WordPress stats are in for the year 2012 and they’re not all about us. They’re really about All of You. You keep us energized, inspired and motivated to write. We thank you, Readers. Fiercely. Vastly. Utterly.
We also take our nourishment from a passel of poets ~ Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Naomi Shihab Nye, William Carlos Williams, Maxine Kumin, Stanley Kunitz, Nikki Giovani, Donald Hall, Lucille Clifton, e e cummings, Maya Angelou, Billy Collins, Gwendolyn Brooks…. just to name a few.
Natasha Trethewey, named 19th Poet Laureate in 2012, is one of them. Yes, she’s wise. But she’s not stuffy. Or aloof. She’s on my Fave List because she is such a cheerleader for the written word. She tells her writing students to read other poets, then Imitate, imitate. Your self will shine through. If you allow yourself to feel deeply and honestly, what you say won’t be like anyone else.
Trethewey, a product of the South and an interracial marriage, does just that.
Trethewey says there’s a poem out there for everyone, to help us grieve our losses as well as celebrate our joys. In her poetry, she explores issues of mixed race, history and memory, telling the stories of washerwomen, factory workers, and African-American Louisiana guards.
In her poem Help, 1968 she recalls her mother being mistaken for her maid.
when my mother took me for walks,
she was mistaken again and again
for my maid. Years later she told me
she’d say I was her daughter, and each time
strangers would stare in disbelief, then
empty the change from their pockets.
When the phone rang in early May and Trethewey saw the Library of Congress number on caller ID, she thought it might be a prank. It wasn’t.
For the curious, here's a list of the 24 poets and 1 astronaut (?) portrayed in the linocut: First row Alfred, Lord Tennyson - Robert Browning - Walt Whitman - William Butler Yeats - Gertrude Stein Second row Robert Frost - Carl Sandburg - Wallace Stevens - J.D. - T. S. Eliot Third row Edna St. Vincent Millay - Neil Armstrong - e e cummings - Langston Hughes - W. H. Auden Fourth row Randall Jarrell - John Berryman - Dylan Thomas - Gwendolyn Brooks - Philip Larkin Fifth row Gregory Corso - Allen Ginsberg - Anne Sexton - Sylvia Plath - Frank O'Hara