On Poetry

So Far So Good: On Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. LeGuin author photo

How it Seems to Me

In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free and can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time.

All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Copper Canyon Press.

Accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Foundation, Ursula K. Le Guin called on "poets, visionaries and realists of a new reality" to become hopeful agents of change. I've watched the video of her speech many times for inspiration about what it means to work in the literary arts, and I believe that brilliant poems are agents of change that allow insights into new realities. When Ursula sent her latest poetry manuscript to Copper Canyon Press we didn't know it would be her last. As we began working together, she confided that she was slowing down, though still intensely engaged with poetry. In one email, with typical wit she wrote: "I keep writing poems (a habit hard to break) so must warn you, the longer the MS sits around, the fatter it will get. I fear gross obesity." Over the course of several months, as we edited the manuscript she brought a surprising, yet unwavering generosity and humility that I would not have imagined from a writer so famously beloved. Upon receiving my initial edit she confided that she was "scared of reading & judging your judgments, of seeing my 'soul' in luminous dayglo every time it appears, of surviving that, and producing an adequate response." Looking back on Ursula's incredible career as a writer, so successful in multiple genres, one through-line is that poetry—both the writing and reading—remained particularly important to her. I wish she were here to see So Far So Good come to be, and to receive more love and admiration from her readers, who have been so generous in donating to our Le Guin Kickstarter campaign.

—Michael Wiegers, Editor-In-Chief at Copper Canyon Press

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