Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award - 2015
Now the wind bends the train horn
around, so that it seems to be coming for me
through the trackless woods.
It is natural, I am told, to wake like this
for two hours in the middle of the night
where there is no one, though it seems
all who have ever talked to the moon can hear.
Ten thousand sorrows, Du Fu? The short way of saying
on such a night ten thousand tributaries
feed the one lake of darkness. On such a night
we could be the same: loose sleeves,
warm cup, the same wars everywhere,
and one page under lamplight
that does not reach to the wall.
Jim Moore on James Richardson
What a pleasure reading these poems! That's the first thing to say, and no doubt the most important. Where exactly the pleasure comes from is harder to describe. Yes, there is an animating spirit at work here that alternately challenges and the reader, and consoles us. Yes, there is the music of the longer poems, a sneaky sort of rhythm that gets under the reader's skin and inhabits his or her pulses. And, yes, there are outrageous assertions about self and world as well as a deeply humbling acceptance of that same world. Humor for sure in the most unexpected places, keeping company with a grief that on its surface is quiet, but underneath refuses to be muffled. All of this. But something more, too: a voice that one instinctively trusts speaks these poems. Reading them is like running into an old friend one hasn't seen in years, someone who knows you too well to let you easily off the hook, but loves you too much to deny you the depth of their fierce attention. These poems are a tribal gathering, of sorts, attended by poetry's most ancient and fiercest impulses: a pleasure indeed.