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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Thinking along divergent lines


“When you write it doesn't occur to you that somebody could think different from what you do.” – Howard  Nemerov

Nemerov, born in March 1920, twice served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and was thrice-honored for The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov, winning the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and Bollingen Prize.


A teacher first, he said he always enjoyed talking to kids.  “I liked the kid who wrote me that he had to do a term paper on a modern poet and was doing me because, ‘though they say you have to read poems twice, he found he could handle mine in one try’.”    For Saturday’s Poem, here is Nemerov’s,


Found Poem (After information received in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1986)

The population center of the USA
Has shifted to Potosi, in Missouri.

The calculation employed by authorities
In arriving at this dislocation assumes

That the country is a geometric plane,
Perfectly flat, and that every citizen,

Including those in Alaska and Hawaii
And the District of Columbia, weighs the same;

So that, given these simple presuppositions,
The entire bulk and spread of all the people

Should theoretically balance on the point
Of a needle under Potosi in Missouri

Where no one is residing nowadays
But the watchman over an abandoned mine

Whence the company got the lead out and left.
'It gets pretty lonely here,' he says, 'at night.'

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