When I was in my early twenties I lived in Iowa City, Iowa, in the midst of some of the great poets of our age: Marvin Bell, Jorie Graham…Gerald Stern…Mark Strand
I waited tables at a decent establishment, the professors of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop often dined there. They were all decent people, but Mr. Stern only one I really looked forward to seeing. I even had a little crush on him, which baffled me because though he was kind and charismatic, he wasn’t really my type: 30 years my senior, with a grey halo of hair and a santaesque figure.
Now I understand why I was infatuated with him. I read and wrote poetry, but Mr. Stern lived poetry. The poem I recite this week could easily have been a monologue I greedily eavesdropped on while waiting on him.
Living poetry is what this project has been about. By devoting myself to internalizing great poems I hope to make poetry my home, the place that I come from. Mr. Stern gave me my first inkling of what that might mean. With gratitude and respect, I offer my recitation of Gerald Stern’s, Bolero.
Why the malaise? I wanted to blame it on laugh tracks and advertising and fake news, cynical expat that I am. Then I read Jamie Lee Wallace’s post on Live to Write, Write to Live, and it made sense. I haven’t been alone for weeks. Alone for me is more than no one else in the house, it’s more like no one within miles. With no time to talk to myself(aloud), bounce ideas off my dog and submerge myself in multiple books, well, I just don’t have much to say.
I think I’ll look at as many interesting things as I can in this last week in the U.S., laugh with my mom and fully immerse myself in foods and wine I don’t usually have access to. I’ll be back when I can manage to memorize another poem, or the mountain air clears my head. Peace to you all. Abby