Poet-listening: v., to listen to the words of other poets I may only dream to be.
And the poets? They are the graceful Marie Ponsot, the elegant W.S. Merwin, the natural world-exploring Jim Harrison, the compelling Li-Young Lee, the teller-of-the-ordinary Galway Kinnell, the New Formulist Mary Jo Salter, to name but a few.
These poets read out loud, and their words no longer sit black-typed on white ground-bound. They read, and their words become: the place, the look, the thing. The sight, the sound, the smell, the touch, and, yes, the taste.
Every sense becomes what it is not when we take our focus off the page, off the book opened, off the hand holding the book and the eyes looking down.
Lucky enough, we see how the poets read, notice how their eyes meet the camera and not their book, because the words, instilled, come from memory. And the memory creates the picture we're given. We hear how the words are meant to be read, where the voice falters or breaks, when it rises and falls before stopping altogether. We smell the moss, the lilac, the antelope on the butte, the water's scent. We touch the place inside where the words grab, clutch, hold on, give up, give out. We taste the burning-off of the high-rise falling and the fruit market exploding, and a seared edge of skin, the sending up of dust and ash, the bringing down of stars and dreams.
Join me in poet-listening. Hear, for example, the 88-year-old Marie Ponsot, whose most recent collection is Easy: Poems. She recites, one after the other, her poems "A Rune, Interminable", "Contracted", "TV, Evening News", and "Thank Gerard". Her voice is here.