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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Retread Poetry

Visited with one of my favorite reviewers on Amazon last night. We'd both loved a poetry volume by Tess Gallagher. This particular reviewer constantly introduces me to new poetry and poetically we "bump" into each other's tastes with a poet we love and didn't realize we had in common.

Our bump caused me to go back and revisit one of my posts from a prior blog. It seemed like only yesterday that I posted it. What a revelation to realize it was over 2 years ago. The best of things is, I can "retread" it hear and enjoy the post all over again. Hope you agree.


Friendly bloggers have been featuring some of their favorite poets lately, letting me discover them...and so, I add to the pattern. Raymond Carver started with poetry in the '60's, quickly jumped to short stories, where he became famed, lived hard and wrote in the spirit of his own muse, Anton Chekhov. In 1977 he met a poet, Tess Gallagher, with whom he lived and loved for 11 years, until his death from cancer in 1988. Ray was termed a "minimalist" but I prefer to think of him as a writer who did not embrace excess in his the spare longing to be loved, in his words of regret, when he turned back to poetry after his terminal diagnosis. I'll not feature his best and saddest work, "What the Doctor Said" here. Instead, I give you:

by Raymond Carver

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

by Raymond Carver

Her brain is an attic where things

were stored over the years.
From time to time her face appears

in the little windows near the top of the house.
The sad face of someone who has been locked up

and forgotten about.

by Raymond Carver

Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.

Fear of falling asleep at night.

Fear of not falling asleep.

Fear of the past rising up.

Fear of the present taking flight.

Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.

Fear of electrical storms.

Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek!

Fear of dogs I've been told won't bite.

Fear of anxiety!

Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.

Fear of running out of money.

Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.

Fear of psychological profiles.

Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.

Fear of my children's handwriting on envelopes.

Fear they'll die before I do, and I'll feel guilty.

Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.

Fear of confusion.

Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.

Fear of waking up to find you gone.

Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.

Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.

Fear of death.

Fear of living too long.

Fear of death.

When asked to compare how he felt about writing prose (the short story) with poetry, Ray immediately came down on the side of the poem, with this remark:

“The nice thing about a poem is that there is instant gratification.”

................................................and there is. You don't have to worry if anyone likes or understands your poem. You just have to savor it by your own sweet self.

The central force in Ray's life, once he gave up booze, was his love for Tess Gallagher. Tess is perhaps a more accomplished poet, and I include one of my favorites below. She continues to write and to contribute in many ways to the contemporary writers community in the United States.

I Stop Writing the Poem

by Tess Gallagher

to fold the clothes.
No matter who lives

or who dies, I'm still a woman.

I'll always have plenty to do.

I bring the arms of his shirt

together. Nothing can stop

our tenderness. I'll get back

to the poem. I'll get back to being

a woman. But for now

there's a shirt, a giant shirt

in my hands, and somewhere a small girl

standing next to her mother

watching to see how it's done.

Ray and Tess. You could start reading now and finish their work sometime next year. What a beautiful legacy.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!! I'm adding to my list of must-haves!

I really loved "The Attic"!