Friday, 4 March 2011

A Poem Like a Grenade. - John Haines ((June 29, 1924 – March 2, 2011)

John Meade Haines, who was born n Norfolk, Virginia, published nine  collections of poetry and numerous works of nonfiction, including his acclaimed Alaskan book ' The Stars,The Snow, The Fire.
In May 1947 he decided to move to Alaska, which had a decisive effect on his life and work.
He built a cabin on a deserted hillside above the Tanana River about 70 miles southeast of Farbanks in a spotso remote that he claimed ne could walk north from his homestead all the way to the Artic Ocean and never cross a road or encounter a village.
LivIng alone most of the tme, Haines spent 25 of the next 42 years in the Alaskan interior. In this isolated landscape he would become self-reliant largely supporting himself through hunting and trapping.
He had to relearn what his ancestors knew, how to live off the land. Working as a hunter, grdener, fisherman, trapper and homesteader. He also used these solitary years to master another primitive craft,making poems.
He was appointed the Poet Laureate of Alaska in 1969. A collection of critical essays about his poetry The Wilderness of Vision,  was published  in 1998. He went on to teach graduate level and honors English classes at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He died in Fairbanks, Alaskan aged 86.
Alaska has ost one of its most creative minds.  singular and prophetic  voice of the times and the world in which we live.

A Poem like a Grenade

It is made to be rolled down
a flight of stairs,
placed under a guilty hat,
or casually dropped into a basket
among the desks
of the wrongheaded statesmen.

As it tumbles on the carpeted stairs
or settles quietly
in its wire-wicker nest,
it begins to unfold,
a ragged flower whose raw petals
burn and scar...

Its wastepaper soil catches fire,
the hat is blown from its hook.
Five or six faces are suddenly,
permanently changed...

There will be many poems written
in the shape of a grenade-
one hard piece of metal flying off
might even topple a government.

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