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January 2, 2021

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7 Comments

  • Reply Eileen cleary June 5, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    This website is fantastic , so excited!

  • Reply July August 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Wislawa Szymborska changed the way I viewed how poetry could enact experience– through reading “Identification,” I was able to see the skills and craft in motion that made poetry an extremely effective tool for talking about trauma. I owe a lot to her, and to you for introducing me to her.

  • Reply Mary Jane White February 14, 2022 at 8:23 pm

    Congratulations on the new website! I hope to visit you often. Best wishes, Mary Jane White

  • Reply maryjanewhite June 23, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    For sense of Americanness, I liked WILD BEASTS, Also by James Tate.

    • Reply Sharon June 23, 2022 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks. I’m looking forward to hearing why.

  • Reply maryjanewhite June 23, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    Just wrote a review of a new book, THE NAKED WORLD, by Russian, now fully Anglophone poet, American citizen, Jewish poet Irina Mashinski, and needed at the beginning of that review to establish my stance as an American poet, with my American training, reading such as one as has come to us. When I wrote my translator’s essay to my Tsvetaeva, I called in Tess Gallagher, as an American poet, to lend her American voice to my own admiration of Tsvetaeva’s poems. I think we need to know where we are in our own language, from our earliest world of learning it, and to be aware of that stance before and so we can read the work and languages of the world with any empathy.

    This would be my own poem (from Dragonfly. Toad. Moon.) which describes that first sense of an American stance (although I am swinging). character, and language as a small four year old person within a much larger world.

    Ominously & Brilliantly,
    Questionlessly Happy
    October 8, 1957 North Carolina

    I’d have been swinging
    Out in the backyard
    By the humid, piney lumberyard
    In Mount Gilead,

    Practicing, as I was sent
    Out after supper to do,
    To sing, somewhat eccentrically,
    All the words to

    Our America
    The Beautiful, our
    Rippling Star-Spangled Banner,
    Our Battle Hymn

    Of the Republic, my bare
    Toes straining to tip
    The top of the ill-leveled oil barrel,
    Rust-streaked and silvery,

    Leaned in, propped
    Against the back of our rental
    House, low and modern with its single
    Spindly carport.

    My hard, splayed toes
    Brushed down the bronzed
    Clover, and its bees, pointed and rose,
    Dragged back a

    Rut in the wet clay,
    Swept a dusty-blue
    Fingernail butterfly aloft and up
    That’d sipped, or seemed to,

    Among the fallen, green,
    Prickly satellites of
    The sweet gum. Somehow and keen-
    Ly, I felt I was an

    American: home-
    Made, bright,
    Pragmatic—solitary and proud.
    Look up, and right—

    To access memory: Four
    Then, as winking Sputnik
    Flew, flashed—passed us over—
    Beeping and quick—

    Ominously, and brilliantly.

    So, it’s a bit contradictory–in all the best poems of the Library of Congress site, it seems so, doesn’t it?

    Mary Jane White

    • Reply Sharon June 23, 2022 at 1:26 pm

      I do think part of our sense of being American comes from contrast, and from seeing that identity through other eyes. It’s why I’ve always liked listening to the BBC, where America isn’t the center of the universe. And the first time I really thought about what it was to be America was when I lived in London for six months. Very useful–even crucial.

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