Woodstock Poet Partridge Boswell’s first collection of poems, Some Far Country, features poems on a variety of themes, from grief to ugly Americanism to parental anxiety to perceptions and realities of Africa. The poems leave you feeling breathless, embarrassed, sad, vulnerable, and in awe of the world around us.
The book has won the Grolier Discovery Award. VPR's Peter Biello speaks to Boswell about his collection and the art of poetry. In this extended version of the conversation, they speak about today's poetry landscape, what MFA in creative writing programs at universities provide for poets, and what makes art art.
Boswell says the series was inspired by the death of his wife two years ago, but that there are more themes at play.
“A friend of mine, he read this entire collection as a series of elegies,” Boswell says. “I don’t see it quite that way. To me they’re a love song to the world, which all poems are.”
Boswell discusses his poem Found, in which a piece of found trash is displayed as art. Boswell says his art, in contrast to the work described in his poem, is deliberate.
“It’s not to say you have to suffer too much, but if art comes easy to you, you have to question it a little bit”
Boswell shared a poem from the collection:
There was not even any sound, because of the sand – Antoine de Saint-Exupèry
The night before the day you stared god in the eye
and god blinked you became the clock we watched
your hours condensed to a holiness of breath deep
in cavernous sleep…or so we assume until you hear
his playing from another room and cock your head
and your own mother goes to ask him to come in and
play for your mother I think she likes it and he comes
and sits beside your bed and strums and sings
a Natalie Merchant song he learned your oldest son
who graduates from high school next year while your
youngest little prince dreams in another room he
has all the stars laughing only for him the rhythm
of blood a perpetual tune in his chest as your own
rises and falls a leaky raft at sea and you drift far from
everything you’ll miss in their lives far from anything
resembling pity or regret eyes closed resigned to never
sighting land again you listen with the faintest smile
on your lips to this strange and wondrous music which
seems to be flowing from somewhere deep inside
of you as the shy boy you always liked but never
spoke to approaches and asks you for this dance