again? I would, a thousand times.
With this poem, he settled into a conversational, call-and-response reading, the poet of solitude opening out to the community. “Is that true?” he would stop to ask the audience, read another line and then again, “Is that true?” Ted Mathys’s negations and reversals draw close to these lines, also from "Ravens Hiding in a Shoe."
Each sentence we speak to friends means the opposite
As well. Each time, we say, “I trust in God,” it means
God has already abandoned us a thousand times.
The audience’s response was enthusiastic – Yes. Yes. Yes. to his “Is that true?” and then a prolonged No…in response to his amused query “Am – I – emphasizing – each -- word – too -- much?”
“Like Ezra Pound half a century earlier, Bly has centered himself in poetry and proceeded to radiate his energies out to nearly all corners of the world of letters,” wrote Askold Melnyczuk in his 1988 Partisan Review critique of Bly’s Selected Poems. His work, his many roles defy summation, making Billy Collins' Citation all the more impressive. As he sat to read from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey side-by-side with his daughter Mary holding the microphone, Robert Bly seemed at the heart of all that had gone on in the preceding hours, in the words, the tributes, the audience participation and enthusiasm. More than one person in the audience told me how Robert Bly’s work in poetry and prose had opened the door to poetry for them and led them on to other poets – Rilke, Rumi, Machado, Neruda. Several had attended events at which Robert Bly had read over the years around the country.
With a large number from his family in attendance and a packed room full of admiring poetry readers, Robert Bly read most lines more than once, sometimes repeating parts of lines. We went down into the words with him, into the poem at the word level. Word by word.
And image by image.
I do love Yeats’s fierceness
As he jumped into a poem,
And that lovely calm in my father’s
Hands, as he buttoned his coat.
“I Have Daughters and I Have Sons" -- Robert Bly
Madge McKeithen has written about poems in several essays including those collected in her book, Blue Peninsula (FSG, 2006). She initiated the One Page Poetry Circle at the NYPL in 2006 and at the Darien Library in 2009. Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, Utne Reader, The New York Times Book Review, and Best American Essays 2011. She teaches nonfiction in the Writing Program at the New School and blogs at madgemckeithen.com
Available for pre-order:
April 4, 6:00 PM: Metcalf Building, George Sherman Union, 775 Commonwealth Avenue, Second Floor, Boston, MA. With Robert Pinsky, David Lehman, Frank Bidart, Carl Phillips, Lloyd Schwartz, Charles Simic, Rosanna Warren, and Franz Wright. Details here.
April 11, 7:00 PM: Tishman Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J. M. Kaplan Hall, 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY. With Robert Pinsky, David Lehman, Mark Doty, Edward Hirsch, Richard Howard, Marie Howe, Major Jackson, Lawrence Joseph, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sarah Manguso, J.D. McClatchy, Paul Muldoon, Meghan O'Rourke, Tom Sleigh, Susan Wheeler, and C. K. Williams. Details here.
from Donna Seaman's review in Booklist:
Each year a new volume in the Best American Poetry series, founded by poet Lehman, appears, each edited by a distinguished American poet, the likes of A. R. Ammons and Amy Gerstler. To celebrate the series' twenty-fifth anniversary, Lehman asked former poet laureate Pinsky to select 100 "best of the best." The result is a concentrated,
high-caliber, and exhilarating overview of the intensity and artistry
that have made American poetry so splendidly varied and vital since
1988. . . . Pinsky, an inspired poetry advocate, explains that his criteria were "ear, imagination, and urgency". . .Given the depth of Lehman's and Pinsky's opening essays and the concise poet biographies and the poet's original statements about the writing of the poems, this is an anthology of broad scope, serious pleasure, and invaluable illumination.
This week we welcome Elaine Fletcher Chapman (formerly Elaine Walters McFerron) as our guest blogger. Elaine holds an MFA from The Bennington Writing Seminars where she works as Alumni Liaison. She founded The Writer’s Studio where she teaches writing and presents poetry readings in the Historic Cokesbury Church in Onancock, Virginia. Elaine is a psychotherapist in private practice and provides life coaching for artists. Her poems have been published in Connotation, The Sun, Calyx, Poet Lore, 5AM, Salamander, and elsewhere. Green River Press (Wyn Cooper & Shawna Parker) published her letterpress chapbook, Double Solitude. She is the author of a nonfiction book, The Therapist’s Diary; a volume of verse, Hunger for Salt; and Three Ridges, Three Seasons: Haibun and Photography, a contemplative collaboration with the photographer, Robert M. Chapman. These books are yet to find publishers.
In other news . . .
Boston - April 4, 6:00 PM: Metcalf Building, George Sherman Union, 775 Commonwealth Avenue, Second Floor, Boston, MA. With Robert Pinsky, David Lehman, Frank Bidart, Carl Phillips, Lloyd Schwartz, Charles Simic, Rosanna Warren, and Franz Wright. Details here.
NYC - April 11, 7:00 PM: The New School, Tishman Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J. M. Kaplan Hall, 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY. With Robert Pinsky, David Lehman, Mark Doty, Edward Hirsch, Richard Howard, Marie Howe, Major Jackson, Lawrence Joseph, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sarah Manguso, J.D. McClatchy, Paul Muldoon, Meghan O'Rourke,Thomas Sleigh, Susan Wheeler, and C. K. Williams. Details here.
"To celebrate the series' twenty-fifth anniversary, Lehman asked former poet laureate Pinsky to select 100 "best of the best." The result is a concentrated, high-caliber, and exhilarating overview of the intensity and artistry that have made American poetry so splendidly varied and vital since 1988."
Donna Seaman, Booklist
Available for pre-order:
April 4, 6:00 PM: Metcalf Building, George Sherman Union, 775 Commonwealth Avenue, Second Floor, Boston, MA. With Robert Pinsky, David Lehman, Frank Bidart, Carl Phillips, Lloyd Schwartz, Charles Simic, Rosanna Warren, and Franz Wright. Details here.
April 11, 7:00 PM: Tishman Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J. M. Kaplan Hall, 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY. With Robert Pinsky, David Lehman, Mark Doty, Edward
Hirsch, Richard Howard, Marie Howe, Major Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lawrence Joseph, Sarah Manguso, J.D. McClatchy, Paul Muldoon, Meghan O'Rourke,Thomas Sleigh, C. K.
Williams, and Susan Wheeler.
from Donna Seaman's review in Booklist:
Each year a new volume in the Best American Poetry series, founded by poet Lehman, appears, each edited by a distinguished American poet, the likes of A. R. Ammons and Amy Gerstler. To celebrate the series' twenty-fifth anniversary, Lehman asked former poet laureate Pinsky to select 100 "best of the best." The result is a concentrated, high-caliber, and exhilarating overview of the intensity and artistry that have made American poetry so splendidly varied and vital since 1988. . . . Pinsky, an inspired poetry advocate, explains that his criteria were "ear, imagination, and urgency". . .Given the depth of Lehman's and Pinsky's opening essays and the concise poet biographies and the poet's original statements about the writing of the poems, this is an anthology of broad scope, serious pleasure, and invaluable illumination.
Thursday 21 February at 7.00 p.m.
London Review Bookshop
14 Bury Place, London,
WC1A 2JL. 020 7269 9030
Michael Hofmann – poet, translator, critic – has been an iconic figure for his generation. His poetry continues to be a defining influence on younger writers; his translations (of Joseph Roth, Wolfgang Koeppen, Herta Müller and many others) have enlarged our world. The Palm Beach Effect (CB editions) reaffirms Hofmann’s central place in contemporary literature. The contributions include essays on particular aspects of Hofmann’s work, poems, memories of 1980s literary London and reports from some of Hofmann’s former students at the University of Florida. Notable throughout, as well as respect for the work, is an affection for the man himself. An evening of readings and conversation in celebration of Michael Hofmann will feature the editors of The Palm Beach Effect: André Naffis-Sahely and Julian Stannard, Sarah Maguire, James Lasdun, Robin Robertson, Stephen Romer, Alan Jenkins, and, of course, Hofmann himself. £7.00
It’s not a word I’ve thought about before. If I saw it on the side of the road, surely I would drive by.
It means a cry, an animal’s call, a power of speaking ... one or more words preceded and followed by silence. It derives from the Middle French outrer, “to go beyond.”
Why's this on my mind? Perhaps because I’m reading poems by prisoners, preparing for a community poetry reading at St. Paul’s Chapel, and trying to crystallize my thoughts into daily blog posts.
All three remind me of the limits of language and the human desire to go beyond it. And that reminds me of speaking in tongues.
One quirk of my upbringing is that until I was 10, my parents ministered a small church in Phoenix, Arizona, called Springs in the Desert. Being a charismatic congregation founded by people who came of age during the Pentecostal movement, it was home to the kind of worship you don’t see every Sunday.
The elementary school cafeteria that the church rented out would fill with guttural sounds, an eruption of dancing, singing and praying, voices layered over voices and tambourines. When someone faced a hardship, worshippers lay hands on the shoulders of the people in front of them, creating a human conduit of prayer. Some prayed in words, others prayed in tongues.
Like Alice in a mysterious wonderland, I was fascinated by the idea of a secret language of the soul. I imagined that one day I would open my mouth to say something perfectly plain, and an otherworldly utterance would fly out.
It never happened. My family moved on. But that early image of adults sending fervent, unintelligible words into the ether still mystifies me.
Glossolalia is the term for speaking and writing in tongues, and it means “utterances approximating words and speech.” Some studies have found that when people practice it, their language centers go dark and emotional centers light up, suggesting it’s not about language so much as emotional experience.
Augustine of Hippo looked askance on glossolalia but recognized jubilation, or “sounds of exaltation without words.” As a writer, I connect with his idea:
What is it to sing with jubilation? To be unable to understand, to express in words, what is sung in the heart. For singers, either in the harvest, or in the vineyard, or in any other busy work, after they have begun in the words of their hymns to exult and rejoice, being as it were filled with so great joy, that they cannot express it in words, then turn from actual words, and proceed to sounds of jubilation. The jubilee is a sound signifying that the heart laboureth with that which it cannot utter.
How often do you labor with what you cannot utter? I do all the time -- at this very moment, in fact! Utterance, then, is a yearning for pure expression, a desire to communicate something weightier than traditional language can bear. This could be the very definition of poetry.
Kei Miller’s poem “Speaking in Tongues” helps me understand the idea of utterance, and it’s worth listening to him read it here. The speaker recounts being dragged to church by his grandmother, and standing in awe of the language he witnessed:
I remember my grandmother unbecoming
the kind of woman who sets her table each Sunday,
who walks up from the river, water balanced easily
on her head. My grandmother became, instead,
all earthquake – tilt and twirl and spin,
her orchid-purple skirt blossoming.
She became grunt and rumble – sounds
you can only make when your shoes have fallen off
and you’re on the ground
crying raba and yashundai and
The poem pivots when the speaker, older now, meets a friend who ridicules tongue-speakers. The opportunity for embarrassment hangs low. Instead, the speaker surprises me by drawing his grandmother close and defending her practice, reframing it with his poetic lens:
[...] Years later a friend tells me
tongues is nothing but gibberish – the deluded
pulling words out of dust. I want to ask him
what is language but a sound we christen?
I would invite him to a tent where women
are tearing their stocking, are on the ground
pulling up fresh words to offer as doves to Jehovah.
I would ask if he sees no meaning here
and if he never had the urge to grunt
an entirely new sound. The poem, always,
would like to do this, always wants to break
from its lines and let a strange language rise up.
Whether we are prisoners, parishioners or poets, skeptics, believers or agnostics, we are united in our frustration with language.
It betrays us. It evades us. It comes up short when we need it most. It's why the things we care about are hardest to write.
And yet language is the best we have. So we pick up these humble words, we smash them into sounds, and if we’re writers, we glue them together again. We press our poems against the bars and hope something breaks through the clink.
When Bishop’s Crusoe eyes the knife, when Eliot dares to eat a peach, when Ammons beholds the garbage heap, they crack through -- they “go beyond” language to achieve a state of utterance.
Sometimes we prevail. Sometimes we fail. Dear reader, I love that we try!
Speaking of, don't you think The Best American Poetry blog is doing nothing short of mapping the poetic genome? Everything has a place, from Cary Grant’s birthday to a poet’s struggle with belief to a close reading of Dickinson to the beauty of the word “sure.” Thank you for letting me map out my small corner this week. It's been a pure pleasure.
Image: Voynich manuscript, which some believe to be an example of written glossolalia.
The day before I was to have my teeth cleaned, I was telling my wife over the phone how the dentist’s office had said I would be free at 10:00 from their chamber of hooks and mouth vacuums and that ugly, cycloptic light with the orange bulb they crane over you. Because it sounded like I was saying 8:10 instead of “at 10:00,” what began as an ordinary comment quickly turned into a back and forth worthy of my beloved Abbott and Costello.
I don’t recall mumbling my way through high school or college, though I was soft spoken, as friends have reminded me. What happened to my voice, I don’t know. There are times when my speech has been so garbled, I’ve had to apologize and excuse myself from the phone so I could lick my lips, clear my throat, or open and close my mouth to loosen the muscles of my face as if I were doing some kind of demented mouth yoga, anything to try and improve my annunciation so that I didn’t sound like Boomhauer from King of the Hill, a character whom I love and, not surprising, have no trouble understanding.
The paradox of my mumbling is that when I read a poem out loud, I’ve been told my words go from being heavy and thick to a soft, crisp baritone. When this happens, I think I must be engaging more of my body in the act of speaking. My posture is better. I probably inhale more air and project. I open my lips wider and wrap them more firmly around each vowel. Performing a poem is almost akin to entering the Matrix, a place where I’m a better version of myself, minus the tacky trench coat.
Whenever strangers compliment me after a reading, I have always assumed they were being kind because to my ear there’s little difference between my speaking and reading voices. One kind gentleman went so far as to joke that if the poetry thing didn’t work out, there was always radio where I could become the voice of America.
“The voice of America” has a nice ring to it, though I don’t think she would want me to speak for her because there’s no telling what I might say about how she treats her tired and poor huddled from sea to shining sea. Worse yet, I might become a voice of “reason” for the left like Beck or Limbaugh are for the right. If that happened I would no doubt have nightmares in which my fellow soft baritones like Nat King Cole and Keanu Reeves would reproach me for misusing my instrument.
It’s better not to anger Neo or the King. Better to keep my feet on the ground and out of my mouth and instead write poems about dentists or cartoons or yoga in the hope that centuries from now my voice might be one of a thousand in a dusty library whispering from the page about the truth, which never hurt anyone or led people astray, unlike the Truth that continues to bring nations of innocents to their knees.
Ours was not a time
of the Great Terror or the Bolshoi Theater.
we are impaled upon the ramrods of our theories
and naked to the tide
and to plunge in we're never leery
Ours was not the time
of the Big Bang or the Big Bounce
at the Somme at Woodstock we did not absorb the sounds
with baselards and fauchards
never were we trounced
Say thank you to the conductor
if there's something you don't comprehend
'till you say it you won't meet a timely end
say thank you to the conductor
To the water or to the coil relay
to that little girl from public relations
to the council of ancients who laid a lambasting
(may they rest easier in the clay)
-- Lev Oborin, trans. John William Narins
On Monday, October 15,at the midtown branch of the New York Public Library three young Russian poets read with three American counterparts at an event moderated by David Lehman. This is one of the poems read by Dina Gatina on that occasion. Gatina has won the prestigious Debut Prize for poetry in Russia. For more information, here's a link to Causa Artium, one of the sponsors of the event. For Madge McKeithen's write-up of the reading on October 15, click here.
On Saturday December 8, John Ashbery, hailed by Harold Bloom as “America’s greatest living poet,” read from his new collection of poems Quick Question (Ecco 2012), released this week, in front of a filled-to-capacity auditorium at the New School. Now 85 and with as much wit, perspicacity, and knack for le mot juste as ever, Ashbery started with the first poem from the book, “Words to that Effect,” an inquisitive, inviting poem, and went on to read over a dozen more. After reading the title poem, he read “The Short Answer,” which has the wonderful line, “Because if it’s boring in a different way, that’ll be interesting too.” Ashbery disclosed that the line had been said to him by Susan Sontag more than thirty years ago while the two were in Warsaw. They were discussing the prospect of going to a Japanese opera one evening. He added in deadpan, “It’s something I think about almost every day when confronted with something that might be boring. Which happens.”
After the reading, Ashbery and David Lehman conversed on such topics as Sir Thomas Browne; the German Romantic poet, Friedrich Hölderlin; their mutual dislike for the word “unpack;” and how the hero of Ashbery’s poems might be characterized as the English language, particularly the American version of it. And indeed, on this last point, Quick Question is no exception. In this collection, Ashbery’s poems are infused with a talkative—sometimes remembering, sometimes wondering—but always sharp and engaged tone that is deeply concerned with, and interested in, what it’s like to be alive in the twenty-first century, “somewhere in America.” And it is precisely this voice, brought to life in the language of Ashbery’s poems, that ends up speaking so much to the ceaseless, un-capturable present—the right now—Tom Healy had pinpointed as crucial to Ashbery’s work in his illuminating introduction of the poet.
The event also offered an opportunity for Robert Polito, who directs the Writing Program at the New School, sponsors of the event, to display a montage of images from the extraordinary ASHLAB project, which entails the digital mapping and annotating of Ashbery’s house in Hudson, New York. Ultimately, the night belonged to the release of Quick Question, a collection of poems that, as one of the poems’ titles suggests, resists arrests of all sorts, yet at the same time invites the reader to “not dwell on a situation, but to dwell in it.”
Mark Strand is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Almost Invisible (Knopf, 2012), Man and Camel (Knopf, 2006), Blizzard of One (1998), which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Reasons for Moving (1968). Strand's honors include the Bollingen Prize, three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the 1974 Edgar Allen Poe Prize from The Academy of American Poets, and a Rockefeller Foundation award, as well as fellowships from The Academy of ...American Poets, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation. He has served as Poet Laureate of the United States and is a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. He teaches English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.
Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press), and two limited edition chapbooks: Quarantine (Argos Books, 2012) and Echolocation (Float Press, 2010). A recipient of a 2009 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Black has also received recent fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the MacDowell Colony, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers, and the University of Utah. He was the subject of an Emerging Poet profile by Mark Jarman in the Fall 2011 issue of the Academy of American Poets’ American Poet magazine.
In celebration of former Academy of American Poets Chancellor Louise Glück’s Poems 1962-2012, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Ecco Press), poets Frank Bidart, Dana Levin, Robert Pinsky, Peter Streckfus, and Ellen Bryant Voigt join Glück on stage to read selections of her work.
December 14, 2012, 7:00 PM
Theresa Lang Center, The New School, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY
Free and Open to the Public (limited seating)
On Monday, November 5 we began our Year in Review series. We're posting selections from each of our guest bloggers. We're sure you will be inspired to look for more work by our contributors and to buy their books as holiday gifts. You can catch up by following the link above. And you can read posts by all of our guest bloggers, from the blog's beginning to the present, here. You will find remarkable work.
Jim Cummins continues to post from Cincinnati.
We solve your holiday shopping with this sweet-salty hookup.
KGB Monday Night (12.10) Season Finale: Mark Strand + Malachi Black
A Tribute to Louise Glück: December 14, 2012, 7:00 PM, The New School
All events are free!!
every day millions of people die for our
I won't say it twice
let in a little
every day millions of people die for our
you're repeating yourself
so what, so what
- you're repeating yourself
- every day
repeat after me
you are repeating yourself every day and whatever
die after me
repeat after me:
shout it louder
-- Dina Gatina (translated from the Russian by Ainsley Morse and Bela Shayevich]
On Monday, October 15,at the midtown branch of the New York Public Library three young Russian poets read with three American counterparts at an event moderated by David Lehman. This is one of the poems read by Dina Gatina on that occasion. Gatina has won the prestigious Debut Prize for poetry in Russia. For more information, here's a link to Causa Artium, one of the sponsors of the event.
Quick question: where and when will John Ashbery read from his new book? The short answer is the New School's Tishman Auditorium at 66 West 12 Street in New York City on Saturday evening December 8, 2012, at 7 PM.
John Ashbery, "the grand master and universal genius of American poetry, now eighty-five" (P. Brunst) will read from his brand-new collection, Quick Question, in the Tishman Auditorium of the New School on Saturday, December 8, at 7 PM. A dialogue between the poet and David Lehman, poetry coordinator of the School of Writing, will follow the reading.
John Ashbery has won nearly every major American award for poetry -- and numerous honors in foreign lands. A Wave (1984) won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award; and Some Trees (1956) was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Series. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Fellowship, the Bollingen Prize, he Grand Prix de Biennales Internationales de Poésie (Brussels), the Feltrinelli Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, two Ingram Merrill Foundation grants, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize, and the Shelley Memorial Award. The title of Officier de la Legion d'honneur was conferred on him by the French government in 2002. His other books include Houseboat Days (1977), As We Know (1979), Shadow Train (1981), April Galleons (1987), Flow Chart (1991), Hotel Lautréamont (1992), And the Stars Were Shining (1994), Can You Hear, Bird (1995), Wakefulness (1998), Girls on the Run (1999), Your Name Here (2000), As Umbrellas Follow Rain (2001) Chinese Whispers (2002), Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (2007). and Planisphere (2009). He has also published Three Plays (1978), Reported Sightings (a selection of his art criticism) (1989),Other Traditions (revised versions of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures he gave at Harvard in 1989 and 1990, and Selected Prose (2004). In 1988 Ashbery edited the inaugural volume in The Best American Poetry series. The evening will be introduced by Robert Polito, director of the School of Writing, with faculty member Tom Healy.
Here's a very brief Ashbery sampler:
The term ignorant is indeed perhaps an overstatement, implying as it does that something is known somewhere, whereas in reality we are not even sure of this: we in fact cannot aver with any degree of certainty that we are ignorant. Yet this is not so bad; we have at any rate kept our open-mindedness -- that, at least, we may be sure that we have -- and are not in any danger, or so it seems, of freezing into the pious attitudes of those true spiritual bigots whose faces are turned toward eternity and who therefore can see nothing. -- from Three Poems
You always seemed to be traveling in a circle.
And now that the end is near
The segments of the trip swing open like an orange.
There is light in there and mystery and food.
Come see it.
Come not for me but it.
But if I am still there, grant that we may see each other. -- from "Just Walking Around"
"I am aware of the pejorative associations of the word ‘escapist,’ but I insist that we need all the escapism we can get and even that isn’t going to be enough."
So one can lose a good idea
by not writing it down, yet by losing it one can have it: it nourishes other asides
it knows nothing of, would not recognize itself in, yet when the negotiations
are terminated, speaks in the acts of that progenitor, and does
recognize itself, is grateful for not having done so earlier. -- from Flow Chart
" I feel that poems are going on all the time in my head and occasionally I snip off a length."
I feel the carousel starting slowly
And going faster and faster: desk, papers, books,
Photographs of friends, the window and the trees
Merging in one neutral band that surrounds
Me on all sides, everywhere I look.
And I cannot explain the action of leveling,
Why it should all boil down to one
Uniform substance, a magma of interiors.
My guide in these matters is your self,
Firm, oblique, accepting everything with the same
Wraith of a smile, and as time speeds up so that it is soon
Much later, I can know only the straight way out,
The distance between us. -- from "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror"
“I write with experiences in mind, but I don't write about them, I write out of them.”
The room I entered was a dream of this room.
Surely all those feet on the sofa were mine.
The oval portrait
of a dog was me at an early age.
Something shimmers, something is hushed up.
We had macaroni for lunch every day
except Sunday, when a small quail was induced
to be served to us. Why do I tell you these things?
You are not even here. -- "This Room"
--Wandrers Nachtlied (1780)
Over the hills
Comes the quiet.
Across the treetops
No breeze blows.
Not a sound: even the small
Birds in the woods
Just wait: soon you
Will be quiet, too.
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.