Friday, April 27, 2007

National Poetry Month Recommendation: Brooks Haxton

In January I attended a lecture by Brooks Haxton. During the lecture, Brooks was thorough, intelligent, funny, but just a little distracted. That was because as he was lecturing, his son was competing in a poker tournament. And doing well. He ran off at the end of the lecture to check on his son's status.

Let's just say Dad had reason to be happy when the last flop fell.

This floors me: Brooks Haxton has a book that features a blurb by Eudora Welty. Seriously. The Eudora Welty. This Eudora Welty:

She said:

"The poems in Brooks Haxton's Traveling Company are extraordinary. I value their beauty and their strength, one by one, and their accumulating power to move their reader's own responding imagination. It is a pleasure to recommend this fine book."

Another writer who praised Haxton is Walker Percy. He said of the book Dominion:

"These are extraordinary poems, strikingly original, rich, comic, and beautiful in the use of language."

The authors of one of my favorite collections of short stories, and one of my favorite novels (last archived post on this page) both called Brooks Haxton's work extraordinary.

I think that this is the literary equivalent of having Samuel L. Jackson tell you he thinks you are a total bad-ass. And then having Bruce Lee concur.

This is a poem called "I Am" from Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms:

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. Psalm 40

The fog I call the world is not a cloud of atoms
only, but a cloud of feelings, and ideas. I mind
my little bumps. I grieve. I think about non-being.
All I do is what my flesh can do, yet everything
my flesh can do feels strange. I am the swelling
of a salt sea onto an armature of chalk, the calm
of a tidal pool where brain cells live, the wind,
the lightning storm where thought flares into thought.
I taste damp sparks inside my tongue. If sayings
gather under the name of Faith, or Art, I let them
when they let me let them, and my mind clears.

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