by Adam Zagajewski
I liked the comic rituals of young poets,
the panicked moments, the anxieties
before the reading, the slow passage
through a dark corridor toward the lighted stage,
performing poems to a drowsy
public that woke up now and then,
the great and lesser envies and the moment when
the inarguable charm of one good line,
an unexpected metaphor or image meant
that all was - temporarily - forgiven.
Sometimes someone would ask uncertainly -
but won't you tell us how to live?
- I thought it was funny then, but not now.
I liked the silence not without
its deeper meanings, the jokes, the chats
with timid readers and finally
the signing of the books with the names
that we knew, without question,
truly belonged to us.
- from Unseen Hand by Adam Zagajewski
Well, tonight is my hometown book launch, and though I can't call myself a young poet, I'm sure I have certain comic rituals, and certainly anxieties. Woke up to another day of snow falling and the forecast is for more all day. We're used to snow here, though not so much in late April, of course.
I think at poetry readings, in books of poetry, this is still what we want, for the poet to tell us how to live. I always find hints of this in Zagajewski's work. For myself, hoping for 'the inarguable charm of one good line,' uttered while the snow falls in the spring, settling on branches and on cars.