*This* poet’s poets

March 7, 2009

More amazing news! My favorite living poet is coming to the Los Angeles Festival of Books this year!

Kim Addonizio is at once tough and tender, dangerous and delicious, gentle and generous and good. Above all things, good.

I’ve met her twice before. The first time was at a poetry reading in LA. I was actually feeling sick that night and didn’t think I was up to going—I’m so blessed to have been raised by such a sweet pop that I always pick sweet dudes—when my ex came to take me and I said I wasn’t sure if I felt well enough to go he took me anyway coz he knew I’d regret missing the opportunity. ‘Still dig that dude — thx, K 🙂

‘Saw her again, a year later, and she remembered me—she even knew my name! Lovely! I think, or, at least, I have always attributed it to being a “poet thing,” the way we just remember. The way moments just gel. And how we have such a need to record these moments.

There is a saying in Latin: Ars longa, vita brevis— Art is long, life is short.

The desire to be a writer, or any kind of artist, stems precisely from an innate understanding of the precious, ephemeral nature of life—which necessarily leads to a desire to be somehow immortal—to have one’s influence extend beyond one’s years. The primary message of any work that even struggles toward “art” is this:

I was HERE. I EXPERIENCED this. THIS I know. BE HERE, too. KNOW. FEEL.

Here is one of my fave poems from Kim Addonizio:

For Desire

Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it. I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are let off their leashes
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fucking good I look.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! and I know I started this entry calling Kim my fave “living poet”—Here is a poem from the poet who makes my soul fall still, and then, just…quake.

Pablo Neruda’s Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines.


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One Response to “*This* poet’s poets”

  1. Eric Says:

    Intense. “For Desire” reminds me of my favorite quote from C. S. Lewis, though obviously from an entirely different perspective.

    “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”


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