"The beginning of your true encounter with poetry should be simple. It should bypass all classrooms, all textbooks, courses, examinations and libraries and go straight to the things that make your own existence exist: to your body and nerves and blood and muscles. Find you own way — a secret way that just maybe you don’t know yet — to open yourself as wide as you can and as deep as you can to the moment, the now of your own existence and the endless mystery of it, and perhaps at the same time to one other thing that is not you, but is out there: a handful of gravel is a good place to start. So is an ice cube — what more mysterious and beautiful interior of something has there ever been?”
But these and the other poems we read (“The Leap,” a passage from “The Firebombing,” “The Confederate Line at Ogeechee Creek,” and more), are best read on the page in this magnificent book edited by Ward and produced to the highest standards of publishing by the University of South Carolina Press. It’s expensive, but it’s forever.
These lines may not have been written about Edward Lewis King, Jr., nor for him, but they are of him, I think. Without him, James Dickey might never have found the river, might never have gone on the night hunt:
I stand in my own coming sleep,
A tall spirit ready to wind
LIke a ball of bright thread the wild river
All night around the still form
That shall lie exposed in the open,
Sustained at the heart of the danger
I have passed in the thickets this night
Which shall keep me safe till I wake
And rise, and fall away.
Rest in peace, Lewis, the last of the generation of Deliverance, who died on September 12, in Sautee, Georgia."
As violence threatens to engulf Egypt I’m reminded of the Gunter Eich epigraph on my father’s poem “The Firebombing”: “Think of this, that after the great destruction each man will prove that he was innocent.”
When Apollo calls.
"Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."
—Henry David Thoreau, from Thoreau and the Art of Life: Precepts and Principles, edited by Roderick MacIver (Heron Dance Press, 2006)
“The truer a work of art is, the more it has a style. Which is strange, because style is not truth of appearances, and yet the heads which I find most like those of people one sees in the street are the least realistic heads, the heads of Egyptian, Chinese, or archaic Greek sculpture. For me, the…