POSTED 2009-01-31 IN YOUNG WRITERS POEMS
Adam Goldberg's bright, ironic poetry is built on a keen awareness of self, the complexity of longing, and what seems at once a wavy, yet sturdy floor. A graduate of Emerson College, living for a year now on his own in Greece, he brings his insightful poems to life by crafting with precision a poet's spontaneous, personal reports from the ongoing struggle to be.
TRYING TO READ SOMETHING THAT’S WRITTEN ON THE FLOOR WHILE STANDING UP
Driving home at 3 or 4 the stadium is bright in front of me
And 1930’s steam rises from the manhole cover
Because it’s gotten colder
Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten younger
But I realize
(with a laugh perhaps)
That you laid your head on me tonight
Instead of your feet
I guess that’s something
I find it hard to write
When I’m in
Or maybe it’s because I said
That I’d never write a single goddamn word
And then you kissed me
And I thought
Because it's those little things you can hold on to
And that was all I really needed
Just a little bit
Just a little
But I’m still driving home late
Trying to find my way
Onto the fucking highway
And even if I laugh
I have to remember
That even if you stopped
Resting your feet on me
I'll always be
POSTED 2009-01-07 IN YOUNG WRITERS POEMS
Laurel is an insightful young writer out of the creative writing program at Oberlin College. Intensely aware of the world around her, Laurel's sense of place is central in her work. Written during her time on Paros, Greece, these poems reflect her communion with the Greek landscape and culture.
DREAMING ABOUT THE OTHER
When I think about going back,
to the thorny winter air, muddy
paths in frost-frozen ruts, the sky
muted or just turned off, I still
manage excitement. Because I know
that place. How it will recover. It will
push the heat up as if from the center
of the Earth, from its blown-furnace
heart, and laugh as we kneel, thankful.
The land will grow so lovely
that we will cease to think about it
in the richness of summer, leaves wide
over our heads, drinking beer
and lemonade, dreaming
fairy thoughts about snow.
The mornings will come, peach
juice, thick, sugar, the air like holding
your hand over a cup of tea, moisture
clinging a little uncomfortably.
In remembering I will forget
the wind and the lemon tree raking
branches against my balcony in the night.
The time I tried to climb the mountain
to get a better view, the dried scrub
grabbing my leggings. How I came down
through someone's yard, the goats
bleated and ran, a woman frowned
through my apology and I walked
the highway back to my apartment.
Keeping only the way I learned,
some, about photographs and the way
our minds are constantly taking them:
the neighbor’s baby, her split-second smiles more
honest than the ones we sustain, the words
in all those books matching the clear
light hugged close to the island,
the shuttered, broken doors
that still lead somewhere.
POSTED 2007-11-28 IN POEMS
HEART IN THE WHITE ROOM
For dear George Crane
In the noisy sphere, the rain falls.
The world crawls on its knees.
The sea, how it washes away.
Death a seed
in the time form within me.
Dear wife at the stove,
wife at the cloth.
Woman to take care of heaven.
My child is God,
about six weeks old.
Fight the great closing,
remember the honey that fell
on your lips.
When you could eat anything
you longed for.
Dreamed in the narrow lanes.
Struggled with dialogues,
the maze, and the lies we tell.
In a slim cot not far from the wall,
squirming, a line of ants
in the king’s underwear.
Bless the going over too much,
the great ship of tons in the wave.
The brain, the mind, and the nerves.
The whole constellation in the
Love to tie the little strings
of my daughter’s pajamas,
rock her beautiful feet
in the moonlight.
Kneel to worship the stars
that whirl above.
Yes, to it all.
POSTED 2007-05-29 IN POEMS
Perhaps no critical insight can adequately sum up the force of voice and creative impulse that marks this unique and original poet. Tagrin’s highly personal poems are made up of a natural complexity of insight and a dramatic interplay of emotions, and while not opaque, are not always easily absorbed on first reading. Wisdom and tenderness at one moment can shift next into wonderment and raw, troubled self reflection.
Preview his new book in the 'True Visitor Books' section
THE FEMININE CENTURY
When I came home tonight I lit the lamps in the patio,
a couple of those kerosene flares too.
I guess I was lighting up the loneliness all around.
Just like my mother did. She too fought to stay young.
As a boy I watched her tape her cheeks up tight,
glue her neck at the back sides to tighten the throat.
She was a real magician. She taught me romance.
That’s why I’m up on the roof now,
listening to the goats navigate the moonlight terraces,
their bells the sentimental code of the mountain.
It was the sound Karen most loved.
It always made her feel safe.
The peacefulness that replaced my troubled days away.
How she suffered, my queen. How we rode the struggle,
between the present impossible and the future
we could not build.
Whenever I am out here, on the roof of the house
we built together, I think of her.
I like to imagine she is the center mystics dream of finding.
The secret scientists feel the universe possesses.
It makes me wonder just what it is that I have accomplished.
Perhaps the way is other than I have imagined. For example,
I could have cast aside the various defections of my troubled
behavior, the selfish nature of the un-godly investigations.
That punishing game of the body which worked to diminish
the spirit of the woman I loved. Yes I could have, but I didn’t.
Instead, I went on sending failed postcards to imaginary dolls,
and secret letters to angels who lived in my loins.
O I dreamed up a filthy universe, and made my wife carry
it to church. Into the garden, out on picnics along the bay.
For a generation I worked to salvage the Eros of my childhood.
Thundering under all before me. Using up the hopes
of my loving partner. Went on, and on, until I killed her heart.
And here on my fingertips are what remains,
a number of conquests, from cashmere
to dirty white cotton.
POSTED 2007-05-28 IN POEMS
Linda Gregg has been the recipient of many awards for her work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Whiting Writer's Award, as well as multiple Pushcart Prizes. She was the 2003 winner of the Sara Teasdale Award and the 2006 PEN/Voelcker Award winner for Poetry.
I was walking in the fields with a friend
and asked what the farmers do when they plow up
something extraordinary. He said it depends
on what its worth. They take it to a middleman.
“Look at that,” I said, and picked up a five-pound
marble head of Eros. The cheeks protected
the smile but otherwise it was beaten up.
A crack down the forehead and under one eye
made it seem to be frowning. Behind us were
four bushes: sage, thyme, oregano, mirtia.
The sun was going down. I would like to hold
something up against the ruin. To show how the heart
and spirit pass the test. The look on the face
was understanding and blissful. The light changed
and I hid it inside a bush for another two thousand years.
POSTED 2007-05-28 IN POEMS
Gilbert is the author of Refusing Heaven (2005), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992 (1996). He has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Monolithos won the Stanley Kunitz Prize and the American Poetry Review Prize, and Views of Jeopardy won the Yale Younger Poets Series. Both books were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
She is never dead when he meets her.
They eat noodles for breakfast as usual.
For eleven years he thought it was the river
at the bottom of his mind dreaming.
Now he knows she is living inside him,
as the wind is sometimes visible
in the trees. As the roses and rhubarb
are in the garden and then not.
Her ashes are by the sea in Kamakura.
Her face and hair and sweet body still
in the old villa on a mountain where
she lived the whole summer. They slept
on the floor for eleven years.
But now she comes less and less.
POSTED 2007-05-24 IN YOUNG WRITERS POEMS
Sarah Mitchem is a sharp young writer out of Virginia Tech. She is at once careful, strikingly open, and very exact in her work. These poems, arising from her time in Paros, Greece, where she studied writing at Hellenic International Studies in the Arts, allow a very literary, internal view into an acute self-awareness.
At the harbor a little
fishing boat is tied
to the pier.
The rough water and chopping at it.
I want to get in.
Not to lose myself in its rocking motion,
just desiring to write in the boat
and not worry about slipping away.
But I would end up noticing
where the paint is chipped,
what lay at the bottom of the boards,
the colors chosen.
All so that I could transcribe it
faithfully in my journal.
Recording small accuracies and
promising to remember them.
Reciting what’s around me to
avoid what’s in me.
Always in this body
but that I don’t know myself,
don’t let my heart rule.
I’m always brought back
to segments of myself.
The way my motions
make people record me.
The Greek men reeling me in by my wrists
so that I struggle to slip onto side streets.
To dissolve there, and dissolve here.
I did not get in the boat.
I do not write how salted wood feels.
I did what I do with you.
I imagine the boat.
I record the habits I would perform.
I fail to reconcile.
POSTED 2007-05-21 IN JOURNAL
Among the poetry crowd, Jack Gilbert and Linda Gregg are well known, respected figures. Their latest books which are presented here in our Selected Poets Series have received extraordinary critical acclaim and are very fine examples of their work. Between them they have won a score of awards, prizes and grants. Biographic details can be found on Wikipedia.org, or on many of the online poetry directories. It is our intention here though to pay tribute to more than their work, for these are two very special people who have given a life time of serious devotion not only to the art of poetry and its creation, but to the teaching and mentoring of other writers too.