Sunday, September 30, 2012

The best of the many

     Here I link to an article by David Alpaugh, "The New Math of Poetry," -- not brand-new, for it bears a date of February, 2010 , but I found it only recently and have been thinking about its description of the seemingly unrestrained quantity of poetry expected to be published on the Internet. What happens to poetry if each of us calls what she writes "poems" and publishes them online, making them as available as the lines penned by a Poet Laureate? 
     Most of what I feel about proliferation of poetry is excitement.  I love the democracy that lets all of us participate in poetry just as we all may run races, perhaps even taking a trophy in our neighborhood's turkey-day mile;  we do not pretend excellence but, simply, it is fun and good for us.  All of us who choose it can enjoy writing poems -- and experimentation with new forms -- and, from time to time, some surprising and splendid work will emerge. 
      And, having spoken of Poets Laureate, here with the precision of imagery that numbers help to give  is  "Theories of Time and Space," a poem by the new US Poet Laureate, Mississippian Natasha Trethewey.  

Theories of Time and Space     by Natasha Trethewey   

You can get there from here, though
there’s no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion – dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on a mangrove swamp – buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry – tome of memory
its random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph – who you were –
will be waiting when you return

"Theories of Time and Space" is in Trethewey's collection, Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).  
(On September 13 I heard Trethewey read from her new book, Thrall, at the Library of Congress; the reading was well performed and the poetry excellent!)

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