Book of the Week #3

The Words I Chose: A Memoir of Family and Poetry by Wesley McNair (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2012)

Poet Wesley McNair is a wonderful storyteller and in this book tells the story of his life and how the struggles of that life have been woven into his poetry. For example, McNair describes  people (like Andrew) and events connected with his stepfather's farm. Then he continues:
"It would be years before I could find a way to tell the story of the Kuhre farm in poetry. But during my school vacation of 1959, I did the best I could. My head full of the mythological poems of T. S. Eliot that John Huot had sent me, I had an idea, which I shared with Andrew in the tie-up. I would write a poem that centered on the cows around us, locked in their stanchions. Bound as they were, they would symbolize the modern situation of the twentieth century I told him. I would describe the whitewash of the barn walls in a way that suggested a hospital, a place of sichness. As for those who tended the cows in my poem, like him and me, I said, they would in a way be bound, too, waiting for spring to come and with it a change, perhaps a spriitual rebirth.
I still wince when I return to this memory of me as a kid so excited by the prospect of writing a poem, crazy as the poem was, that I discussed my plans fo it at milking time wiht a literal-minded farmer who had no experience whatever with poetry. I wince again when I think of Andrew looking up from his milking stool to stare at me  as if he were observing the slow growth of my second head." (p. 57)
On Thursday, 1/24/2013 at 7pm Wes McNair will be at Gibson's discussing this latest book.

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