I have to say, being the bringer of
good cheer less bad tidings is not really a role I am accustomed to. Anyway, some poetry to start things off. I recently found a copy of Edwin Denby's complete poems at the Strand, New York City's famous used bookstore. Denby is better known as a dance critic -- a lot of those in the blogosphere -- and so his poetry should be doubly surprising:
Hung Sundays from Manhattan by the spacious 59th Street Bridge are the clear afternoons In Astoria and other open places Further in the enormous borough of Queens. Thickly settled plain an ocean climate cleans Rail and concrete, asphalt and weed oasis, Remote Queens constructs like desert-landscape scenes Vacant sky, vacant lots, a few Sunday faces. In this backyard of exploitation and refuse Chance vistas, weights in the air part and compose -- Curbs, a cloud, metropolitan bulks for use Caught off guard distend and balance and repose. So New York photographed without distortions Show we walk among noble proportions.The copy I have was given by the poet Ron Padgett to a student of his in 1997, and I can't help but wonder what story brought it to the Strand. There I also found Padgett's recent memoir of his father, Oklahoma Tough: My Father, King of the Tulsa Bootleggers:
But the oddity of the larger situation dawned on me only years later: at one end of our house was the office of one of the biggest whiskey businesses in town, while at the other was the "office" of an avant-garde literary magazine. Really, though, I was simply imitating my dad: I had my office desk, I operated a cottage industry, and I pursued a project that most people would have considered bizarre. But what was truly bizarre was that Daddy was reading Beat and Black Mountain poetry. One White Dove contributor, Ted Berrigan, at that time a graduate student at the University of Tulsa, thought of my father as a legendary figure, the last cowboy. A few years after The White Dove, when Ted and his young wife were on the lam, eluding her outraged parents, they holed up at my parents' house for a few days. Some months afterward, a man knocked on the door and asked my father if he knew a Mr. Ted Berrigan. "Who are you?" my father asked. "I'm a private investigator hired to locate Mr. Berrigan." "Then get the hell off my porch."Finally, Anthony Hecht died recently. Reducing a poet to a blurb, even less than an obituary, isn't good for any of the parties involved, so I'll conclude with his "Retreat":
Day peters out. Darkness wells up From wheelrut, culvert, vacant drain; But still a rooster glints with life, High on a church's weather-vane; The sun flings Mycenaean gold Against a neighbor's window-pane.