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« Writing Blurbs [by Nin Andrews] | Main | "Famous Last Lines" [by David Lehman] »

July 20, 2022


Beautiful poem, I just can't find the whole collection of poems, but when I got a job at, I immediately got access to all of Paul Viola's poems.

Voilà, Violi! This is a poem of endless appeal not only to grammarians but also to anyone who has an appreciation for what old-school English teachers used to describe as "the right word in the right place." Poets especially understand the importance of that phrase. Of course, in the hands and head of a master writer, syntax and other grammatical rules can still be altered or "played with" in the singular pursuit of invention that deepens meaning. For any serious poet, the final question remains the same: Does it work? That's why we have wastebaskets and "delete" keys. Again, what a treat from the well-versed Violi, who is deeply missed.

Paul’s poems never get stale. Just today as I placed my Starbucks coffee order the barrister replie, “you got it.” Immediately Paul's "Counterman" prose poem flashed in my mind. One of the most drop-dead-pan funniest poems ever. I vividly renumber Paul delivering it at a poetry reading straightfaced but try as he might by the end he cracked up.

Paul was so brilliant & funny.

A sad, great loss.

Ditto what Terrence said, brilliant and funny.

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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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