The book by Robert Bly chosen for the Near Perfect Book of Poetry list is Silence in the Snowy Fields. The book was written largely at the same time and in the same location as much of The Branch Will Not Break by James Wright. In fact, Bly is the friend referred to in The Blessing, which was featured in last Thursday's post.
As you know if you are a regular around here, the Near Perfect list is reader nominated and remains an ongoing project. As such, I don't necessarily have to agree with the choices; this is a communal thing. I hope to be featuring a poem or three from each of the nominated books by way of sharing the work valued by regular readers of poetry.
Which brings us back to Silence in the Snowy Fields. I'm a fan of Robert Bly, I think he has written more than his share of very good poems and has done more promoting the art of poetry than many of our laureates ever have. That being said, I've read Silence through twice over the past couple of months and, well, it didn't really grab me in a big way. So, this is by way of saying I'm not the final arbiter in this. I featured one poem from Silence back in July. Here are two more that stood out for me:
Watering The HorseHow strange to think of giving up all ambition!
Suddenly I see with such clear eyes
The white flake of snow
That has just fallen in the horse's mane!
Where We Must Look For HelpThe dove returns: it found no resting place:
It was in flight all night above the shaken seas;
Beneath ark eaves
The dove shall magnify the tiger's bed;
Give the dove peace.
The split-tail swallows leave the sill at dawn;
At dusk, blue swallows shall return.
On the third day the crow shall fly;
The crow, the crow, the spider-colored crow,
The crow shall find new mud to walk upon.
The horses on Bly's farm played a large part in American poetry it would seem. The second poem feels pretty average until you hit the last two lines; suddenly the language rises to the image, transmutes to archetypal myth, and we are forced to see the cliche of a familiar story in a very different way.
Silence was Bly's first book and it is considered groundbreaking for its time, clearing out some of the cobwebs of what had been for many years a fairly staid American poetry scene. I'll be sharing one more poem from Silence in the coming days. For a very sizable preview of Silence in the Snowy Fields, check it out in google books.
This week's featured back issue of Lilliput Review is #60, a little different in layout and approach. It even comes with a title: "Poems Without Segues II." The whole idea was a matter of expediency; I had more poems on hand than I could, at that time, deal with, and so threw nuance to the wind and simply printed them. #60 was originally published in August 1994.
Artwork by Harland Ristau
Since the scan actually includes 6 poems from the cover (click on the image above for a readable version), I'll be featuring more poems than usual. What follows are some selections from the other 7 jam-packed pages.
the spider's thread
warps a sunbeam
on the cusp
of our bed--
crescent thighsJanet Mason
from Rainy Day Sweetish Bakery
I think the rain
on my mother's
grave I think
I think there
is a tree there
and it catches
and sifts them
Seeing you from a distance
I knew at once
O Ship of the Fens
How right it was
to make you metaphorHugh Hennedy
There is me
and this tree
and that bird
and there is morning.
trumpet curves stagelight -
the rainy street outsidechristien gholson
Self Aggrandizing Poet
The head of the dead window box
flower bows away from
the grimy window in
the town with
K. ShabeeAnd a Brobdingnag poem from Huff:
This is how Hopper would have painted it:
the line of yellow dryers
catching the sunlight from the broad window.
Man with his hand reached up to the coin slot,
head turned to the side as though reflecting,
woman bent over the wide table
intent on sorting,
another standing hands at her side, looking off -
as though visiting another country;
each thing as it is,
not reaching beyond the scene for his symbols,
saying merely, "On such and such a day,
it was just as I show you."
Each person, each object, static
but the light a pilgrim.Albert Huffstickler