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Meandering Poetry and Rivers

William Stafford, U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1970-1971.
Aubrey R. Watzek Library, Lewis & Clark College.
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William Stafford, U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1970-1971. William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1914. His first poetry was published when he was 48, he authored 65 books of poetry. In 1970 Stafford was appointed the Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress, and in 1975 the Poet Laureate of Oregon.

I’m Denise Low reading poems about rivers as part of The Radio Readers Book Club’s 2021 Fall Read Rivers – Meandering Meaning.
William Stafford captures the mystery of rivers in his poetry, especially this poem about wintery rivers:

Ask Me by William Stafford
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life...

I’m Denise Low reading poems about rivers as part of The Radio Readers Book Club’s 2021 Fall Read Rivers – Meandering Meaning

William Stafford captures the mystery of rivers in his poetry, especially this poem about wintery rivers:

Ask Me by William Stafford

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

Stafford perfectly captures how the river’s surface is well defined, yet underneath its movement is unceasing, like time itself.

One beautiful day I found myself at the Cimarron Hotel near the Arkansas River, the day when summer turned to autumn, almost like the moment an attraction turns to love:

Tipping Point by Denise Low

2021Fall-bookbyte030-2.jpg
Cimarron Hotel sunrise, Kathleen Holt
One beautiful day Denise Low was inspired to write Tipping Point while visiting the Cimarron Hotel near the Arkansas River. It was a day when summer turned to autumn, according to Low

The moment curtains billow light.
The Cimarron River does not cross Cimarron City, only sun.

The moment you grip. Tow me
over a levee-steep step. Allosaur bone beds lie underfoot.

The trip switch for autumn.
When freeze extinguishes green. Horizons are scalded vermillion.

When gingko trees shed tongues.
The fallen chorus.

Rose lace fails to cover the window.
Cool wind seines strands of sun. Enters my room.

REFERENCES

Stafford, William. “Ask Me.” The Way It Is. St. Paul: Graywolf, 1998. 56.

Low, Denise. “Tipping Point.” Shadow Light (Santa Fe: Red Mountain Press, 2018). 49.

Tags

Fall 2021: RIVERS meandering meaning2021 Fall ReadHPPR Radio Readers Book Club
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