Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Squaw Valley, James Richardson, and Russell

I've been a week away, and so Russell has had to wait by the wayside. Whatever that might mean. I've been in Squaw Valley, which is a lovely dip in the rock, a meadow lined with Aspens, twenty minutes away from Tahoe. I was there for a writing conference, and did write, some of which I will shortly post.

Today I've been catching up on the centuries -- that is, regaining the speed necessary to not be flung far off when I lay a hand back to Russell. Charting the 15th. If the 16th century was the beginning of the modern era, then the 15th was the ending of the middle era, the middle ages -- Constantinople fell, Brunelleschi painted perspective, Gutenberg invented the Press, and Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue.

And I've also been reading James Richardson's poetry -- suggested to me by Jim McMichael, who is my professor here at UCI, and was a nominee for 2006's National Book Award.

It's a collection called Interglacial. The first three poems -- one which serves as an epigraph, and two from his first collection called Reservations -- are fantastic. They don't give me the feeling of beings rhetorical tricks, which of course merely means they are better at being rhetorical, at convincing me -- more convincingly speaking of some True.

Here is one of his published in the New Yorker (I like it):

End of Summer

Just an uncommon lull in the traffic
so you hear some guy in an apron, sleeves rolled up,
with his brusque sweep brusque sweep of the sidewalk,
and the slap shut of a too thin rental van,
and I told him no a gust has snatched from a conversation
and brought to you, loud.

It would be so different
if any of these were missing is the feeling
you always have on the first day of autumn,
no, the first day you think of autumn, when somehow

the sun singling out high windows,
a waiter settling a billow of white cloth
with glasses and silver, and the sparrows
shattering to nowhere are the Summer
waving that here is where it turns
and will no longer be walking with you,

traveller, who now leave all of this behind,
carrying only what it has made of you.
Already the crowds seem darker and more hurried
and the slang grows stranger and stranger,
and you do not understand what you love,
yet here, rounding a corner in mild sunset,
is the world again, wide-eyed as a child
holding up a toy even you can fix.

How light your step
down the narrowing avenue to the cross streets,
October, small November, barely legible December.

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