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Poetry: The Month & The Magazine, with a Remembrance of Ruth Lilly

March 29, 2010 by Reader's Connection

Ezra Pound, by Adrian StasiakNational Poetry Month begins this Thursday, and  I´d like to set the stage with some links to the website of Poetry–a periodical to which we have a subscription at Central Library. I subscribed, myself, a few  months  ago, viewing it as a stimulus package for a brain in recession.
The March issue featured editor Christian Wiman’s essay about Ruth Lilly, who had died in December and who had been incredibly generous in her contributions to the world of poetry. I found the essay moving, so we’ll begin there.
The letters to Poetry can be as mean and ego-drenched as comments anywhere, but I’m delighted to say that as of this writing all the comments about the piece are quite positive.


Grace: Remembering Ruth Lilly, by Christian Wiman


I emailed Poetry back in January, asking about gaining permission rights to reprint their poems, and Kristina Meyer helpfully replied: When a poem is published in Poetry, the rights are reverted back to the poet. You would need to gain permission to republish a poem from the poet. An easier, less expensive, less time consuming solution, might be to link to the poems on our site, with your own commentary.

This was flattering, since I usually don’t do a lot of commenting when I post poems here–I’m all for allowing the poems to speak for themselves. But I’ll give it a shot.

About this first poem, I’ll say that it’s not particularly patriotic, and that it works best for me when I read it aloud (and pretty loud) to a friend or loved one. If overly boisterous language upsets you, don’t click the link.

To Whom It May Concern, by Andrea Cohen


You may want a more sobering tone after that opening poem. Prison Chaplain, too, works better if read aloud at least once.

I think of that John Updike story, “Lifeguard,” narrated by a seminary student who works summers at the beach, and who hasn’t yet been asked to save anyone along either of his vocational paths. But Timothy Murphy’s dedication lets us know that his poem is from his own life. (I don’t  usually give much thought to dedications. When the dedicatee shows up in the poem, though, I have to look back and say, “Ah!”) The chaplain seems more engaged with his inmates than Updike’s lifeguard up high on his chair can be, and that walk-about with twelve-foot mesh where drunks can smoke is miles from the beach.

Prison Chaplain, by Timothy Murphy


I enjoyed that first Andrea Cohen poem about trees so much. Here’s another poem by a woman, dealing with humans and their psychological interfacing with trees.

April Fool! That’s coming up on Thursday, too. The Cohen poem and this next one by our current U.S. Poet Laureate do indeed fit those categories (woman author, trees & humans) but they’re from different parts of the poets’ forest.

Cloud, by Kay Ryan


And now a couple of love poems. They may not fit your idea of the form, since one speaker seems to be recollecting a relationship that has passed, and the other looks forward with such trepidation and in fact may be chickening out. Call these what you will.

The Two Times I Loved You the Most in a Car, by Dorothea Grossman

Impromptu, by J. Allyn Rosser


May your National Poetry Month be one to remember.

Almost forgot: 3 poets are coming to IUPUI in April: Nin Andrews (this Thursday, 4/1), Jessica Care Moore (4/15) and Edward Hirsch (4/21). And Mark Strand will be at Butler on 4/13.


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