Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Snow, a Visitor and Raymond Carver

We don't yet have the 18 inches of snow I predicted--lately, all of my predictions have been a little off--but we are getting closer. Driving home from school last night there were many cars in the ditch, their headlights arced skyward into the whirling snow. The sheriff's deputies, tow truck drivers and fire crews were working hard to pull them out.

On "Countdown," Keith Olbermann said that writing blogs has become so popular, no one is reading them. The average blog now has only one reader. In this, I suppose blogging is an analogue for contemporary poetry. So I am happy--joyous--to report that I have found my reader--or rather, that a reader found me. Yesterday, the poet Robert Thomas stopped by "Sonnets at 4 A.M."

Robert is an incredible poet from San Francisco whose first book Door to Door (Fordham University Press, 2002) won the "Poets Out Loud" Prize and whose latest book is Dragging the Lake (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 2006). Robert is one of the contributors to the blog "Of Looking at a Blackbird." Our times in the MFA Program at Warren Wilson College overlapped and I've gotten to know Robert through the annual alumni events, at the AWP Conference and through his poetry, which appears often and in all of the best places. It was good to hear from him and I'm looking forward to keeping in touch through the blogs.

I woke up this morning thinking of Raymond Carver. I don't know why. I love Carver's poetry (which no one much talks about these days) and his short stories. I was thinking of the opening paragraph of "Cathedral," the title story of one of Carver's collections, which also appears in Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988). I finally had to get out of bed to see if the story opens as I remembered it.

He writes:

This blind man, an old friend of my wife's, he was on his way to spend the night. His wife had died. So he was visiting the dead wife's relatives in Connecticut. He called my wife from his in-law's. Arrangements were made. He would come by train, a five hour trip, and my wife would meet him at the station. She hadn't seen him since she worked for him one summer in Seattle ten years ago. But she and the blind man had kept in touch. They made tapes and mailed them back and forth. I wasn't enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.


Blogger Robert said...

Thanks, Greg. I know I'm not the only visitor to your blog, because I heard about your blog on Eduardo’s blog. I've been thinking about Raymond Carver too, because of Robert Altman's death. I love Altman, but I was disappointed by his Short Cuts because I felt it didn't do justice to Carver's stories. Maybe nothing could.

11:36 AM  

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