Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The New Yorker: "Endpoint"-- Poems by John Updike

Instead of fiction, the March 16, 2009 issue of The New Yorker included several pages of chilling poems by John Updike, most dated only a few weeks before he died. They will be included in a posthumous collection of poems (Endpoint and Other Poems) which is being published next month. (The speed with which this book is being produced no doubt makes good business sense, but seems grisly to me, particularly if the excerpt in TNY is an idication of the overall subject matter.)

I don't want to infringe, but I must quote one piece:

Here in this place of arid clarity,
two thousand miles from where my souvenirs
collect a cozy dust, the piled produce
of bald ambition pulling ignorance,
I see clear through to the ultimate page,
the silence I dared break for my small time.
No piece was easy, but each fell finished,
in its shroud of print, into a book-shaped hole.


Mind Chauffeur said...

I was bummed out when I saw that there was no short story in The New Yorker this week (yes, really, even though some of the recent stories were pretty much total garbage).

I just can't stand poetry.

Most of my peers give me a puzzled frown when I admit this, given that I am minoring in creative writing, and enjoy reading and writing.

But ultimately it is the truth. I really just don't like it. If anything, it is more than just not liking it, rather, it is more as though poetry is almost EXACTLY what it is that I hate most. If you had to make an art form out of the small little details of reading/writing that I dislike the most passionately, it would be poetry.

Sort of like, if you took a slaughtered cow, and hung it upside down, and cut off all the yummy parts, the nice cuts of steak would be the novels and such, and when the butcher was finally done, all the little artsy fartsy delicacies, like the eyeballs and internal organs left over, those would be the poems.

The fact that I made a nearly poetic simile just now makes me nausious for example. Yuck!

Poetry sucks! Well, at least in my book it does! Then again my book isn't published! LOL!!!


maureen said...

As more of a scientist than a creative writing buff, my amateur interest in literary arts makes me hesitant to also admit that poetry is not my preferred medium. But I must say, these poems by John Updike were absolutely beautiful. His ability to perceive and express the underlying
profundity of a superficial moment, or the inconsequence of a sobering moment is inspiring. What depth of perception and lightness of character; a beautiful way to honor life and greet death.

Thank you New Yorker for sharing his prose.


dshassan said...

I wasn't keen on poetry either until one of my MFA profs gave a great seminar and got me hooked. Then I started to read her poetry, then others, and now, believe it or not, I started writing poetry this year. I love it. It's a completely different form of expression -- rich in metaphor, compact thoughts, and strong imagery. Does wonders for your prose, Mind Chauffeur! I look forward to reading these poems. As someone famously said, impending death concentrates the mind wonderfully. Thanks, Cliff, for bringing this book to our attention.