A New Poet: Where Can I Find One?


Finding a new poet
is like finding a new wildflower
out in the woods. You don't see

its name in the flower books, and
nobody you tell believes
in its odd color or the way

its leaves grow in splayed rows
down the whole length of the page. In fact
the very page smells of spilled

red wine and the mustiness of the sea
on a foggy day --the odor of truth
and of lying.

And the words are so familiar,
so strangely new, words
you almost wrote yourself, if only

in your dreams there had been a pencil
or a pen or even a paintbrush,
if only there had been a flower.

                      Linda Pastan

Linda Pastan was the first poet I ever saw read her work. She came to my high school and read in the library. She made writing poetry and reading it and talking about it a flesh and blood proposition. Later, much later, I worked with Linda Pastan at Breadloaf and she provided me with the confidence to quit my job, move all the way from Cambridge, MA to Eugene, OR to completely change my life. I doubt she knows how important her poems and her person have been to me. Here's to well-loved poets as well as new ones. I would love to hear of your favorite poets. I am looking for a little inspiration as I begin an intense time of writing. Deadline: October 1st.

Thanks to my dear friend, grand poet, Kelli Russell Agodon for bringing me this poem on my birthday. (The photo is Linda Pastan (not Kelli Agodon) circa 1974.


  1. Susan, I really like the work of Michael Hettich, whose newest book is Like Happiness. Richness and simplicity of language mixed. Amazing things happen everyday... Next book is about animals!

    Just finished new book by Richard Jones, Correct Spelling & Exact Meaning. He is a favorite poet of mine--simple, straightforward poems that somehow do miraculous things.

    And Helen Degen Cohen has a chapbook called On a Good Day One Discovers Another Poet (Finishing Line Press, 2009) that is all about the very thing described in the Pastan poem!

    I'm sure you will get lots of great recommendations.

  2. Thanks, Kathleen! I don't know these writers -- although I have heard of Richard Jones for sure.


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