Friday, February 17, 2006

Barbara Guest 1920-2006 

Poet Barbara Guest died on Wednesday night February 15, 2006 in Berkeley, CA.

Here is a note on her poetry
from Charles North's talk "Ten Essays for Barbara Guest." North writes: "Barbara Guest's poems are worth reading and rereading not because she was indeed a charter member of the alleged, mostly male New York School of poets, nor because her recent work shares qualities with that of a younger generation of writers who focus on language play, but because she is so good at what she does. Her poems struck readers from the first as being in some meaningful sense "painterly" employing "strokes" and "gestures," being occupied with surfaces as much as anything, involving landscapes, interiors, weather, location, etc. I would add to this painterliness the notion of touch, with its connotations not solely from painting but also from a great many activities where excellence is a matter of handling and intelligence i.e., of how and where and not simply what."

Charles Bernstein says the following about her: "Guest's work seeks neither recognition nor acknowledgement but that a fair realism may awake in us as we read, inspired not by the author but by the whirls and words and worlds that she has enacted in her numinous works."

Here are two sections from Guest's poem "Saving Tallow":

lone palm tree lonely diver

covered with sea lice

/most vertical
the room dedicates its curves to you.

[And the poem ends:]

/Take me on your dolphin skin!

I shall be absent soon!

Saving the tallow with capable hands

seizing with the loyal closed eyes of foliage


More information on Barbara Guest at
See JACKET feature on Barbara Guest.


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