Today’s guest blogger is Karlan Sick. Karlan and I served together on the Alex Awards committee for four years, and Karlan was always determined to find a book of poetry for the list. She introduced me to Poets House. At least once a summer, we would meet there and spend hours reading through potential collections, most hand-picked for us by the knowledgeable staff. Almost two years ago, Poets House moved from Soho to an incredible location in Battery Park City. Open to the public, and available for school visits, this is a beautiful, inspiring place for poetry. From Karlan:
With some 50,000 volumes of mostly contemporary American poetry on open stacks, Poets House is a wonderful place to visit here in NYC. The new site faces the park and Hudson River with beautiful wide windows to please those who want to read or write. Every year a special party is held to introduce the Showcase, a collection of virtually every poetry book published that year. Star struck readers can enjoy refreshments and meet some of their favorite poets. Programs and writing workshops are held for children, teens and adults. When the weather is nice, there are special events in the adjacent park, too. An annual fundraiser, a walk across Brooklyn Bridge in June, is a highlight of the year. Poetry is read before the walk, at the half way point, and on arrival. A fine dinner is served along with more poetry. The creative leadership of Poets House has made this wonderful space exciting and welcoming. Come for a visit when you are in New York City.
Adult/High School–Collins served as Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003, and his sense of humor and storytelling style appeal to most readers. Boys should appreciate “The Snag.” “The only time I found myself at all interested/in the concept of a time machine/was when I first heard that baldness in a man/was traceable to his maternal grandfather./I pictured myself stepping in the odd craft/ with a vial of poison tucked into a pocket/and, just in case, a newly sharpened kitchen knife./Of course, I had not thought this through very carefully./But even after I realized the drawback/of eradicating my own existence/not to mention the possible existence of my mother,/I came up with a better reason to travel back in time.” The poet then imagines being a child and meeting his grandfather in a touching conclusion. The title poem describes an activity to which many people do not admit. And why read the horoscope relating to someone who is gone? “Every morning since you disappeared for good,/ I read about you in the daily paper/ along with the box scores, the weather, and all the bad news./ Some days I am reminded that today/ will not be a wildly romantic time for you,/ nor will you be challenged by educational goals,/ nor will you need to be circumspect at the workplace.” It is refreshing to read a poet who uses direct, elegant language. The humorous, wistful tone of the poems and the incidents poignantly presented should make this a welcome addition to all collections.–Karlan Sick, formerly at New York Public Library