In the Meantime

I am still cheerfully plugging away at David Grossman's To the End of the Land, but I finished today a collection of poems I've been reading on the bus for a few weeks now.  My bus rides are fairly short, rarely allowing time for more than two short poems, so I can't commit to a novel or anything resembling class prep.  But to read two short poems in the morning is not a bad way to start the workday, even if those poems aren't the very best you've ever read.  The collection is Charlotte Hilary Matthews' Green Stars, and though they weren't all the best I've ever read (how could they be?), it is a fine collection that gave me regular cause to stop, look out the window, and ponder the weight of the words I'd just read.  I bought this book at the Conference on Southern Literature, which is coming around again this April.  I believe she was awarded a prize some years ago from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, so I may have actually heard her read from her work at that time though I don't remember it now.

I especially loved the poems where she reflected upon some particular memory of her mother.  My favorite is probably "December 7, 1941" where she recounts the story she must have heard told where her mother names her puppet Pearl after listening to the war coverage on the radio.  She says her mother
heard the single words like trinkets/to collect, buttons portioned in flowered boxes,/and loved some, their feel on her tongue (3-5).
Then, the poem concludes with
Whatever it was, she held to the word/proudly naming her puppet Pearl./Her father, hearing this, slapped her hard (14-16).
It comes as such a surprising moment, fitting as the original act most certainly must also have been, and I like the contrast it creates.  I didn't love any of the poems; however, the experience was a good one. I suppose I should read Andrew Hudgins' Babylon in a Jar next.  It was another Conference on Southern Literature buy, and it will most certainly fit nicely in my purse.

By the way, have you seen the t-shirts at Out of Print Clothing?  You know you want one.  The question is: which one?


  1. I like poems to start the day - I get a poem e-mailed to me and while they're not always amazing, it's a nice way to, as you say, just sit back and ponder the weight of words for a few minutes.

  2. Yes, Kim, it somehow keeps my mind from trying to win all the day's battles before 9 AM. I did start the Hudgins this morning, and it seems to be a much more crafted collection from a more mature writer. Unfortunately, there were people on the bus loudly discussing The Family Guy and My Name is Earl this morning. I wanted to shout: can't you see I'm trying to read some poetry, here? I restrained myself, thankfully, but I'll hope for a quieter ride next time.