Enter Absence

What's an unreasonable amount of time to be silent for a poet? Since the last time I posted here I've moved from the Boston area, where I spent the first 20 years of my adult life, to western Massachusetts, where I hope to spend whatever remains of it.

This part of the Commonwealth suits me down to the ground. For instance, the population density is lower, and the number of bookstores per capita is higher. There's much less light pollution, so on cold clear nights the sky swallows the earth. Every corner I turn has a mountain hiding around it.

Of course, I feel a strong sense of my own absence from the community I left behind -- the friends I made at work and at school, and the knowledge that life there continues without me to see it or be part of it. I'm not sad about that, or angry, and I'm not afraid I'm missing out. It's a 90 minute drive if I want to go back and visit, and I've done that several times since the move. It's more just a recognition that I'm not forever, and that when I go I'll be remembered, but nothing will stop without me here.

This is a theme that's been cropping up in my work for the past year or two, and I don't yet know if it's simply my sense of mortality now that I've crested the hill of my 30s and am picking up speed into my 40s, or whether it's motivated by some larger cultural current. (Do we still talk about the collective unconscious, or has that been banished by scientific methodology? Whatever. It's a useful narrative framing device.)

I digress, though. I made one of those trips back to Cambridge last week to participate in Lesley University's Community of Scholars Day along with my friends and fellow MFA grads Robbie Gamble and Eileen Cleary. We presented a panel on witness poetry adapted from the one we did at the NH Poetry Fest last summer, and I was thrilled that it was both well-attended and well-received by Lesley graduate and undergraduate students. I think this witness poetry panel is going to become a regular thing for us, so if you're interested in bringing it to your community, your library, your conference, or your school, shoot me an email at mercurio@poetmercurio.com. 

After the panel we made our way to Porter Square Books for a reading by Kevin Prufer and Martha Collins, whose new books came out recently. Both of them read wonderfully, and Kevin's recent work is incredible - he really has a marvelous ability to pull a poem in all sorts of unexpected directions, and I am so grateful to have had him as a mentor in grad school.