Friday, January 06, 2012

Epiphanies: Favorite Poems and Poets, 2011

Today, Ephiphany, is a fitting day to briefly highlight the poets I spent some time with in 2011, since I'll begin with a poem on just that.

5. My subscription to Poetry is a primary source for new poetry in the house (along with their fantastic mobile app while I'm on the road). A favorite from this past year was Joanne Mackowski, including this one:


A momentary rupture to the vision:
the wavering limbs of a birch fashion

the fluttering hem of the deity’s garment,
the cooling cup of coffee the ocean the deity

waltzes across. This is enough—but sometimes
the deity’s heady ta-da coaxes the cherries

in our mental slot machine to line up, and
our brains summon flickering silver like

salmon spawning a river; the jury decides
in our favor, and we’re free to see, for now.

A flaw swells from the facets of a day, increasing
the day’s value; a freakish postage stamp mails

our envelope outside time; hairy, claw-like
magnolia buds bloom from bare branches;

and the deity pops up again like a girl from
a giant cake. O deity: you transfixing transgressor,

translating back and forth on the border
without a passport. Fleeing revolutions

of same-old simultaneous boredom and
boredom, we hoard epiphanies under the bed,

stuff them in jars and bury them in the backyard;
we cram our closet with sunrise; prop up our feet

and drink gallons of wow!; we visit the doctor
because all this is raising the blood’s levels of

c6H3(OH)2CHOHCH2NHCH3, the heart caught
in the deity’s hem and haw, the oh unfurling

from our chest like a bee from our cup of coffee,
an autochthonous greeting: there. Who saw it?

4. Simon Armitage is a longtime favorite, so of course I gobbled up Seeing Stars, which did not disappoint--though I do need to spend some more time with it.

3. One of those "where-have-you-been?" discoveries that are really a self-indictment (where-have-I-been?): the Canadian poet P.K. Page, particularly her collection Cosmologies: Poems Selected and New. The book is published by David R. Godine, a wonderful publisher of poetry whose devotion to the craft is reflected in the attention to material detail in all of their books. Page seems influenced by Neruda, perhaps. But in another sense, she feels like Wordsworth crossed with a hint of Baudelaire--a nature poetry of modernity. Consider just this sample:

2. If Page is Wordsworth meets Baudelaire, then Sarah Lindsay might be Keats crossed with Charles Darwin. A poet of nature who is more specifically a poet of the animal--the poet as zoologist. Both of her collections, Primate Behavior and Twigs & Knucklebones, are delightful and pensive, attentive to the world in all of its beauty and brokenness.

1. The poetry collection that has stuck with me the most from 2011 is Ted Hughes reframing of Shakespeare in Essential Shakespeare--I roundly praised just recently on this blog.

Next up (as soon as I can get to it): Nonfiction, then Novels.