Saturday, 7 April 2012

Robert Demaree

Fresh Squash

   for Elizabeth

The cottage is quiet:
     Waves of grandchildren come and gone,
Books returned to the library,
Inner tubes stored under the porch.
     Last night’s rain has swollen Perry Brook
And I climb in search of
The pool that Philip found.
What is it that I hear
In the rush of white water?
Their names splash over brown rocks.
Heading home, passing the meadow:
Betsy Winborne has left me
A bag of fresh squash
From her garden,
Hooked on the last post
Of the split-rail fence,
A marking of place,
Of consolation,
The gesture of a friend
Whose grandson comes next week


TSTmpj:  Your poem evoked Robert Frost for me.  Is he someone you read?  Who are some of the poets who have influenced you in your writing career?

Robert Demaree:  It is not possible for an American to write about New England without acknowledging the influence of Robert Frost. I remember hearing him read when I was in college in the 1950's. I go back to favorite poems, find myself alluding to them in my own work, and see in mending walls and meadows and woods the paradigm of a region that is both geographical and mythic, that changes but is the same.

Jane Kenyon, Ted Kooser and Billy Collins are three poets whose work I especially enjoy and admire—important, I think, in making good poetry accessible and persuading us that a good poem depends on powerful imagery and narrative, not arcane language.

TSTmpj:  I appreciate the quiet dignity of the poem.  What do you see as the status of grace -- not necessarily in a religious sense -- and quietness in America today?

Robert Demaree:  Grace and quietness in America, which might also include equanimity and forbearance: these are qualities in short supply, which is why we are more likely to turn on cable news than open a book of poems. We regret this now and will doubtless regret it even more in the future.

TSTmpj:  I would appreciate your thoughts on ageing and its relationship to poetry.

Robert Demaree:  The interest in memoir-writing increases with age, and there may be some parallel with poetry, a perspective from which to see things and a need to get them down. Aging, of course, gets us to thinking of last things. Billy Collins considers death a central theme of poetry. I would put it this way, in senryu form:

Try telling poets
No more poems about death:
They’re out of business.

Bio Note

Robert Demaree is a retired educator who’s authored four collections, including Mileposts (2009).  He’s had over 500 poems individually published.

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