Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rumored Islands

Once upon a time there was an idyllic time in a girl's life. She strolled past lakes holding books and pens, she ran skipping through fields for the Northern Lights and, in the fall, heard the crunch of leaves under her shoe. And, on the luckiest days of all, she read poetry while outside, collecting, were sheets of white snow, not yet imprinted with the hourglass of feet.

Helloooo! Back to reality. I don't know WHO that girl is but...

Okay, okay she was me and she's guilty as charged on all counts of idealizing!!! The time in question was 4 years spent in Maine attending Bates College, where she (when do I start the first person?) had the pleasure of studying with literature and poetry professor Rob Farnsworth.

Now, I...

found something most exciting on the Small Press Distribution blog: a post about Rob's forthcoming book of poetry entitled Rumored Islands. I've been waiting for this day, and am so eager and excited to read Rob's book. His poetry workshop was one of my first and I remember it so vividly: all of us young poets sitting around in a circle, critiquing poems and listening to Rob's words of wisdom. He introduced me to poets like William Carlos Williams and was the first teacher I knew to emphasize the importance of the line break.

You can read the red-starred review of Rumored Islands from 'Publishers Weekly' below or click here to follow the link:

"More than 20 years after his last book, Farnsworth (Honest Water) returns with poems of wonder and shame, loneliness and “the strange, sun-spun fabric of the world.” In carefully sculpted lines, alternately lyrical and narrative, cultured and stripped down, he offers poems that arrive unannounced and track the unexpected turns life takes, the way an unanticipated moment can become part of a story we were meant to hear. He captures the long sigh of a stoplight, thoughts from Westminster Bridge, finding someone drowned staring up from the bottom of a pond, and the complicated distances and intimacies of family life—fathers and sons, husbands and wives—with grace and muscular music. Farnsworth knows his way around a stanza and is capable of lines that both surprise and seem inevitable, whether he's “full of the melancholy/ pleasure of being far away from home” or stating that “The past should always be/ this allusive gift.” Near the end of the book comes “At Sea,” a tender, restrained and stunning poem in which, four years after his father's death, Farnsworth begins to find him. Rather than ask forgiveness—presumably for the many unnamed separations between a father and a son—the writer acknowledges, 'I recognize the things I know that you'd have loved.'"

This is a collection I know will be enjoyable, thoughtful and inspiring. So excited for Rob!

Reading the SPD post about Rob (you can too, click here) really brought me back to that unique time in my life when I lived in Maine. In a place where the landscape changes so dramatically from season to season, it is hard not to be inspired by your surroundings. It was during this time when I first discovered and developed my interest in poetry. I always liked poetry, from the time that I was small, but it wasn't until college that I could do it with purpose. It began with those startling moments of awareness and observation; when I could locate and tap into the material, the ideas and the thoughts with which my mind was fully engaged. Combined with a bit of focus and accessible practice, I found a way to write a poem. I also found a way to accept writing what was an unfinished poem at times, because the process can be fleeting, can be momentary. However, I prefer 'healthy pause' over 'writer's block,' in order to become fearless. There is no fear because in those moments, when you have experienced such energy and urgency to write, you are actually driven further, even if it feels that you got nowhere. Oh yes, you went somewhere. And once you are there, you cannot go backwards. Only forwards, to continue seeking, exploring and writing. It's as simple as that.

I know this is verging on abstract, but it's all part of my interest in the practice of poetry. Such a practice, for me, is fueled by the incredible teachers and mentors I have known over the years. At Bates, Rob was there for those early days when I first found inspiration in its most genuine form. In the form of awe and spark. You know it. You can't miss it. Inspiration like this will hit you like a snowball.

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