I just finished finalizing the PDF file for Albatross #20 and will be sending it along to the printer. I like to print 100 copies so that there are some in print out there in the world. I guess I’m still stuck in the age of print literacy. But I’ve seen too many poetry websites (and too many of my published poems) disappear when the website becomes a dead link. This way, the poets, a handful of subscribers, and a few university libraries that archive small press poetry all have a hard copy. This way, I’ll feel like I’ve left something behind in the world, something of value, something real.
In the process of laying out the journals, I type the entire poem in and then proofread it a number of times, so I come to know the poems quite intimately. I always have a few that are my favorites. I posted one by Andy Roberts titled “Standoff” in my last post. It’s not very profound; it’s a simple poem, with a simple enough message, but I chuckle every time I read the ending, and that’s been a good 10-12 times of late. Every time I read it I have the same response, so I thought I’d write about it here.
The poem describes an encounter that the persona has with a pair of Canadian geese, who loudly defend their nest, which happens to be on the well-worn path s/he (we’ll call him or her “the poet” from here on out) has been walking regularly for 30 years. After introducing this scene, Roberts concludes:
I will not win this argument
against pink hissing tongues.
I will not win this argument,
not in a million years.
I love this. It’s so simple but so true. We are at present losing the argument with nature, and it will only get worse before it gets better.
This poem could easily have appeared in Billy Collins “Poetry 180” anthologies. In the introduction to the first one, Collins writes,
The idea behind this printed collection. . . was to assemble a generous selection of short, clear, contemporary poems which any listener could basically “get” on first hearing–poems whose injection of pleasure is immediate.
Collins developed these anthologies to try to reconnect poetry to high school students who too often experience poetry as a painful process of reading dense and opaque writing that doesn’t seem to make much sense. As Collins demonstrates–not only in these anthologies but in his own poetry as well–this does not have to be the case.
Poetry–like many forms of art–is an act of communication, and Andy Roberts’ poem does a good job of doing just that.