March 2, 2014

Poetry Friday (or maybe Sunday): "Siwashing it out once in Siuslaw Forest"

I first read this poem in college in my Poetry Writing class. Our professor, Dr. Paul, would have us do something he called "imitation poems:" we were tasked with choosing something (whether it be content, or rhythm, or line length, or mood) from the poet at hand and try to use it in our own work. I remember being struck by the way Snyder seamlessly blends memory with actuality, physical environment with emotional landscape. As I teach Gary Snyder to my high school students and have them complete their own imitations, I continue to be struck by it. Thanks, Dr. Paul.
Siwashing it out once in Siuslaw Forest
         by Gary Snyder
I slept under rhododendron All night blossoms fell Shivering on a sheet of cardboard Feet stuck in my pack Hands deep in my pockets Barely able to sleep. I remembered when we were in school Sleeping together in a big warm bed We were the youngest lovers When we broke up we were still nineteen. Now our friends are married You teach school back east I don't mind living this way Green hills the long blue beach But sometimes sleeping in the open I think back when I had you.

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