On the eve of the start of AlbanyWordFest, I thought I had better write an update on my April assignment of reading a poet a day before next week when I will be posting frequently on the shenanigans & might not have time to.
My first post on this process brought me up to April 7. April 8 was Easter so I selected Thomas Merton as my poet, both as an appropriate choice for Easter & to counter the overly self-conscious experiments of e.e. cummings in 1x1 (not my favorite of his books). Merton's work is more discursive, meditative, a poet I've carried with me since my High School days. I carried him over to Easter Monday as well.
April 10 found me reading Time & Money by William Matthews, mainly because the book had been perched on my book shelf for a long time. How could I not love poems about baseball, 3 poems about Mingus, a poem about Monk? They are also discursive, conversational with enough of the dark side of poetry to be poetry. He was the kind of poet I would've liked to have had a chance to sit down with for a long talk over a beer, or whiskey, but, alas, he died too soon at 55 in 1997.
Amy Clampitt's book A Silence Opens has also been teetering on my bookshelf for years so I turned to it on April 11. A switch in tone from Matthews & Merton to a more lapidary poetry, stretching for the musical, exotic word. I also realized today that this little notebook in which I am recording my readings will serve as a reading list in the future for those poets I want to return to & read at greater length & depth.
On April 12 I read Donald Lev's new book, A Very Funny Fellow (NYQ Books, 2012). The poems are mostly short, half-page notebook jottings so I got through the whole thing. Watch for a full review on this Blog site sometime soon.
The works by & about H.D. (1886 - 1961) take up almost 6 inches on my bookshelf, including Barbara Guest's biography, Herself Defined, & I have read others, such as a second biography, from the library. I read mostly from the Selected Poems & the introduction by Louis L. Martz, but also read in Trilogy, a copy from Ted Adams' library, with his handwritten notes in the back, including a phone number for a cholesterol screening. Born at the end of the 19th Century, H.D. lived through 2 Word Wars & sought help from Sigmund Freud. As a young poet she was wooed by a youthful Ezra Pound. She progressed on to become one of the early (can one say "seminal"?) feminist poets of the 20th Century.
For today (April 14) I settled on Langston Hughes, mainly as a result of a Blog by George Wallace about Hughes' poems about the Spanish Civil War. More on that next time.