Robert Pinsky comments on Moist Meridian

“Frank O’Hara’s call for poetry “better than the movies” suggests qualities of movement, vividness, clarity and music: a high standard, met by the poems of Moist Meridian. It won’t do to exaggerate the cinematic quality of the poems, with their flashes of narrative, rapid cuts, crisp dialogue, fresh characters; the kind of thinking and the language are those of a poet— and  distinctively reflective poet. The compression and swift varying of mood are those of poetry, as in the opening sentence-fragment of “Black Walnuts,”: little charred brains/ on November streets, where folks from Hope House/ lurch and bump, run rain-suited/ down to Rick’s Coffee and the market,/ over-greeting the kind and idle.” Alertness, generosity, irony and candor govern these poems, which are endlessly curious about the relations among people, with sex, friendship, marriage and alienation examples of an abiding, fearful but engaging mystery. An engaging, uneasy and clear-sighted book.”

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2011 Oregon Book Award Finalist

Robert Pinsky has chosen Moist Meridian as finalist for the 2011 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. Join Literary Arts on Monday, April 25, 2011, when the winners are announced live at the Gerding Theatre.

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Poem: Moving

From Moist Meridian


We were friends
years before
that night among the boxes,
unlabeled for fast stacking in the old pickup.
We’re not finished, I said.
There’s wine, and I’m not taking it with me.
Tipping that last ocean view,
you said, I’ll miss you so much, before that half-light kiss
pressed a bloom
straight through the island. Our hands
sands a wave makes
without music, without a bed. A motion
awaited, undressing like a storm
just ahead. So close
without my glasses. Can you see? you smiled,
one hand touching my face, the other driving
the dented guardrail
over the bridge.

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