Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems

By Connie Wanek | Go to book overview

Introduction

TED KOOSER

It may be a common though rarely acknowledged fate for a literary artist to discover to his embarrassment that he likes somebody else’s work a good deal more than his own, but that’s the way I’ve felt about the art of Connie Wanek during the dozen or more years since I first heard her read her poems at a conference in Duluth. I was seated that day next to Carol Bly, whose judgment about quality was never less than impeccable, and she agreed with me about the marvelously inventive, richly associative, and deeply moving poetry we were hearing. I wish that Carol could have lived to see the book you’re holding now.

In 2005, while I was serving as U.S. poet laureate, I presented one of two prestigious Witter Bynner Fellowships to Connie, who with her husband, Phil, drove from Minnesota to Washington to accept the award and to read her poems into the archives of the Library of Congress. There were Connie and I, both from the vast middle section of our country, an area that literary critics from both coasts avoid as if it were Death Valley in July, the two of us in the library’s handsome Poetry Room, a little parlor with furniture one is afraid to sit on and a guest book that Robert Frost had signed over and over again as if to underline that he’d been there.

And there we were, later that day, flanked by dusty velvet curtains on the stage of the stately Coolidge Auditorium, where scores of important American writers had stood to accept their honors and applause. I don’t know about Connie, but I had the time of my life that afternoon, being able to recognize this immensely talented poet who was not a professor of creative writing on her way to a better position but a person who worked at a public library and, with her husband, fixed up old houses for resale, a part-time painter and dec-

-xi-

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Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Rival Gardens - New and Selected Poems iii
  • Contents vi
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Selections from Bonfire 1
  • April 3
  • Red Fox 4
  • Abstract 5
  • Wild Apples 6
  • The Girl and the Horses 8
  • Daylilies 9
  • The Wandering Sky 10
  • Broom 11
  • Skim Milk 12
  • Radish 13
  • Radiator 14
  • Missed Bus 15
  • Duluth, Minnesota 16
  • Blue Moon 17
  • The Gelding 18
  • Dragonfly 19
  • Rain 20
  • Toward Dusk 21
  • Peonies 22
  • Amaryllis 23
  • Christmas Tree 24
  • January 26
  • Bonfire 28
  • Ski Tracks 29
  • Selections from Hartley Field 31
  • The Coin behind Your Ear 33
  • The Ventriloquist 34
  • Butter 35
  • Peaches 36
  • Red Rover 37
  • Jump Rope 38
  • Horses in Spring 39
  • Summer Night 40
  • Lemon 41
  • Long Nights 42
  • Postcard- Busy Clarence Town Harbor on a Mail Boat Day 43
  • Honesty 44
  • Black and White Photograph 46
  • Memorial Day at the Lake 47
  • The Midwife 49
  • The Exchange 50
  • Children near the Water 51
  • A Field of Barley 53
  • Checkers 54
  • So like Her Father 55
  • The Hammer 56
  • Tag 57
  • Late September 58
  • New Snow 59
  • Grown Children 60
  • Heart Surgery 61
  • All Saints’ Day 63
  • Christmas Fable 64
  • After Us 65
  • Hartley Field 66
  • Selections from on Speaking Terms 69
  • First Snow 71
  • Monopoly 72
  • Nothing 73
  • Tracks in the Snow 74
  • The Accordion 75
  • Scrabble 77
  • Directions 78
  • Lipstick 79
  • Everything Free 80
  • Fishing on Isabella Lake 81
  • Garlic 83
  • Rags 84
  • Lady 85
  • Confessional Poem 86
  • Walking Distance 87
  • The Splits 89
  • Buttercups 90
  • Closest to the Sky 91
  • Comb 92
  • Umbrella 93
  • Picture Yourself 94
  • The Death of My Father 96
  • A Sighting 98
  • Green Tent 99
  • Pumpkin 100
  • A Random Gust from the North 101
  • Musical Chairs 106
  • A Parting 107
  • Pecans 108
  • Old Snow 110
  • Pickles 111
  • Coloring Book 112
  • Blue Ink 113
  • Six Months after My Father’s Death 114
  • Honey 115
  • Leftovers 116
  • Ice out 117
  • Part One - New Poems 119
  • Garter Snake 121
  • Pollen 122
  • Rival Gardens 123
  • The Summerhouse 124
  • Polygamy 125
  • The Neighbor’s Pond 126
  • An Ordinary Crisis 127
  • Mysterious Neighbors 128
  • Catbird 129
  • Root Words 131
  • Rain Collection 132
  • Blue Flags 133
  • "Golden Glow" 134
  • Blackbirds at Dusk 135
  • First House 136
  • Last Star 137
  • Part Two 139
  • Used Book 141
  • Ghost Town 142
  • When I Was a Boy 143
  • Audience 144
  • John Q. Public 145
  • A Collection of near Misses 146
  • Adaptation 147
  • Plein Air 149
  • The Death of the Battery 150
  • Girdle 151
  • Parts per Million 152
  • Mrs. God 153
  • Genesis, Cont 154
  • Day of Rest 155
  • Business 156
  • First Love 157
  • Part Three 159
  • Artificial Tears 161
  • I Heard You Come in 162
  • Pavement Ends 163
  • The Shoes of the Dead 164
  • A Last Time for Everything 165
  • Practice 167
  • Phoebe 168
  • They Live with Us 170
  • Recalled to Life 171
  • Walleye 172
  • Wild Asters 174
  • Brave Rabbits 175
  • Brave Rabbits, a Second Look 176
  • A Marsh at Twilight 177
  • The Second Half of the Night 178
  • Cabbage Moth 179
  • Garden Gloves 180
  • Also by This Gardener 181
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