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« from "A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day" [by John Donne, 1572-1631] | Main | And that would be but beautiful »

December 22, 2019


In relation to your fainting episode, Alec. Ten years ago, though it may have been twelve or fourteen, I can't remember, I had a fainting episode of my own. I was reading at the University of Texas, in Austin, at the library. I had traveled there from Illinois by train, because I love trains, but when I arrived very late at night I was sick. I read the next evening, still woozy. I started with a long poem, titled "The Night," by the very strange and mystic Bolivian writer Jaime Saenz, which I'd translated with poet Forrest Gander. Right after finishing the recitation, the room started to spin and I fell over, flat onto the ground, in front of a crowd of maybe fifty or sixty people. When I woke, there was an EMT hovering over me, and I could see the lights of an ambulance flashing outside. I felt as if this was something that had happened to me many times before, in previous lives. I insisted I was fine, and so I got up, against the EMT's counsel, and grabbed onto the podium, and continued the reading, finishing without incident, though I can't recall any of the rest of it. I have always considered it the best, certainly the most memorable, reading of my life.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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