Guide Different Angles (Collected Poems of Hugo Searcher, Vol. 2)

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She was a busy and very competent housewife, but Weimar aristocratic society was merciless to her and grew suspicious of her lover. Goethe refused to undergo the church ceremony that was the only way of being legally married, and so her very existence could not formally be acknowledged. Frau von Stein suffered a kind of nervous collapse, and all but the most superficial communication between her and Goethe ceased.

In literary terms the Italian journey had not been a particularly successful time: Egmont had been completed, though with a shift of focus that blurred its political point, and some minor plays had been rewritten and ruined in the process. Almost no lyric poems had been written. His misery at leaving Italy found an outlet in the play Torquato Tasso ; Eng. Torquato Tasso , the first tragedy in European literature with a poet as its hero, which was written largely in —89, though it had been begun in In richly plangent verse but at inordinately untheatrical length, Tasso descends into madness, uncomprehended by the court around him.

In old age Goethe acknowledged the closeness of this story of self-destruction to that of Werther. The erotic poems Goethe wrote in the first months of his love for Christiane, some of the earliest German imitations of Classical elegiac couplets, are among his most remarkable achievements. By his 40th birthday, in , Goethe had all but completed the collected edition of his works, including a revision of Werther , 16 plays, and a volume of poems.

The only fragmentary drama it contained was Faust , which he saw no chance yet of finishing and which appeared in print for the first time in as Faust: Ein Fragment. Together with some of the shorter poems on Christiane, they appeared in in the collection now known as the Venetianische Epigramme Venetian Epigrams. The years from to were lonely years for Goethe.

But outside the house, apart from Herder, who was increasingly disenchanted with Weimar, his only close friend was the duke. He was lucky to survive the disastrous retreat from Valmy, in France, and to return home in December , but he was back on campaign in , observing the siege and virtual destruction of French-occupied Mainz. As a reward for his loyal support, Charles Augustus presented him with the freehold of the house on the Frauenplan in Weimar, which he remodelled into the form that has been preserved to the present day and which now also houses the Goethe National Museum.

But within the federal and feudal structure he thought established authority had an overriding right and duty to impose order, and he had little interest in procedures of representation or theories of the popular will. The creed was subtle, pragmatic , and benevolently paternalist, but it would be a travesty to see Goethe as a servile courtier or unprincipled egoist, though many have seen him in this light during his lifetime and afterward.

After the remarkable effort of completing his collected edition, Goethe seems not to have known where to go next as a poet. Perhaps by way of compensation for his lack of literary success, he turned to science. He also began to try to apply the same principle to anatomy in order to explain the skeletal development of vertebrates. In , however, a completely new scientific issue began to obsess him: the theory of colour. Convinced that Sir Isaac Newton was wrong to assume that white light could be broken into light of different colours, Goethe proposed a new approach of his own.

Colour was to be seen as emerging from the mingling of light and darkness. Later, however, he saw that it is of the essence of colour to require cooperation between the physical behaviour of light and the human perceptual apparatus. In making this change to what one might call a more subjective science, Goethe was greatly helped by his study of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant , which was completely transforming the German intellectual landscape and was in particular being vigorously furthered in the University of Jena.

The German Refugees , which were found tedious, and the Roman Elegies , which were found scandalous, and serialized a translation of the autobiography of Florentine Mannerist artist Benvenuto Cellini , which was acceptable but unexciting. Schiller soon lost interest in the journal, which ceased publication after three years.

Perhaps it had served its purpose simply by initiating the collaboration with Goethe, which was closer, longer, and on a higher level than any comparable friendship in world literature. Both profited incalculably from the relationship. The rewriting was therefore an immensely demanding task, but, as it came to an end, Goethe seemed to get a second wind.

In the autumn he began an epic in the Homeric manner but set in contemporary Germany and dealing with the response of ordinary small-town people to the French Revolution and the associated wars: Herrmann und Dorothea , published in , one of the most successful and lucrative of his works. A second hexameter epic, on the subject of Achilles , did not get beyond the first canto. With these Goethe returned to rhymed verse on a grand scale after some 10 years of writing in Classical metres and blank verse.

At the same time, he took up again his great play in rhymed verse, Faust , and worked on it as the mood took him over the next five years. He decided probably in to divide it into two parts, of which the first at least could be completed soon, since it would cover all that he had so far written and required merely that certain gaps be filled. Ever since the Italian journey, Goethe had thought of Weimar as a place where Classical culture might be brought to life once more.

On a far grander scale, Goethe had been directing the rebuilding of the ducal palace, destroyed by fire in the exterior was unostentatious, but the interior decor was one of the earliest examples of the full Neoclassical style in Germany and had a lasting influence. But it was becoming obvious that the new world which had begun with the French Revolution in was going to make it ever more difficult to recover the spirit of antiquity. Because Napoleon had forced Pope Pius VI to dispatch to Paris his best works of art, Goethe would not have found the Italy he had sought in anyway.

Goethe never again set out to cross the Alps but accepted that everything that Italy had come to stand for in his mind—as the place of classic human perfection, in nature and in art—could be only an ideal to inspire him: he could not expect to experience it again as part of his normal life. Goethe recognized that the modern world is not a Classical world, but he was also certain that the Classical ideal was infinitely superior to anything his contemporaries could offer.

It lasted only two years, but in , to carry on its work, he inaugurated a series of art competitions in which subjects from Classical antiquity were judged according to a rigid canon opposed to the great changes then taking place in German art, especially in landscape and religious painting. On the other hand, he thought that the Classical world was the only true ideal and that the modern world was therefore profoundly misguided.

Something of this new understanding went into his recasting of Faust , and Faust, as the representative of modern man, took on some of the characteristics of a philosophical idealist. In it the French Revolution appears as the enemy of beauty and as inaugurating a new age in which the Classical world will survive in middle-class culture rather than in the courts that in the 18th century had been its home. Goethe had taken on the management of the Weimar court theatre in , had it rebuilt to his own design in , and thereafter put on first or early performances of seven major plays by Schiller in six years.

But by the high point of classical Weimar culture had passed. That summer saw the opening of the new ducal palace, but it also saw the first effects of the Napoleonic reorganization of Germany, which had been set in motion by the Final Recess Hauptschluss drawn up by a committee of princes, the Reichsdeputation, earlier that year. One result was that the University of Jena lost many of its most distinguished professors, including Schelling, to newer and wealthier institutions elsewhere.

Jena never again rose to the dominant position it had enjoyed in the s. In December Herder died, and in early Schiller and Goethe both fell seriously ill. Schiller died. Goethe responded to the death of Schiller by winding up the projects that had dominated his middle years. War, however, delayed publication of Faust until Christiane showed great courage in keeping control of the soldiers billeted with the family, and, probably in order to secure her position in these dangerous days, Goethe formally married her in the vestry of the court church five days after the battle.

In an obvious reaction against this decision finally to commit himself, Goethe shortly afterward fell briefly and passionately in love with an unremarkable young lady, Wilhelmine Herzlieb, extricating himself from the entanglement only with considerable pain. The period after the death of Schiller and the Battle of Jena was at first a sombre one.

Elective Affinities purports to tell a Romantic story of the conflict between social conventions and passion—or Fate, or animal magnetism , or chemical affinity all explanations are canvassed —in the lives of four comfortable and cultivated people. Through the refractive medium of an exceptionally misleading narration, however, we glimpse a much bleaker world in which moral choice is hard, in which there are no consolations, and in which Romantic paraphernalia—whether speculative science, artistic medievalism, or landscape gardening—is a delusive distraction.

The years to were, however, a disturbed period during which no visits to Carlsbad took place. He had to be pleased that the Treaty of Paris signed in provided for the works of art looted from Italy to be returned, but he was no friend of reaction, whether political or cultural. Alienation from the modern age is the undertone in all his work of this period, which branches out in three very different directions. He also approved of the plan to complete the unfinished cathedral in Cologne according to the rediscovered original drawings. But his friends did not immediately appreciate that Goethe might recognize a past achievement but still not think it a suitable ideal to inspire the contemporary artist.

He started to write verse of his own in the style of the translation. Poems of the East and West. Goethe was fleeing from the upheavals of his own time. But in he was cruelly reminded that he could not flee present reality entirely. His wife died in June, probably of epilepsy. He abandoned a third visit to the Rhineland, and after only very few poems were added to the Divan , which was published in He had to make a new will and could see his 70th birthday approaching. The period until was one of tidying up at the end of life. He also took up a new scientific interest, meteorology.

One more crisis remained. In Goethe resumed his summer visits to Bohemia. Goethe stayed in Weimar and its immediate surroundings for the rest of his life. It was a final stage of renunciation, an acknowledgement of the reality of passing time and strength and life. But it was also a time of extraordinary, indeed probably unparalleled literary achievement by a man of advanced age. In the course of this huge task, he rewrote and greatly extended The Wanderings of Wilhelm Meister ; 2nd ed. Less a novel than a collection of stories, extracts, and reflections in which fact and fiction , the prosaic and the intensely poetic, interact unpredictably, the book is held together by a framework narrative that violates conventional expectations as deliberately as much 20th-century experimental writing.

It also engages directly with such 19th-century themes as industrialization, utopian socialism , public education, and immigration to America. Yet he did not cut himself off from the world. He followed public events closely, such as the establishment of the first railways in Britain in and the July Revolution in France in which influenced the closing scenes of Faust. It also brought the first performance in Weimar of part one of Faust ; Goethe assisted with the rehearsals but did not attend the performance.

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A few are re-formatted from OCR texts. Spiritual texts and periodicals are in separate collections. If you have documents to share or suggestions of works we should include, please contact us. Items may be submitted in hard copy or electronic forms. This collection may contain copyrighted material which has not been specifically authorized for our use.


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If you do not agree, do not download. We will remove contested content promptly upon receipt of legitimate requests. Readers who wish to obtain a permanent copy of any item are encouraged to acquire one from a bookseller of their choice. GUY A. JOHN C. GUY W. On the best of weeks I'd have a draft saved before going to bed Friday night so I could give the project a rest on Saturday.

Then on Sunday morning I'd drop into silence and begin again. As a method, this may not work for you. Heck, reading the poems of the sequence you may conclude that it didn't really work for me either. On the other hand, the discipline was extraordinarily valuable. It not only carried me over a major midlife career change but served to return me to the beauty and struggle of my faith. Which, really, is not such a bad thing. Marilyn E. The primary genesis for Silk Fist Songs was losing a beloved father and older brother within a year and a half of each other, at age 88 and 57, respectively.

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In the Towers fell, my father fell. He died exhausted in May five years ago. While Dad sickened, the world outside swirled with anthrax scares, terrorism threats, and build-up to the Iraq war that staggered and demoralized us. At this time, my brother, Ken, a postman, hard-working father of two draft-age sons, suffered an intense recurrence of hereditary Crohns, an intestinal disease that had first flared up in and almost took his life after his tour in Vietnam in the late sixties.

He steadily worsened through all of and Later, he was diagnosed with cancer. He died tragically of Crohns and colon cancer in December My family was often subject matter. It was a bewildering corporate world I entered in and I was not ready. As a young person, writing helped me make a refuge and to negotiate the long process of developing a self against the pressures of an organization which simultaneously alienated yet, bizarrely, worked as a ground for much needed self-growth.

I had to see myself challenged and mastering life.

Allen Ginsberg | Poetry Foundation

Writing poems was a way of strengthening and hearing my own voice. For twenty years, I wrote mainly with no audience but the silent witness in beloved books. When I left Cigna in , I searched out other local poets and conferences and entered an exhilarating world of real life writing souls. I had to write it, save it, study it.

I saw their essence in a phrase, a hand gesture, a reminisence. Memories haunted me; images, patterns from the past came to the surface to be relived. Sometimes, unprecedented honest moments happened between us. Insights I could barely handle. Looking back on this now, I see it was a process of letting go, of reckoning up unfinished understandings. I needed to try to understand them before I could ever relinquish them if I have.

I also had to understand myself. What kind of girl was it that my husband found in when he met me? How did I get that way? How was I formed? By whom? Who was I now? Who would I become, without these men in my family, their supportive and challenging presences and voices? I felt I had to re-bond with them on some new footing. I lived backwards into time, wrote constantly, often in tears.

A passionate momentum carried me. I searched memories, old photos, pulled out poems written long ago, revised them in light of the now wrenching experience of loss. Mourning has been the process of building a work of art that I hope is a testament to my love as well as a claim to my own character. These compilations I drafted became the core of the book that Rennie McQuilkin helped me finish.

In my forties, when I was attempting to shift from a long career in insurance to a life in poetry, I felt an inner clash. I wrote many poems trying to come to grips with this ideal, taking its measure, its full "weight" as legacy, both in terms of its hampering burdens and its positive gifts. What follows is a series of thoughts on particular poems, accompanied by ways of approaching those poems and possibly using them as springboards for your own writing.

This poem recounts a brief and subtle drama with two forces clashing in silence. Can you characterize each force and the nature of their conflict? What does the final image call up for you in your life? Idea for writing: Review old photos. Notice the clothes you were in. What were the subjective feelings of being inside those clothes? Describe those feelings and relate any memories that come back to you. In each poem, what can you intuit about the inner character from the depiction of actions?

What implications of relationship reverberate beyond the task at hand? Idea for writing: Make a portrait or self-portrait by describing the step-by-step operations of a daily task. Include details that can be seen as idiosyncratic to the particular doer. Close observations may allow you convey the essence of someone. How do your sympathies fall, facing each of these dramatic speeches?

Idea for Writing: Invent a dramatic monologue, employing words and style of voice from someone in your own life or from history. Let a one-sided conversation imply the circumstances of the scene, setting, and situation. How many senses are drawn upon in this poem? Do the images conjure insights about the experience and the characters? Idea for Writing: Put yourself back in a physical place and describe an experience there using details from as many senses as you can. Allow the reader to relive it with you and primarily let the sensory images speak for themselves.

In each poem, define the oppositions coming into stark encounter. How does each confrontation resolve? Use third person narration, or narrate by directly addressing the other party—and follow, as you choose to, the stages of the show-down to the resolution or non-resolution reached. What part does each play symbolically within the larger themes and narrative progression of this book? Idea for Writing: Find an object around the house, new or possessed many years. Describe it in detail.

Let broader associations of the object flow out of the physical description, minimizing direct statements of its meaning. Some poems depict an outing of two or more characters, e. Pinpoint the details of the setting and actions that carry awareness of a new vantage. Idea for Writing: Have you witnessed or felt a similar transformation in a new setting with someone? Let details of the setting carry the discovery of a perspective change. This is one of the thrilling aspects of my work as a poet and educator.

It is also part of my creative process. Again, many of the poems in this collection are a response to that question. I could have gone on much longer, but at that point the poem was beginning to make itself known. In the classroom, I frequently jot down comments the students make and included many of their voices in this performance piece. Then write.

Sometimes the sun takes hours to shut down; I go slower. In that expansion of a celestial tilting, I go slower. The Milky Way pushes its light years hulk once around each several hundred million years. From birthday to ceremony, season to remembrance, time alters its spaces.

And the ducks cross Canandaigua Creek as they did when I was ten, counting them in their single line. The series starts with the fiery enormity of the visible sun and moves to the known but invisible hulk of the galaxy, then to the pedestrian nano event of days and repetition of seasons, and on to the ducks in a row crossing the inconsequentially named Canandaigua Creek.

Relativity occurs in the presence of the line of ducks with the light years pushing their hulks across the infinite universe. My neighbor has no children; she finds things to do. No one at my house misses me. This afternoon we plant radish seeds between her cold-frame box and the cellar door.

We dig up dots of earth and crush them into powder. Will the seeds disappear and never grow? Seeds need rain, but I'm afraid of rain when it rattles my attic bedroom window and lands just short of me. It seems okay to do without rain, but she explains rain matters and how to make do with what you have as you grow. Simplicity and clarity are the essential elements leading to statements of complex truths in poetry. I tried to incorporate in that little story of planting radishes the various and opposed conditions of bland fact, of loneliness, of fear, of magic and of love.

Bad luck crosses each path, even an open field. Grief meanders ahead; ill fates become sealed. Pain waits atop its web. Pray you can unravel a bandage, a row, a knot, a myth, or a battle. The triolet form in which a key line is repeated three times works well for communicating one point. The form proves that what is true combines all the clarity of what is brief and the complexity of what is obscure.

The best one can do is hope to survive the inevitable collision with disaster. I sometimes think I wasted my life trying to write poems. I wonder are the poems good enough to justify what I didn't do with my time and talents. I think I would have been good in a number of professions. And helpful. Then I think I have been provided a certain grace, or solace, to bear with all else life brings, providing I honor the gift I think I have. It's certainly too late to turn back now, and at least I have stories to tell.

The trick is: don't look behind you, and especially, don't look sideways. You who send the gray geese high answer all my questions why. And if at last I cannot know please let me too, let go -- but give me time so that I may complete my work, if not today, then another day. Let my sorrow fade far away, tomorrow. David K. Leff's The Price of Water. The time has arrived to. After all, every schoolchild knows that poems are arranged in musical stanzas and prose is built of paragraphs.

Prose is, after all, prosaic, while poetry strives for the sublime. For many, prose poems may appear queerly hermaphroditic. Thoreau have been rediscovered as prose poems. No doubt it appears impertinent for a self-taught tyro to discourse on a topic that has been carefully scrutinized by distinguished scholars and great poets. I risk doing so only because direct and specific inquires have been made by friends and readers for whom the concept of prose poems is perplexing.

While individual works must stand on their own without embroidery, it seemed I owed some general explanation to those who have graciously taken the time to read my work. Prose poems might well be called paragraph poems in contrast to verse where line breaks are a distinctive feature and a form of punctuation. Prose poems can embrace all the devices of traditional verse—consonance, alliteration, rhyme, metaphor, simile, and rhythm—but in a format where the sentence rather than the line is the basic building block.

Like traditional poems, they can be musical and contain a startling density or high specific gravity of sense, imagery, and sound. Prose poems also share with verse an economy of words and compression of simple observations to arrive at universal truths. My purpose is quite contrary. I write prose poems because they provide an opportunity to present poetry in a way that more directly speaks to the widest range of readers by using a framework with which they are comfortable. Prose is the daily bread of written communication.

We read sentences and paragraphs wherever we turn our attention—from advertisements to newspaper and magazine articles, whether on paper or online. But too often we forget that even mundane writing or speech has a euphony that the pen or tongue expresses unconsciously—like a divining rod finding veins of water. Prose poems fully ripen familiar language into a shape that provides wonder, discovery and resonance. I believe in poetry that is equally welcome in barrooms and classrooms.

What better way to infect people with poetry than to embed its music and spring-loaded thoughts in the ordinary format most people use every day? Just that.

Early years (1749–69)

He inserted three fingers into his mouth, caught his left cheek in a frenzied grip and ripped the whole thing off. As one who not only has attended poetry readings but is guilty of reading his poems in public, I understand the impulse. But I don't plan to stop. Perhaps because I labor under a delusion common to my species: that I am not a bore. My poems, I may flatter myself, will amuse, provoke, delight, beguile and shock. I will now put down my thesaurus. And, after all, those who attended my readings were complicit in their predicament.

Nobody herded them there. I bring this up because I am now the proud father of my first book of poetry, a slender volume published by Antrim House and titled The Water Sonnets. Which is apt, as many of the poems owe their settings to New London and the region, and many are reflections on my curious occupation: newspaperman. Still, having written in happy obscurity for nearly 50 years, this feels a bit presumptuous, like one of those dreams where you find yourself strolling down Bank Street in your pocketless skin.

I did not write my poems for this. In fact, even if I were never published, I would write still. It is a kind of sickness, this love of words, this need to shape them into small and intricate machines that you hope might live and breathe on their own.

It's wonderful to be - at last - a book. But poetry only lives in the human voice, and a book of poetry is a dead letter until you open it and read from it aloud. And so, I will be reading from and signing copies of my book at the Hygienic, and you, dear reader, are invited. If, however, you should come and feel the urge to tear your face off, don't say I didn't warn you. Lisa Sornberger's Returning Light. Thank you for visiting my page here. Working on this book has been a terrific experience, giving me lots of joy and a deeper understanding of how to convey experience and emotion through language.

It came to me as naturally as singing, plus I grew up in a family that encouraged reading and respected language and the arts. I hope readers can relate to the themes and emotions in the poems, and, ultimately, get a feeling of clarity, resolution, and joy in the process of reading them. Thanks to my editor and publisher, poet Rennie McQuilkin, for understanding my vision, and sharing his abundant gifts for language to help me fine-tune the work so I could say what I wanted in the best way possible.

And to my husband, John, who is so very kind and smart plus handsome, just a bonus-ha! He brings me happiness worth singing about! Also to Sandy Mastroni, the painter whose work graces the cover. With the devastating news of Joni's poor health high on the media's agenda, I catch up with the Connecticut resident who describes poetry as "a constant" in her life. Here Lisa talks about Joni, her love of poetry and Sally Taylor's inspirational global art project "Consenses. A It is a joy to hear just how much people like it.

What do writers want, really, other than to know that their words were understood and received as intended? To quote Joni from Jericho, "It's a rich exchange. It seems to me It's a warm arrangement. The book is still being printed and sold, along with Kindle copies.

Oddly, the publishers keep all of the profits from Kindle copies, and more. At times, I wonder if I could have approached things differently, interviewed contributors with a set of questions that brought more focus on the poems themselves, balanced with what they meant to, or how they impacted on others.

A It came to me almost fully fleshed out on the first day of the year in Think the seeds were planted deep years ago, and finally grew at the right time. And to have the blessing of Joni presenting her words in the format of poems, as she intended them to be presented on the page, was and is a dream come true.

Amazing what can happen sometimes when people come together with loving intent and gratitude. A Honestly, I felt shocked and terribly worried that Joni must be in unbearable pain, despite the best of care. A Poetry has been part of my life since adolescence. I wrote a chapbook in He is incredible person, poet, and publisher, and has created a press that has given many fine New England poets the chance to publish high quality books. As far as illustrations, I photographed a man and a woman sitting on a rock Joni line quoted here at Watch Hill, Rhode Island, for my chapbook cover.

Right time, right place. I love it when pictures and words kind of magically come together. The most recent project to spark my creative interest is Consenses, the beautiful and inspired project birthed by Sally Taylor. I was lucky enough to be able to participate in Chain 9 last summer. Very inclusive, no artistic ego nonsense involved. Vera Schwarcz's Chisel of Remembrance. The journey begins before the poet was born, "among the Jewish dead," in WWII Europe of her grandparents and parents, and winds its way to a timeless place of contemplation "where this world meets the sefirot above.

Her poems, masterfully and intelligently, weave the disparate trends of her life and interests into a beautiful tapestry. The book was handsomely produced by Antrim House. Its cover by Rose Sigal Ibsen, another Romanian born artist with interest in Far East art, with its warm colors, sunflowers, and hints of Hebrew and Chinese calligraphy, offers a prelude to the poetry within. The invitation is unmistakable, in Vera's words:.

I work silk and wool, embroider time. Life is short, art is well armed for lasting The queen of periwinkle, daisies, trillium and wart Invites you to sojourn among her colors. Susan Allison's Down by the Riverside Ways. As to the title: I once spent an evening in Ibis Books with musicians who mostly lived in the neighborhood. It was the first time many had played together. It was and the Gulf War was ramping up. No one knows who first wrote the lyrics to that traditional Gospel song, but it is distinctly American, and historically compelling. The title of my book is part tribute to the song, and the ways of folks who live by it.

It was a psalm we were singing. I could have simply titled the book, Down by the Riverside. But no, seems I had to futz with it. And then I actually found myself down by the river sideways and found the cover photo and a new angle on the book. I have climbed up and down around Middletown for close to thirty years. I am not the same person I was when I arrived. I wrote boxloads of poetry over this period of time, and I praise Rennie for selecting a good batch and making sense of it.

The collaborative editing process was extremely helpful for me and allowed me to focus on a few themes. There are rivers, birds, and riverbirds in these poems. There is my growing family. And there is this town. I once made a book called Birds of Middletown , in which the birds are people. Some of those poems are in Down by the Riverside Ways. The poems in this book represent a selection made between poet and editor.

The selection was added to and trimmed much in the way I edit my own poems. The poems look back over a period of time in one place. They do not represent all of my poems of this period or of this place. As to my own writing: I have written in various poetic forms since I was 6 years old. My first influences were Edgar Guest, Dr.


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Seuss, E. White, and Mother Goose. I began to study poetry as a forced act in public school in Louisville, KY. I loved the poems and argued with teachers except for Mr. Hall who stands out as a good teacher who also told me I was a good poet in 7th grade. Woodruff was another. Still, back then, my friends and I actually read poetry and circulated our books around.

Since college I have continued to read poets, but more recently I have been listening to poets. Poetry readings are things poets go to. I also traveled to other venues to hear poets. I use poetry and poetry uses me. Poetry uses me when a poem stubbornly comes to me fully formed and I must find the time to write it down. It is not always convenient. Often I wonder where these poems come from, the ones just half existing somewhere, demanding to be written, and think they have only chosen me as an unwitting medium. I usually write my poems in stages. Often I am inspired by something and I find time for an initial write.

Some poems come to me with forms that I have to decipher. It is a great relief to have a bound copy to place these poems into and give them a rest. When I was young it occurred to me once that I should live my life in service to my poetry. It was a decision I later regretted, but it gave me plenty of material. It was only a matter of time before I learned that this was a difficult if not impossible proposition, as much as trying to make a living off of poetry. I am grateful to Rennie for collaboration. And we had fun! I am also honored to be among so many fine poets at Antrim House Books.

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry. Ingrid Grenon's Simply This. Writing poetry in 5th grade: what happens when no art classes are offered in school! Later in the year, during the winter, when the darkness crept in early to steal the day, Mr. Allen caught me writing poetry when I was supposed to be studying geography. I usually sat and looked out of the window after the advent of darkness.

I thought seeing he headlights from the passing cars and the lights on the street was sort of magical. He reached down and put his hand on my arm. I thought I would really be in trouble. Try to study your geography, OK? I always studied my geography after that, and Mr. Allen never had any more problems with me. Standing in my dorm room I glanced over at my typewriter. It was sitting innocently on the desktop that the college had conveniently provided, sort of nestled in a corner amongst papers and a few books. I had actually been quite surprised that she allowed me to keep it, and it had been my own trusted companion ever since.

Now it was Both the typewriter and I were beginning to show some wear. I looked at it again. Words come out of that, I thought. Words of wisdom? Maybe I could use this device to extract some knowledge from somewhere not usually accessible. What if I could tap into some creative flow of knowledge, or at least delve into a portion of my brain that has up to this time been underutilized? No matter, I thought. I had nothing to lose.


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I sat down at the desk and pulled the typewriter away from the corner where it had been sleeping. I placed my fingers on the keys and played a few notes. Help Why? Nobody ever has all of the answers. Part of the value of the answer lies in what you had to go through to get it. One gains knowledge by seeking answers. I know life is a journey. If life is a journey, be mindful that getting to the end quickly might not be a good thing. The answers you seek are already there. Well, I certainly got a lot to think about. I looked down at the typewriter still sitting on the desk before me.

Then I re-positioned my chair and looked at it again. It certainly appeared inanimate, but something had just breathed life into it. I set my fingertips onto the keyboard again and attempted to play something else melodious, but only came up with bad notes. Whatever it was is gone. Nonetheless, I felt as if I had just had a chat with a wise parent, and it made me feel better and much more confident. Then I placed my fingers on the keys once again. Tired of rainy weather? It will pass. Sick of waiting in line?

Hoping this poem will end? This space? Waiting, Like life, Will pass. It was a sweltering hot summer afternoon, as hot as it can get in Maine, and my parents, grandparents and I were heading home on U. Route 1 after being at a clambake in Boothbay. On the ride home I had refused to talk and was staring out of the rear window of my parents Ford. Look at the old ship! I have to see the ships! Rather than allow a four year old to bounce and scream uncontrollably in the back seat my parents likely assumed it would be better to indulge me.

There was the smell of low tide, a hot summer breeze, seagulls and the schooners against the backdrop of Sheepscot Bay in Wiscasset. Finally my parents pulled me away and tossed me into the backseat of the Galaxie , my head hanging out of the window, longingly staring back as the car sped away. I watched the schooners disappear but never forgot them. Don Barkin's That Dark Lake. Barkin grew up in New Hampshire, which is fitting since his poems, in their formal precision and introspective nature, might make you think of the great American poet forever associated with New Hampshire, Robert Frost.

Frost was the preeminent poet of eloquent nature and laconic people, insisting that poems should have a formal pattern even when most of his contemporaries embraced various kinds of experimental verse. That traditionalism lives on in Barkin's work, though it's clear he's also absorbed the other point Frost insisted on: American verse should sound the way Americans talk. Barkin has an enviable knack for marrying metric regularity with the rhythms of speech. His poems sound natural, which is why they are all the more effective when you realize they conform to formal patterns. Frost famously said writing unmetrical verse was like "playing tennis without a net," suggesting that such a practice would be slightly ridiculous and pointless.

Barkin isn't as vehement about form, but says it keeps his poems from flying off into more chaotic areas of thought and feeling.

World Literature, Indian Views, 1920s–1940s

But it's also the case that with poems so small and spare, full of perceptions about aging "In Middle Age," "A Reunion," and missed connections with others "Our Marriage," "The Descent," "Out of Work" and self-conscious tales of parenting "Evensong," "Sliding" and at times rueful, at times awed interactions with nature "Upstream," "No Longer Tempted by Greatness" , the form leavens what might otherwise seem too much a slice of life, with views too baldly self-critical or diminished.

The tightrope walk of form gives weight to the feelings in the poems. Frost was praised as a poet of philosophical consolations often found by contemplating nature and its creatures without undue romanticizing, but most of his critics point out there is a darker sense always lurking in his poems, an allowance that, no matter how precise our command of language and our human environment, there is something "other" in nature that has no sympathy for us.

Barkin's poems seem to accept that less hospitable world as a given of nature and of human nature. It then becomes the poet's task to find some point of acceptance or satisfaction, often through humor and a sense of scale. Barkin, as a poet of quotidian life in 21st-century America, isn't making epic or visionary claims.

He's putting a quietly lyrical spin on life with what might be considered a down-sized aesthetic, which is to say his poems, when I first heard him read at Yale's McDougal Center a few weeks ago, resonated with local realities. Imagine Frost alive today and living as a family man, school teacher and poet in suburban Connecticut. Might not he sound a bit like this:. It also bespeaks the atmosphere that pervades the sensibility of this New Haven poet.

In Springtime a young brook throws the whole mountain in an uproar. It crashes through the rocks like a blind man in a hurry. Sometimes Barkin constrains this rare prowess by letting stringent rhyme schemes tie down his lyrical, even chaste gems of insight. Fortunately this is not omnipresent, and many of the poems reflect the sincere, almost affable ambience, of That Dark Lake as a whole. The collection delves not just into human emotion but the everyday bustle of life. Consider such lines as.

In the weight of the great trees on the lawn, In the timid, curving love Of the tree limbs on the bright grass, They can see that really Nothing ever goes anywhere. In middle age you smell the end The way you smell the snow …. In the smallness of things lies the greatness of reality, of Being itself. And yet, the collection is domestically minded enough to grasp the solace offered?

The roadside grasses quiver in a wave of air where cars have been like knots of comets howling by, too loud to hear the grasses sigh as sleepers sigh when nightmares shake them cruelly up but not awake. The cars themselves are in a spell and travel back and forth pell-mell, trumpeting a new age of information, speed, and rage. Such sleek machines are bound to bring a springtime sweeter than the spring.