Living Poetry

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.