Monday, June 25, 2012

Poetry Monday: Edmund Skellings

Since I'm in Florida this week, I thought it might be fun to feature a Floridian poet this week. Though he's a Massachusetts man by birth, Edmund Skellings has been Florida's poet laureate since 1980!  He's now University Professor of Humanities at the Florida Institute of Technology, and has become rather well known for his innovative use of electronic multi-media poems. A full range of these mini-movies can be found here
All of them interesting, innovative, thought-provoking, and very clever, stretching our thinking about what a poem is and what it's capable of doing. Many of these were produced long before multimedia became popular, before the Internet was in common use, and the computer animations are striking, mingling with Skellings' terrific reading voice.

The following more conventional poem is from Skellings' book Collected Poems 1958-1998. One of the reasons I've chosen it is because it reminds me of a poem I wrote for my son titled Whorl. What I particularly like about this poem is that it's rich with insight and intensity - the consciousness of aging and impending death, while still maintaining a lighthearted and quite funny, readily accessible perspective. 


There is a spot
On the back of the head
That body and self spin round
And go down.

This is true. Ask
Any demographer of cells
And he will nod.

Some men go bald
There first, and some
Later, as emptiness
Creeps up from the eyes.

All of us know the spot
By feel, and I for one,
Confronted by questions
With no sides or bottom,
Reach up and rub.

It is some
Sort of answer. Rub.
Perhaps. Rub.
Maybe. Rub again.

At least we have found
The point of
Mystification. From there,
Who knows?

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