As I try to hold on to beginner’s mind, I recall the practice of falling in love at a moment’s notice with writers who are new to me, and for no other reason than that I followed my nose to their door. Perhaps it is the time of year (mists, sharpened pencils, etc), perhaps I am actively putting myself in the frame of mind of searching for something fresh, but I always associate September with such love affairs.
Back in my social media days this was quite easy. To misquote Hemingway, all you had to do was open up Twitter, and bang, you could find the work of the (latest) favourite poet of your favourite poet at breakfast and have moved in with them by tea time. Things have not been so straightforward in the lurve dept since those heady times.
I trust about six people on planet poetry (you know who you are), but not all of them exactly text me every day with news of Who They Are Reading. (No matter, it makes it all the more exciting when they do.) Which means, after a fallow period such as this year’s, I have needed to get resourceful.
Two poets I have discovered recently are Han VanderHart and Scott Weaver, both from the US. How I found them is my business, but here are some wonderful things that they have put into the world. The House and You: Intimate Spaces, Objects and Memory is a profound and moving writing and drawing exercise by Hannah VanderHart. If you have an hour and a half to spare, make an artist’s date with yourself and lose yourself in their exquisitely scaffolded prompts.
The first poem of Scott Weaver’s that I came across was Detour Ghazal:
Maybe it’s a Tuesday and the client they needed to keep the firm afloat passed, or there’s a war in a desert or a city perpetually mispronounced and they don’t want to go, or they’ve just made their final mortgage payment and wander through their rooms humming with a new, quiet panic.
This reminded me strongly of the tone, a tone I adore, of Mark Halliday. It made made me glad to be alive. A few seconds of googling later and I was in another landscape entirely, but still haunted by that tone of poignant exuberance, like the Coyotes of the poem’s title, howling somehwere out of sight:
Marie leaned next to the door as soon as daylight thinned. From bed he listens and tries to imagine the power it takes to cry invented air into a pair of conjured lungs, to tuck yourself into mesquite shadow and fool the dark into believing you are the dark, both singer and killer, rather than hungry and huddled against yourself, surrounded by such starving.
If you have a new poetry-crush in your life at the moment, I’d be delighted to hear about them. I already know whose books of poetry I am going to set up house with next.