Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New to Me Wednesday: David Lee

I'm going to challenge myself to write about a new poet every week. I'll start with David Lee, whose "Psalm of Home Redux" was just delivered to my gmail inbox. (Thanks!)

Mr. Lee writes a lot about the nature and many of his poems are set in the West. What's not to like? On top of that, his poems have a voice that just seems to speak to me. And I'm not sure if I can describe it any better than that. Much of what I've read so far could qualify as "narrative" poetry (sometimes complete with characters and dialogue), and I like the stories they tell. Oh, and Lee isn't afraid to use profanity in his poems and "Poems with Cussin'" is on my list of things I think are awesome but I'm afraid to admit. Right up there with the new Lean Cuisine spring rolls, Mini Coopers, Dr. Dre's 1992 album "The Chronic," and watching curling on TV.

Or maybe it's just good timing. I've been thinking a lot about moving lately. Asking myself complicated questions like do I really want to live in this run down town anymore and what if in 30 years I regret never having lived anywhere else. His poems speak to this part of me and seem to call me West. Okay, maybe I overshot with "call me," but they definitely paint a very vivid picture in my mind of a gorgeously desolate landscape.

Or maybe because he has this pretty awesome line in his Poetry Foundation bio:

Lee has been a boxer, pig farmer, seminary student, cotton mill worker, and the only white baseball player for a Negro League team.

As for a poem, take a look at a selection of the aforementioned "Psalm"...
Psalm of Home Redux
by David Lee

        after rereading Cormac McCarthy and taking
             a 5 mile run through the River Ranch

                    Laughter is also a form of prayer

Okay then, right here,
Lord, in Bandera,
tether me to my shadow
like a fat spavined mule
stuck sideways in Texas tank mud
bawling for eternity

At midnight's closing whine
of the 11th Street Bar's steel guitar,
when the stars slip their traces
and race the moon like wild horses
to their death in the darkness,
let my hoarse song twine with the night wind

Read the rest of it here. The sounds and the little bit of wordplay is a home run, I think.

Hopefully you'll find time to explore David Lee's poetry. "Parowan Canyon" is another home run or try "The Farm" or the prose poem "Loading a Boar." There's not a ton more of it online, but he's written several books that you might be able to get your hands on.

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