Tu Fu readers, there are new comments about the most recent reading assignment, so check them out and add your own.
Lately I've had the pleasure of copyediting Gray Jacobik's manuscript of new and selected poems, which won the William Meredith Foundation's Meredith Award and is forthcoming later this year. If you don't know Gray's work, you should make a point of looking for it. In The Conversation, I excerpted a set of poems from her verse-memoir, Little Boy Blue; and now I am in love with so many of these newer poems, which I'd never seen before. Here's a bit from "The Laundromat":
Never has she dared more than the commonest of dreams,
only what is likely, or what can be hers for a few dollars.
What she desires is unclear, unimagined,
though she senses how vast and terrifying it is,
that it is filled with a softness as dark as the hemlocks on the ridge,
their branches bent like the enveloping wings of a crow
who descends suddenly above her,
lands, and tosses down snow.
I would like to hear Gray's thoughts on Tu Fu's poems because I sense a commonality, though I haven't yet parsed my ideas on the matter. Certainly she is able to inhabit, even in third person, the past-present-future of this character . . . and that, I think, is what I long for, and so often don't find, in poems: the ability to surrender oneself into another being. I've read poems lately in which the narrative voices dance and describe and gesticulate--often very beautifully--without convincing me that the poets are living inside what they describe so intensely. The character under discussion has become a mirror, a fetish, an object of desire or despair. This is not so with Gray's poems, or Tu Fu's.