Mary Mackey and Lee Rossi
Monday, August 25, 2014 at 7:30 PM
1719 25th Street
Host: Tim Kahl
Mary Mackey is a Professor Emeritus of English at California State University, Sacramento. She is the author of 13 novels and 7 collections of poetry including Travelers With No Ticket Home (Marsh Hawk Press 2014) and Sugar Zone,winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. Her ground-breaking, poetic novel Immersion has just been reprinted by the Authors Guild. Mary’s poems have been praised by Wendell Berry, Jane Hirshfield, Dennis Nurkse, Ron Hansen, Dennis Schmitz, and Marge Piercy for their beauty, precision, originality, and extraordinary range. Four times Garrison Keillor has featured her poetry on his program The Writer’s Almanac. Her novels have made The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller lists, been translated into twelve languages, and sold over a million and a half copies. Mary’s novels and poetry are available as Audible books, in hard copy, and as e-books available in all formats. You can connect with her, sample her work, and read her interview series People Who Make Books Happen at marymackey.com and contact her on Facebook at facebook.com/marymackeywriter.
The People of Brazil Discover the Portuguese
Easter, April 1, 1500
Vast blue bleeding into a gray horizon
surf choking on the rocks
something has broken through the storm clouds
that line up in the afternoon like bundles of piassava
for thousands of years we have had our canoes,
our fishing nets circling in the air
the taste of mangos in our mouths
the rocking of our hammocks
the scent of jacaranda
what is it that comes out of the east
like a tower of bones
white with fluttering wings
larger than the largest bird we have ever seen
what new plague is the wind
blowing toward us
From Travelers With No Ticket Home: Poems By Mary Mackey
Marsh Hawk Press 2014
Lee Rossi has published hundreds of poems and dozens of reviews and interviews. He draws inspiration from poets living and dead, and in the past twenty years has attempted to meet as many fine and superfine not yet dead poets as he can, even the jerks. His ultimate concerns as a poet can best be gauged by an excerpt from a posthumous interview with the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
Q: Angels and art are all well and good but what about an age like this one that only cares about self-aggrandizement?
Rilke: Only after the Self has been abraded by Ridicule and Catastrophe can it begin to welcome the Truly Momentous.
Incidentally, for tonight only Rossi is offering a Friends of Poetry discount on his two books, Ghost Diary and Wheelchair Samurai.
The Road to Emmaus
How many feet have scuffed this track
to such a polish? My brother and I
wince when we look down. The burnt recesses
of hills, even the scumbled roadside
makes us squint in the all-present glare.
Inward, I long to go there, a cool
cave where the mind eases like a trickle
of water along the deepest wall. What are we
fleeing? And who is this man who insists
on joining us? A spy? How watchful he is.
And yet if I tried to describe him, I could not.
He seems the double of this unyielding country.
Friends await us. But will we reach them?
Some terror, still hidden, mimics our steps.
(Originally published in Poetry Northwest)