A short while ago, my college had the pleasure of welcoming author Amy Newman to perform for us. Having never heard of her before, I can’t say I was too excited. (For a poet-or a person still striving to be a poet-very rarely will I actually read poetry. I’m so picky about poems, sometimes I wonder how I even enjoy writing poems in the first place!) Dressed in black from head to toe, and a head of gorgeous wavy reddish-brown curls, she seemed she as she came to the podium to start the “Complete and Incomplete Dictionary of Happiness and Unhappiness” performance.
It wasn’t until she pulled out Dear Editor did my attention snap awake and scream for more. For some reason I was really drawn to that book. Each poem/prose she read from it had me on the edge of my seat, eating up every syllable and loving how every world drifted from the mic from the speakers and sailed into my ears.
Weeks later, I finally got my hands on a library copy. The book centers around Amy Newman, but not exactly the author herself. The Amy Newman in Dear Editor is completely fictional. Each poem is written like a letter to an editor, except they each drift off into mini tangents about a chess game that symbolizes the complex relationship between Amy and her grandfather. Or the relationship she had with her grandmother, or the house she lived in, or a bit on her religious upbringing. I love not knowing where the letter will lead, and how bit by bit we learn about this character.
I’m on the tenth page and I just felt inspired to write a quick little poem about her–the real Amy Newman that is– and her performance at my college:
Came to my college
in all her glory of bronze and waves
long and dancing over the face of the
book hiding at the back of the shelf
content with little recollection.
Speaking in mumbles
barely reaching the ozone layers of my ears
of her poems dealing with fascination
the poetic impulse that makes her
flutter in her peaceful oasis
the mind where snowfall rests peacefully
each snow flake a dream
smoked with desire to know all there is.
A poet that struggles with inefficient tools
the primitive language that makes us understand
is only a babies babble in an afternoon stroller.
The Complete and Incomplete Dictionary of Happiness and Unhappiness,
Dear Editor I follow, burst from my fingers.