Featured Poet: Robert W. Crawford, Derry
From 1983 to 1994 Robert Crawford worked in and around the Pentagon, where, among other things, he provided support for worldwide command exercises. In 1994, unwilling to commit to that life, he moved to New Hampshire and rediscovered his love of words and the New England landscape. He now lives in Derry and works in Chester where he is an Assistant Professor in the Writing department at Chester College of New England. His poems have won numerous awards and have been published in many national journals including The Formalist, Forbes, First Things, The Dark Horse, Measure, Dogwood and The Lyric. His poem "Town Roads" recently appeared in the popular anthology, The 2008 Poets' Guide to New Hampshire. His first book of poetry, Too Much Explanation Can Ruin a Man, was published in March, 2005 by David Robert Books.
Of his featured poem, Bob writes:
How "The Empty Chair" came about: While staying at The Driftwood Inn on Bailey's Island, Maine I noticed that guests were drawn to take photos of two white Adirondack chairs that were placed on a rocky point overlooking the Atlantic, but they would always insist on taking the pictures while the chair was empty--no Uncle Alfred ruining the artistic shot! When I got back home, during a poetry tutorial, I used this observation to make a point about the importance of leaving room for the reader in a poem--how an Uncle Alfred, in all his specificity, really would wreck the composition. We were outside on a beautiful August afternoon and I remember becoming quite animated about the whole thing. It was there that the poem came into existence, though it wasn't until two months later that the "certain absence" was added to the last line actually finishing the sonnet.
The Empty Chair
Out on the rocky point there stands a white
And isolated Adirondack chair.
The tourists take a snapshot of the sight—
But only if nobody’s sitting there.
I guess they know, without fine arts degrees,
The standard first-term lesson, “less is more.”
It’s all about the possibilities
And the importance of the metaphor.
The focus isn’t on the lovely ring
Of blue in which the empty chair is framed—
Where ocean meets the sky— it’s on the thing
That in an artful picture can’t be named:
They save a central place for what might be—
A certain absence, looking out to sea.
Winner of the 2006 Howard Nemerov Sonnet award. Published in Measure.
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