So I'm out here in the Pacific Northwest, getting my tourist on, trying to see and do as much as I possibly can (spring break, whoooo). Up to this point, things have been sort of amazing. I got a chance to chat/booze with fellow poet-blogger-all-around-good-dude Matthew Nienow, I had 2 poems accepted to appear in 32 Poems (a journal I super-dig that you should all be reading/subscribing to), my interview with mentor and poet Kevin Boyle went live at storySouth, I've been treated to great tours by great old friends, and, lastly and not leastly, I got a chance to poke through some of Roethke's notebooks in Allen Library at the University of Washington.
It was sort of surreal to see them and surprisingly easy to do. His scribble is nearly illegible at times (read: frequently), but after about an hour I started to get the hang of it. So, for your viewing pleasure, I offer my favorite fragments of Roethke's notebooks (these dated from 1960-1962). I may go back later this week to try and see some of the correspondence (they have letters between him and Auden, Cummings, Lowell, and Stevens, among others). For the most part they're just the phrases that I could read, though there were poem fragments, quotations of other writers (a lot of Yeats, Pound, and Donne, I noticed), and drafts. I've separated bits taken from different pages with asterisks. Often, on the same pages he'll draw lines between thoughts and I've tried to recreate that here. My comments are bracketed, everything else is TR. I printed out some pages from the microfilm copies of the notebooks and I'll post some pictures of those once I get home, but for now, bits from Roethke:
the adjective is not where I live
Love is no consolation, but pure Right.
When I think of him, I feel a terrible sense of competition. [the 'him' is never named]
Poet and Saint, to thee alone are given
the two most sacred names of Earth and Heaven.
in that black tangle where we first began
If he isn't a shit, he's at least a wet fart.
Who, with but two eyes,
can take all this rich glittering,
the brown shade of the creek-bed
alive with liquid at last
as the sun comes out after the flash-flood.
The beautiful pain, all anger and destruction
[by far my favorite page]
The ugly parents with a beautiful child.
I have received gifts.
From the father in us all.
A carpet of woodchips in the yard.
Scoop-the-Poop Jackson, an errand boy for the Boeings
the flame-wrapped father
"We need eternity"-Rilke
who can escape the spell of blood
that form that curled and turned and rolled away
like a young puppy in its morning play
[this was circled on a page full of other crossed out lines]
Only the soul is truly circular:
"If the writing of poetry is harder than breaking stone in the road, as Yeats."
-Robt. Graves: a semi-friend
Let there be this declaration of deeds
spired a mountain-spring
"A male dog will never attack a female dog"
All for now, more later, perhaps.