Stephen Dobyns so I’m not going to pretend to or even research anything about him because I’m not all that interested in knowing things about Dobyns. Although in his picture he looks like a very nice man, don't you think? I do know that he lives in Rhode Island and parks his truck by a lighthouse and watches the winter Atlantic. I know a mixture of humor and serious considerations about the world constitute his domain and he is uncompromising about what he needs to say in a poem. Sometimes I wonder if poets get away with writing things like (this is the first line to his poem “Werewolf”) “Last night I dreamt a jumbo jet fucked a werewolf bitch, changed for the event into half-human form” because they’re famous or well-loved, but I don’t think that’s the case with Dobyns, though he is rather famous for a 21st century poet and most likely well-loved.
I am reading “Winter’s Journey,” learning about the meditative poem which to me is much like the meditative essay, and a poem that seems to have room for saying things poems usually aren’t allowed to say: like, “Sorry, sorry, I’m getting off the subject again.”
By far the best thing I’ve read all year, Dobyns’ poem “Napatree Point.”
Here’s some of it.
from “Napatree Point” by Stephen Dobyns
A mile from where I live is a beach where in winter
I walk the dog, console myself with the ocean’s beauty,
And ponder the imponderables, like what to do about
Living in a country that has become an embarrassment,
Disliked and even gated around the world, a constant
Source of bickering among its people and led by men
And women who seem stupid, but are probably only
scared, greedy, egotistical, and ignorant. Forgive me
if I forgot a few.
Not so long ago Harvard’s top poetry critic told me
and a few others that she took pride in never once
having voted. It was hard to feel more than sad, but,
to me, she vanished, she became a nonperson, as if
she had walked out on the human race, her writings
also, since what truth could she say about poetry if
she separated poetry from the world? I know I can’t
just rant in a poem, although it’s hard to stop myself,
but given the problem I hate going back to writing
about flowers and sex.