Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Deep Poetry

Last evening I heard a wonderful selection of poetry at a Naropa faculty reading. I cannot say which work was best, although for me the draw was Alice Notley, whose work I know but whom I had not heard. Notley has, to all appearances, lived a poet's life, full immersion, and has the respect of the poetry world for it. The common factor among the poets I heard was the willingness to dig deep for the work. Notley read from a long narrative, in which she showed us images of a woman's struggle to act in a world of violence and manipulation, a world of resentment over women with power. She read with confidence and style, and while I could not grasp and hold all that I heard, I certainly came away with a sense of the worth of what she gave us.

Hearing and seeing a poet who has the courage and talent to keep producing fresh work long after she has attained the stature which Notley has encourages me, challenges me, makes me eager to see what might come next in my own work. Some days I flirt with despair, think I'll never produce poems worth the effort to read them. Then I look at a woman who keeps going because she still has new things to say or new ways to say what we all know. Hats off to endurance, persistance, life-long work that satisfies, wherever it comes from. And thanks, Alice, for your powerful work and your example.

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