Monday, December 1, 2008

Poetry Crush

Lisa Olstein is my new favorite poet. I hope I get a bunch of her books* for Christmas this year. And if I don't I'll buy 'em my own self.

Here's a sample.

That Magnificent Part the Chorus Does about Tragedy
--- Lisa Olstein

There is a theory of crying that tears are the body’s way of
releasing excess elements from the brain. There is a theory of
dreaming that each one serves to mend something torn, like
cells of new skin lining up to cover a hole. I’m not one to have
dreams about flying, but last week we were thirty feet above the
bay—this was where we went to discuss things, so that no matter
what we decided it was only we two out there, and we’d have
to fly back together. I’m not one to have dreams where animals
can speak, but last night a weeping mare I’d been told to bridle
wanted me to save her. We discussed what was left of her ability
to take children for rides—how much trot, how much canter—
but I wasn't sure I could do it, having already bridled her and
all. I was once very brave. Once I was very brave. I was very
brave once. I boarded a plane before dawn. I carried all those
heavy bags. I stayed up the whole night before folding the house
into duffel bags. I took a curl from the base of your skull and
opened the door to the rusty orange wagon and weighed those
heavy duffel bags and smiled at the airport official. I boarded
a tiny propeller plane and from a tiny window I watched you walk
back to the rusty orange station wagon. They say the whole world
is warming by imperceptible degrees. I watched the rusty orange
wagon go whizzing by.

Lisa Olstein, "That Magnificent Part the Chorus Does about Tragedy" from Radio Crackling, Radio Gone (Copper Canyon Press, 2006).

I think her re-phrasing of the sentence about being brave is brilliant. This is one to be savored.

* So she has just one published collection. That doesn't change my wish.


mutable said...

Lisa Olstein has a new book of poems, Lost Alphabet, to be published in June 09 by Copper Canyon Press


Greg said...

Very nice, Jim! If that's representative of her work, I'll be seeking that out myself. I too will have my own book soon. I received word from Pudding House Press (Columbus, OH), that they want to publish my chapbook Signs of Small Grace. Don't have a date yet, but I'll let you know when it's available. Happy Holidaze!

Jim H. said...


That is good news. Thanks for the heads up.

Jim Haas

Jim H. said...


That is good news -- congratulations! Let me know as soon as the date-certain is set.

Jim Haas