This video, which is an investigation of CD’s poem “Approximately Forever,” is a response to her teaching. In my first semester of graduate school as a poet navigating the intensities of the Writers’ Workshop in Iowa, I made one good decision: I took CD’s seminar on the American Ode. By semester’s end, I had been turned on to Frank O’Hara, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Neruda, and many other poets whose poems I turn to again and again. I walked into that class having no idea how to talk about poetry; how to think deliberately about poetry; how to even write a poem. CD made much of this possible.
And though I am grateful for her instruction in that class—her modeling of love and curiosity—I am eternally in debt to her for her poems. “Approximately Forever” is one of many she wrote that continues to move me. As my wife said this evening, as I recorded her reading the poem, “This syntax is unlike anything I’ve seen. I don’t know how to read this.”
This video is meant to be a response to CD’s singular voice, to her call, in her latest and perhaps last book, The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, A Wedding in St. Roch, The Big Box Store, The Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All: “Poetry moves by indirection and in so doing avoids the crowd. This does not mean it would not draw others in. But one has to be responsive to its movement. One has to adjust to its unfamiliar configurations. One has to train one’s best ear on its retrofitted lyre.”