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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ruth Stone, Dead at 96

Ruth Stone ~ June 8, 1915 - November 19, 2011

On November 19th Poet Ruth Stone died at the age of 96. Her body was buried under apple trees on the farm in Vermont where she lived and wrote for over 50 years.

Meanwhile, I feel the need to publicly bow my head and say thank you. 

Thank you, Ruth Stone, for your  devotion to poems — for obeying them whenever they called to you to write them down.

Interview with Ruth Stone in The Drunken Boat


In the Next Galaxy
by Ruth Stone

Things will be different.
No one will lose their sight,
their hearing, their gallbladder.
It will be all Catskills with brand
new wrap-around verandas.
The idea of Hitler will not
have vibrated yet.
While back here,
they are still cleaning out
pockets of wrinkled
Nazis hiding in Argentina.
But in the next galaxy,
certain planets will have true
blue skies and drinking water.

posted by viv at 9:25 pm  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Elizabeth Willis

A few weeks ago, in need of a poetry fix, I wandered into the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard and heard Elizabeth Willis read poems from her new book, Address. I was glad to have stopped in. Willis’ poems struck me as austere, precise and direct, but built upon a smoldering fire. Her delivery was beautiful: pure, quiet, committed.

From the reading, the most memorable for me was the anaphora-driven The Witch. Hearing it read by Willis live was worth the price of admission (despite the fact that admission was free!).

Kathleen Fraser read with Willis, but I left before hearing her so that I could literally run up the street to hear Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben.

An inspiring night out on the poetry town.


posted by viv at 9:58 pm  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sylvia Plath – (10/27/1932 – 2/11/1963)

Sylvia Plath’s birthday. Also on this day thirty-two years ago I left home and landed in Seattle with little money, my notebook, and no plan except to meet interesting people and write poetry.

In honor of Plath’s birthday and in honor of Seattle, a truly mycological wonderland, here’s her amazing poem called “Mushrooms,” written/published in 1959.


“Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.”

posted by viv at 8:50 am  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg with Paul McCartney “Ballad of the Skeletons”

posted by viv at 4:04 pm  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

William Butler Yeats

I used to recite this one to my kids at bedtime.

The Song of the Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

posted by viv at 12:25 pm  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Agha Shadid Ali


not in the clear stream,
I went fishing in the desert sky.
With rain-hooks at the sun’s end,
I caught a rainbow, its colors
slippery in my hands.
I gently separated,
like the bones of a trout,
the blue from the red,
the green from the yellow,
my knife sharp, silver-exact,
each color lean,
impeccably carved.
But the rainbow’s end,
though I cleaned and washed
the earth from it,
tasted bitter,
like gold.


From the book A Nostalgist’s Map of America (Norton: 1991, out of print). About Agha Shadid Ali.

posted by viv at 11:15 am  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Louise Bogan


The cormorant still screams
Over cave and  promontory.
Stony wings and bleak glory
Battle in your dreams.
Now sullen and deranged,
Not simply, as a child,
You look upon the earth
And find it harrowed and wild.
Now, only to mock
At the sterile cliff laid bare,
At the cold pure sky unchanged,
You look upon the rock,
You look upon the air.


A pure lyric — austere and precise — perfection.

posted by viv at 8:46 am  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vincent Ferrini

After Reading Yeats

I am at Loblolly Cove washing his rhythms out of my Ear
the salt drying my hair and lips

The wind has given me its clothes
fitting me back into my bones

My fire drives me
the world has my flesh on


Vincent Ferrini

In my twenties I was introduced to Vincent Ferrini by a friend who was living in Gloucester, Massachusetts. We became instant lovers — not of the flesh (though anyone who knew Vincent knows that Vincent tried!) but of the spirit. For several years we corresponded and exchanged poems and thoughts. He addressed me as “Lady of the Camelias” (no doubt he addressed others thusly!) and took me under his giant and passionate poetic wing, never once giving up on trying to get me into his bed and yet staying on as a steady and profusely generous friend and champion despite my refusals. One night at a dinner party we danced an hour-long  tango-esque beatnik improvisation in our black clothes and silver buckles and bangles.  We were both completely entranced. It was our defining moment together.

Thanks Vincent. You poured a fire into my life that still warms me and I am grateful.


posted by viv at 9:33 pm  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lucille Clifton

Sadly, the world recently lost the poet Lucille Clifton. Her poems live on.

Plaque outside New York Public Library


From Next (Boa Editions, 1987)

posted by viv at 9:06 am  

Friday, April 8, 2011


From the book Not Vanishing by Chrystos




Thump I leap you      shake

down memories    hoarse    You die, are buried

your name closes the door

youreappearatnight   eyes wide   Iseetheuncaught

white man his shoes polished his hand gun

last pulse    the heart contracts    dreams our knees crumple

red neon flickers over your redman hands

black moccasins on white ground

curl unseen without frame

No bells on our feet    feather still    soles

worn through

I dance you


for Mani, murdered with his friend Marcus outside a Phoenix bar


Chrystos is a two-spirit activist poet artist amazing human being. Buy her books. Listen to her read another poem,  Song for a Lakota Woman, at a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force event on February 5, 2011, where she said ” “Everything you need to learn can be found for free, in close observation of your relationships with the earth, with each other and with yourselves.”


posted by viv at 8:28 am  
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