Sunday, October 24, 2010

Denise Levertov wrote, "One is in despair over the current manifestation of malevolent imbecility and the seemingly invincible power of rapacity, yet finds oneself writing a poem about the trout lilies in the spring woods. And one has promised to speak at a meeting or help picket a building. If one is conscientious, the only solution is to attempt to weigh conflicting claims at each crucial moment, and in general to try to juggle well and keep all the oranges dancing in the air at once."

And, "I'm not very good at praying, but what I experience when I'm writing a poem is close to prayer. I feel it in different degrees and not with every poem. But in certain ways writing is a form of prayer."

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Eavan Boland is often called a feminist poet. She said, 'I'm a feminist. I'm not a feminist poet. I've said somewhere else that I think feminism has real power and authority as an ethic, but none at all as an aesthetic. My poetry begins for me where certainty ends. I think the imagination is an ambiguous and untidy place, and its frontiers are not accessible to the logic of feminism for that reason.'"

from Writer's Almanac, September 24, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Theories of Time and Space

You can get there from here, though
there's no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you've never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion – dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on the mangrove swamp – buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry – tome of memory,
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph – who you were—
will be waiting when you return.

"Theories of Time and Space" by Natasha Trethewey, from Native Guard. © Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For the Chipmunk in My Yard

I think he knows I’m alive, having come down
The three steps of the back porch
And given me a good once over. All afternoon
He’s been moving back and forth,
Gathering odd bits of walnut shells and twigs,
While all about him the great fields tumble
To the blades of the thresher. He’s lucky
To be where he is, wild with all that happens.
He’s lucky he’s not one of the shadows
Living in the blond heart of the wheat.
This autumn when trees bolt, dark with the fires
Of starlight, he’ll curl among their roots,
Wanting nothing but the slow burn of matter
On which he fastens like a small, brown flame.

From What the Heart Can Bear by Robert Gibb, 2009, Autumn House Press

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"I was myself the recipient of one of these [Academy of American Poets] prizes, in 1971. I felt the good things that a prize makes a young poet feel: heartened, a little more brave, confirmed in the notion private scratchings and fumblings might become, if I could find ways to shape them, something that could speak to someone else," says Doty.

Mark Doty 2010