To the White Sea

images.jpgLet’s go back to the early 1970’s. I came home from work with a fresh, crisp paperbound copy of Deliverance by James Dickey.

I had stumbled upon Dickey in the public library and had read his first three volumes of poetry. Then he showed up for a reading at the university and I got more of a sense of what he was like: something that helped me understand his poems a little better (later I would drive across western Virginia and see the oceans of kudzu which also helped understand certain poems).

In graduate school Dickey visited one of my classes, reading his poems and answering student questions which he had probably responded to over and over through the years. I sat in the far back corner of the room nursing an intense desire to relieve myself in the men’s room but the dilemma was how to make it to the door, walk in front of Dickey or behind him. I walked behind him with a meek “excuse me” and was humiliated when one of my favorite contemporary poets humorously accused me of disliking his poems so much that I had to leave the room.

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