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Posted on 2004-05-27 06:01:31 by Denver

New Yorker Poet
After the ballet my friend Liz and I attended a poetry reading at the loft of a Greek Princess in Soho. We arrived and got into an unmarked elevator on Wooster Street-rising noisily through an old brick industrial building emerging into a cavernous third floor living room; interrupting a huge flock of poets gawking at a man sitting in a little wooden chair. He spoke his verse in a barely audible clicking noise. I ducked under a table with Liz but there was little room astride the poets' limbs stacked and sprawled everywhere. Suppressing the desire to emit funny noises I sat dutifully, cracked open a beer, and waited for transport. A petite blonde woman stood up and announced that the following poem was inspired by anonymous initials carved in tapestries at a museum in Upper Manhattan. After her reading a male poet chastised the latecomers for trying to avoid the poetry reading section of the evening, and then proceeded to quietly read a poem about a squirrel living in the wall behind his bed.
Someone turned on loud music and people gradually begin to filter out of the living room. At the bar I stood behind the blonde tapestry poet who kept glancing backwards in my direction with a startled expression, as if I was wearing an animal on my shirt. She appeared to be limping slightly.
"You hurt?" I said.
"Not really." she replied.
I was trying to remember some of her poetry. A brown cherry landscape. Brown cherries.
"You did quite a job up there with the reading." I said.
"I didn't read."
"That wasn't you?"
"No. I am a poet, though." she said, "I was just reviewed in the New Yorker."
"Really, was it a good review?"
"Yes it was."

This extraordinary first book of poems takes its place in an authentic line of descent from such landmarks as Yeats's "A Vision" and James Merrill's "The Changing Light at Sandover.the true subject here is the emotional cost of such celestial intimacies for the human narrator, whose future must always remain hidden. For her, loneliness and mortality are not merely conditions to be recalled but present afflictions to be endured, and she can only pray, 'Give me what I can bear to know I felt'

"Who was the reviewer?"
"They don't credit the reviewer."
"Yes, they do."
"It was in the In Brief section."
"Oh, cause sometimes Susan Sontag will review a book, or they'll have an article on an author."
"Yeah. It was in the In Brief section."
"What's your name?"
"Sarah."
"Sarah?" The music was loud and we were right under the speakers.
"Uh huh."
"Well, do you know who reviewed it?" maybe she had had an inside connection, someone to submit it to at the magazine.
"No. I don't."
"Well, it's an achievement. I mean, it's my favorite magazine. I just read it growing up in the boonies and now look, I've moved here and met a poet who was published in it. I guess I can move back to the boonies now."
She sat there unmoved.
"I've always wanted to write something for the New Yorker," I continued, "I've got an article idea I think would be great."
"You want to write something in the magazine?" she asked.
"Uh huh."
"You have to write a lot." She emphasized "A lot."
Someone turned up the speaker so we could barely hear each other.
"This is the Strokes." I yelled.
"Who?" she asked.
"The Strokes." I screamed, "They're kind of the new thing. Because they sound old. Like the velvet underground."
"Oh."
Suddenly a woman started singing on the track.
"Oh, this isn't the Strokes." I paused, listening closer, "Nope, it's not. I don't know who it is."
"I have to go."
With those words Sarah the poetess limped onto the crowded dance floor and vanished forever.
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