Sunday, April 8, 2012

Of Poets and Angels

I tried to draw the look the people had who were listening to Tim Seibles reading last Tuesday night in the Jones Room at Youngstown State University.

It's a strange thing, but I swear sometimes you can hear people listening.

And it was such an incredible reading. I felt transformed afterwards. I know that sounds a little hyperbolic, but I wasn't the only one who felt it. One friend turned to me and said, he makes me want to write and write and write. A man seated behind me said, I think I could change the world if I felt like this all the time.

As he writes in his poem, "Familiar," in his new and wonderful book, Fast Animal

Some are marked, some . . .

So many words, such fever: the names
of the strained inhabitants moving

around, waiting to be called--
my own life: the bending

of a man into something
else: did I change? Are you

changed? I'm sure
it happens. Yes, I believe it

has happened:

I am still spinning from that reading. I am still feeling inspired and moved. But I was also reminded of my time at Vermont College when one of my friends turned to me and said this funny line --
I thought poets were like angels. And I came here to study with my angels and they turned out to be a bunch of self-promoting, gossipy, cliquey, egotistical, sexist . . . She said this after overhearing after one of her mentors informed her that there were no women poets at VC worth studying with.

It's a funny thing, but I do think of certain poets as angels. Tim Seibles, Claire Bateman, and Tom Clark are three who come to mind right away. And all in their own unique ways--

I have been thinking of Tom a lot lately. A prolific writer and a brilliant mind, I swear his heart is bigger than the world can hold. His blog Tom Clark is like a little taste of heaven. Art, poetry, essays, insights, you name it . . . He was in an accident this week, and my thoughts are with him.

A poem by Tom that I love--I especially love that beatific strawberry.

Experience (Inside)

With this living hand this moment I was writing, and with the other holding to my mouth a nectarine--good god how fine--it went down soft pulpy, slushy, oozy--all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large beatified strawberry.

What I liked best to feel is the inside of a billiard ball, or the luscious spheroid of a plum.

What I liked best to look at, when I am out walking, are the waves the wind makes in the wheat when it moves across the fields above the ground.

from Junkets on a Sad Planet, p. 36


Laura said...

I like Tom Clark's line about "the waves the wind makes in the wheat when it moves across the fields." That phenomenon should have its own name.

The Seibles reading sounds so restorative. I could really go for a reading like that right now.

I saw Jerome Rothenberg read years ago and had a similar feeling. When he chanted, the chant moved through us like wind moves through the wheat.

Nin Andrews said...

Yes, I agree. And I love the George Eliot poem you have on your blog today.
There is so much to love about Tom's work.

Laura said...

Thank you for your response to my poem! It means a lot to me coming from you - I love your work.

I've been reading Seibles' poems today. Just wonderful.

Lyle Daggett said...

I hadn't heard of Tom Clark's injury. After I read your blogpost here, I Googled and found one online source that said he was hit by a car while crossing the street. He's apparently home now and recovering. I sure hope everything good for him.

(Years ago I was hit by a car while I was walking across a street, wasn't hurt seriously -- the car was turning when it hit me, so it wasn't going full speed -- but it was very scary right afterwards, till I started to figure out I was probably going to be all right. I walked out of the emergency room an hour and a half later.)


Regarding what you said about sometimes at a reading being able to hear people listening: I've definitely had that sense at poetry readings sometimes -- sometimes when I've been in the audience, and many times when I've been reading to an audience.

I think that when a sufficient number of people in the room are listening, concentrating, on what the poet is saying and reading, the level of quiet that creates does something to the acoustics in the room, makes the sounds in the room sound different. Something like that.

ACravan said...

This is really fine. Thank you. The week's off to a better start than I expected. Am thinking of Tom also. Curtis

Nin Andrews said...

Yes, Lyle, your search is right, and I think a lot of us are thinking of Tom a lot these days. Such a beautiful presence.
And I agree with you about listening. It changes the entire feeling in a room.
Of course, if everyone is texting, that, too, has a feeling . . .