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Poetic Sensibilities

April 16, 2013

On damp days, Fool’s feet pick up
vibrations from the dead, who still want
answers, who’ve been on hold too long.

(Excerpt from Seismic, in the book Ship of Fool by William Trowbridge)

"Who’ve been on hold too long?" – Sounds like the average soul wait-listed for Gone Girl doesn’t it? In this case, it’s actually a lynchpin nugget of lyrical poetry from local wordsmith extraordinaire and professor emeritus from Northwest Missouri State University, William Trowbridge.

Trowbridge has five books out. I first read his work, O Paradise, in 1999 after I went to his reading at NWMSU and rekindled my then-dormant affair with poetry and prose all over again. The fires have burned brightly ever since. His new book, Ship of Fool, is every bit as compelling, entertaining, and as inspired as any other book of poetry I have ever enjoyed. Somehow, having met him and knowing he lives right down the road makes the enjoyment sweeter.

While in college, I made my way through many fine volumes of poetry. If you’ve never treated yourself to a book of poetry, Trowbridge may just make a fan of you yet. You can pick up Ship of Fool at several of our MCPL branches, including Claycomo. I would also recommend Ariel by Sylvia Plath and The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.

Another tremendous, if not surprising, professor of mine (who shall remain unnamed) once told a class, of astronomy students no less, "Gentlemen, if you wish to attract a woman of substance and worthy of the covetous hopes of your comrades – learn to appreciate poetry."

You’ll have to forgive my meander down memory lane. It’s an appropriate moment to reminisce. After all, April is National Poetry Month. The month-long celebration of poetry began in 1996 when the Academy of American Poets sought out a spotlight to increase appreciation of poetry in the United States. It’s been celebrated every April since 1999.

Given that, I believe I will treat you to one more poem I read, reread, and never cease to be entertained by it.

Please enjoy.

The man said, He is a brilliant
special effect, given the film
technology of the Thirties, but
the story is hopelessly contrived,
even allowing for the strong mythic
element.” The woman said, “No,
he looks too much like a stuffed toy,
a huge piece of period kitsch,
ludicrous when he tries for tragedy.”
The man shook his hair and made smoke,
insisting, “Verisimilitude is irrelevant,
as in any Gothic melodrama.” I marveled
at these mammoth words, wondering
how they were folded into such
little brains. I ate the man,
first, then the woman, both stringy,
but then what’s not these days.

(Kong Turns Critic, from The Complete Book of Kong by William Trowbridge)

Andie P.
Claycomo Branch

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