Today, Ephiphany, is a fitting day to briefly highlight the poets I spent some time with in 2011, since I’ll begin with a poem on just that.
5. My subscription to Poetry is a primary source for new poetry in the house (along with their fantastic mobile app while I’m on the road). A favorite from this past year was Joanne Mackowski, including this one:
EpiphanyA momentary rupture to the vision:the wavering limbs of a birch fashionthe fluttering hem of the deity’s garment,the cooling cup of coffee the ocean the deitywaltzes across. This is enough—but sometimesthe deity’s heady ta-da coaxes the cherriesin our mental slot machine to line up, andour brains summon flickering silver likesalmon spawning a river; the jury decidesin our favor, and we’re free to see, for now.A flaw swells from the facets of a day, increasingthe day’s value; a freakish postage stamp mailsour envelope outside time; hairy, claw-likemagnolia buds bloom from bare branches;and the deity pops up again like a girl froma giant cake. O deity: you transfixing transgressor,translating back and forth on the borderwithout a passport. Fleeing revolutionsof same-old simultaneous boredom andboredom, we hoard epiphanies under the bed,stuff them in jars and bury them in the backyard;we cram our closet with sunrise; prop up our feetand drink gallons of wow!; we visit the doctorbecause all this is raising the blood’s levels ofc6H3(OH)2CHOHCH2NHCH3, the heart caughtin the deity’s hem and haw, the oh unfurlingfrom our chest like a bee from our cup of coffee,an autochthonous greeting: there. Who saw it?
4. Simon Armitage is a longtime favorite, so of course I gobbled up Seeing Stars, which did not disappoint–though I do need to spend some more time with it.
3. One of those “where-have-you-been?” discoveries that are really a self-indictment (where-have-I-been?): the Canadian poet P.K. Page, particularly her collection Cosmologies: Poems Selected and New. The book is published by David R. Godine, a wonderful publisher of poetry whose devotion to the craft is reflected in the attention to material detail in all of their books. Page seems influenced by Neruda, perhaps. But in another sense, she feels like Wordsworth crossed with a hint of Baudelaire–a nature poetry of modernity. Consider just this sample:
2. If Page is Wordsworth meets Baudelaire, then Sarah Lindsay might be Keats crossed with Charles Darwin. A poet of nature who is more specifically a poet of the animal–the poet as zoologist. Both of her collections, Primate Behavior and Twigs & Knucklebones, are delightful and pensive, attentive to the world in all of its beauty and brokenness.
1. The poetry collection that has stuck with me the most from 2011 is Ted Hughes reframing of Shakespeare in Essential Shakespeare—I roundly praised just recently on this blog.
Next up (as soon as I can get to it): Nonfiction, then Novels.