by Alice Quinn “A Drink of Water” by Seamus Heaney: She came every morning to draw water Like an old bat staggering up the field: The pump’s whooping cough, the bucket’s clatter And slow diminuendo as it filled, Announced her. I recall Her grey apron, the pocked white enamel Of the brimming bucket, and the … Continue reading A Poem For Monday
by Alice Quinn From “Clearances” by Seamus Heaney: In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984 The cool that came off sheets just off the line Made me think the damp must still be in them But when I took my corners of the linen And pulled against her, first straight down the hem And then diagonally, then flapped … Continue reading A Poem For Sunday
by Alice Quinn The supreme poet Seamus Heaney passed away yesterday in a Dublin Hospital at age 74. No one alive wrote more eloquently about the art and the poets who meant the most to him: George Herbert’s “daylight sanity and vigor,” “the pure consequence of Elizabeth Bishop’s style,” “the bareface confrontation of Patrick Kavanagh’s,” … Continue reading A Poem For Saturday
by Alice Quinn “This Slow Unearthly Spell” by Natan Zach: This slow, unearthly spell of standing still. Not to trade places with, or envy those flying overhead at night, passing in a shriek of polished and cold metal, jostling each other in a mysterious light. Not to set out again. To spend each evening among … Continue reading A Poem For Sunday
by Alice Quinn This week, we’re excited to hold aloft poems from beautiful volumes brought out by Tavern Books of Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City with this mission: In addition to reviving books that have fallen out of print, we seek to build a catalog of poetry in translation from the finest writers of … Continue reading A Poem For Saturday
When Alice Quinn started with the Dish as poetry editor last July, we began our collaboration by posting “All the Activity There Is,” from Mary Ruefle’s Selected Poems. So this weekend, the Dish commemorates the year with three poems from Mary’s new volume Trances of the Blast, just published by Wave Books. Here’s “Spider”: The spider … Continue reading A Poem For Saturday
“Roundstone Cove” by Marie Ponsot: The wind rises. The sea snarls in the fog far from the attentive beaches of childhood— no picnic, no striped chairs, no sand, no sun. Here even by day cliffs obstruct the sun; moonlight miles out mocks this abyss of fog. I walk big-bellied, lost in motherhood, hunched in a … Continue reading A Poem For Monday
2013 marks the centennial of May Swenson’s birth and to celebrate The Library of America has just published May Swenson: Collected Poems, the first comprehensive collection of her poetry ever published. There will be an event to mark the occasion next Tuesday, May 28th – Swenson’s birthday – at 7 pm at Poets House in … Continue reading A Poem For Saturday
by Matthew Sitman Alice Quinn, executive director of the Poetry Society of America and the Dish’s amazing poetry editor – she brings you the poems we feature every week – has shared the news that Robert Bly will be presented with the Poetry Society’s highest award, the Frost Medal, at the Society’s annual awards ceremony … Continue reading A Poem For Friday
Of Gilbert’s favored words, probably none conveys better the poet–his life, his work, his ambitions for both–than magnitude. "Poetry, for me," he declares in a 1965 essay, "is a witnessing to magnitude." In poems he sings of a "magnitude of pain, of being that much alive," and "a magnitude of beauty that allows me no peace."
Read his Paris Review interview here. When asked about the subjects of his poems, he responded not just with a comment on his literary preoccupations, but with a meditation on living:
Those I love. Being. Living my life without being diverted into things that people so often get diverted into. Being alive is so extraordinary I don’t know why people limit it to riches, pride, security—all of those things life is built on. People miss so much because they want money and comfort and pride, a house and a job to pay for the house. And they have to get a car. You can’t see anything from a car. It’s moving too fast. People take vacations. That’s their reward—the vacation. Why not the life? Vacations are second-rate. People deprive themselves of so much of their lives—until it’s too late.
This spring the Dish featured his remarkable poem, "Tear It Down," here. Our poetry editor, Alice Quinn, remembered him here. This weekend, to honor Gilbert's work, we'll be running three of his poems. The first of these is "Failing and Flying":