This place of skull

Well, you guys were shy, but eventually your poems shone through. It was a hard decision, took many hours of aforementioned statistical analysis, but my favorite favorite poem was James Wrights’ “Listening to the Mourners.” Teri, if you would email your address to yours truly (independentclause) at the google mail (gmail), I will send you one of my favorite books. I’m thinking contemporary Western North Carolina gothic.

I thought of all your poems as I drove a rented van west on a research trip this weekend. Writers are hungry, and I’m not always sure for what. On this trip I wanted stories, and I came home with notebooks. I was told that mathematical formulas can be stories, ways of thinking, revelatory. I read the notes for my father’s thesis, which he wrote in in 1957.

What kind of research do you do?

 

(see below for Teri’s favorite poem)

Listening to the Mourners

by James Wright

Crouched down by a roadside windbreak
At the edge of the prairie,
I flinch under the baleful jangling of wind
Through the telephone wires, a wilderness of voices
Blown for a thousand miles, for a hundred years.
They all have the same name, and the name is lost.
So: it is not me, it is not my love
Alone lost.
The grief that I hear is my life somewhere.
Now I am speaking with the voice
Of a scarecrow that stands up
And suddenly turns into a bird.
This field is the beginning of my native land,
This place of skull where I hear myself weeping.

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4 responses to “This place of skull

  1. That poem . . . oh my.

    I know writers are supposed to love research and when it comes to small factoids, I’m on board. But serious research? For historical fiction or far-off lands I’ve never visited? Not so much. I prefer to fictionalize everything and call it a day.

    • And kill of your characters when they inconvenience you. I’m doing a nonfiction-type thing and so the characters are mostly already dead. So I have to make sure none of them are going to come back and haunt me.

  2. Thank you Indy. And James Wright —- whose collection “Above the River” is the most worn-out looking book on my poetry shelf.

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