|Watson recommends this poetry anthology!|
Sometimes a gift comes out of the universe by way of the Saturday morning mailbox. Today is such a day. This little book (which makes Watson, my tuxedo, look like a giant) is the anthology, IN THE SHAPE OF A HUMAN BODY I AM VISITING THE EARTH, edited by Ilya Kaminsky and published by McSweeney's. This is not just another anthology. This is the best anthology I have read in years because every poem will "grab you by the teeth" as the editors write in their introduction.
The poems here were originally published in Poetry International, the beautiful journal published by San Diego State University (where Kaminsky is on faculty). I can name names here: Tracy K. Smith, Charles Simic, Seamus Heaney, Jericho Brown, Federico Garcia Lorca, Mahmoud Darwish, Eavan Boland, Carolyn Forche, Eric McHenry, Anna Swir, Malena Moorling, Jane Hirshfield and many others. Too many to name and really what are names?
Here is is the poem that counts; the poem that will make you feel like the top of your head has been taken off (thanks, Emily). Will make you happy that poetry exists in the world --- the reasons for poetry are all here --- all from poets from across continents and timelines.
I'll copy the title poem out just to lure you into finding yourself a copy. It's only $14 and a perfect size for traveling. Let me be clear --- this won't earn the poets inside a penny but it will give readers great joy! I feel as if I've discovered a poem that I will hold close all my life.
In the shape of a human body
I am visiting the earth;
the trees visit
in the shape of trees.
Standing between the onions
and the dandilions
near the ailanthus and the bus stop,
I don't live more thoroughly
inside the mucilage of my own skull
than outside of it
and not more behind my eyes
than in what I can see with them.
I inhale whatever air
the grates breathe into me.
My arms and legs still work,
I can run if I have to
or sit motionless purposefully
until I am here and not here
the way death is present
in things that are alive
like salsa music
and the shrill laughter of the bride
as she leaves the wedding
or the bald child playing jacks
outside the wig shop.
Malena Morling from the anthology:
IN THE SHAPE OF A HUMAN BODY I AM VISITING THE EARTH