Art and Environment
Last week's poem was by novelist, short-story writer, screenplay writer and poet, Sherman Alexie.
After high school, Alexie attended Gonzaga University but dropped out to follow a girlfriend to Washington State University. There, he enrolled in a poetry workshop where he was assigned a poem that changed his life. He has said, "If I hadn't found this poem, I don't think I ever would have found my way as a writer."
Joe Fassler, in a series on writers for The Atlantic, did a profile on Sherman Alexie which includes that poem, "Elegy for the Forgotten Oldsmobile." Alexie found one line in that poem transforming, a line that is repeated several times. This line is not, however, as Fassler wrote, the first line of the poem.
|By GPS 56 from New Zealand (1962 Oldsmobile Starfire) |
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
You may read about the author of the poem, Adrian C. Louis, here. A visit to this website will not let you down. There is a pleasing Minnesota connection that I note. Mr. Louis retired from Minnesota State University Marshall in 2014.
A section on the website is titled "Requisite Puffery." Here is a "puff" by Sherman Alexie that sheds light on the power of this poem.
“I read one line in one poem in particular that was revolutionary and revelatory. The line was I’m in the reservation of my mind. It was by Adrian Louis, a Paiute poet. For me, that was like Because I could not stop for death, death kindly stopped for me... It was I sing the body electric... It was all that and more. It was the first line I ever read in any work, anywhere that applied to something I knew. It was a flash of lightning, a roll of thunder, when I understood everything that I ever wanted to be. When I read that line, I knew I wanted to be a writer.”