Featured Poet: Chris Volpe, Newmarket
Chris Volpe grew up in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY. He wrote and read about poetry on his own for some 15 years before enrolling in UNH’s master’s program to study with Charles Simic. After graduate school, he worked as a journalist and public relations specialist until deciding, at the age of 40, to devote his time to oil painting and teaching college-level writing and art history. He lives in Newmarket with his wife, Anna Birch, and their three-year-old son, Max.
About this prose poem, Chris had this to say:
“How It Is” used to be part of a manuscript of prose poems I was working on called “Landscape with Lawn Ornaments.” The poems came out of a kind of paralysis I felt coming of age on Long Island in New York, where nothing is as sensible as anything in New England. The poems were a little bitter, I think; they withheld meaning from the reader out of protest, or spite, or something. All I knew when I was writing them was that I wanted them to read like surreal short-short stories. The thing was, by their nature, poems like this lack emotional dynamics; and as a manuscript, a whole book of them seemed too monotone, too flat. So I abandoned them in a folder on my computer, and now and then, I rescue one and begin editing it, playing around with it, ”worrying” it, as they used to say, like a predator with its hapless prey.
How It Is
Sometimes the hummingbirds forget how to hum and fall like multicolored comets flashing into the grass. That's how we lost our wings too. Most anything falls often enough it breaks. This doesn't stop us from exchanging keepsakes, because to cherish the smallest gifts of the world as it could be makes it more convincing, more joined, the way hands will when the bus is late and to be in line together is all that matters. At the center of every childlike thought there stands a ring of trust, within it only air. It isn't clear how colors can be disturbing, but they can. Its humanity’s rub, a wreath of wings, a gift for making things important. Trading the plummet of the songbird, say, for the minister's wife shooing kids from the desert table. Look, young men shout things from the windows of passing cars: here's one now, mouthing whatever, leaning Christlike, arms spread, into the air.
These days I spend more time painting landscapes than worrying poems. You can see what Im up to here: www.christophervolpe.com and check out my blog, here: www.christophervolpe.blogspot.com