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Thursday, 21 August 2014

ELDER POETRY INTERLUDE: Tall Woman Looking

As I tell the publicists who contact me about books they are flogging, I don't “review” books, I write about a few of them I like. Not many more than half a dozen a year.

The reason for so few is that I already spend the greater portion of my days reading, researching, thinking and writing about getting old. I need some time for my other interests and a great deal of that is reading for personal pleasure.

Not that I don't enjoy what I do for this blog but it is not my entire life.

A lot of the time I choose which books to tell you about from what I've been reading on my own. Other times they fall into my lap and today's came from Dan Peters who is the publisher at Blue Begonia Press in Washington state.

He emailed to tell me about this book at the instigation of his father Doug Peters who, writes Dan, is a “HUGE fan” of Time Goes By and often mentions the poetry featured here.

TWLCover125 The book is “Tall Woman Looking” by Dorothy Trogdon who lives on Orcas Island in the San Juans, and much of her poetry deals with aging, art and marriage.

Dan tells me that she published this, her [so far] only book of poetry, in her mid-eighties, 2012:

”She's a trained art historian, has a masters degree in architecture from Harvard, but because of generational gender traditions was never employed as an architect.

“She raised a family and supported her husband, also a Harvard trained architect. She returned to poetry only recently, in her late 70's and early 80's and came to our attention through the former state poet laureate.”

This is the title poem, Tall Woman Looking:

I stand at a window looking across the grass
to the house where I lived as a child

and I see that it matches my memory exactly -
brown shingled siding, blue hydrangeas,

and in the yard an old birch tree hammered
by a woodpecker every April.

Then the clack-clack of my father's typing,
a hiss of steam from my mother's iron – I hear them,

and I see in his room upstairs my brother,
bent over an airplane kit of tissue and balsa.

How heedlessly, how blithely I fled those safe
and quiet waters! Now when I think of that

skinny, long-legged, brown-eyed girl,
of the happy life she led there,

the irreplaceable years of hopscotch,
Sunday night waffles, new skates for Christmas,

my heart stakes its claim. I shall mine
that streambed as long as I live.

It is easy to tell you the kind of novels I like – I can rattle them off without effort. Not so with poetry the language of which, it seems to me, is generally so different from prose it might not be English.

This, Coda, is another from Trogdon's book that I particularly like - something about how the language weaves together:

Now I am beginning to say goodbye,
now on the very last May evening.
My kimono is the color of mist.

But the fragrance of lilacs from the garden
comes to me in the dusk, and I am in no
hurry to go. Perhaps the rose grosbeaks
will come to the olive trees tomorrow.

Perhaps the hives will be heavy at harvest,
perhaps one day we will turn to each other
and begin at last to speak of love.

Here is Ms. Trogdon herself reading Strange How You Stay at the launch party for her book:

You will find more readings by Dorothy from her book here and here.

And, you can purchase “Tall Woman Looking” at the Blue Begonia Press website.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Partying Hearty


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I love poetry, and I find I'm especially enjoying poetry by poets as they get older. It's helpful.

Poetry comes from the heart and touches mine.

Thank you

Lovely. Good poetry has no
age labels.

Ronni, I thank you so very much for introducing me to Dorothy Trogden. My first response, before I read what you gave us and then looked at all the links, was my usual sort of hesitancy about local poets, some of whom are good, of course, but many who have seemed to me to be less able ---- but once I had read and heard everything, I was so stunned and overjoyed that I immediately ordered two copies of the book, one for me, one for a poet friend.

At this moment in my life, I am struggling with a memoir, begun long ago, interrupted frequently by many things, a project over which I constantly pour much despair--and what Dorothy Trogden has done, more than anyone else, I think [aside from my generous and loving friends, like the aforementioned poet], by allowing me to gain new insights into things I am constantly struggling with, things like memory and loss and age and -- and -- and.

You have often inspired me to look beyond, and more importantly, to think beyond, whatever topic it is you are bringing forth. This one, for me, is an absolute winner. And I am truly grateful.

Ronni,
This was astounding. Thanks.
I loved how she read this poem (her voice is a magnificent senior voice)and the "fool hardy yellow rose" describes so many of us who keep on growing a bit.
I cannot thank you enough for this link.

Ir's always rewarding to get insights from someone who is an elder. Thank you, Dorothy for speaking so well for many of us. Beautiful.

Dorothy's poetry is hauntingly gorgeous.

Watching her read this piece,MIT was if we were all sitting in front of her, meeting each other for the first time, yet knowing we share a certain history as a band of brothers and sisters.

She is a superb poet. Thanks for featuring her here. I have to say, as a poet myself, with my own first chapbook coming out soon, I am very envious of her insight and her obvious innate talent for what is the essence of poetry.

Lovely. Thank you. I'm buying the book

I enjoyed Dorothy's reading. A beautiful poem.

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