Featured Poetry: "Bluebirds" by Grace Cavalieri
Grace Cavalieri is the epitome of cool. She's been a publishing poet for over 40 years and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, even now she grows and develops, her style reforms, and, like Donald Hall, she's forgone looking back entirely and instead looks within. This idea is very well suited to the goals and organization of ASP's Legacy books. It is so in Grace's Legacy Book, Other Voices, Other Lives, which is a testament not just to a broad range, but to an adaptive, keen, and wonderfully empathic heart.
Grace Cavalieri is goals. On a weekly basis she is interviewing the greatest poets of these last two generations for her NPR program The Poet and The Poem, she is writing (constantly!) her own poetry and a column for the Washington Independent Review of Books, and she is a consummate supporter of the newcomers, of the indies, of Washington DC, a mentor or friend to everyone she meets, and a ray of light from a city which is, frankly, prone to dark turns.
Grace Cavalieri is seriously impressive. She writes award winning poetry, stage plays, a slew of brilliant pieces which seem a mix of both, and novels in verse. She was just recently invited to the National Press Club's 41st annual Book Fair, and she is well-loved by artists like Pinsky and respected by intellectuals like Eva Brann (Grace is as close to a big name as a modern can be at my College).
Other Voices, Other Lives was my introduction to Grace. Her book sits now on my shelf between The Waves and Duino Elegies, the pages are worn from thumbing-thru, it is dog-eared, destroyed in certain ways well-loved books are destroyed, aged by the eyes, like good denim, but here the creases are black underlines, and the fading is from yellow highlighter and coffee stains. So in honor of, well, my deep admiration for Grace, I've picked one of her poems from Other Voices, Other Lives to share. If this is your first encounter with her poetry, welcome, hello, the books page is just yonder up the screen under "books"! If you've long been a fan, I think this is a great poem to share with those who might not yet have been introduced to Grace's work.
-Max, the intern
In the small grey hut of self-doubt where the ceilings are too
low for you to stand,
by the road where your friend would only drive you halfway
next to the trench of holes filled with grief and wrong
were it’s better not to know how you should do things a
tulips droop from their vases,
and death has never had so many faces.
That’s the time to go out at dusk when even the deaf talk
don’t look at the hummingbird hovering
afraid of the bubbles rising in their nectar—
bluebirds know of danger, the air made of smoke—
large wings of prey
never far distant—
try to find the bluebirds in their church of air,
star seeds of sound that crystallize, then burst.