Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanksgiving Prayer, 2012

It is the day we give thanks
to be at a full table, and outside
the Olympics teeth the dusking
horizon. Here we’re surrounded
by certainty in the midst of the uncertain:
for mountains will not move even
for superstorms or homelands
in upheaval: the incontrovertible danger
of stepping outside: the losses we have
or haven’t named to one another.
But here: there is a richness.
There is a feeling of something complete:
meats waiting to loose the juices
that have been simmering in smoke,
lasagna and stuffings and casseroles
that are each a small history
of ourselves. Let us be grateful in our faith
that what is unseen is not unheard:
that families, ours and others,
extend beyond bloodlines, that we have arrived
here, where recipes steam
from memory at a place beyond
our griefs. Let us remember
that while we may be hundreds
of miles from the places we were born,
we are not far from home.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Serious Romantic

Jack Gilbert, a poet whose frank, forthright, emotionally fraught works observed the grand universal realities of love and death from a perspective off the literary grid, died on Tuesday in Berkeley, Calif. He was 87.

-obit. from the New York Times

Gilbert’s work embraces what most poets have been trying for decades to subvert. A self-proclaimed “serious romantic,” Gilbert writes poems full of feeling, working to cultivate “something that matters to the heart,” a romantic notion approached these days with a strong inoculation of irony, if at all. While many poets working with such hot materials might seek a mitigating factor when casting them into verse — fragmentation and abstraction are two modes currently in fashion — Gilbert courts danger by pursuing a far more traditional approach. Crystalline imagery, direct speech, the language of place and the self are hallmarks of Gilbert’s style from his first poem to his final book.

-Jeremy Bass at Los Angeles Review of Books 

Later, I was living in the East Village and this one night there was pounding on the door and there was Cleve standing in the hall. He was agitated and said, They’re looking all over for you. I asked who, and he explained that somebody wanted to give me the Yale prize. I didn’t know what to do, how to express it. I took him out with my two friends and we had milkshakes. 

-Jack Gilbert's "Art of Poetry" interview with The Paris Review


Two poems:

"Pachyderm" by Sherman Alexie

"My Father's Soul Departing" by David Wojahn


Life in the Internet age has undoubtedly helped a certain ironic sensibility to flourish. An ethos can be disseminated quickly and widely through this medium. Our incapacity to deal with the things at hand is evident in our use of, and increasing reliance on, digital technology. Prioritizing what is remote over what is immediate, the virtual over the actual, we are absorbed in the public and private sphere by the little devices that take us elsewhere.

-Op-Ed by Christy Wampole in the New York Times


This flattened me: