Tuesday, May 22, 2007
As a brooding teen, when I discovered "Grass," the conflict in Vietnam raged, despite pressure and promises to end it, and several classmates and I, leafing through our literature anthology on the fire-escape behind my junior high school, came across the Sandburg poem by sheer happenstance. We smoked and read, speaking with great effluence about the war, "Grass" having opened our minds. Afterward, I searched for other works that would give me that same high, lurking around the library, browsing the stacks for my next poetic thrill. Soon I was buying the stuff by the book-load--Leaves of Grass, Gunther Grass, Norman Dubie and so on. Then I moved to other writers. Anyone who knew me in those days could testify how much I'd gush, my nose ensconced in my Kenneth Koch stash. Still it did not stop. Perhaps if I were mechanically gifted, I'd construct a time machine to travel back to that summer evening when, having already tried so many other poets, I was introduced to Horace.