Tag Archives: David Young

Father Time and Mother Earth / A Marriage on the Rocks

For this month’s look at a poem about a famous person, James Merrill’s “The Broken Home

I love this sonnet sequence, James Merrill’s elegant, rueful, beautiful take on his childhood and his parents. This is a different angle on a famous person poem than the others I’ve pointed to so far this year, since Merrill is talking about himself and his family rather than a far-off celebrity, but since his father was the Merrill of Merrill Lynch and since the poet himself is one of the 20th century biggies, it counts.

I first heard “The Broken Home”, rather than read it, Continue reading

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Beasley / Biespiel / Jensen / Friebert

A short look at: Bruce Beasley’s Theophobia  (2012), David Biespiel’s Wild Civility (2003), Laura Jensen’s Memory (1982) and Stuart Friebert’s Funeral Pie (1996).

One of the (oh so many) things that drives me nuts about statements like, “I don’t like poetry” or “I could just never get into poetry” is the underlying idea there that poetry is a single thing. It’s like saying, “I don’t like movies” or “I don’t like food.” Just because I can’t stand beets (I really can’t stand beets) doesn’t mean I’m going to write off all red foods, or all food. You could say a strawberry and a beet look sorta the same, couldn’t you? But the taste?

One of the things that struck me reading these four collections (all of which I like) is how vastly different their use of language is, what a nice spectrum of diction they represent. Friebert and Jensen all use very everyday vocabulary. In “Pocket Gopher,” Stuart Friebert writes, Continue reading

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Dog is my co-pilot

Dogs are hard to write about well. In no small part because of the tendency of dog owners (I am one) to either anthropomorphize or Lassie-ize. But a good dog poem is not impossible. Here are four that I think not only cover most of the emotional ground of being a dog owner, but also succeed as poems.

Let’s start with taking the dog out to poop. A large part of a dog-owning life. Howard Nemerov‘s “Walking the Dog” has a pragmatic, cynical-but-bemused tone about dog ownership. It begins

Two universes mosey down the street
Connected by love and a leash and nothing else.
Mostly I look at lamplight through the leaves
While he mooches along with tail up and snout down
Getting a secret knowledge through the nose
Almost entirely hidden from my sight

And later he also calls himself and the dog “a pair of symbionts/Contented not to think each other’s thoughts.” This is dog as dog. Pet, sure, loved, sure, but I don’t expect to hear any extra vowels added to the dog’s name in cooing tones. Continue reading

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