Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Word for Everything: Review


The Word for Everything is a short book of poetry by Roger Mitchell. Roger was on his way out of Indiana University as I made my way in. He retired the year before I joined the English Department staff, but was still teaching with us as a professor emeritus. Up till now, I have never had a chance to read any of his work. It was my good fortune to find a nearly pristine, signed copy waiting to be taken home from the Friends of the Library Bookstore.

Roger's writing is simple and direct. He takes us on remembered train trips through Europe and along the dusty, cornfield-lined roads of northern Indiana. He speaks of graveyards and police stations and steep rocks to be climbed. And all in a gentle, dreamy, almost-mystical voice. A very pleasant read for a brisk November night. Three stars.

Some favorites:

I am 83 miles north of Indianapolis on I-65.
A few clouds are out and the corn stands
dead on its feet on either side of the road.
It is dusk and the light leaps up
to take its last look at the world.
It is September, early September, and the leaves,
though they feel the soft stroking of the air,
shiver slightly.

from "Four Hundreth Mile" *I have made a similar trip north of Indianapolis many a time. He captures the feel of the land exactly.

AND

There is a word for you
and beside it the word me.

from the title poem "The Word for Everything"

1 comment:

John said...

That one simple poem reminds me of a paper I wrote on Frank O'Hara which I titled "The Poet of Everyday Language." This is the kind of poetry I have always appreciated: simple, direct and unadorned with heavy metaphors. Its more powerful to me when a writer has command of language with sparse and perfect word choices.