Former Vermont Poet Laureate (2010-2015) Sydney Lea reads from his newest poetry collection, "Here," about the deep connection between human life and the natural world.
With Q&A, refreshments, and book signing. Free and open to the public.
About the Book
“Sydney Lea has always been a poet equally eloquent and wide-eyed before reality. This self-aware book of experience, stock-taking, and memory finds him just now, just here, a person still hopeful in the face of it all, a poet at the height of his powers.” —Jane Hirshfield
In his thirteenth book of poetry, Sydney Lea gives voice to the deep connection between human life and the natural world as well as their fragility and transience. Here, nature is as much a muse as a trigger for sense memory—as a schoolboy on a playground “breathing in autumn mud, / that cherished aroma” or as witness to a redtail hawk’s attack and the aftermath during which “That poor doomed duckling’s wisps of down / Floated in air like snowflakes, /Diaphanous.” Death is a constant presence in these poems, too, arising from the bittersweet awareness of what eventually will be lost. While there is reckoning, there are few regrets in a life well-lived and closely observed. Here is a title, but it’s also a statement, an incantation and affirmation: “Let’s chant it throughout the year,” Lea writes, “like so much birdsong: we’re here we’re here we’re here.”
So much for glory from the morning glories.
Leaves at their margins turn tawny.
I quickly seek other signs—
It’s what I do. I’m a poet. The migrant
Flickers gather in byways.
There’s a blur of spectral tail-spots
When I flush them, although my driving is slow,
Reactions no longer speedy,
Except for those that are:
Scrawny maples in the swamps have kindled,
There’s the first fall warbler—How dismal,
I think, How time goes by,
As if it were yesterday. And so on.
Yet our neighbor’s puppy has doubled
Her weight in just eight weeks.
Old fool, get onto your feet, do something,
Confucius said, Be useful.
Winter firewood still needs stacking.
About the Author
Sydney Lea was Vermont Poet Laureate from 2010-2015. He was also the founder and for thirteen years editor of New England Review. He taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Middlebury, Wesleyan, the Vermont College MFA and several European institutions. Winner of the Poets’ Prize in 1998 and a Pulitzer finalist in 2001, his work has appeared in over sixty anthologies. His poems, essays, and stories have appeared in all the major U.S. literary quarterlies, as well as in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Sports Illustrated, and The New York Times. In addition, Lea has been awarded fellowships from the Fulbright, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim foundations. Learn more at www.sydneylea.net.