new from HarperCollins. I have two used copies, one hardcover, one paperback, both slightly damp-stained, but clean on the inside, poems and illustrations intact. It's pretty much a perfect book for poet adults to read to their kids, as it's a how-to-be-a-poet book with talking animals that helps you like and understand poets better. And not like critics and academics quite so much, though the mockingbird is still much admired by our innocent bat.
But, lest you think I am reliving my childhood, or living in the past, let me reassure you. I am!
Way too many poignant coincidii lately. For instance, we often listen to the Jimmy Durante station on Pandora at work. He sang this today, "September Song," a gorgeous song with schmaltzy background singers and orchestra, rescued from utter sentimentality by his honesty, his big nose, and his gritty cigarette.
Anyhoo, yesterday I mentioned the John Knoepfle interview in Fifth Wednesday, and early this morning I read it, along with his poems. At the end of the interview, Knoepfle talks about how being 87 is affecting his writing and publishing of poetry. He realizes that if a new book is accepted, called Stay With Us, it will still be 2 years till it is published. He's not worried about this, just aware. At the end of the interview, he says:
You know the lines from scripture: "Stay with us because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." How can I tell you this? Not an occasion for fear or being heartsick. I know whom the two men on the road were inviting to supper. In a graceful interlude, I might be able to be there at Emmaus.
Well, the scripturally aware will have caught the central allusion in my poem from yesterday's blog entry, "On the Road." In my pencilled draft, it was actually called "On the Road to Emmaus" and "to Emmaus" also appeared in a line in the poem. But I realized that it wasn't needed, and might lead people astray. When I inhabit that speaker, I make him simply a traveler on the road. Not Jesus. Any man, any woman (yes, "just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on a bus"--hear it in Jim Carrey's voice from Bruce Almighty for ideal effect) to be welcomed and invited to the table. And not a ghost, not a vision, nothing supernatural, and not a "resurrected corpse" as Robin Meyers would say.
But Emmaus was of course the inspiration, so to find it in the interview made me say, "Holy Truffle, Mr. Knoepfle!"
And at the Fifth Wednesday event, I asked Barry Silesky how he was doing with his health and his grief. He said he was doing a lot of reading as he heads toward the end, and that, of course, a lot of it is about religion, and it was pretty much leading him toward atheism. Meaning, I think, no particular personal literal god, as there is lots of correspondence between the myths and narratives and basic values of multiple religions, and no linear, geographical afterlife. (He can correct me if I'm wrong! Barry, I mean, not YHWH.) I was just about to ask if any of the reading included Karen Armstrong when he said, "I'm reading a lot of Karen Armstrong. The History of God is good." Barry lost a son, a wife (not to death), and has MS, getting out infrequently but pretty darn well in a motorized wheelchair, and, like John Knoepfle, seems to be looking at things pretty clearly and calmly. It was so good to see him!
And now you know for sure that I'm a bit batty!
reading: robert pinsky, “the sounds of poetry”
3 hours ago