Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bright Stones

This is from the day we started out on the trip west last October.
I took it through the windshield and, yes. I did boost the color a little.
We didn't stop at any canyon, but kept on driving.

Afternoon in the Canyon
The river sings in its alcoves of stone.
I cross its milky water on an old log—
beneath me waterskaters
dance in the mesh of roots.
Tatters of spume cling
to the bare twigs of willows.

The wind goes down.
Bluejays scream in the pines.
The drunken sun enters a dark mountainside,
its hair full of butterflies.
Old men gutting trout
huddle about a smokey fire.

I must fill my pockets with bright stones.

George Hitchcock

Striking Through the Masks; 
a literary memoir by Morton Marcus, 
Capitola Books, 2008, page 217.

I have spent the better part of the day reading the book above which I picked up about the time of Morton Marcus's death in 2009. When he was alive, I heard him read his poetry, and he was a judge who selected me for the Second Prize in the Montalvo Poetry Competition many years ago. At that awards reading, he told me privately that he liked my work very much and had considered quite a while over the choice of placement between the First and Second Prizes. When he introduced me, he said really lovely things about the language in the poem I read. 
In addition, he was very much a part of the scene with the poets I knew, studied with and heard read their poems in the Santa Clara/ Santa Cruz County/San Francisco/Berkeley poetry scene of the 1980s and 1990s.
The book is a compilation of a childhood memoir (the part I had read before) and chapters of reminiscence/reporting/evaluation on many people and some aspects of this poetry world. I think Marcus was a sharp and honest evaluator of these people and this time and I have been eating this book like candy for most of the day.
George Hitchcock was a sort of legendary Bay Area figure then, with his "collating parties" for his small magazine KAYAK. I was interested in reading about him because Pat Shelley always mentioned him as someone who published her poems early on.
Marcus often includes a poem he likes when discussing a poet, and this is the one for Hitchcock. It made me wish I had been to that canyon.

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