(Write what? Well, let's see: an essay on Norman Finkelstein--the poet, not the radical historian--; another on novels about poets; another on A. S. Byatt's Possession; a couple of short takes and book reviews. When I was younger, I could bang out such things in a few weeks' time. Nowadays, it takes that long to get the wheels in motion.)
A couple of the tasks ahead of me--the ones most relevant to this blog--have to do with my "Reading Poetry" and "Teaching Poetry" classes for the fall. In the former, I need to choose the poems to teach: this year I've ordered up the big new Norton Anthology of Poetry, but I haven't really the slightest idea what to do with it. A chronological survey? A course by topic, by theme? This will be the 20th time I've taught the course, so I need to do something new to keep myself engaged, but what? As for the "Teaching Poetry" class, it will be based more or less on the seminar I taught this summer, so that shouldn't be too hard to set up--but I fret, nevertheless.
OK: off to do something more or less useful, like wrap up the permissions for this long-a-comin' Ronald Johnson collection. As a thank you gift for all of you who've read along this far, here's a favorite, Ron-Johnson-like poem by James Merrill, whose auto-elegiac tone has nothing to do with why I'm posting it, I hope!
b o d y
Look closely at the letters. Can you see,
entering (stage right), then floating full,
then heading off - so soon -
how like a little kohl-rimmed moon
o plots her course from b to d
--as y, unanswered, knocks at the stage door?
Looked at too long, words fail,
phase out. Ask, now that body shines
no longer, by what light you learn these lines
and what the b and d stood for.