Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Deep Travel - Contemporary American Poets Abroad


I love re-reading books that only get better with more reflection. Deep Travel fits the bill. The premise of this anthology is to bring together the best writing by American poets who have lived abroad. The poets range from luminaries such as Charles Wright, Garrett Hongo, Marilyn Hacker, Afaa Michael Weaver,  to the rising stars of Brain Turner, Derick Burleson, Diane Thiel. The collection includes four poems and an essay by each poet. Lived experience from Antarctica to Vietnam, Estonia to Rwanda is included. I know of no other collection like it.

Here's a poem from Brian Turner, originally published in Here, Bullet about his year serving in the military in Iraq.

In the Leupald Scope

With a 40x60mm spotting scope
I traverse the Halabjah skyline,
scanning rooftops two thousand meters out
to find a woman in sparkling green, standing
among antennas and satellite dishes,
hanging laundry on an invisible line.

She is dressing the dead, clothing them
as they wait in silence, the pigeons circling
as fumestacks billow a noxious black smoke.
She is welcoming them back to the dry earth,
giving them dresses in tangerine and teal,
woven cotton shirts dyed blue.

She waits for them to lean forward
into the breeze, for the wind's breath
to return the bodies they once had,
women with breasts swollen by milk,
men with shepherd-thin bodies, children
running hard into the horizon's curving lens.

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