Sunday, November 20, 2016

The irony behind this week's blare, of course, is the fact that I'm moving out of Harmony in less than a month. Though the timing is so completely accidental, I can't help but feel as if the election and my response to it have contrived to become the inevitable finale to a meandering two-decade-long opera. My house is littered with boxes. My books are going into storage. My clotheslines sag. My garden is fading into grass. Slowly I am saying good-bye to the small residues of my sons' presence: the swing with a name painted on it, the hammered-together forts. In the meantime, I am shouting a loud aria in the Times Literary Supplement.

Tom said to me last night, "But you must be happy that people are responding, that what you said matters to so many of them." Yes, of course. That's a shocking and enormously gratifying result. God knows, I'm not used to having a readership of such size. At the same time I did not quite imagine the depths of the chasm. I had gotten myself accustomed to provinciality, which is narrow-minded, yes, but also a comfort of workaday details and loneliness and individual interactions. The fact is that people hate each other. And some of that hate comes from progressives. This is a hard pill to swallow.

A few of you have wondered if the TLS article might have any good effect on publishers' interest in Chestnut Ridge, my poetry ms about Appalachian Pennsylvania. I suppose it's possible, though I'm inclined to assume that it won't. Interestingly, my article has gotten almost no response from my poet-colleagues. My guess is that many of them didn't get past the title.

I spent yesterday choosing which books to leave out of storage. Since I'll be living down the road from the public library, this was an easier job than it might otherwise have been. So far, this is what's on my list:
the complete William Shakespeare
the collected short poems of Hayden Carruth
the complete Robert Frost
the complete Lucille Clifton
Updike's four Rabbit novels
Grimms' fairy tales
The Chicago Manual of Style
Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace
I'm not done yet. Clearly I need more women, more people of color. Something about this list feels so characteristic of me, in a way that does not make me either proud or content. Yet here it is. And here am I. And here is Harmony  . . . which just showed up in the form of a large man in an orange hat and a big white pickup. Yes, at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, Harmony people do appear unannounced in a driveway to say, "I hear you got a old riding mower you're giving away for scrap." Why, yes. We do.


Ruth said...

Barbara Pym for those days when only that sort of reading will do.

Carlene said...

Take your Mansfield Park...and perhaps some Arthurian lit? And you have to take a copy of The Secret Garden and The Wind and the Willows...