On How One’s Friends Reflect You

Just crystal clear.

Just crystal clear.

I’ve been reading Milosz’s Roadside Dog on the tube/on the bus/train, and realising this man is my friend. This is the reason for books: they hold the best parts (hopefully) of those minds you may never meet. Milosz’s writing does this marvellous thing; distilling experience (vast) and reflecting with humanity on humanity.

Due to work, I’ve been reflecting a lot on leaders and leading. It’s a viciously complex library in the human experience. I’m finding that I sich zwischen zwei Stühle setzen: there’s something about most leaders that seems wanting, and yet there are jobs I simply can’t turn away from.

Leaders in poetry include Robert Hass. I was sent the way of Milosz recently via his recommendation in the anthology, Now and Then. Again, hugely generous in its signposting on hitherto unknowns (for me). These include Joseph Stroud, well-known in the US.

I won’t go to the summarise-able, biog quirks that are so infectious and play with my mind – but go straight to the writing. The collected and new anthology of Stroud’s begins with a sequence of 6 lined poems which talk of literature and art and living. Here is a poem in entirety.

After the Opera

Coming out of the theatre surrounded by people
in elegant clothes, jewelry, all the arias finished, no one
able to hold the music inside for long, soon enough
it’s gone, and it’s night in the city, it’s all neon and noise,
the woman you’re with stops to adjust her shoe, leans
her body against yours for a moment, balancing.

I love poems which sound and bounce, but admire and live for poems which pick up a theme of thinking: for me, the conundrum of how art is like vitamin C in the body, easily flushed out, needing constantly to be refreshed, returns frequently. I find myself in line with this poet’s concerns, and in awe of the directness of communication he achieves; truly a skill not praised enough.

” I put the shell down and wait for the snail
to emerge. I have much to learn of patience.”

So do I.

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About grahamcliffordpoet

Graham is an award winning poet, based in London. He graduated from the University of East Anglia with an MA in Creative Writing, and has since published nationally and internationally, winning many awards and performing at some of the most prestigious and well known Literary Festivals. His debut collection, The Hitting Game, is published by Seren.
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