Academic journal article The Midwest Quarterly

In the Way That Rain Is Serious: An Appreciation of Jonathan Holden

Academic journal article The Midwest Quarterly

In the Way That Rain Is Serious: An Appreciation of Jonathan Holden

Article excerpt

One of the most apt observations about Jonathan Holden and his work I have ever encountered was by Ted Kooser, who wrote, "[it] is not always easy to be both brilliant and generous of spirit. It is our good fortune that Holden wears his learning lightly and with such unaffected grace and charm." Because of this very generosity and brilliance, I count it a great privilege to have been one of Jonathan's students. When I was taking classes from Jon in the early nineties, my interest in contemporary poetry really ignited. It seemed that he was always handing me just the kind of poems I was ready for and needing to read at the time. And though I was supported and encouraged by many of my professors, Jonathan was the first to really take me seriously as a writer. It is unfortunate, but so often true, that somebody else has to take you seriously before you can take yourself seriously. For me, having come from a little Kansas farm town, this seemed absolutely essential in being able to advance with any confidence at all in the making of poems and stories.

In case the mention of all this seriousness seems too serious, it should be said that to hear Jonathan talk about poetry or to read his commentary about it is to be in the presence of delight. He loves and respects his subject and that's evident in the animation in his eyes and the gestures of his hands, and if he feels the talk has taken a pedantic turn, he affects an erudite British accent and says something lofty about "The Tradition," which is both hilarious and endearing. …

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