What are you reading for National Poetry Month? Ever since her death this past March, I’ve been rereading my Linda Gregg collections. In college, they were some of my favorite poems to pore over, but it’s been a few years now.
I love her work. Like many poets, she writes about love and loss and finding beauty in everything around you – but she is singularly gifted in how she imbues imagery with so much emotion.
I had the great good fortune of working with her as an undergrad, and what I remember most (besides the hovering cloud of hair, the intensity of her gaze, her unfailing kindness) is how intensely she urged me to find the pulsing center of a poem. It’s not enough just to describe the world around you, and hope that it carries the weight of your intention. No, you need to cut your images down to the bone, until you’ve exposed the blood and the gristle and the meat of the feeling you want to convey.
One of my favorite Gregg poems, from The Sacrements of Desire, is “The Color of Many Deer Running.” I love how it addresses the duality of aging; the regret of youth seeping into the earth, the vivid new beauty of what’s left behind. I love how spare it is, how simple. And yet every time I read it, the effect is profound.
She seems to understand the world around her in a way that others don’t — to hear the underlying messages of the sights and sounds and activity surrounding her, some sublime, some everyday. It’s been such a joy, to re-read her work. If you haven’t yet picked up one of her books, I urge you to do so.