Saying things that are graspably cockeyed is my kind of self-expression. Doing so skirts peekaboo obscurity and affectation constantly, but sometimes it feels like it’s working and those moments make me feel interesting.
“Even your most serious problem,” [Stephen Dunn] said, “very few people are going to be interested in unless you yourself, in the act of writing the poem, make some discoveries about it.”
I like knowing that Stephen Dunn’s three major influences were Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens and Theodore Roethke. Two of those have been mine.
“In a nutshell, Frost for his strategies of composition and his quotidian yet philosophical investigations,” Mr. Dunn wrote. “Stevens for teaching me that, if the music was right, I could love poems I didn’t understand. Roethke for his sensual playfulness, but finally for his lyrical meditations, and his phrasing; yes, Roethke most of all.”
Stephen Dunn, aging lover of basketball, wrote this:
… your legs hanging from your waist
like misplaced sloths in a country
known for its cheetahs and its sunsets.
And this, on turning 60 in 1999:
my dear, is sure to disappoint us.
I think I’ll keep on describing things
to ensure that they really happened.
(Neil Genzlinger, “Stephen Dunn, Poet Who Celebrated the Ordinary, Dies at 82,” NYTimes, 6-25-21)
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