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« "From Minor Errors, Mighty Words May Flow": A "Next Line, Please" Prompt | Main | Martin Stannard on John Ashbery's Unfinished Works »

September 12, 2021



Erika Meitner's precision plus her great ear for the line make this road trip a beautiful, hellish ride to heaven and back, delivering all of the wide life readers and the speaker share on our ways up and down the different roads. As said, the bounty of the detail here is supreme, and unforced, arriving in waves (with punch), subtly, the song packed with a stance toward what's worth having without ever holding us hostage to any solicitous urging. Through this poem Meitner manages to get us to fully sense all that her speaker thinks, feels, relishes, minds--all the while her readers are sitting there, reading this poem off the screen, she lets us ride along, helping let new strong things happen to us.

Sad and beautiful.

Thank you, both of you, for taking me along on this sad, frightening, beautiful trip. I love driving through West Virginia--but in all my decades I never realized till now how frightening and seductive those sharp curves are. Never drove there in winter; only in the summer, in the passenger seat, with my feet hanging out the window to be tickled by vines.


Always powerful to hear truth spoken and when it comes in a poem, even better.

I think the band Blue Oyster Cult is based in Fredericksburg, VA, my former happy home. Their song, "I'm burnin' for you," quietly pervades the poem, as with its lyrics "Home in the darkness Home on the highway"; the poem's year of austerity, "when there was only evening and morning" seems a variation on the lyrics of the same song "Burn out the day, burn out the night." No happy home here.

If you’re wondering how eclectic and discerning Terence Winch’s taste in contemporary poetry is, his September 12 BAP blog selection of Erika Meitner’s impressively heady and headlong poem “Austerity” offers a reliable gauge. As a longtime admirer of Erika Meitner’s verse, I encourage everyone to read her equally stirring poem “To Gather Together.” It appears in the October 4 issue of THE NEW YORKER, described by David Lehman as “the premier periodical in which to place a poem" (quoted from David's foreword for THE BEST AMERICAN POETRY 2021, guest-edited by Tracy K. Smith). To my mind and taste, the BAP blog of Terence Winch also remains a coveted site for poems to appear. And if I made you blanch or blush, TW, it’s your own fault for being faultless in your choices.

Thanks, Earle, for those laudatory & encouraging words.

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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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