Thursday, 7 November 2013

Trading A Life For Poetry

Jason Guriel pens a moving essay on the late American poet—and neglected master—Samuel Menashe:
Samuel never married nor had children. I suspect that for New Yorkers of a certain generation, he was a kind of constant, an institution on foot, the neighbourhood flâneur. It’s tempting to romanticize such a life. “Are you attracted in any way to the image of Blake as a kind of outsider?” I asked him once. “No, I would love to have been an insider,” he sighed without hesitation and (it should be recorded) an eye to his image: a good thing for a young poet to witness. Several times, he told me he wished he’d married, gotten a steady job at a college, and moved out of the walk-up that, he recalled all too often, his father had called a “hovel.” My interview notes are silent on what I said in reply. “You shouldn’t say that,” is probably all I mustered. There isn’t much else to say to a person who traded a life for poetry and maybe regrets the trade. (If there is, Canadian graduate school doesn’t teach it.) I looked out the window of my sister’s bedroom, as I often did when talking to Samuel, there to find two lawn ornaments, a plastic swan and rabbit, floundering in uncut grass.
And here's Guriel's poem inspired by those lawn ornaments.

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