Three Yaddo Poets Sing in the Dusk

May 20, 2020

A moment of stillness, a zing of recognition, a window opened on the soul— these are among the rewards of poetry, each of them sorely needed right now. Join us here for an occasional Yaddo series, curated by Soren Stockman.

Joanna Klink Photo: Antonia Wolf

“Auroras” by Joanna Klink

Joanna Klink, “Auroras” from Circadian. Copyright © 2007 by Joanna Klink. Reprinted by permission of Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA), LLC.Source: Circadian (Penguin Books, 2007).

Klink collapses any distinction between the interior and exterior worlds, tracing the contours of our homebound living newly imbued with imagination desperate to fill in the blanks. “It began in a foyer of evenings . . . we moved through a room of leaves,” and the pillars of reality rearrange themselves, wind recrossing rivers “room into room.” As we wait, and stay, and lack, and do not, Klink draws us deeper toward “a wood emptied of trees // It was enough to hollow us out.” We find within ourselves the topography we lack, becoming our own answers when the carousel of questions circles back.  — SS

Mary Jo Bang Photo: Cybele Knowles

“You Know” by Mary Jo Bang

Copyright © 2010 by Mary Jo Bang. Used with permission of the author.

This summer may well string together evenings “laid out like a beach ball gone airless,” as Bang’s opening line coyly suggests we intuitively understand. Her renderings of the feverish mundane spark further recognition – our yet-unknown functionality indivisible from our purgatorial setting: a spectator spectating other spectators, the real game beyond us and somehow already gone. The spell cast for an analog world in which memories themselves substitute for the screens they now occupy, we arrive at “an ever-widening abyss / with a sea on the bottom.” The poem’s title flashing in the reader’s mind like a stop sign before a car crash, “the crowd will quiet when the sea reaches us.” Such memories are often silent films.  — SS

Henri Cole Photo: Claudia Gianvenuti

“Dandelions (II)” by Henri Cole

Source: Poetry (September 2014)

Five sentences resound in one another like a series of nesting bells, their sounds cascading in staggered simultaneity like a painter “getting / the white stems / and blurry seed heads / just right” in a wild field. Suddenly, “‘Nobody there,’ / the new disease / announced, / with black-tie gloom, / ‘nobody there’ / after he’d succumbed.” Cole’s clipped lines echo the fate of “nobody,” ending too soon. The soul here is a tenuous flower, and illness “an insect chorus,” ravaging. Yet the solace of drawing “these dandelions” reflects the value of that very fragility. Cole’s speaker asks them, the embodiment of his own care, to “please take / care of me.” — SS