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The Best American Poetry
Welcome to The Best American Poetry blog. We launched this blog in January, 2008, to create a place where we and friends can exchange, discuss, and argue about poems and poetry. We soon discovered that it would be even more fun to post about anything that fuels our passions, be it movies or sex or baseball or ballet or cocktails or finance or music, because these are, after all, the same subjects that generate poems. Then we flung the doors open and invited others to join in. And we decided that contributors to the blog need not be poets as long as they share a love of good writing and poetry. The only things we ask our regular and guest bloggers to avoid are personal attacks. You'll find enough of that stuff elsewhere. We celebrate freedom of expression. The opinionS of our contributors are their own and not necessarily those of the blog's editorial team or of other contributors. We welcome comments as long as they keep within the bounds of civil discourse. Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.
Interests: music, food, finance, cocktails, movies, baseball, sex, poetry, mad men.
Recent Activity
Grace Cavalieri's interview with Nin Andrews is a must read. Here is a little sampler: <<< Poetry, when it’s happening, is like sex. It totally suffuses me. (I like the word, suffuse.) Afterwards I always forget how it worked. I don’t mean that I literally forget. Of course, there’ s a pen and paper. Or two people. But there is that aha moment, and I sometimes think, Oh! Now I know how this works! But if I try to do the same thing the next time, it’s boring. Because it’s that sudden appearance of a fresh and present moment I seek—something that is not yet past and not yet lost . . . I sometimes think of Martin Buber, how he talked of the different ways of relating to the world: the I-it being the most familiar, referring to relationships in which you see the world as a collection of objects, predictable and useful. And the I-Thou, meaning a a communion with others (or the world) and oneself. In the I-Thou, nothing is formulaic. (Or at least, that’s how I interpret Martin Buber and what he said at length in his wonderful book, I-Thou, or rather, Ich und Du. I love the sound of that, Ich und Du.) I realized from writing poems that I am a bit of mystic. (Or am I just a poetry addict?) I will do anything for that moment of union. On a good writing day, I feel bold and crazy and sometimes insanely happy, wildly in love with words and the world. But after for several hours of writing, I am usually exhausted. But the I who writes is quite different from the I who lives in the world. When I am not writing, I am introverted and shy. I worry about ridiculous things. Sometimes I get so nervous, I forget my phone number, my address, my maiden name. >>> Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
I built this room by myself And put into it only things that would Matter to me: around an eyelid Window to view the last Quarter moons, I stacked books, Only those read or intended And music which outnumber Books. I hung just a few paintings, One by my sister who until recently I didn’t know I had (both The paintings and the sister). The bed Was a single, large enough For another to lie near to me; Especially in the case a wife arrived. The apparatus to cook and clean Didn’t take up much space; no TV Nor radio; no phone. I let Jesus Christ into this room, but Under another name; others came And went through the door. I had No intention to leave once I set up Stakes. You see, everything in it was mine. What others brought, I took in: The fecund flowers, the pollinated corn Presented by mutes and midgets, Kings and sailors, friends And foes, too. I shaved twice a day, Once for an imaginary walk To the bank, the other to see myself Better, or at least more than I did Before I built this room. Aware, Not from letters to desist, I would Leave: not to build or sell--- To walk hand over hand, clouds Over skies, stars over suns, hand Over hand, again in one language. -- Michael Malinowitz Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
The American Scholar introduces its podcast series. Click below -- or here -- for an intro: Download Smarty Pants Theme - 2016-09-28 at 4.35pm-1 --sdl Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
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I write as one who has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1980 with the possible exception of 2004. This is not to claim special powers of prophecy for myself. Rather it is the result of a mathematical algorithm based on statistical analyses of each of the past twenty-five election cycles, taking into account the peculiarities of a system in which it is altogether possible that a candidate who wins the popular vote may yet lose the election due to the disproportionate power of states as tabulated by the so-called electoral college or, in extremely rare cases, the Supreme Court. A value-neutral approach to presidential cycles indicates a perhaps surprising tendency on the part of the electorate. In brief, this tendency manifests itself as a loyalty to certain states of the union -- California, for example, as the most populous state, which has given us Nixon and Reagan, and Texas, as the "lone star" state, home of LBJ and George W. Bush.. According to the statistical formula devised by Peat Marwick, confirmed by Pete Runnels, and corroborated by Peter Campbell, with modifications introduced by pundits Arthur Buchwald and George Gordon, the state that is due, indeed overdue, to host the next president is the state of New York, which has not been represented in the White House since the three-plus terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932-1945). The Roosevelt aura won him four elections but led to a backlash against the Empire State, which helps account for the defeat of Thomas Dewey in 1948 and the inability of Nelson Rockefeller to get himself nominated, as by rights he should have been, in 1964. The emergence of William Miller as the GOP's VP candidate in 1964 and Geraldine Ferraro as the Democrats' VP candidate in 1984, does little to assuage the feelings of New Yorkers who have come to resent Massachusetts as the home state of one recent president (Kennedy), two presidential nominees (Dukakis, Romney), and the Boston Red Sox. But denizens of the Big Apple need worry no more. According to the rule of four-year recurrence, New York's comeback is inevitable. It is therefore an utter certainty that the next president of the United States will be a New Yorker whether by birth or by choice. I am willing to bet a large amount of money on this prediction though I suspect that the logic behind my reasoning, if grasped in good faith by the Tattaglias and Barzini, will allow for no dissent. Although the algorithm is the intellectual property of the Santino Foundation and cannot be revealed on penalty of a lawsuit, I will say that the principle of the four-year term, divided by the hundred years in a century, results invariably in a ratio of one to four. Ohio had its Taft and Harding, and now it is New York's turn to bring home the bacon. As Ira Gershwin put it, there's a boat that's leaving soon for New York. NB: Minnesota, home of near-miss candidate Humphrey and landslide... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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"A woe of ecstasy" -- Emily Dickinson's phrase: run with it. "Next Line, Please" invites you to write a brief poem beginning with this striking phrase. https://theamericanscholar.org/in-handbags-purses-and-wallets/#.V-FRfPkrK00 Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Have you heard of Walter Lehmann? I write about Uncle Walter's poetry in the new issue of John Tranter's Journal of Poetics Research. <<< Among my father’s cousins, Walter Lehmann was exceptional in four ways: he kept the double n’s at the end of his surname; having escaped from Nazi Germany, he settled in Australia rather than England or the United States; he wrote poetry; and he was a fictional character, a persona and a pseudonym adopted by Gwen Harwood (1920-1995), an estimable Australian poet. continue here >>> Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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It's my lunch hour, so I go for for a walk among the hum-colored cabs. First, down the sidewalk where laborers feed their dirty glistening torsos sandwiches and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets on. They protect them from falling bricks, I guess. Then onto the avenue where skirts are flipping above heels and blow up over grates. The sun is hot, but the cabs stir up the air. I look at bargains in wristwatches. There are cats playing in sawdust. On to Times Square, where the sign blows smoke over my head, and higher the waterfall pours lightly. A Negro stands in a doorway with a toothpick, languorously agitating. A blonde chorus girl clicks: he smiles and rubs his chin. Everything suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of a Thursday. Neon in daylight is a great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would write, as are light bulbs in daylight. I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET'S CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of Federico Fellini, èè bell' attrice. And chocolate malted. A lady in foxes on such a day puts her poodle in a cab. There are several Puerto Ricans on the avenue today, which makes it beautiful and warm. First Bunny died, then John Latouche, then Jackson Pollock. But is the earth as full as life was full, of them? And one has eaten and one walks, past the magazines with nudes and the posters for BULLFIGHT and the Manhattan Storage Warehouse, which they'll soon tear down. I used to think they had the Armory Show there. A glass of papaya juice and back to work. My heart is in my pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy. (1956) Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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“Every man carries with him through life a mirror, as unique and impossible to get rid of as his shadow. “A parlor game for a wet afternoon — imagining the mirrors of one's friends. A has a huge pier glass, gilded and baroque, B a discreet little pocket mirror in a pigskin case with his initials stamped on the back; whenever on looks at C, he is in the act of throwing his mirror away but, if one looks in his pocket or up his sleeve, one always finds another, like an extra ace. “Most, perhaps all, our mirrors are inaccurate and uncomplimentary, though to varying degrees and in various ways. Some magnify, some diminish, others, whatever their owner does, will only return lugubrious, comic, derisive, or terrifying images. “But the properties of our own particular mirror are not so important as we sometimes like to think. We shall be judged, not by the kind of mirror found on us, but by the use we have made of it, by our riposte to our reflection.” [In “Lecture Notes,” in Commonweal, 6 November 1942, Auden begins this sequence of reflections with the sentence: “Every child, as he wakes into life, finds a mirror underneath his pillow.”] << A vain woman realizes that vanity is a sin, and in order not to succumb to temptation, has all the mirrors removed from her house. Consequently, in a short while she cannot remember what she looks like. She remembers that vanity is a sin, but she forgets that she is vain. -- W. H. Auden, "Lecture Notes" (in Commonweal 6 Nov 1942) >> Psychoanalysis, like all pagan scientia, says: "Come, my good man, no wonder you feel guilty. You have a distorting mirror, and that is indeed a very wicked thing to have. But cheer up, For a trifling consideration I shall be delighted to straighten it out for you. There. Look. A perfect image. The evil of distortion is exorcised. Now you have nothing to repent of any longer. Now you are one of the illumined and elect. That will be ten thousand dollars, please." And immediately come seven devils, and the last state of that man is worse than the first. -- W. H. Auden, "Lecture Notes" (1942) Note: Multiply the bill by twelve for 2016 dollars. The devil count remains the same. -- DL Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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photo (c) Karl Nussbaum, 2016 Alan Michael Parker is the author of The Ladder (Tupelo Press), his eighth collection of poems, along with four novels, including Christmas in July, forthcoming from Dzanc Books. He has edited or co-edited five books, including The Manifesto Project (with Rebecca Hazelton), to be published in January 2017, by the University of Akron Press. His awards include three Pushcart Prizes, two inclusions in Best American Poetry, the Fineline Prize, the 2013 and 2014 Randall Jarrell Prize in Poetry, the North Carolina Book Award, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. Parker is the Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English at Davidson College. He also teaches in the University of Tampa’s low-residency M.F.A. program. More about Alan Michael Parker can be found at here. Follow him on twitter here. Welcome, Alan. -- sdl Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Playground, view from the 4th Floor (c) Stacey Lehman So this is where the children hide all day, These are the nests where they letter and draw, where they put on their bright miniature jackets, all darting and climbing and sliding, all but the few girls whispering by the fence. And now I am listening hard in the grandiose silence of the snow, trying to hear what those three girls are plotting, what riot is afoot, which small queen is about to be brought down. from "Snow Day" by Billy Collins (Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems) -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Did you know that in college Richard Howard was known as Dick Howard? Or that Robert Gottlieb, one of the great names in American book publishing, got his first job (at Simon & Schuster) by writing, when asked to state why he wanted to work in publishing, that he found the task impossible "since it has never occurred to me to be in anything else"? These are among the facts and anecdotes that enliven every page of "Avid Reader," Robert Gottlieb's memoir of a life spent in publishing, which was published this week (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). Though I feel like this book's ideal reader -- because, like the author, I went to Columbia, spent two post-graduate years in Cambridge (England), and have devoted my life to books -- I can recommend "Avid Reader" to anyone who would understand publishing as a profession and a business in the second half of the twentieth century and since. At S & S, Gottlieb was the wunderkind who revitalized the firm. He published a varied list ranging from William Shirer's monumental "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" to "Calories Don't Count." His great achievement was the publication of "Catch 22" by Joseph Heller, which was originally entitled "Catch 18" but had to be renamed because Leon Uris had come out with "Mila 18" about the Warsaw Ghetto. Gottlieb believes that Heller's "Something Happened," which disappointed the world, is even better than "Catch 22," so I promise to look for it next week at the Strand. At Knopf, Gottlieb directed the list of the most prestigious (and "literary") of all New York houses, and for five years, he was at the helm of The New Yorker, succeeding William Shawn If there is a moral to Gottlieb's memoir, it is that "personal conviction" is the most important thing that an editor brings to a book. The editor's job is not just to recognize the quality of the manuscript and to improve it but also to champion it, promote it, to share the good news. This is something that Gottlieb and his colleagues grasped before others did. But the anecdotes beat the morals. Gottlieb has written on ballet and is co-editor of a volume of American songbook lyrics that I find indispensable. You will enjoy reading about "Dick" Howard, Lionel Trilling (whose generosity to the author was extraordinary),and Andrew Chiappe at Columbia; about F. R. Leavis and the Cambridge theatre scene in the 1950s; about "Mad Men" era New York; and about all the other arts in which Gotttlieb has a cultivated interest,.(His favorite things include plastic handbags from the 1950s.) There are a lot of pointers that everyone in publishing ought to have: "Titles and covers can make all the difference." For an editor nothing is more important than "personal conviction." I loved learning that Bob Gottlieb liked reading till all hours and couldn't be bothered to attend morning lectures. I feel the same way. This is a sweet book. -- David Lehman Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
In Russia, according to the Independent, a vodka-soaked advocate of poetry killed a prose partisan in a brawl. Last month, apparently, a similar dispute, with the same fatal outcome, occurred over the theories of Immanuel Kant. When Stacey and I visited Russia, I breakfasted with a novelist and asked her whether she could write while drinking. She said: "My der David, if you could not write while drinking, there would be no such thing as Russian literature." This story comes to my attention thanks to Beth Gylys: <<< from The Independent Russian teacher 'kills friend in heated poetry versus prose argument' Suspect stabbed his friend to death after victim insisted prose was superior as literary genre The discussion on the merits of poetry over prose soon escalated into a lethal brawl GETTY IMAGES A Russian teacher allegedly killed a friend in a drunken argument over literary genres, investigators have said. The pair engaged in an animated discussion on the merits of poetry over prose during a drinking session, which soon escalated into a lethal brawl, after the suspect stabbed his friend insisting that poetry was superior. In a statement, federal police in the Russian region of Sverdlovsk said: "The host insisted that real literature is prose, while his guest, a former teacher, argued for poetry. "The literary dispute soon grew into a banal conflict, on the basis of which the 53-year-old admirer of poetry killed his opponent with the help of a knife." The suspect fled his home in the town of Irbit in the Ural mountains, where the 67-year old victim was killed on 20 January, before he was found in a nearby village and arrested by Russian police on charges of murder. The incident comes four months after a similar argument over the theories of German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who argued that reason is the source of morality, resulted in a man being shot in a grocery store in southern Russia. >>> Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Lynn Domina as our guest author. Lynn is the author of two collections of poetry, Corporal Works and Framed in Silence, (Four Way Books) and the editor of a collection of essays, Poets on the Psalms (Trinity University Press). She lives in Marquette, MI on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior and serves as Head of the English Department at Northern Michigan University. You can read more here: www.lynndomina.com. Welcome, Lynn. In other news . . . "Best American Poetry 2016" Launch Reading: Sept 22 at the New School in NYC 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. David Lehman, poetry coordinator for the Creative Writing Program and series editor, will moderate the event. He will be joined by contributors to the anthology as well as Edward Hirsch, guest editor of the 2016 volume. The Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011 More information here. sdh Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Add a year to this great anniversary! DL
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You remember when Kirk Gibson hit perhaps the most unlikely home run in baseball history. Hobbled with injuries, he pinch-hit with two out and a man on first base, and the Dodgers were one out away from losing the first game of the 1988 World Series. Gibson could barely walk. But Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda fired him up and he was motivated further by Vin Scully, who, covering the game for national television, kept his eye on the dugout and reported on the dim possibility that Gibson would get into the game. Gibson stepped in against Dennis Eckersley, the Oakland A's ace reliever. Two strikes: the Dodgers were down to their final strike when with one swing Gibson reversed the team’s fortunes, The series pivoted on that seemingly miraculous moment but play by play men don't have any time to prepare. On the radio Jack Buck said “I don’t believe what I just saw.” Beautiful: a totally colloquial line of iambic tetrameter. Scully, describing the same at-bat, let a few seconds of silence pass before saying grandly, “In a year of the improbable, the impossible has just happened.” I am going on memory and it is possible that I may have a word or two wrong there but the point of this piece has to do with memory -- I am typing an appreciation of play-by-play announcers and the memorable things they say. This is Vin Scully’s last go-round in his astounding sixty-six-year career as the voice of the Dodgers, and I dedicate these musings to him, the red-headed gentleman who invites viewers to "pull up a chair" and join him in Dodger Stadium. He did that at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn from 1950 to 1957, before the team abandoned the city in favor of Chavez Ravine. And in 1957, an eight-year-old boy got hooked on the Dodgers of that era (Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo) and the broadcast team of Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett. As we head toward Vin's final days in the broadcast booth, the accolades are coming his way. Everyone loves his call of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965. Later that year, in October, when Koufax on two days’ rest shut out the Minnesota Twins to win the World Series for his team, Vinny said, “Sandy, two days ago you said you felt like a hundred years old. How do you feel now?” “Like a hundred and one,” Koufax replied. For weekly anecdotes from long-time listeners, read Houston Mitchell's "Dodger Dugout" columns (such as this one) and get on his e-mail list. From a recent e-mail: "With Clayton Kershaw returning this week, what better time to revisit Vin Scully's best calls from Kershaw's no-hitter? Watch and listen to it here." Every so often Scully will sneak in a literary allusion, and he usually doesn’t repeat himself, though Milton’s “They also serve who only stand and wait” has served him well over the years. When a great pitcher (Zack Greinke)... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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The American Scholar's "Next Line, Please" contest continues apace, with David Lehman crafting a new challenge each week. Lehman's "fake apology" contest of August 23 was among the most popular in the contest's years-long history. If you didn't win, so sorry! You can still enter this week's contest. Here's what Lehman had to say about fake apologies and this week's rules, which require contestants to craft a list poem in the manner of the great list songs in the American songbook: This week we wrote non-apologies in the model of William Carlos Williams’s “This Is Just To Say,” a kind of Post-it-note poem in which the husband apologizes to the wife for eating the plums she had saved for her breakfast. The responses persuade me that the insincere utterance provides fertile ground for poets. Our tendency to lie, distort or revise follows from the inability of the language to discriminate between truth and falsehood: Language is not self-verifying. Fiction is based on just this discrepancy between language and the duplicitous and calculating writer. Is it a discrepancy—or a struggle? Writers often describe their writing as a kind of wrestling match with language, as T. S. Eliot does in “Four Quartets.” My favorite fake apologies are a pair submitted by Marissa D’Espain: Congratulations! I saw your new book at a bookstore and: Oh no! I forgot To have your baby. Now it’s too late. Sorry! For next week, let’s begin a list poem—on the model of the great list songs in the American songbook—e.g., “You’re the Top” (Cole Porter), “Thanks for the Memory” (music Ralph Rainger, lyrics Leo Robin), “Can’t Get Started” (music Vernon Duke, lyrics Ira Gershwin), “They All Laughed” (Gershwin and Gershwin), “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” (Gershwin and Gershwin), “My Favorite Things” (Rodgers and Hammerstein), “(We’ll Have) Manhattan” (Rodgers and Hart), to mention just a few. The formula requires a stanza with a refrain. Ready, set, go! -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
Another outstanding post. -- DL
How (sadly) true -- and how funny when presented with a straight face. -- DL
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Portrait of John Keats by Joseph Severn Dear Author: We are preparing the definitive, illus- trated catalogue of our international exhibition, “Urns Around the World” for publication. May we, The State Education Department of New York, The Uni- versity of the State of New York at Albany, Time/Life Books and their subsidiaries, the Smithsonian Institution, and the licensees of the foregoing have permission to use your poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” throughout the world in all editions of our catalogue and in any material based on it for all printings of all editions? The press run of our catalogue is 150,000 copies in cloth and 300,000 copies in paperback. The volume features 200 full-color plates and will be printed on 90 lb. glossy stock. These editions will sell for $98.00 and $45.00 respectively. Due to the fact that so many authors will be represented in the catalogue, we cannot offer remuneration. However, upon publication we will make copies available to authors at a ten percent discount (postage and handling not included). Of course we will make certain that you receive credit in these publications for the use of your material. If you agree to the terms of our contract, please sign below and return this form at your earliest convenience. Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
The AL East may go down to the last weekend of the season. Very glad to have you reporting on it from the Baltimore point of view.
Excellent piece. Thank you!
Thank you, Susan -- and Terence. You know. Not everyone does but you do. DL
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Egg farm grading room, Vineland, NJ Surely this has happened to you: One day you have a knotty research question. You begin with, say, Wikipedia. You click on a footnote link, one click leads to another and before you know it, it’s tomorrow! How you landed where you are is a mystery. It was by just such a series of virtual leaps that I discovered the rich but relatively brief history of Jewish egg and poultry farmers of the early-to-mid twentieth century, most of which were located in New Jersey. A few more clicks and I happened upon The Land Was Theirs: Jewish Farmers in the Garden Stateby Gertrude Wishnick Dubrovsky (1992, University of Alabama Press). The book captured my attention not only because of the subject matter but also because my mother’s maiden name is Dubrov, and her ancestors were indentured farmers to a wealthy estate owner in Russia. Perhaps my own interest in farmers and farming is bred in the bone. I had always assumed that all Jewish immigrants to America went to cities, found work, and stayed put. If we eventually moved out to the suburbs, our work was still city-based. I didn’t imagine Jews settling in rural communities and making their living in agriculture. Yet there has been a continuous, if small, Jewish farming presence in the U.S. for more than 100 years. Continue reading here. Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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Tomatoes, before and after (photos (c) Barbara Hamby) Four months before my mother died, I was visiting her in Honolulu. She had quit cooking, and I worried about her getting enough vegetables in her diet. I usually spent the first few days of a visit making vats of soup and pouring the soups in individual containers for the deep freezer she had in her condo. I have a wonderful vegetarian minestrone recipe I'd started making as an undergraduate and developed over the years. I had also started making my own tomato sauce every August, and I'd brought jars to add to my mother's soup. She picked up a jar and asked what I was doing. I explained that I had made the sauce myself over two days the previous August. I ordered a box of forty tomatoes from my local organic market, and spent the first day peeling and preparing the pulp. The next day I made the sauce with basil, garlic, onions, and olive oil and canned it using a water bath. My mother shuddered. She had grown up on a farm, and she hated everything about farm life. She couldn't wait to go away to college and then live in a city. She had worked for seven years in Washington, D.C. before she met my father and then followed him on his career in the Air Force, first to New Orleans (where I was born) and then to Washington, France, and finally to Honolulu, a city she loved above all the others she had visited. She had left the farm far behind, but she was horrified to see her daughter embrace an activity that had marred her summers as a girl. I didn't really think much about it. So much I had done had horrified her that I was pretty used to this reaction. She was a life-long Republican and Baptist, so we didn't talk about politics or religion. She knew I was a Democrat, which was bad enough, but if she had known how far I had strayed from her Billy Graham take on the world, she would have been truly horrified. If I could have described my beliefs, I think I would have called myself an Epicurean, because I love thinking that we are made of the same matter that makes the stars. Also, I loved Epicurus saying that there was a soul but that it died with the body. On the way to all this, I had passed through a Buddhist phase, and it was these years of meditation that helped me forge a beautiful relationship with my mother during the last 25 years of her life. She loved to fight, and I refused to do it. My brother would fight with her about politics, and I would ask him how successful he thought he would be in changing a 60-year-old woman's mind, and then a 70-year-old woman's mind, and finally an 85-year-old woman's mind. But they continued to argue, and they both seemed to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2016 at The Best American Poetry