So, the reading was an intimate and successful event. There was a late location change, and it was frickin’ freezing outside, so the crowd was not huge, but we had a great time. Tom read new poems—certainly new to me, who hasn’t heard him read in two years since we were MFA classmates. I tried some new poems too, and B read a couple of her newer ones. Then fun drinking after.
Spent today’s train travel time reading GREEN SQUALL, the forthcoming collection by this year’s Yale Younger Poets winner Jay Hopler. This is Gluck’s last selection. I’ve really enjoyed her tenure as judge—she’s picked work with qualities I enjoy in her work: a merciless inward gaze, tight, despirate langauge, and a struggle to relate to the experienced world. Hopler’s book certainly displays all of these qualities in abundance. There are a couple of clunkers, as there should be in any good first book. But the really good ones are really good, and really strange. Here’s a little teaser:
A sigh. The first long satisfied sigh of summer.
Satisfied—that can’t be right; summer’s never
Satisfied, never quite.
A strange kind of metaphysical probing goes on—the speaker is confronted with a stunning natural world he can’t quite bring himself to deserve. So the poems are very self-depricating, very ironic, and yet the portrayals of nature are ecstatic and very moving. I think people are going to like the book. Though of course, some people will find it overly self-indulgent and solopsistic, but I love that; I just want more.