Friday, July 3, 2015

A Voice Meant to be Spoken

     Last month the Library of Congress named a new poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, a Californian and Mexican-American whose work often involves oral performance  - as in “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border,” (City Lights, 2007).  As I have learned about this poet I have found that I identify with his process,  "I write while I’m walking, on little scraps of paper,” he said.  (Wasn't walking also a writing strategy for William Wordsworth?)
     When I am introduced to the work of a new poet it has become my custom not only to enjoy her or his work but also to look for the ways that she or he uses mathematics.  The following poem is found, along with others by Herrera, at   

FIVE DIRECTIONS TO MY HOUSE     by Juan Felipe Herrera
       1. Go back to the grain yellow hills where the broken speak of elegance
       2. Walk up to the canvas door, the short bed stretched against the clouds
       3. Beneath the earth, an ant writes with the grace of a governor
       4. Blow, blow Red Tail Hawk, your hidden sleeve—your desert secrets
       5. You are there, almost, without a name, without a body, go now
       6. I said five, said five like a guitar says six.

Here is a link to Herrera's website where one may learn of many poetry projects in which he has been involved. This link leads to the text and a recording of  "Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings" -- which is an absolutely wonderful (and a favorite) poem.

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