Farewell Tomas Transtromer, and Thank You

I lost a poet this morning for that’s how it feels: the death of the writer is personal. In this case the poet is Tomas Transtromer. I feel the loss of a friend. Perhaps I don’t experience this with every poet. But when a lyric writer crosses over there’s a stitch in my ribcage. With Tomas Transtromer I always felt I had a secret friend. Those of us who love poetry, who in small or large ways have endeavored to live through it—that transitive and delicate approach to phenomena we call “the imagination”—are heartened when a writer suddenly says the world is still being born as Transtromer does in his poem “The Half-Finished Heaven”: 

Despondency breaks off its course.

Anguish breaks off its course.

The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,

even the ghosts take a draft.

And our paintings see daylight,

our red beasts of the Ice Age studios.

Everything begins to look around.

We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door

leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

Excerpt From: Tomas Tranströmer. “The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/WAORD.l   


In these times we must be reminded of the mysteries of consciousness and water shining. Tomas Transtromer was a good friend, a fellow introvert who learned to live in the big world, who endeavored to do some decent work with damaged children, who came home at night in the Baltic dark and played Haydn on his piano, who whispered in our ears, each of us is still half open. 

Imagine that.   

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Dog and Notebook, They Never Let You Down

Australian man button holes me, explains collective unconscious in airport. 

Once on subway in New York I saw a man talking angrily to God. 

As poet Charles Simic would say, “he had dark ages on his brain.”

Easy to be confused by strangers and even friends. Easy to want bubble bath.

Trust notebook. It will never let you down. 

When young, ate an onion like an apple, just to impress girl friend.

Old now, cleans ashes from fireplace, impresses no one.

How it goes. Time stretches him, but he’s only elastic in noggin. 

Sometimes notebook’s pages get stuck together.

Dog owns all the money. Yellow canine money. Lucky, dog spends it with you. 

Walked around the down on luck neighborhoods of Ithaca, New York. 

Shabby houses looked like places where people were either sleeping or sick. 

Old frame structures no longer loved. 

But my dog and I—we were some kind of two headed flying fish. 

Happiness was in the facing wind. 

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It Was Alright, Anselm Hollo. You’re Welcome

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Poets Ken Weisner and Andrea Scarpino in Syracuse

Y Areas of Focus Blue all bold

A Reading by Poets

WEDNESDAY, 3/25, 7:00 PM
Free and open to the public 

Ken Weisner lives in Santa Cruz and teaches writing at De Anza Community College in Cupertino where he edits Red Wheelbarrow. His most recent collection of poems is Anything on Earth (2010, Hummingbird Press). His work has been featured on Sam Hamill’s “Poets Against the War” website and on The Writer’s Almanac (2010).

Andrea Scarpino is the author of the chapbook The Grove Behind (Finishing Line Press) and the poetry collection Once, Then (Red Hen Press). She contributes weekly to the blog Planet of the Blind. This reading is presented by the Syracuse University Honors Program.

This reading presented by the Honors Program at Syracuse University.

The YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center

340 Montgomery St.
Syracuse, NY 13202
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High School Days

When I was in high school an average week went like this:

Skip gym class, go to local college, read Voltaire–but not Candide, instead, his Philosophical Dictionary–liking especially:

“A big library has this in it of good, that it dismays those who look at it. Two hundred thousand volumes discourage a man tempted to print; but unfortunately he at once says to himself: “People do not read all those books, and they may read mine.” He compares himself to a drop of water who complains of being lost in the ocean and ignored: a genius had pity on it; he caused it to be swallowed by an oyster; it became the most beautiful pearl in the Orient…”

2. Skip gym class, go to draft board, show blind letter from doctor. Declare to hedge hog corporal blind people might conceivably work in tunnels. Corporal tells him to go screw himself.

3. Skip gym class, drink stolen bottle of champagne. Take nap in abandoned bath tub in woods.

4. Skip gym class, go to local college, read Ed Sanders, liking especially “Poems From Jail”.

5. Skip entire school day. Stay sober but still take nap in abandoned bath tub.

Ah Wordsworth:

“Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind;

In the primal sympathy

Which having been must ever be…”

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