She Walks into the Sea, by Patricia Clark.

Rounding out the top three po-biz talking points, numbers one & two being “Nobody reads poetry anymore”, and “Nobody buys poetry books”, is, and I paraphrase, “The poetry world is a teeny-tiny incestuous drop in the tumultuous literary ocean.”

She Walks into the SeaBut the amazing fact is that’s it’s not so small you can’t make halleluiah discoveries every day. The internet has burst open the poetry world, making it easier to happen upon fresh talent, but these discoveries can include even poets as well-published and established as Patricia Clark.

That I met her through SHE WRITES says rather more about me and how my time is spent than I’d like, but it can’t be considered a frittering away when it’s through this meeting that I’ve met her unassumingly grand poems.

I hesitate to call them “nature poems”, not because I think there’s anything wrong with that label, but because I hate to reduce a poet’s work to any label, trapping it under stickered glass.  However, the natural world does figure strongly in She Walks into the Sea, with elegant and moving results.

I began this blog as one way to introduce and “handsell” books of poetry to readers who might not otherwise hear of them.  (I also wanted to keep my various family and friends abreast of child-related news, but never mind…)  As book review sections shrink, the already miniscule pages devoted to poetry shrink ever smaller.

Poems and notices of new poetry books by other poets have been regularly featured here.  My children have been a (delightful) disruption (at this very minute Vincent is knocking against my chair with some verboten sharp object), but I hope I’ll manage to introduce you to at least one new-to-me poet per month.

On that note, the poem below dovetails breathtakingly with my present concerns.  The repetition makes me wonder if it’s in a form, but if so, I don’t know what that form is.  Regardless, this is one of my favorites from the book:

The Secret of Childhood

When I was lonely, I talked to the dog.
When I talked to the dog, I was lonely.

I suppose this thinking will continue.
I shall enter each green summer morning

delighted by growth, which is death,
and by the ferns in their upright habits.

When I grew up wild I was lonely.
One girl in the midst of many is lonely.

I suppose my thinking will go on and on.
Summers I step outside and let the ostrich fern

wave against my legs and my arms.
Gardens are my green obsessions.

If you are secretly lonely, in gardens,
in families, thinking of togetherness, think of me.

I would like, please, to leave on your breakfast plate
one wildflower, called butter-and-eggs.

It’s a tall spike, a swirl of cream and gold.
The secret of childhood is hunger.

–Patricia Clark, from She Walks into the Sea (Michigan State University Press, 2009.)

My Current Reading List.

Besides the stack of literary journals that have been arriving in my mailbox demanding to be more than flipped through (The Café Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Weave Magazine, Bateau, Tar River…off the top of my head), and in addition to the Tupelo Press books I am joyfully immersing in, there are a clutch of other titles I’m looking forward to reading:

  • She Walks Into the Sea, by Patricia Clark (Michigan State University Press, just released.)  Her name rings no bells for me, but her picture looks familiar, so I’m thinking I must have seen her listed in her publisher’s sales catalog.  I was introduced to her through SHE WRITES, and read about her online.  Then she visited this blog and I became a fan for life.  I can’t wait to dig into this new collection.

  • The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song, by Ellen Bryant Voigt (Graywolf Press).  The Art of... is a great series from Graywolf, and I love Ellen Bryant Voigt’s previous works of critical prose.  And this is a subject that I could use exploring right now, the various ways poets structure their poems.
  • Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within, by Kim Addonizio (W.W. Norton & Co.).  On the one hand, I’m a sucker for this sort of thing.  The autodidact in me can’t resist.  But I’m afraid it’ll turn out to be a book more suited to the beginner.  It has more than 300 pages, so I’m optimistic.

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And my reading list would not be complete without mentioning my own chapbook.  Again.  Because the pre-sale is still going on for a little bit longer.  If you want to order a copy, just click on the cover at right, or visit my Hunger All Inside page to get a gander at a few blurbs and a sample poem.  The more books that are ordered, the better my print run will be, so thank you!