Monday, February 11, 2008

A Poet Packs the House Like a Rock Star

It's Monday ...and if you're searching for uplifting news, read this article ("Poet-mania: Mary Oliver's Sold-out Appearance Sparks a Ticket Frenzy on Cragislist") from the Seattle PI's book critic JOHN MARSHALL about Mary Oliver, "a reclusive, 71-year-old poet from Provincetown, Mass., who is known for her direct, positive verse set in the natural world."

Mary Oliver's appearance at the 2,700-seat Schnitzer Concert Hall for Portland Arts & Lectures is SOLD OUT. Craigslist is "the last refuge" for the desperate trying to get a ticket. Says Marshall: "Poet as rock star may be a strange notion outside of places like Russia, but Oliver has become a poetry phenomenon."

I'm a big fan of Mary Oliver's poetry. "The Black Snake" is one of my favorite poems. The imagery, the beautiful imagery! You know that one, right? "Cool and gleaming as a braided whip"...."looped and useless as an old bicycle tire." Here it is:

The Black Snake

When the black snake
flashed onto the morning road,
and the truck could not swerve--
death, that is how it happens.

Now he lies looped and useless
as an old bicycle tire.
I stop the car
and carry him into the bushes.

He is as cool and gleaming
as a braided whip, he is as beautiful and quiet
as a dead brother.
I leave him under the leaves

and drive on, thinking
about death: its suddenness,
its terrible weight,
its certain coming. Yet under

reason burns a brighter fire, which the bones
have always preferred.
It is the story of endless good fortune.
It says to oblivion: not me!

It is the light at the center of every cell.
It is what sent the snake coiling and flowing forward
happily all spring through the green leaves before
he came to the road.

~ Mary Oliver ~

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