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Monday, May 09, 2005


Jonathan David Jackson

Dear Benjamin,

Truly, was not our teacher, Allen Grossman right?

The most important work of poetry, to channel his phraseology, is to bring to mind the image of persons.

Once, Benjamin, you revealed to me the force of a word--PROXY.

Your poems after, say, 1997 revolve around the whole idea of speaking for the Other; speaking for those charged to speak for others; and speaking to evoke the lost other in his or her absence.

In this poem, set against the very old pastoral backdrop of spring--and a late spring too, and a chilly one; chilly enough for coats!--you illuminate the presence of your grandmother while she is in the midst of illuminating the presence of her other, Sol.

Sol is a figure, a part for a whole, a newspaper so telling of a certain kind of urban cultural milieu.

What does it mean for the grandmother to speak for him and by extension and then for the poet, the grandson, to enfigure them all? It means that spring is here in the awakening of realities that can only be expressed like this.

The plural subjective reference--we--takes us into the journey. I become a part of the family who witnesses a diminishing landscape of genealogy. I become the child who accompanies his mother on a visit into the very heart of family.

Quietly, then, you evoke the deliciousness of being an outsider for the two women: two generations talk in ways that perhaps only the elements can understand.

This is a beautiful poem and it stands among the many that you have written recently and that deserve to be collected now into a whole.


...Proxy, memory, an ethos illuminated and remembered...

...Countless visits and quests into the real heart of family, both biological and of the other heart, meaning friends: Frankie Newton and otherwise...



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