Friday, October 31, 2014

rest in peace, Galway Kinnell

 One of my favorite poets died this week. Galway Kinnell. I was lucky enough to study with him, and, for a period of time, to call him a friend. He encouraged me to write seriously, to believe in poetry. I did, until I didn't.

Saint Francis And The Sow 

The bud 
stands for all things, 
even for those things that don't flower, 
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing; 
though sometimes it is necessary 
to reteach a thing its loveliness, 
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
--Galway Kinnell 


  1. "Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness." Wow, Jen, what perfect words to resonate with those who explore some of the lesser by-ways of this world, those who rescue old buildings or old books, who appreciate the worn-out objects of the past, or who try to capture in paint shades and nuances of color.

    1. And also those who themselves are worn and in need of rescue.

  2. He gave a reading at UCSD in the eighties. We were Language Poetry snots and didn't give him his due. Thanks for posting this, Jen. Lovely.

    1. Ha ha. He was a great reader--even people who didn't like poetry enjoyed his readings. Except for the language freaks. :-)

  3. That was nice, Jen. Interesting poem.

  4. A most beautiful touching poem Jen.
    Such a gifted person.
    Sad to loose a friend.
    Hope to read some of your poetry !!!
    val xx

  5. Beautiful poem. Lucky you indeed.

  6. I reread the poem several times. I'd like Saint Francis to tell me in words and in touch blessings of earth. The photo is beautiful!

  7. This is a huge loss for American poetry. A great talent with a huge gift and even greater heart. Rest in Peace, Galway, one of our best.
    How fortunate you were to study with
    him, Jennifer.
    Diane in Denver

  8. Jen, your poem so very sweet and is beautifully written. You have made Mr Kinnell proud. It's very sad to lose a friend whom you admire.

    1. I wish I could take credit for this poem, Christa, but it was written by GK.

    2. Sorry Jen, my eyes gave you the credit (ie, they missed GK's name at the end :) ). Keep writing Jen, so you can keep your friend in your heart.

  9. It's a beautiful poem Jen. Sorry to hear the poet you admired so much died recently.

    Madelief x