“It is dark speckled. An airstrip? A cemetery?”

Today is the day (I just read in Tom Nissley‘s A Reader’s Book of Days over my morning cereal) that Elizabeth Bishop met Marianne Moore and vice-versa, a fitting prompt for this month’s Objects poem—”12 O’Clock News” by Elizabeth Bishop. 

*If you have New Yorker access, you can read it in a nicer online format here. But it’s also in Geography III and of course her Complete Poems, and what the hell are you doing being alive and not having Bishop’s Complete Poems at hand anyhoo? 

This is a very writer’s writer’s piece, and I’d not argue it’s her bestest ever, but the elements of her voice that encompass wryness-of-the-self, and a bit of that which I affectionately call cheesiness, but really is a flavor of sentimentality*, and at last and best her humor, are throughout so it’s a refreshing read now and then.

*  sentimentality: the likes of which so often in modern poetry mores, or at least the ones I was told a lot about growing up as a writer, are thoroughly pooh-poohed but I have always secretly loved and whose perfect right to exist in art, in limited quantities (like some sort of cardamom or saffron is to cooking), I now champion. 

And it’s a great poem to re-read on the eve of Poetry Month, a reminder of the muddled and dual and, well, I have to get to work (the kind I get paid for) so I’ll just sum it up boringly as ‘complicated’ relationship a writer has with her writing and her writer self, and the need to keep one’s sense of humor about the whole damn landscape of trying to do it.

Speaking of, a couple Poetry Month links to kick things off:

National Poetry Month official page

The Operating System’s 30-30-30, which tomorrow will begin its 5th year of offering 30 essays by 30 artists on 30 poets who have had an influence on their work. It’s always a fascinating and super-diverse group of essays (and one I was thrilled to be a part of last year) and I’m looking forward to it.

 

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