Friday, May 25, 2012

The Spirit of Your Work Watching Over Us

Dear Mary,

I was your neighbor, so to speak, for seven months in Provincetown, as a Fine Arts Work Center Fellow. We never met -- it was made clear to us that we were not to knock on your door -- but I liked to think of you as near during those months, and of the spirit of your work as watching over us, of subtly guiding us toward the better, truer answers. 

I was working on a novel, but on the side I was crafting a series of creative-writing textbooks for middle-school and high-school students. So much of "A Poetry Handbook" was indispensable for the creation of the poetry sections of those volumes; pages 24-28, your sound breakdown of "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening," especially, was so wise and penetrating that it remains in my mind quite closely even now, a year later. I was doing the series for a small publishing house, our budget for permissions fees very modest, but I had to include one of your poems, just so the kids could see what it's all about. I settled on "In Praise of Craziness, of a Certain Kind." I couldn't think of a better way for a 15-year-old to get a first taste of what poetry should be.

Thanks for all the impact you have had on so many lives.

Warm regards and great admiration,
Boris Fishman

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