Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cloud Studies: Rachel Wetzsteon

Cloud Studies (III)

by Rachel Wetzsteon

Enough, for now, of the willful invisible tendrils
that storm the sky and sculpt the clouds
into all the things I'm thinking of
as I wander up and down the tree-lined drive.
(I said anima, animal, animus
and they turned, my faithful shape-shifters,
into drifting souls, flying sheep, bulging cannonball sacks.)
No matter if noon's cumulus
becomes four o'clock's cumulonimbus;
I'm still not the one who's got the vapors.
(I cried out: how could I bear to add
the sky to my abandoners?
Then I loosened the reins and learned the facts:
nothing can hold this much water forever;
the letting go is the growing lighter.)
I opened my eyes, I wept like a cloud.

~ From Sakura Park: Poems © Rachel Wetzsteon

Rachel Wetzsteon, who committed suicide in December 2009, age 42, published the poetry collections The Other Stars and Home and Away (available only through other sellers on Amazon), as well as a book of criticism about W.H. Auden, Influential Ghosts.  She also wrote the Introduction for The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.

Wetzsteon's poems appeared in The Paris ReviewThe Nation, The New Republic, and The New Yorker, among many other literary magazines and journals. She taught poetry, creative writing, and modern and contemporary literature at William Paterson University. She also taught at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y, in New York City. She was The New Republic's poetry editor. 


Wetzsteon's New York Times obituary is here.

Audio of  Wetzsteon's "On Leaving the Bachelorette Brunch" is here.

Poets.org published online Wetzsteon's "At the Zen Mountain Monastery", from Sakura Park.

Wetzsteon's "Love and Work" is here.

5 Poems by Rachel Wetzsteon

"On Form: Rachel Wetzsteon: Marvellous Sapphics" at Poetry Society of America

"Remembering Rachel Wetzsteon" is published online at The Best American Poetry. Another feature, with several of Wetzsteon's poems, is here.


Glynn said...

It makes me wonder - why does it seem that so many poets end in suicide -- Vachel Lindsay, Sara Teasdale, Sylvia Plath and Rachel Wetzsteon? How can one write poetry and not have hope?

M.L. Gallagher said...

I was wondering exactly the same thing as I read your essay. Why?

I love the phrase --

I wept like the clouds.


lucy said...

yes, i ponder the same questions as the previous commenters. i (sadly) find myself viewing her poetry through a different lens with the knowledge of her suicide. i wonder how i might have read and received it, had i not known.

Joyce Wycoff said...

"how could I bear to add
the sky to my abandoners?"

How sad to hear such torment and know it went all the way to the end. Such beautiful words; such a loss.

slowmuse said...

Thank you for keeping one of my favorites in the conversation. A well done tribute Maureen.

n. davis rosback said...

i can understand why people come to a point of ending what is their life.

it is good to know that she wrote and her words are shared.

Anonymous said...

She was my professor, and I suppose it can be a very lonely world being one with your thoughts and a piece of paper. The Paris Review link to her audio is not active. Does anyone know where I can see/hear her reading?