Friday, May 8, 2015

Local poetry at Common Good Books

I was in "The Cities" the other day to get the main ingredients for a special Mother's Day dinner and to meet my Better Half for coffee at Nina's. In between ingredients at Coastal Sea Food and coffee, I stopped in at Common Good Books [CGB] to see what was new and exciting. Even if I don't always buy anything, I feel better if I've at least looked around and presented myself with the opportunity to do so. Then it becomes a matter of choice rather than deprivation.

Several years ago, when CGB was still located downstairs from Nina's, I started importuning the staff with requests to set up a local poetry section. From my perspective, this became an even more urgent matter after Northern Lights Books in Canal Park closed. Northern Lights used to have a wonderful selection of northern and other Minnesota poets such as Joe Johnson, Sheila Packa and Joyce Sutphen. They also had selection of Louis Jenkins works that prompted a special trip so I could feed my addiction to his prose poems. Anyhow, Northern Lights closed, CGB couldn't find time, or space, or whatever, for a local poetry section, despite having one of the better poetry selections around (although SubText Books, which took over CGB's space below Nina's,  gives them a run for the money) and I was frustrated. Then, when I stopped in last week, look what I discovered!

Local Poetry section at Common Good Books
Local Poetry section at Common Good Books
Photo by J. Harrington

The two books in the lower left corner are Louis Jenkins', the gray one in the middle is Barton Sutter's, Naming the Stars was written by Joyce Sutphen, our current poet laureate. Right under the "Local Poetry" sign is one of Robert Bly's volumes. He was Minnesota's original poet laureate. John Berryman taught at the University of Minnesota. If you've previously stopped by My Minnesota, you may have noticed that I'm strongly in favor of local foods, local economies, and local culture. Minnesota is extremely fortunate to have had, and continue to have, a number of extremely talented poets writing here or about here.  My pestering CGB staff was motivated by my growing interest in bioregionalism and the fact that, as often as not, I'd just as soon explore a new local poet as anyone else. when poetry is primarily arranged alphabetically, by author, finding local talent becomes a real challenge. Our literary community warrants all the support it can get so I'm pleased all out of proportion that CGB has highlighted some of our local poets and poetry and look forward to visiting (and book buying) in the future. Thank you CGB!

Wanting Sumptuous Heavens

By Robert Bly 
No one grumbles among the oyster clans,
And lobsters play their bone guitars all summer.
Only we, with our opposable thumbs, want
Heaven to be, and God to come, again.
There is no end to our grumbling; we want
Comfortable earth and sumptuous Heaven.
But the heron standing on one leg in the bog
Drinks his dark rum all day, and is content.


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