A Poet Must Know Everything: Summer Vacation Edition
The poet Stanley Kunitz said a poet must know everything. At least that's what David Wagoner told our class when I took his writing workshop a bunch of years back. In the spirit of Kunitz/Wagoner, I've been busy trying to learn everything since around 1982 (actually ten years before I enrolled at UW and met Mr. Wagoner), but mainly in the area of plants, birds, and other critters. When I go on vacation, I am happy if I can add a few new species to my list of memorized flora. Here in Colorado, I have been graced with two new plant species. The first is Sidalcea candida, also known as the Checker Mallow, a wonderfully white and slightly red-specked member of the monodelphously-stamened Malvaceae family (think hibiscus). I'm a huge fan of the Mountain Gentian, but this year I found another species of dark blue gentian that's a tad more delicate and prefers the marshier lowlands--the little gentian. The mountain gentian is prettier in my opinion, but in keeping with Kunitz's pronouncement it's always a lovely thing to discover a new species.
Like Anne Sexton, the business of words often keeps me awake. My favorite tulip? Queen of the Night. My books include The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception & Reckless Lovely. I also wrote a book of 366 writing prompts, one for every day of the year, with Kelli Russell Agodon: The Daily Poet. I edit Crab Creek Review and teach at Bellevue College.