Saturday, 29 November 2014

Mark Strand dies, age 80

Some among you may have noticed I haven't posted anything in some time- the truth is that while some may feel a sense of exhilaration at casting their voice into the void and hearing nothing in return, I am not one of those. But I felt the need to post this upon the death of one of my favorite poets, Mark Strand. He has not featured previously in this blog largely because he is not a particularly 'accessible' poet- while his language is simple and direct he often deals in abstractions, with themes of nothingness and absence, our literal and figurative deaths. His imagery is often a bit surreal and dark, although I have often found his poetry to be like a delicious winter meal whose ingredients one can't quite identify but which come together under a wondrous gravy of melancholy. Certainly not everyone's taste but it has often been mine.

Here is a link to some of his poems on the Writer's Almanac podcast. Enjoy. RIP Mark. Thank you.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

RIP Galway Kinnell

Pulitzer-prize winning poet Galway Kinnell, a lifelong New Englander, recently died at his home in Vermont at the age of 87.

From his NY Times obituary:

Through it all, he held that it was the job of poets to bear witness. “To me,” he said, “poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.”

Here is a link to a tribute to Kinnell by his long-time friend C.K. Williams from The New Yorker:

Here is my favourite Kinnell poem and one of my favourite poems EVER (referred to in the above piece by Williams):

“Saint Francis and the Sow”

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

-Galway Kinnell