Huff's broad appeal to audiences of poetry and non-poetry readers alike has always been amazing - that appeal seems to know no boundaries.
One reason, it seems to me, is that generally his narrative voice and the poet himself seem to be one in the same. Not that this alone is any measure for popular appeal. If that were the case, there would be millions more "good" poets round the world.
However, that singular Huff voice, coupled with an unwavering honesty, sometimes taken to painful, confessional extremes, seems to be basic to Huff's wide renown. This is only a thought on my part - if someone was to ask me what it was that attracted me to the work, I'd simply say love.
And I'd let the reader/listener figure exactly what I meant by that or, perhaps, what Huff meant by that.
The poem, "To My Twin Born Dead," is an example of what I'm getting at. It is a poem of forthright honesty, based on autobiographical fact, taken deep into the lyrical realm. It's as though he has somehow put his heart on display for all, and the ache of suffering is almost too much to bear. It is, and he makes this quite clear, central to his identity and the deep feeling of loss that permeated his life and work.
"To My Twin Born Dead" comes from the fine collection of selected poems, Why I Write in Coffee Houses and Diners, which is readily available from abebooks or, if you insist on the corporate route, the big-box virtual store and is well worth your hard earned dough.
Hey, it is Small Press Friday - pick an independent book shop from abebooks. I'm just saying. It'll do your heart, and their wallet, some good.
To My Twin Born Dead
It was like being stuck in a door,
both of us fighting to get out,
the pressure building
like there was a crowd behind us
And then a sudden surge
and I burst through,
hearing your voice trail away behind me
as I floundered out there in the light,
thinking, "The door was too small."
And then later they brought you out,
a battered, lifeless thing,
and I was alone for the first time ever.
Sometimes I wonder
if all my poems are to you,
keeping a record you'll never read
of my sojourn in that place
you never reached.
Sometimes I think
they need to invent
a new word for loneliness—
a sound that reaches
into the marrow of the bone
then passes on
into infinity .
Photo by Puzzler 4879
facing the gate
of elder brother...
a cold night
translated by David G. Lanoue
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