Letter to Robert Peterson About Live Poetry

I just ran across this recently which is probably just part of a letter I sent Robert . . . seems a bit exaggerated and I hope it didn’t rub him the wrong way: we all know books are king and queen . . . but at the time I was involved in so many live poetry readings it was causing something of a displacement in my head of books . . . but don’t worry that was temporary . . . look what’s happened to slam poets (god I don’t like that word slam or any prefix to the word poetry) in that books begin to re-emerge in every importance . . . as youth fades into fear . . . what’s going to last?

Robert Peterson was such a great man and poet, such a pleasure for him to be around in Albuquerque those years — he and Michael Reed and many others made up a powerful context for the life of poetry here . . .

June 25, 1981, Larry Goodell, Placitas, New Mexico

(to poet Robert Peterson, author of Leaving Taos . . .)

Robert –
I’m trying to deal with the fact that so far I enjoyed your reading – last year? at UNM more than I’m enjoying reading your Leaving Taos, but I’m only half way through. I’m afraid I’ve become a hopeless case when it comes to silent reading – years of working in a bookstore have taken their toll. Somehow it seems indefensible to depend solely on the live readings of contemporary poetry you can attend – and yet I realize that honestly – that’s where I am. I read your lines and miss the aura of the audience.*

So I should be doing a history of the poetry reading in America. Or at least Albuquerque.

Ever –
*that is, in its inter-relatedness – like the aura of your head or mouth. The aura of the audience is actually yours when you read.

Robert Peterson (1924 Denver, CO to 2000 Fairfax, CA)

Evening Poem for Carolyn Kizer

Enlightenment should come easily
noting the absence of wind.

But it’s a measuring worm
on an ivy leaf
that attracts attention.

The yellow cat has gone to see the white cat.
Petals of four kinds of camellia
fall gracefully into sadness

And there is nothing to improve
the extravagant silence.

Flowing through silk sleeves
are all memories
of previous things.

And the pine tree beyond the garden
is seen again
to be a resting place

For birds
who come no nearer.

from Leaving Taos
Robert Peterson


About larry goodell

Poet exploring his viable extensions - publisher, performer, playwright - hand to hand help in creating spaces for poetry to be live in - reading events, recordings, online and tangible publications in the vocal spirit of his New Mexico.
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