There I was told:

New York

In a bookstore on Broadway, behind towering stacks that bring to mind bookstores past (and some present) and in front of a large clear window, a comfortably wide ledge offers a semi-secluded spot, conducive to rainy day and early evening reading, especially for reading to determine whether to buy, and if so, in what form before leaving the bookstore. Will this book occupy physical space in my small apartment nearby, its bulk vying with others for shelf and tote bag space or will it occupy more portable virtual space on my be-Kindled laptop or slimmer still iPad?Almost every time I stop to read poetry, I am stopped short and reminded with a strike I feel at the core of my being of the depth and breadth, the sustenance, and the perpetual relevance of poetry. When Carol Peters (who writes and translates in Argentina, in Hawaii, and online ) emailed me about Daisy Fried’s review of Maureen McLane’s My Poets, I was traveling. Yesterday, back in New York (McLane’s book is not yet available on Kindle), I took the book from the shelf to the window seat at the nearby bookstore and moments later to the cashier. Barely started, and already I find — her book rewards, invites, instructs, intrigues, seduces, and elucidates. Copied here with links I added (click on the tildes to the right of each stanza when you wish) is Maureen McLane’s

Proem in the Form of a Q&A

How long have you written poetry?

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were toward Eternity –

Why do you read poetry?

I caught this morning morning’s minion.

Why do you read poetry?

Batter my heart.

Why do you read poetry?

I have wasted my life.

Why do you read poetry?

Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour!

What is the first poem you remember?

She sailed away one sunny summer day

on the back of a crocodile…

And then?

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

And then?

Anyone lived in a pretty how town…

And then?

The great light cage has broken up in the air,

freeing, I think, about a million birds.

And then?

I sang in my chains like the sea.

Why poetry?

Where there is personal liking we go.

Why poetry?

Poetry sheds no tears “such as Angels weep,” but natural

and human tears; she can boast of no celestial Ichor that

distinguishes her vital juices from those of prose; the same

human blood circulates through the veins of them both.

Why poetry?

Poetry is connate with the origin of man.

Why poetry?

Of all things of thought, poetry is closest to thought.

Why poetry?

The immortal Mind craves objects that endure.

Why poetry?

The poem is sad because it wants to be yours, and cannot.

Why poetry?

We’ve lived quietly among the stars, knowing money isn’t

what matters.

Why poetry?

A day is not a day of mind

Until all lifetime is repaired despair.

Why poetry?


our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.

Why poetry?

A need for poetry.

Why do you write poetry?

I am a native in this world

And think in it as a native thinks.

Why do you write poetry?

Because existence is willy-nilly thrust into our hands, our

fate is to make something – if nothing else, the shape cut by

the arc of our lives.

Why do you write poetry?

Odi et amo.

Why do you write poetry?

My purpose here is to advance into

the sense of the weather.

Why do you write poetry?

I sing to use the Waiting.


What would you include in an anthology of your significant poems?

Who would be your Emily Dickinson?

Gerard Manley Hopkins?

John Donne?

James Wright?


Lewis Carroll?

e.e. cummings?

Elizabeth Bishop?

Dylan Thomas?

Marianne Moore?


Hannah Arendt?

John Ashbery?

Harryette Mullen?

Laura Riding?

Cecil Day Lewis (Nicholas Blake)?

Wallace Stevens?

Frank Bidart?

Gaius Valerius Catullus?

Lisa Robertson?

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