As I said at the time …
I’m a sucker for writing that stays close to the grain of everyday experience. The charge often leveled against such transparency or luminosity accuses such work of being “superficial” or even “banal.” (Recently, I saw a blast of “shallow” fired at one poet, and I’m still angry – maybe I just don’t have a lot of patience anymore with work that baffles me more than it informs or moves emotionally or spiritually. After more than a quarter-century of returning repeatedly to his pieces, I’m still amazed at their depth and continuing revelations.)
You also seem quite aware of what I call the “motor oil” dimension, something I think is required in the sustained voice of any current, authentic American artist: an ability to acknowledge the oil stains and discarded cans in the American landscape – urban or rural. It comes up as cigarette butts, the Port-o-John, the neighborhood Arby’s, or the sounds you detail. Makes the beauty of the turtles all the more authentic. (By the way, what is the sound of a turtle’s voice?)
Turtles – like serpents – go into realms humans cannot. Must be part of their mythological empowerment.
Hmm, thinking of Snyder again, how his Riprap & Cold Mountain Poems came from summer employment, as a forest fire lookout atop icy Sourdough Mountain, while yours was more Siddhartha-like along a muddy river. Also, of the gentle humor I’ve admired so much in Brautigan’s work, also present here.
For my own resulting poems, click here.