Sunday, July 8, 2012
Out in Wyoming, where Alyson Hagy lives and teaches and writes, there are many very real, very committed artists. One is named Kate Northrop, a poet with whom I have enjoyed a correspondence.
Her poems have been called "haunted." They have been likened to "the penumbra in painting, where light and shade blend." They have been described as "inclusive and generous, yet the tension, the thrill, never slackens." Kate herself has been hailed as a poet with a "remarkable ability to combine erudition and empathy." Last year she sent me an early copy of what would become the Persea publication Clean. I read it in a sustained state of awe.
Today, thinking of Kate, I returned to Clean—the manuscript she'd sent—and found this page, these words. I'm teaching this week at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I'm taking Kate's words with me.
The first day they had to name
Three things they loved, three
Loved: pulling moss from the seams
Between bricks; a stone
Cracked open; Jello, when you touch it
With a spoon, how it resists
Hated: a too-visible part
On the girl in front of you, scalp;
The skin formed on house paint;
Feet; white condiments
(Miracle whip, tartar sauce, mayonnaise)