And the dish spares no one, from Green’s family to the giants of history and art. A poem about Pavarotti begins: ‘We had concerns. He was so huge his tux / Looked like a tent.…’ An elegy for lost astronauts ends up recounting Samuel Johnson’s reckless gunplay. We meet the senile, awkwardly flirtatious mother of Green’s friend. We meet Green’s own mother, a devout woman who dreamed of walking ‘among the lilies with the Lord,; but grew to such Pavarottian proportions that her son ‘had to laugh’ picturing it. We learn about Mao’s constipation, John Wayne’s hangovers, and Warhol’s social climbing. We don’t learn much about Green himself, except in fleeting glimpses.
The term “regionalism” doesn’t have quite the lustre for poets that it does for fiction writers, yet poets undeniably reflect their roots in the work. In an essay, Sandra Beasley makes the case for embracing regionalism in the poetry world, citing Claudia Emerson as a model for profitably committing yourself to one place.
INTERVIEWER: Do you read much contemporary poetry these days?
SARAH RUHL: A little bit … as much as I read anything. I have three kids under the age of six, so if you ask me what I’ve read lately, it’s Goodnight Moon.
The heat of autumn
is different from the heat of summer.
One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.
One is a dock you walk out on,
the other the spine of a thin swimming horse
and the river each day a full measure colder.
I remember the first time I realized the world we are born into is not the one we leave.