Tuesday, May 28, 2013


There are many people I wish had not died. The shock of William Stafford no longer writing still reverberates my nerve endings. I just recently discovered Richard Hugo, and he’s gone.

In his book of essays on poetry and writing, “The Triggering Town” Hugo suggests writers avoid form and rhyme unless they are dry and need the structure to re-juice themselves. I think I disagree but maybe not. Writing from the limitations of a form, albeit ABBA, sonnet or sestina, forces me to enlarge my vocabulary and visual associations. Internal rhymes, slant or straight up and down can make a poem sing, especially when the  rhyme is not an endstop.

Some things to think about when deliberately beginning to write a poem. Or when you are reading a poem.

Richard Wilbur is still alive and writing as far as I know. What caught my attention was his self-imposed form in the poem, “Flying.”  My sister recently reminded me of a tree we used to climb. Sitting high in the branches came close to flying. Wish I had such a tree today.


Treetops are not so high
Nor I so low
That I don't instinctively know
How it would be to fly

Through gaps that the wind makes, when
The leaves arouse
And there is a lifting of boughs
That settle and lift again.

Whatever my kind may be,
It is not absurd
To confuse myself with a bird
For the space of a reverie:

My species never flew,
But I somehow know
It is something that long ago
I almost adapted to.

"Flying" by Richard Wilbur, from Anterooms. © Houghton Mifflin, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

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