My Poetry Crush

Right to left: Jennifer Jean (moderator), Walnut "Da Lyrical" Geni, Colleen Michaels, Me, and Rusty Barns

On Saturday during the Salem Lit Fest, I participated in the panel “My Poetry Crush.” The panel was an opportunity for us to talk about the poets we come back to for inspiration.

Our Crushes:
Jennifer – Sylvia Plath
Walnut – a young, Boston-area writer whose name escapes me (sorry)
Colleen – Naomi Shihab Nye
Me – Sharon Olds (big surprise)
Rusty Barns – Frank Stanford

As a participant, the best part is learning new things about poets I thought I knew. And in discussing Sharon, I was surprised that I can “teach” Sharon. Because I don’t teach, being able to go beyond fandom and speak intelligently about someone I truly respect as a poet and artist is incredibly gratifying.

Learning about Frank Stanford definitely was a highlight for me. I had never heard of Frank Stanford much less read his work, but apparently in his short life he was prolific. Frank committed suicide in 1978, yet his appeal has grown steadily in the years that followed. Rusty spoke so glowingly about his work that I have to do more research.


Death is a good word.
It often returns
When it is very
Dark outside and hot,
Like a fisherman
Over the limit,
Without pain, sex,
Or melancholy.
Young as I am, I
Hold light for this boat.

When the rest of you
Were being children
I became a monk
To my own listing
Nights and days floated
Over the whorehouse
Like webs on the lake,
A monastery
Full of noise and girls.

The moon throws the knives.
The poets echo goodbye,
Towing silence too.
Near my house was an
Island, where a horse
Lathered up alone.
Oh, Abednego
He was called, dusky,
Cruel as a poem
To a black gypsy.

Sadness and whiskey
Cost more than friends.
I visit prisons,
Orphanages, joints,
Hoping I'll see them
Again. Willows, ice,
Minnows, no money.
You'll have to say it
Soon, you know. To your
Wife, your child, yourself.

Frank Stanford, ©1979

If you’re interested, here are a few Frank Stanford links:

Frank Stanton web page
Poetry Foundation

Thanks, Jennifer, for putting the panel together.


Rusty said…
Stanford is great. You won't regret it.

Popular Posts