Practice Losing Farther

After a crazy April and early May, I had a chance to kind of slow down for a few days in Spokane and say farewell to some of my favorite seniors (and to go and catch some fish “Big Two-Hearted River” style–ahh the slow methodology of backpacking and fly fishing and how it eases the brain back to a steadier pace; wet snow in the morning made a night in the tent even more of a mini-adventure!)  And what poetry was next?  I headed out to Vancouver last week (for a visit to Fort Vancouver High School, a lecture at Clark College, a workshop in the Angst Gallery, and a reading as part of the Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic Series) and Seattle (to meet our United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, and to hang with Claudia Castro Luna and Leija Farr, Seattle’s Civic and Youth Poets Laureate).

Lost in Vancouver, WA, I came upon street signs that reminded me that I’m usually lost–and where I’m usually lost is (as John Cage would put it) Kansas.  I continue to be enthused at the richness of poetry in our state, the many sorts of poetry that people create and enjoy.

I noticed (above) how parenthesis seem to have taken over my writing, and it made me think of Elizabeth Bishop.  A few years back, I became a bit obsessed with her use of parenthetical asides, and so I started counting them in her books in order to try to verify my sense that she uses them more and more in her later work.  She does, and, of course, one of the most amazing usages is at the end of her villanelle “One Art.”  My point?  As I zoom here and there and meet so many wonderful people and see so many compelling places and hear so many astonishing poems, I’m starting to get haunted by how much of these encounters–no matter what I try to do–is lost.  Life is no parenthesis (to quote another poet), but I wonder if the parenthesis is the punctuation we try to use like a desperate catch-all to try to keep just a few more details of life (write it!) or, at least, to hold all of it a little longer.

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