Saturday, March 20, 2004

Charles Goodrich

As creator of introductions for guests of the Nye Beach Writers Series I spend a short, intense bit of time with their work, looking for things to say that illuminate their style or personality or career for an engaged and intelligent audience. Most of the time I don't meet the writers until shortly before show time. Sometimes I'm surprised how different they are than I expected, sometimes not. Occasionally, I'm just surprised, period.

My taste in poetry is simple and straightforward. I don't care for work that depends on obscure and mysterious personal references that are meaningless to the reader. I think poetry is a window to the mind of the poet. A clear window works better than a muddy one. Frankly, some poetry makes a better door than a window.

I've learned to be cautious when I see a new title. Some have been apt, but some I still haven't figured out. Here's a sampling of titles by writers I've introduced: In the Margins of the World, A Small Song Called Ash from the Fire, The Mad Painter Poems, Summer Mystagogia, Pink Menace, and Come Over Here and Leave Me Alone.

So you can see, the title of a work can sometimes be a prelude to obfuscation. Some of the writers couldn't tell me what the titles meant. I admit I felt my neck-hairs tense up a little when I picked up Charles Goodrich's collection, entitled Insects of South Corvallis. But that tension just melted away when I began to read, quickly realizing the poems were not only very well-written, but actually about bugs.

The guy writes about what he knows. He was a career gardener for twenty-five years. He's been published widely and Garrison Keillor has read his work on National Public Radio. He is presently an instructor for the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word at Oregon State, a program that brings together creative writers, philosophers and environmental scientists.

Please welcome Charles Goodrich . . .

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