Monday, March 19, 2007


Good Poems for Hard Times, Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor

From the worth-the-price-of-the-book introduction:

"My dad and I were as different as could be (I made sure of that), but his life had a clarity that I can find in poetry. He was a carpenter, and if I close my eyes, I can see him, thirtyish , handsome, sawdust in his dark hair, running a 2x4 through a circular saw, trimming it, holding it up to the studs...This simple act, repeated a thousand times as he built the house up over our heads, had the cadence and fervor of poetry. He didn't earn his daily bread sitting in a conference room, manipulating people, moving big wads of cash around, spinning a web of hogwash; compared to that, his life was poetry. When he bowed his head and gave thanks before a meal, it was always the same words, the same cadence. When he took a chicken by the legs and laid its neck against the block and lifted the ax and chopped off its head, there was a plain cadence to that. I hear that whack in poetry. Comedians are the children at the upstairs window, amused by the hysteria of the chickens trying to escape over the fence, waiting for the hammerer to pound his thumb so they can imitate his pain, hop around and howl. Comedy is a predatory sport, closer to the lynch mob than to church. Poetry is church. What animates poetry is faith, the same faith that moves the builder and the butcher... (P)oetry is about driving the nail into the pine, killing the chicken, mowing grass, putting luggage into the car, gratitude for food, the laughter of a little girl, about our common life."

"This is a book of poems that if I knew you better and if you were in a hard passage I might send you one or two along with a note, the way people used to do, believing in the bracing effect of bold writing."

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