Poem Up at Wilderness House Literary Review

My third fall publication is in Wilderness House Literary Review. Thanks so much to Poetry Editor Kate Hanson Foster. No relation, although Hanson is my surname of birth.

Playing Word with Adrienne Rich

Do you know the work of poet Adrienne Rich? One of my favorites. My poem originated as I meditated upon the opening line of a Rich poem. It is the 7th in a modern version of a sonnet sequence called Twenty-One Love Poems.



What kind of beast would turn its life into words?
What atonement is this all about?
–and yet, writing words like these, I’m also living.
Is all this close to the wolverines’ howled signals,
that modulated cantata of the wild?
or, when away from you I try to create you in words,
am I simply using you, like a river or a war?
And how have I used rivers, how have I used wars
to escape writing of the worst thing of all—
not the crimes of others, not even our own death,
but the failure to want our freedom passionately enough
so that blighted elms, sick rivers, massacres would seem
mere emblems of that desecration of ourselves?

Notice how the second line says, “What atonement is this all about?” Is writing a form of atonement? This is a good time to ponder that question because Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement begins at sundown today and lasts until sundown tomorrow.




Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Inspiration, Literary Journals, Poetry

24 responses to “Poem Up at Wilderness House Literary Review

  1. No matter our religion – or lack thereof – wouldn’t it be a grand world if we would all ponder these questions today and every day! Beautifully done Luanne.

    • Pauline, it would be so grand!!! I realize many people are so caught up in working and caring for children and elders and all the cares that go with living, but we need to remember to fit in a little “larger” thought every day. Thank you xo!

  2. Wonderful, Luanne. Perhaps one of my favorites of yours.
    I am also a Rich fan.
    The failure to want our freedom passionately enough…I need to atone for that failure.

    • Me too!!! Maybe we all do? Or most of us. Thank you so much, Sheila. The point I knew there was no going back for me with poetry was when I did a very careful read (and writing about) Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck.” She kind of took me down there underwater to see the wreck and wouldn’t let go of me!

  3. You’re on a roll, Luanne! I loved your poem. Freedom is something many take for granted…imagine our country without it… we’ll done!

  4. Nice! Congrats.

  5. Congratulations, Luanne!

  6. Congratulations, Luanne! I love this poem and thanks for the introduction to Adrienne Rich.

  7. Love your poem Luanne!! Words…yes…powerful.

  8. I LOVE this, especially the last line. It’s so very hard to end a poem–you nailed it (or should I say worded it??). Nice job, and big congrats.

  9. I’m familiar with Adrienne Rich though don’t hear her name very often these days. A wonderfully creative and playful poem Luanne.

  10. Wow! Congratulations, Luanne! I love your poem, written with great finesse and I see more in it with each reading. You are a true master of the art!

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