Rounding out the top three po-biz talking points, numbers one & two being “Nobody reads poetry anymore”, and “Nobody buys poetry books”, is, and I paraphrase, “The poetry world is a teeny-tiny incestuous drop in the tumultuous literary ocean.”
But the amazing fact is that’s it’s not so small you can’t make halleluiah discoveries every day. The internet has burst open the poetry world, making it easier to happen upon fresh talent, but these discoveries can include even poets as well-published and established as Patricia Clark.
That I met her through SHE WRITES says rather more about me and how my time is spent than I’d like, but it can’t be considered a frittering away when it’s through this meeting that I’ve met her unassumingly grand poems.
I hesitate to call them “nature poems”, not because I think there’s anything wrong with that label, but because I hate to reduce a poet’s work to any label, trapping it under stickered glass. However, the natural world does figure strongly in She Walks into the Sea, with elegant and moving results.
I began this blog as one way to introduce and “handsell” books of poetry to readers who might not otherwise hear of them. (I also wanted to keep my various family and friends abreast of child-related news, but never mind…) As book review sections shrink, the already miniscule pages devoted to poetry shrink ever smaller.
Poems and notices of new poetry books by other poets have been regularly featured here. My children have been a (delightful) disruption (at this very minute Vincent is knocking against my chair with some verboten sharp object), but I hope I’ll manage to introduce you to at least one new-to-me poet per month.
On that note, the poem below dovetails breathtakingly with my present concerns. The repetition makes me wonder if it’s in a form, but if so, I don’t know what that form is. Regardless, this is one of my favorites from the book:
The Secret of Childhood
When I was lonely, I talked to the dog.
When I talked to the dog, I was lonely.
I suppose this thinking will continue.
I shall enter each green summer morning
delighted by growth, which is death,
and by the ferns in their upright habits.
When I grew up wild I was lonely.
One girl in the midst of many is lonely.
I suppose my thinking will go on and on.
Summers I step outside and let the ostrich fern
wave against my legs and my arms.
Gardens are my green obsessions.
If you are secretly lonely, in gardens,
in families, thinking of togetherness, think of me.
I would like, please, to leave on your breakfast plate
one wildflower, called butter-and-eggs.
It’s a tall spike, a swirl of cream and gold.
The secret of childhood is hunger.
–Patricia Clark, from She Walks into the Sea (Michigan State University Press, 2009.)