Thursday Poems: Faint Music by Robert Hass

A few weeks ago, I enrolled in an online summer poetry course being held by the University of Iowa. Each week involves a different youtube talk by a respected poet, and various exercises and workshops based on said talk. The second week’s presenter was former US Poet Laureate Robert Hass. I had no idea who he was, but his dry wit and razor sharp wisdom really appealed to me, and I thought, ‘I have to get this guy’s books.’

Luckily, I happened across this poem, quite by accident, and now the desire to get his books has become an imperative. It is, in a word, staggering. A poem that tells a story, that has a powerful message, that is rich in situating detail, in placing you beneath the skin of the setting and allowing you to breathe in its atmosphere.

All this, and it’s beautifully composed too. It begins:

Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.

And somehow manages to only get better from there. This is a poem about music (and pain, life, humanity), so I urge you to pay attention to its own internal rhythm, to read it aloud. It renders even the most basic sentences musical, in gentle lifting loops you can catch the first strains of song.

He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge,
the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon.

My favourite part is the ending, which hits like a catapult to the soul, and which I won’t spoil by posting here. I can only urge you to read it in all its majesty.

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In other news, I have a feature non-fiction piece in which I reflect on my grandmother’s dementia and the way my family dealt with it, over at Sajjeling, a nifty, independent site emphasising Arab-Australian narratives. Head on over to check it out. It is by no means my best-written piece; I was more than a little emotional in writing it, and part of me wishes I could go over it now with a red pen, but equally, there’s a truthfulness to that messiness which I would hate to erase.

Also, in the next few days, I’ll be launching a new semi-regular segment, Awesome People, wherein I finally tap into the network of wonderful, amazing individuals I know, and have them feature guest posts here to share a story or anecdote or anything really.

That’s all from me for now, so until next time…

Happy reading, all!

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