Just got back from a weekend trip to Louisville, where I used to live once upon a time. I often think of Louisville as a place where I detoxify myself, and remember things that I once knew, that have been obscured by stress and time and anxiety and details. This happened on a couple of levels this time; for one thing, a series of migraine-y episodes made me slow way down, pay attention to what I was eating and how I was moving, and be silent. Both when I felt ill and when I didn't, I was reminded this weekend in this spectacular way how many people there are who care about me and are willing to take care of me. I'm afraid I didn't express my gratitude for that often or effusively enough. One lame way I can do that is here, so thanks: for the airplane song mix, the rides, the molasses cookies, the Halloween costume approval, the accommodations to my timetable, the book of poems, and the many demonstrations of affection; for confiding in me, and telling me I'm beautiful and useful and smart.
Okay. Something completely different now. Last month my friend Michelle gave me a whole mess of Neko Case songs, and I really like them. She's got a gorgeous voice and the songs are just really good. So I got my November issue of Poetry magazine, and who's part of this series called "The View from Here" where non-poets comment on poetry? Neko Case. (I've been enjoying the series by the way...it's perhaps an obvious truth that people outside a field can have these spot-on insights about it.) What she says is funny and humble, and I just wanted to share some excerpts.
...I don't want to let poetry down. Poetry is such a delicate, pretty lady with a candy exoskeleton on the outside of her crepe-paper dress. I am an awkward heavy-handed mule of a high school dropout. I guess I just need permission to be in the same room with poetry.
I do know when a string of printed words busts my little dam and the tears spill over and I sponge them up with my T-shirt. I couldn't give you that formula before it happens, it just hits me like a bat to the face. That's a sweet, hot, amazing, embarrassing moment.
What do these poets [Auden, Dorothy Parker, Shakespeare, Lynda Barry, Sherman Alexie] have in common? They don't write sycophantic, roman-numeral-volumed postcards to God. They don't get all "love-ity-love-love" either. I get the sense they imagine their audience and want to comfort them. They are so good at it they even have the ability to comfort us with scariness. Sadness too. I think that is a powerful magic.
-from "My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum," by Neko Case, in Poetry, Volume CXCI, Number 2 (November 2007), pp. 141-142. Chicago: Poetry Foundation, 2007.
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