From Rochester Radar, June 16, 2017:
Noah Burton, a poet living in Madbury, NH, says that defending the relevance of poetry is like trying to justify dreaming while we sleep. “Our daily lives, regardless of whether we want them to or not, have music: whether it’s the conversation and cadences of others or the sounds of our work,” he explains. “Sometimes, when selling burritos at Dos Amigos in Dover, I hear it at the register: Alright your total is $5.93. / Now if you’ll just sign this for me. // Can I have some mild avocado? / Absolutely, here you go!”
Burton, whose work has appeared in the Pen America poetry series, Paperbag, Outlook Springs, Sundog Lit, and other publications, believes that poetry functions much like a film soundtrack in that it provides moment-to-moment focus, allowing us to center ourselves more vividly within our experience.
“Much like that moment when recognizing a rhyme in everyday speech, when I read a poem, I, despite all of society doing it’s thing, become singularly important,” he says. “I am reading a poem and I am allowing it to musically knock on the doors of my memory, joys, and fears. In a time when so much feels out of our power, when it feels like our nature has been hacked, poems can give us singular emotional strength.”
Burton’s fascination with the extraordinariness of the commonplace, and the complexity with which poetry allows us to process our everyday experiences, is evident in the following selection from his recent work.
I’m reviewing your footsteps
in the sand. Well, this is a good place
to start. A wave came and you took it.
A barge floated by and I watched.
The sailor spit into a mug a bone
of a sardine too calcified to chew.
My sore shoulders gave out and I dropped
the umbrella. It is raining now.
Your head is bobbing one way down
the coast—in a jeep toward starlight.
O’Connor, a New York native, recently settled in Rochester after obtaining her Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of New Hampshire. Her work has recently appeared in “The Fourth River,” “Stone Canoe,” “Paper Nautilus,” “So to Speak,” “Arsenic Lobster,” and the “Santa Ana River Review,” among other publications. She is also a former poetry editor of the online literary journal “Barnstorm.”
pOETRY HERE & NOW
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