Two Poets I LIke

Richard BlancoRichard Blanco, though he was named for Richard Nixon by his Castro-hating father, was the perfect poet to grace the Inaugural festivities for Obama and Biden this year. From “one sun” to “one sky” and “one ground” to “one moon,” Blanco echoed the President’s unifying theme of “We the People.” I agree with my son: “Leslie and I thought the poem was the best part of the ceremony. Very simple, day-to-day imagery that, when summed together, had an awesome effect.” You can see him deliver his 7-minute poem below and get the transcript on this link. The lines that I found so moving were “pencil-yellow school buses” and “the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever.”

Though I’m missing an interesting book discussion in Arlington tonight, my friend Rosemary is taking me to hear Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-03, read his poetry in Delray Beach. In preparation I borrowed two of his books from the Boynton Beach Library, The Trouble with Poetry and Sailing Alone Around the Room. Like Blanco, Collins is down-to-earth and accessible, but full of clear images that make you look and listen more closely as you take a walk or pass a window. I confess that I generally glide by poems in the New Yorker in anticipation of cartoons, but poets, like musicians, need audiences. I vow to make 2013 a “year of poetry.” Here’s an excerpt from Collins’ poem “You, Reader” (minus the proper line breaks):

…and I was only thinking about the shakers of salt and pepper that were standing side by side on a place mat. I wondered if they had become friends after all these years or if they were still strangers to one another… you and I, who manage to be known and unknown to each other at the same time–


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