Day 5

I’m reading an old issue of Poetry magazine. clicking on it. Click. Is there an audible click? No, even my click is virtual. My machine has done away with clicks and now I tap and swipe silently. Clicks are so yesterday. but the poem I’m reading is even more yesterday. from 1981. James Wright, I might as well say. I don’t know a lot about him but he’s writing about chocolate penguins in italy sitting on a dusty sunlit table, and the page from old issue of poetry magazine has been photographed so it looks like an actual page and not just pixels on glass or plastic. I feel like I’m in 1981 in Italy. James Wright from Ohio. He drank too much. Tragically much. I used to drink too much too. “I still do, but I used to, too” said Mitch Hedberg. Except I don’t anymore. I’m tapping my finger on a button which brings up a new poem, a new poet.

I like these scans. These photographs of actual pages, which are kinder and warmer than run-of-the-mill pixels on a screen. I know, I’m repeating myself. It’s worth saying again. Poetry Magazine at Archived issues of old poetry. An abundance of riches.

I’m reading a poem about birds and remembering bird in my neighborhood, sparrows in September. They all converged on one tree, this was the tree that they decided was the one. You can walk down the street and not hear a sparrow and then from a distance hear so many of them and then come upon the tree where they decided to converge, cacophonous, deafening, chattering, trilling, making the top of the tree quiver with activity. And there are some humans too. We humans in my neighborhood. Who pass each other silently.

I listened to a podcast about bird migration. There’s a lot we don’t understand about bird migration. I mean collectively. Personally, I don’t know anything about bird migration. Collectively we know a lot more, but there are still many mysteries. How do the birds know when to go, and why do they go, and how do they all get the bird memo at the same time that it’s time to go. On the podcast scientists were conjecturing and I was glad there are still some things we don’t know.

Birds like to go. They don’t like to stay. I mean, if I could fly, personally I wouldn’t want to stay either.

I woke up early and read Christian Wiman

Today I woke up at 5:25, and in an effort to resist going back to bed, grabbed a tumbler of coffee leftover from last night and quickly swigged it down.  Boom.  I was awake, at least for the moment.  Once roused, I read a couple of essays from Christian Wiman’s “Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet.”  Wiman, a poet and former editor of “Poetry” magazine had been on my radar ever since my former college suitemate-turned Brooklyn neighbor Jay lent me his copy of “My Bright Abyss,” Wiman’s  memoir of moving from a resigned doubt back to belief in his Christian faith. I found the prose dense and was only able to get through a couple of pages at a time, so I stopped reading. However, my interest in Wiman was re-kindled when I attended a reading he gave at the Geestdrift festival in Utrecht this past October, where I also performed. (“Geestdrift is means “Enthusiasm” in English, but that misses the play on words in Dutch, which is about the Spirit moving.) At the reading, Wiman discussed some of his own poems and some by others. I liked the way he came alive while talking about the poets he loved. It seemed to show what made him such a good editor at “Poetry.” I felt some doors of creativity and freedom opening in me.  I later wrote to Jay: “I had expected a weak hipster-y kind of guy but he [Wiman] projected strength and energy. He’d look right at home on on a farm or commanding a marine platoon or one of those oil riggers or whatever they call them. [I meant “oil rig.”  Wiman is originally from Texas.]  I liked him quite a bit.” So I picked up “Ambition and Survival” and am thoroughly enjoying it. I’ll return to “My Bright Abyss” eventually.

Here’s a picture of Christian Wiman at the Geestdrift Festival in October of 2016. (held in the beautiful old Janskerk). Photo by Daniel Roozing.

Me. Photo by Jaap van Heusden

Geestdrift program.