Featured Poet : J. Kates, Fitzwilliam
J. Kates is a poet and literary translator. He is the author of "Mappemonde" (poems) Oyster River Press, 2001, and the editor of the anthology of Russian poetry: In the Grip of Strange Thoughts: Russian Poetry in a New Era, Zephyr Press, 1999. In addition, he’s published five other books of translations and two more are forthcoming in 2007: "Say Thank You", a translation of poems by Mikhail Aizenberg (Zephyr)"When a Poet sees a Chestnut Tree", a translation of poems by Jean-Pierre Rosnay (Green Integer). Kates facilitates a popular poetry reading-discussion group at the Fitzwilliam Library.
Of his showcase poem, Kates writes:
A woman I loved left me. The poem has proved prophetic and accurate, even after more than thirty years.
The New Bridge
They built it of unmortared stone
and started calling it the New Bridge.
Later, the older, wooden ones
burned to the water's edge--
one by one, in their own time
and not without replacement.
But the New Bridge kept its name
downstream from concrete abutment
and suspended steel. And still
in my heart I call you lover
though even the river has silted full
and changed its course forever.
Kates declined to give a photograph saying: “It’s the poem that’s important.” As further
explanation he offered the following poem:
The Vanity of Portraiture
These features you have come to photograph —
my hair receding like Antarctic ice,
a mottled visage mapped with years of laughing,
a beard gone white, bifocals (mended twice)
framing the false sincerity of two
indifferent eyes and their too bushy brows,
the fuzzy ears, the ill-shaved neck — oh, who
of all your readers wants that portrait now?
Those who know me well need no reminders
(or have their own) and those who don’t, don’t care.
And while you’re peering into your view-finder,
dissatisfied with misplaced shadows there,
I simper, freeze, and watch the birdie, full
face in focus, however blurred the soul.
To learn more about J. Kates visit....