I have been gone from this page for a long time and it makes me quite sad to look at the lovely things that have been written months ago and gone unanswered, unacknowledged, unheard by me. Can I respond after such a wintry absence? Do comments in cyberspace keep their flavor when thawed?
Mike, your Mnemosyne post was fine and timely. I too have wondered where I misplaced my soul since transitioning to my latest thing. John, lovely poem of graciously managable length. Brian, glad you liked the Ted Kooser book. Your comments on Etude added.
Let me say a word here about Kooser. Heidi and I have been to hear him twice at the Library of Congress and we (more her than me, actually) have avariciously gobbled up all his publicness over the last couple months – radio interviews, tv interviews, web interviews. The story of the man, apparently, is that he is from Nebraska and he is a good poet anyway. This is a drag. But still, having spent so much time in the slab of midwest that so marvelously coughed him up I do have to say that he has very familiar sensibilities. I am reading his Poetry Home Repair Manual now. If you haven’t heard of it, its what the title says it is, published this year. He talks about things not really being better for having been done one way than another. Yet he talks always about revising poems 30, 40, 50, 100 times before they are ready to be called done. Its a confusing Manual, as most are.
There was an interview with him in the NY Times magazine. Reading it, I was certain that the interviewer was kidding, laughing at herself/himself for acting such the snob when it was so ridiculous to do so. Anyway, I got a kick out of it.
Here is a better article about Kooser. Here is the poem inside it which I love:
The Blind Always Come as Such a Surprise
by Ted Kooser
The blind always come as such a surprise,
suddenly filling an elevator
with a great white porcupine of canes,
or coming down upon us in a noisy crowd
like the eye of a hurricane.
The dashboards of cars stopped at crosswalks
and the shoes of commuters on trains
are covered with sentences
struck down in mid-flight by the canes of the blind.
Each of them changes our lives,
tapping across the bright circles of our ambitions
like cracks traversing the favorite china.
When a critic talks about skillful pacing in a poem they are talking about the sentence that spans four lines and begins with “The dashboards.” I’ll leave the commentary at that for now.