Desert Companion
 
Subscribe now
Current Issue
OCTOBER 2014
Click the cover to read the complete digital edition
Features
The Radioactive Activist

Departments
All things to all people
Dining
Editor's Note
End note
Notes and letters
Take 5
Technology
Travel
the guide
upcoming events
Take 5
Oct. 23, 7:30p. Celebrating its 39th season, ASQ is recognized as one of the world’s foremost quartets. Championing contemporary music and...   
Oct. 24, 6-8p. Join us in celebrating our third annual "Friendraiser." Enjoy a delicious complimentary meal, a wine bar and the music of...   
Oct 25. Nevada State Museum. Historians Larry Gragg, Eugene Moehring and Michael Green hold forth on the fabled home of the Rat Pack, that...   
  0

Poet

There’s probably no better way to definitively turn off someone iffy about poetry than with the grim phrase, “April is National Poetry Month.” If there’s anything that refuses to dovetail with a didactic, institutional awareness campaign, it’s poetry. So consider this pitch instead: “Poetry can teach you how to live.” That’s what Olivia Clare tells me recently over coffee when I ask: Why poetry? She delivers her answer not as some charged, grand pronouncement, but as a matter-of-fact declaration, as though she’s talking about a cool feature on a new smartphone. “I don’t mean this to sound corny or disingenuous, but I do read poems to teach me how to live,” she says. In other words, poetry does things for her — and, she insists, can do things for you. For Clare — a poet, Black Mountain Institute Ph.D. fellow at UNLV and, of course, avid poetry consumer — poetry startles, clarifies, complicates and comforts.

Poetry consumer? Yes. When Clare loves a poem, she memorizes it. “There are poems we have to have, that we have to keep to our hearts, right?” One of the first she ever memorized — and still one of her favorites — is Gerard Manley Hopkins’ famous meditation on mortality, “Spring and Fall” (“Margaret, are you grieving / Over Goldengrove unleaving? ...”) She adds: “W.S. Merwin’s ‘For the Anniversary of My Death’ is an amazing poem that will change you after you read it.” (“Every year without knowing it I have passed the day / When the last fires will wave to me ...”)

What’s with all these reflections on mortality? “I always tell my students that poems are about two things: love and death,” she says. “And, of course, then there’s the sound and rhythm working together. When all those things come together as a whole, you have a poem that makes you want to memorize it and keep it with you.” Clare’s own work is poised, removed but interrogative, and preoccupied with relationships between men and women. “Most writers have a problem that they keep working at, or a question they keep going to, and every time they go to the page or the computer, that’s the problem they’re trying to work out,” she says. “I’m trying to work out the relationship between men and women.”

 Here is one of her poems, “Crossing”:

 

 We came to a prime, a vexing, a rhythm.

 A figure in granite, remote,

unused. And who has

placed it here, between

the mainframes, towers,

towers? I said, I will

 take this remoteness,

and fastened he/she to my back

and stepped into the river twice twice.

 

As Clare settles in to the three-year Ph.D. program, Vegas is already seeping into her work. “I’ve never been in a place with such a juxtaposition between convivial spirit and then profound desert solitude. That’s a lot of what I’m getting from here. And the otherworldly landscape in itself is very inspiring.” Clare finds novelty and promise in navigating that landscape that alternates between sparkle and scarcity. “Poets and fiction writers have periods of life when they’re out in the world, having experiences, but then you have to have these moments of extreme interiority, where you’re just sitting at home, just feeling the solitude.” Now is a good time to catch Clare in her “out in the world” phase; see p. 28 for a list of poetry-related events happening this month.


Comments





























































 

Top Lawyers
Recycle
Photo Tour

DC Scene
Recent Posts
10/17/14  
Still lives
10/16/14  
Equality advocates past and present kick off Nevada Makers
10/15/14  
Cuban sandwich
{more posts...}


Archives
Archives

Newstand Locations
Pick up your Desert Companion today at one of these Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Jamba Juice locations.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf LAKE MEAD & TENAYA
7291 W Lake Mead
Directions


PALMS CASINO
4321 W Flamingo Rd
Directions


UNLV
4550 W Maryland Pkwy Suite A
Directions


CARNIVALE
3377 Las Vegas Blvd
The Venetian Food Court
Directions


THE LAKES
9091 W Sahara Ave
Directions


THE DISTRICT
2220 Village Walk Dr Suite 140
Directions


MIRACLE MILE
3663 Las Vegas Blvd S Suite 45
Directions


CANYON POINT
10834 W Charleston Blvd Suite 200
Directions


TOWN CENTER
3645 S Town Center Dr Suite 101
Directions


PATRICK
6115 S Rainbow Blvd Suite 101
Directions


PALAZZO
3265 Las Vegas Blvd, Suite 1600
Directions


TOWN SQUARE
6599 Las Vegas Blvd, South #P-8149
Directions


BRIDGE
3377 Las Vegas Blvd
The Venetian
Directions


BOULDER CITY
Boulder Dam Credit Union
530 Avenue G
Boulder City NV
Directions

Jumba Juice

PEBBLE
1500 N. Green Valley Pkwy Suite 240
Directions


SAHARA & EASTERN
2675 S. Eastern Ave Suite 400
Directions


MCCARRAN MARKETPLACE
5905 S Eastern Ave Suite 108
Directions
NORTH MESA PLAZA
1829 W. Craig Road Unit 3
Directions


CANNERY CORNER
2546 E. Craig Road Suite 135
Directions


WESTLAND FAIR
1121 S. Decatur Blvd
Directions



Also available at Clark County and Henderson libraries.
Emerald City Smoothie

ST GEORGE
2376 East Red Cliffs Drive #502
St. George, UT 84790
Directions


Desert Companion