Monday, October 24, 2011

My Friend Serendipity

Jung said, in effect, that there are few/no accidents. Things connect. I vote for Jung. Most recently it happened this way: over a year ago I attended an AWP convention in Denver. Like most attendees I came home laden with handouts, freebies, ideas and good memories. Among the things I unpacked and stashed were three copies of American Poet: The Journal of the Academy of American Poets. Since the unpacking they have been on my shelf, where I put them with intentions to read them "sometime." This weekend our household went into fall cleaning mode, which entailed energetic tossing of extra stuff. I sorted the shelves in my office and pulled those three journals, thinking that since I had not read them in over a year, they could go to the discard pile.

Something made me stop. I glanced at the contents on the covers and clutched them like long lost cousins before tenderly laying them on my reading pile, the one near my chair, the one that gets regular attention. In one copy was an essay by David Baker, whose book my poetry book club had read and discussed only two weeks ago. Baker's topic was "Where We Live in Poems." I've been working on a poem that was spawned by an intentional train trip wherein I rode from Boston to Denver, paying close attention to a sense of what America looks like from the tracks, let alone from the wrong side of them. The second one has an essay by James Galvin on "James Wright and the Poetry of Place." And the third has Rachel Zucker's piece on "The Long Poem." My train poem is long. How did I happen to have in hand exactly when I need it these three essays that will strengthen my poem immeasurably? Must be Jung looking down and smiling as he nudges things my way.

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