Martha Silano: “When I begin to dig”


[From the WVFC Poetry Archive. First Published March 8, 2020]


Once I started to dig

that is what I discovered: from the Latin, vertere,
to show, from the Lithuanian, versti, to overturn,

from the Sanskrit, vartate, he turns. Versfers:
turning, turning and bending, having planted

a size of beans or corn, having reached a furrow’s
finish. Like a plowman, versing, this breaking apart

of sod, this fashioning into tidy rows, serving to the singers
recall their strains. When the necessity to memorize

disappeared, verse remained just like the typewriter keys
spelling QWERTY, slowing the typist down. Once I started

to dig, I discovered flipflip againbe turnedconvertrework,
be modified. From wert: to wind, its cognate weard

(turned towards). Once I started to dig I unearthed
wyrd (future, destiny), discovered what befalls one, reached

down, pulled up Flip! Flip! Flip! A Pete Seeger tune,
a psalm. From Slovenia to Wales, from Greece

to Eire: flipflipstirladleturn out to be. This verse,
this versus, likened to conversion, a breather,

a recent begin. Poet, like a plowman in a discipline
along with his furrowed phrases, in search of an excellent excuse

to place up his forehead, wipe his toes, reward herself
for making it this far. Once I dug I discovered porridge,

bread (barley and rye), lentils, peas, eggs. Not a lot
meat. Small quantity of greens and fruit. I discovered

oats; I discovered ale. What the digging revealed
was a single phrase that means future and clear

slate, befalling destiny yoked to the notion of free will.
To translate, turn out to be somebody or one thing else.

In that plowman’s act, an obvious contradiction
as nice as any yin and yang, koan-like conundrum,

that after we don binoculars to review a standard
phrase, English sparrow of the lexicon, we discover the hyperlink

between poetry and confrontations giant and small—
tournaments, showdowns, battles—between a e-book

of poems, and Sunday’s nail-biting match-up
between the Seahawks and the Panthers. Versus,

a phrase connecting no matter drive, energy, or god
handed Marshawn Lynch his power, his knack

for eluding the sort out, his Shakespearean grace,
and the duty of the poet: to bury the weeds;

to disembalm the knotted, entwining roots,
the richest loam. To make, of the oldest query,

a music: are we free or are we not?


First printed within the New England Evaluation, 2017, Problem 38.1 and reprinted right here with permission of the writer.

Hearken to the poet studying her poem here.

Listed below are some hyperlinks to locations on the Internet that includes Silano’s latest work: Poetry Day by day featureVerse Day by day featurePoetry Basis poems & audio; Waxwing poem from Gravity Help; Superstition Evaluation poem from Gravity Help; interview with Kelli Russell Agodon, Tinderboxtwo poems from Gravity Help at 32 Poems.


Martha Silano is the writer of 5 books of poetry, together with Gravity Help (Saturnalia Books 2019), obtainable for order here; What the Fact Tastes Like (Two Sylvias Press 2015); Reckless Beautiful (Saturnalia Books 2014); and The Little Workplace of the Immaculate Conception, winner of the 2010 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. She can also be coauthor of The Day by day Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing. Martha’s poems have appeared in Paris Evaluation, Poetry, Poetry Day by day, Verse Day by day, American Poetry Evaluation, New England Evaluation, and North American Evaluation, amongst others. Awards embrace the James Hearst Poetry Prize and the Robert and Adele Schiff Award in Poetry. Her work seems in quite a few anthologies, together with Severely Humorous: Poems About Love, God, Conflict, Artwork, Intercourse, Insanity, and All the things Else (Kirby and Hamby, eds.), A Face to Meet the Faces: an Anthology of Up to date Persona Poetry (Paz and Brown, eds.), and The Greatest American Poetry collection, and she or he has been awarded writing fellowships from the Millay Colony for the Arts, the College of Arizona Poetry Middle, and Yaddo. Martha spent a lot of 2004 residing and writing in a distant cabin as that 12 months’s PEN Northwest Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident. She at the moment teaches at Bellevue Faculty in Bellevue, Washington, and serves as a Poet within the Colleges by way of the Skagit Valley Poetry Basis. Study extra about Martha and her work at (Writer picture: Langdon Prepare dinner)



Poet’s Observe

About 5 years in the past, I started work on a group of poems about language—etymologies, linguistics, uncommon and extinct languages, and so forth. Whereas a visitor poet on the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA Program, I had the fortunate expertise of sitting in on a category taught by poet, translator, and editor Carolyne Wright. Whereas offering an summary of the historical past of English verse, she shared that the phrase verse derives from the Latin versus, “a line or row, of turning from one line to a different, as a plowman does.” Speak about a magic second! Whereas ready in line for the ferry the subsequent morning, I carried out a bunch extra analysis and accomplished a primary draft. I used to be fortunate sufficient to be heading off to a scholarly retreat middle, the place I used to be in a position to concentrate on the poem’s completion.



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