Monday, April 30, 2012

Poem for a Monday and a Crush

I have a new "poet crush":  Wesley NcNair, the poet laureate of Maine.  Be still my beating literary heart ... he's wonderful ... !

Even the spouse agreed.  I know, that sounds strange, but hey, it's a literary crush. We've just wrapped up Poem in Your Pocket week in Brunswick (all sorts of fun poetry events, culminating with McNair speaking/reading at the local library on Friday night) and I corralled a small group of friends to come with, including the spouse, who usually has no energy for socialization on Friday nights. When he learned poetry and dinner out with friends was on tap for the evening, he growled from the grossfaterstuhl (that's what we call his Big Daddy Chair, in faux German):

"Oh god.  What sort of poetry are you dragging me to hear??"

I took umbrage with the verb "dragging," and accused him of all sorts of high crimes, including becoming a curmudgeon.  Which, it turns out, is a badge he wears with pride. 

Anyhow, off we went (the spouse grumbles, but usually comes along for the ride) and we were treated to a magical evening.  I'm one of those who doesn't "get" the sorts of literary highbrow poems published in places like The New Yorker, where it feels like the poet is speaking, in code, to three of his closest friends who  know the code.  So McNair's poetry, which is so relatable, which had us all laughing out loud, or wiping our eyes, or breathing a collective "Ahhh," at the end, was simply wonderful.

Here's one from his latest collection, Lovers of the Lost, published by David R. Godine press. The cover art (above) is Edward Hopper's Cape Cod Morning. As someone who spends a lot of time weighing the various attributes of particular words, I loved this rumination on a common pronoun. (note: The spouse purchased this volume and had it signed following the reading: from curmudgeon to convert in one night.)


Don't fall for it.
Don't scratch it.
Don't spoil it for everyone else.
Don't take it for granted.

It's not anything to play with.
It's not the end of the world.
It's not brain surgery.
That's not it.

I used to have cravings for it.
It's the last thing I need right now.
I wish it would just go away.
I can't take it anymore.

Why is it so important to you?
Why did you laugh about it?
Why can't you just be quiet about it?
Is it all about you?

It's all sticky.
It's giving me the creeps.
It's worse than I thought.
You're getting it all over yourself.

This is no place for it.
There's no excuse for it.
Take it outside.
Get over it.

Wesley McNair's volumes of poetry include seven collections and two limited editions. He has also published books of prose and anthologies of Maine writing. A recipient of Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships, he has received two NEA grants and has twice been awarded Rockefeller fellowships for creative work at the Bellagio Center in Italy. His honors in poetry include the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Eunice Tietjens Prize, the Jane Kenyon award, and the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal. In 2006 he was awarded a United States Artists Fellowship for poetry. He lives with his wife, Diane, in Mercer, Maine.

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