Poetry Friday: Galway Kinnell

h1 January 11th, 2008 by eisha

So, my upstairs neighbor (a poet) loaned me a couple of books of poetry over the holidays. Due to my Cybils duties, I haven’t been able to open them until recently. One of them is by Galway Kinnell, and I’m loving it. So I thought I’d pay my neighbor’s good deed forward, and share him with you all.

“The Correspondence-School Instructor Says Goodbye to His Poetry Students”

Goodbye, lady in Bangor, who sent me
snapshots of yourself, after definitely hinting
you were beautiful; goodbye,
Miami Beach urologist, who enclosed plain
brown envelopes for the return of your very
“Clinical Sonnets”; goodbye, manufacturer
of brassieres on the Coast, whose eclogues
give the fullest treatment in literature yet
to the sagging breast motif; goodbye, you in San Quentin,
who wrote, “Being German my hero is Hitler,”
instead of “Sincerely yours,” at the end of long,
neat-scripted letters extolling the Pre-Raphaelites:

I swear to you, it was just my way
of cheering myself up, as I licked
the stamped, self-addressed envelopes,
the game I had of trying to guess
which one of you, this time,
had poisoned his glue.

Click here to read the rest of the poem. It gets even better.





7 comments to “Poetry Friday: Galway Kinnell”

  1. A strangely beautiful poem. Correspondence schools — the kind with stamps and envelopes — are getting to be a thing of the past; I imagine that someday the ritual of licking stamps will even be obsolete. Hm.


  2. I adore that poem, even if (or maybe because) there’s a hint of sadness and a hint of snarkiness to it.


  3. TadMack, you just made me nostalgic for something that I don’t even enjoy.

    And yes, Kelly, definitely a hint of snark. It reminds me of how this past week has been for me, temping at Cornell, filing all the hopeful applicants’ transcripts and recommendation letters alongside carefully typed excuses for why their GRE scores aren’t as good as they should be.


  4. Eisha, does Roxy live? Or are you borrowing a computer?

    I had so much reading this poem. I had found it once before, when I was snooping around poetry sites for info on his poem “Oatmeal.” Then I found this great article on Galway Kinnell’s birthday party. The guest list is incredible!


  5. Well, I guess “fun” was way too boring a word and got left out of my previous comment. That’ll teach me to use more precise language.


  6. Hey, Sara. Nope, Roxy is still very very sick, so I’m borrowing my husband’s computer when he isn’t using it for work. Which is almost never, but it’s better than nothing. Glad you liked the poem.


  7. Glad you liked the book! I’m usually drawn to his more macabre and grotesque work, but I love his wit, as well.


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