Not handfuls, but hundreds, lined up early in the corridor of the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, October 6, to await poet W. S. Merwin's 6 p.m. reading. My family and I were lucky to be in the audience, fifth row center.
Merwin is 84, but his presentation–nearly two hours long–showed tremendous stamina, vitality, and, of course, the irresistible (to me) sensibility he's developed after decades of devotion to poetry and the land. During the extensive remarks he made between poems, Merwin described himself as a pacifict and ecologist. He described trees as places and reminded us, when you plant a tree, you make a place. The whole thing was so inspiring and full of outside-the-box thinking that I found myself wishing I'd brought everyone I know.
I wish it were easier for people to find their way to, as poet W. C. Williams wrote, "what is found there"–in poems.