Leave it to the graceful Marie Ponsot, now in her late eighties, to view her life in poetry as easeful. As she tells us, pondering what stones can hear,
Between silence and sound
we are balancing darkness,
making light of it.
In this celebratory collection, Ponsot makes light, in both senses, of all she touches, and her pleasure in offering these late poems is infectious. After more than a half century at her craft, she describes her poetic preferences unpretentiously thus:
no fruity phrases, just unspun
words trued right toward a nice
idea, for chaser. True’s a risk.
Take it I say. Do true for fun.
Ponsot is accepting of what has come, whether it’s a joyous memory of her second-grade teacher in a New York public school or the feeling of being “Orphaned Old,” less lucky in life since her parents died. She holds herself to the highest standard: to see clearly, to think, to deal openhandedly and openheartedly with the world, to
Go to a wedding
as to a funeral:
bury the loss
and also to
Go to a funeral
as to a wedding:
marry the loss.
She confides that she meets works of great art “expectant and thirsty.”
Indeed, Ponsot’s thirst for life and its best expression, for the sprightly phrase and the deeper understanding running beneath, makes this book a transformative experience. The wisdom and music of Easy, like all of Ponsot’s poetry, will remain with her readers for decades to come.
Marie Ponsot‘s first book of poems was True Minds (1956); later books are Admit Impediment (1981) and The Green Dark (1988). She is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed teaching at Queens College, Beijing United University, the Poetry Center of the YMHA, New York University, and Columbia University. Among her awards are an NEA Creative Writing grant, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize, and the Shaughnessy Medal of the Modern Language Association. Ponsot’s previous collection, The Bird Catcher, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 1998.
Meet the poet on her book tour.