Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Poetry Month Continues, with or without me

I've spent the better part of the last few days grinding out the email newsletter (those of you on the mailing list, you're in for a treat!) and posting events to our website and our myspace page (Cokie Roberts. Mark Sarvas. Jimmy Carter. Barbara Walters. Salman Rushdie. James Frey. Lewis Black. Kevin Nealon.). Anyway, that kind of stuff takes a lot longer than you might think. And that's why I haven't been posting lately.

I thought I'd take this afternoon's post to talk about poetry in literary journals and magazines. My wife gets a few lit journals, including A Public Space, which is edited by Bridgid Hughes, who used to be the editor of The Paris Review, which I used to get, until I didn't anymore. I would love to say that I read the issues of A Public Space and the other lit journals that arrive at my door a couple times a year, but the truth is that I don't. I usually scan the list of contributors to see if I know any of them, then I hand it to my wife, who does whatever she does with it (Read it, I suppose).

Anyway, today I dragged the most recent issue of APS off the shelf and brought it to work. It has some poetry, as well as essays and fiction. The poems in this particular issue are from Robyn Schiff, Craig Morgan Teicher, Aaron McCollough, Angie Yuan, Andrew McCord, Carolin Knox, Pam Rehm, Robert Bolano and others. The only one I've heard of before is Bolano, and only because his novel The Savage Detectives is the cause celeb of the lit world at the moment. Sometimes A Public Space can seem a little too much like a club that doesn't really want me as a member. I don't think I'm alone in this sentiment. I do, however, like this poem by Caroline Knox, so it's today's poem.

CANZONE DELLE PREPOSIZIONI

I packed up the books: Under
Milk Wood, Of
Mice and Men, Under
the Window, Under
the Volcano, Up
from Slavery, The Thunder-
ing Herd, Under
the Greenwood Tree, The Over-
Coat, The Changing Light at Sandover,
Under-
world,
Out of Afric, Paris Trout
;

and I went over
to the Under-
woods' house over
on River Road. Over-
head the blackness of
clouds out-
paced a fleeing sun. Out
and up
the clouds rolled, roiled up,
wrung out
in horrendous rain over
and over.

I had agreed over
coffee one day to farm out
lots of books people were giving over
to the library book sale over
at the high school. Under
the agreement, volunteers took books over
to the Underwoods' over
spring break. I was up
for this, and signed up.
Over
I drove, up
the Cross Road, and turned up

River Road. I walked up
the Underwoods' driveway and over
the lawn. The voice of Dawn Up-
shaw drifted up
from a CD player, and out
on the screen porch was John Up-
dike's new book of essays, next to the Up-
anishads. Under
the lilacs, under
the clematis, climbing up
trellises of
lath, of

ironwork, of
wicker, blossoms hardly held up
their heads. Of
course, of
course; but the storm that had crushed them was over.
Pools of
water, of
mud were all around. The Underwoods' cookout
was a washout,
but the sun of
a glowing afternoon under-
cut the thunder.

The Under-
woods took all the discarded books out
of the trunk of my car, and then drove them over
to the high school, where these books were put up
for sale for the benefit of the Westport Free Public Library, a generous act
which the Undersoods should be proud of.

--Caroline Knox

You have to admit, that's a fun poem. Please consider buying issue 5 of A Public Space, which has all kinds of great stuff in it, including this fine poem.


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