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one sweet moment’s flagrant mystery

The Writer’s Almanac, July 22, 2021

I want all of you

and parts of you

Pre-Plague London

The Bed

Kierkegaard, Potter, Keillor, and Frost

Blurbs

When I asked GK for a blurb
I worried that I might disturb
The genius at work—
But he didn’t shirk
Providing a blurb so superb.

And then there’s that Jonathan J.
Whose blurb lit some fire to my hay
For a great conflagration
Of sweet adulation
And mythmaking making the day.

Now Ms. Wright can blurb with the best
And her blurb came last but impressed
With fantastic words
That gave flight to birds
From a Petrarchan palimpsest nest.

If I Could Fly on TWA

Tulips Sans Chimneys

Tulips for Elsie cover image

Mr. Potter’s given us a bold adventurous book with plenty of sharp turns at high speed, with some gestures toward Neruda and Merwin but also “Sk8,” a gr8 skateboarding poem, and sonnets, and brave ventures into rhymed verse, poems for friends and relatives, “Stopping by Blogs on a Frosty Evening,” and poems of passionate love with angels looking down from above. Plus tulips and Elsie. —Garrison Keillor

I have enjoyed the company of Jonathan Potter’s poetry for years and rejoice at the arrival of this new collection with its unabashed delight, authentic intimacy, and emotionally convincing, often playful music. Potter is at turns a graceful, organic monologist and a wry, deft formalist. These are poems of generous mythmaking, self-deprecating humor, passion, and the glories of fatherhood. They inhabit a Seattle of historical icons and the poet’s own skateboarding youth, a London of “tidy grime” and love, and the derelict and divine streets and poetry community and waterfall of Spokane, this poet’s answer to Williams’ Paterson. By the time Potter wishes he could “become myself with vengeance / and take you with me,” he has done both. —Jonathan Johnson

In an era of poetry that plumbs humanity’s darker depths, it is a pleasant respite to read Jonathan Potter’s Tulips for Elsie, a collection that wears its pathos and its prosody lightly as it confronts life’s familiar concerns—love, sex, family life, and his beloved native place (Spokane, Washington)— with full-bodied affection and gentle irony. Many poems here are sonnets—not just Petrarchan or Shakespearean but also Onegin stanzas!—yet Potter makes rhyming in these conversationally-toned fourteeners look effortless. Particularly engaging are the portrait sonnets featuring poets and writers associated with Spokane (Alexie, Howell, Walter among them), the longer poems about the poet’s lively and accomplished daughters, and the poetic palimpsests replying to or parodying well-known classics. By the time we finish reading, we may feel ourselves, with the poet, to have “co-authored  . . . a beautiful book of longing.” —Carolyne Wright

When I Was Broke

GK Reads JP

https://www.garrisonkeillor.com/radio/twa-the-writers-almanac-for-march-30-2021/

Coming in April

Tulips for Elsie

Source: The Writer’s Almanac, 2/1/21

See Also: Dappled Things, Pentecost 2012

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