Way back in September, Brenda Hillman and her husband, one time Poet Laureate of the USA, Robert Haas, read at a favorite local venue – Toby’s Feed Barn. Bob and Brenda are two of my favorite poets. It was a spirited occasion celebrating and fundraising for the local bookstore, Point Reyes Books. Add a hundred or so poetry lovers, plenty of chairs, books for sale, an old milk can or two, and bales and bales of straw – and you have it. I bought tickets ahead of time and brought my husband, Shabda, and friend, Kyra, with me. The Barn was cozy and smelled sweet and dry. I gave a copy of my new book, Untold, to Brenda, with the message that I didn’t need anything from her, just wanted her to have it. I’m a fan and have several of her wonderful books of poetry. Practical Water is her newest. You can catch something of the subtlety and originality of her thinking and poetry here.

From Practical Water

What does it mean to live a moral life

It is nearly impossible to think about this

We went down to the creek

the sides were filled

with tiny watery activities…                                                 

An ethics occurs at the edge

of what we know

The creek goes underground about here

The spirits offer us a world of origins

Owl takes its call from the drawer of the sky…

It’s hard to be water

to fall from faucets with fangs

to lie under trawlers as horizons

but you must

Your species can’t say it

you have to do spells & tag them

uncomfortable & act like you mean it

Go to the world

Where is it

Go there  ~

Bob read “Poem for Brenda,” with the line  “..kissing, our eyes squinched up like bats…” and told the story of how he un-invited poet Robert Pinsky and his wife (after planning to dine with them) when Brenda spontaneously agreed to come over for their first date – years back. I came home with Bob’s 2007 book Now and Then, The Poet’s Choice Columns 1997-2000, Counterpoint Press, Berkeley. For those of us that love poetry, this is a great read. It consists of columns he wrote as Poet Laureate, and I have a marker at every 3 or so of more than 100 small essays for the Washington Post as a column called, “Post’s Book World.” It was syndicated all over and went continued four years. Here’s a sample:

July 19 “Postmodern –experimental poetry– has been for the last fifteen years or so trying to figure out how to wriggle out from the sort of direct, personal poetry that the generation of Allen Ginsberg and Adrienne Rich made… it was time to do something else.” (The new poetry he describes as…) “an effort to subvert narrative, undermine the first person singular, and foreground the textures and surprises in language rather than the drama of content.” His example is Susan Wheeler. Haas writes, “Sometimes it seems that Wheeler is trying to marry The Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense to Victorian nonsense verse.” From “Shanked on the Red Bed,” The perch was on the roof, and the puck was in the air./ The diffident were driving, and the daunted didn’t care. <>

[I’m glad to be back writing this blog again, with hopes that those looking for information on my book Untold can find the right buttons above.]

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