Sunday, August 23, 2009

“Before this was a poem it was a question”

“Here Is the Poem”, published today in tongues of the ocean.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thinking aloud

Poetry ought to concern itself with the truth.

There are other things to do with the truth than tell it.

A lie does concern itself with the truth.

Monday, August 10, 2009

“A memory of anticipation”

What should young or emerging poets be doing that you don’t see them engaged in at present?

The basic mesmeric quality of poetry is rhythm. And rhythm means memory. I don’t think a lot of young writers write for memory.

Do you mean that they don’t write so they will be remembered?

No. The thing about a poem when it’s good is that you can feel as if you know it as you read it. So there is a memory of anticipation that is confirmed by the poem. And I think a couple of generations have been lost through a kind of anarchic attitude to meter that tells the young poet to “go ahead” because they might have an interesting personality, etc. etc.

-- Derek Walcott, interviewed in the August 2009 issue of The Wolf.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Amours de voyage, pt. 1

Night after night I dream of journeys,
I never know the names of these cities,
or my companions, or what are my duties....


"I came all this bloody way
to be mocked by the border guards."
"That accent--he tries too hard."


Enclosed: a little crocodile
preserved in native brandy.
Three bees pickled in wine.
Forty-odd new species of fish,
none of them yet named.


"I was brought up to speak and write the English tongue."

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Another geographical mystery

How many islands were lost to mildewing maps?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Things people leave behind in books

= Receipt for "1 knife", CuraƧao, 1971
= letter beginning "Dearest David, / I am returning the beautiful necklace you gave me", 2000
= ticket to a dinner and dance hosted by the Dreizpitzer Bowling Club, the Bronx, 1966
= note explaining that a "MINI JOB-- / is any job--project regardless of how frequently it should be done that takes / 10 minutes or less / to complete"
= photograph of a bush-pig


(Things I have found in books: Christmas cards; a cinema ticket; a photograph of a Barbados hotel, c. 1940; a letter written from the United Nations conference in San Francisco in 1945; a somewhat famous poet's British Airways boarding pass; a banknote; several squashed insects.)

(Things I know I've left in books: bus and train tickets; magazine subscription cards; book review notes; newspaper clippings; a paper napkin with someone's phone number written on it; ivy leaves from Drumcliff churchyard, co. Sligo, Ireland.)