Most days, my classes are interesting, insightful, and enjoyable in every way. I certainly count myself lucky that my schoolwork entails reading excellent novels, plays, poems, and essays. But one class this semester (my only three hour night class) is consistently a drag, each and every week, let alone when exciting things are happening
We took a break around ten ’til eight, and while i hadn’t planned it, I packed my books into my backpack and snuck out of the class with no plans to return after ten minutes. Instead, I hurried downstairs and out of the building, quickly biked across campus with my guilty conscience trailing closely behind. Remember the part in the movie version of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe right before the big battle scene and Peter (I think) raises his sword and yells “For Narnia!” and they all move forward into battle? That was me, except I was on a bicycle and this time it was “For Poetry!” and I was going to a reading. I snuck in and found a seat in the back just in time to hear Stephen Dunn begin his reading.
The room was packed, and despite my little experience with Dunn’s work prior to the reading, it was exceptional. I’m just starting to dig through his poems, so maybe I’ll write more about it when my thoughts become a little more clear.
Regardless, you should read some Dunn.
Stephen Dunn “Loneliness“ from New and Selected Poems
So many different kinds,
yet only one vague word.
And the Eskimos
with twenty-six words for snow,
such a fine alertness
to what variously presses down.
Yesterday I saw lovers
hugging in the street,
making everyone around them
feel lonely, and the lovers themselves—
wasn’t a deferred loneliness
waiting for them?
There must be words
for what our aged mothers, removed
in those unchosen homes, keep inside,
and a separate word for us
who’ve sent them there, a word
for the secret loneliness of salesmen,
for how I feel touching you
when I’m out of touch.
The contorted, pocked, terribly ugly man
shopping in the 24-hour supermarket
at 3 A.M.—a word for him—
and something, please,
for this nameless ache here
in this nameless spot.
If we paid half as much attention
to our lives as Eskimos to snow …
Still, the little lies,
the never enough.
No doubt there must be Eskimos
in their white sanctums, thinking
just let it fall, accumulate.