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Barbara Guest: New York School of poetry member and Hilda Doolittle biographer

Spontaneous interplay between imagination and the act of writing

  • The Past
  • The form of the poem subsided, it enters another poem.
  • A witness was found for the markings inscribed upside-down.
  • It might have been a celebration, so strong the presence
  • of the poem. The sky sinks slowly inside the past. 
  • A Reason
  • That is why I am here
  • not among the ibises. Why
  • the permanent city parasol
  • covers even me.
  • It was the rains
  • in the occult season. It was the snows
  • on the lower slopes. It was water
  • and cold in my mouth.
  • A lack of shoes
  • on what appeared to be cobbles
  • which were still antique
  • Well wild wild whatever
  • in wild more silent blue
  • the vase grips the stems
  • petals fall the chrysanthemum darkens
  • Sometimes this mustard feeling
  • clutches me also. My sleep is reckoned
  • in straws
  • Yet I wake up
  • and am followed into the street.
  • Words
  • The simple contact with a wooden spoon and the word  
  • recovered itself, began to spread as grass, forced  
  • as it lay sprawling to consider the monument where  
  • patience looked at grief, where warfare ceased  
  • eyes curled outside themes to search the paper  
  • now gleaming and potent, wise and resilient, word  
  • entered its continent eager to find another as  
  • capable as a thorn. The nearest possession would  
  • house them both, they being then two might glide  
  • into this house and presently create a rather larger  
  • mansion filled with spoons and condiments, gracious
  • as a newly laid table where related objects might gather  
  • to enjoy the interplay of gravity upon facetious hints,  
  • the chocolate dish presuming an endowment, the ladle  
  • of galactic rhythm primed as a relish dish, curved  
  • knives, finger bowls, morsel carriages words might  
  • choose and savor before swallowing so much was the  
  • sumptuousness and substance of a rented house where words  
  • placed dressing gowns as rosemary entered their scent  
  • percipient as elder branches in the night where words  
  • gathered, warped, then straightened, marking new wands.
  • Echoes
  • Once more riding down to Venice on borrowed horses:
  • the air free of misdemeanor, at rest in the inns of our fathers.
  • Once again whiteness like the white chandelier.
  • Echoes of other poems... 
Barbara Guest

Barbara Guest (1920-2006) was an American poet and a member of the New York School of poetry – part of the larger New York School of arts and literature that emerged in the early 1950s and continued to promote an avant-garde and surreal approach to the arts throughout the 1960s. Having written 15 books of poetry, she was awarded the 1999 Frost Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Poetry Society of America. She also wrote a critically acclaimed biography of the poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Herself Defined: The Poet H.D. and Her World (1984). Guest was also an artist and worked as an editor for ARTnews from 1951-1959, during her time of association with the New York School. Guest’s poetry is marked by an abstract approach to her subject matter playing against her use of vivid language. She saw composition as a matter of spontaneous interplay between imagination and the act of writing.

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  • The Past
  • The form of the poem subsided, it enters another poem.
  • A witness was found for the markings inscribed upside-down.
  • It might have been a celebration, so strong the presence
  • of the poem. The sky sinks slowly inside the past. 
  • A Reason
  • That is why I am here
  • not among the ibises. Why
  • the permanent city parasol
  • covers even me.
  • It was the rains
  • in the occult season. It was the snows
  • on the lower slopes. It was water
  • and cold in my mouth.
  • A lack of shoes
  • on what appeared to be cobbles
  • which were still antique
  • Well wild wild whatever
  • in wild more silent blue
  • the vase grips the stems
  • petals fall the chrysanthemum darkens
  • Sometimes this mustard feeling
  • clutches me also. My sleep is reckoned
  • in straws
  • Yet I wake up
  • and am followed into the street.
  • Words
  • The simple contact with a wooden spoon and the word  
  • recovered itself, began to spread as grass, forced  
  • as it lay sprawling to consider the monument where  
  • patience looked at grief, where warfare ceased  
  • eyes curled outside themes to search the paper  
  • now gleaming and potent, wise and resilient, word  
  • entered its continent eager to find another as  
  • capable as a thorn. The nearest possession would  
  • house them both, they being then two might glide  
  • into this house and presently create a rather larger  
  • mansion filled with spoons and condiments, gracious
  • as a newly laid table where related objects might gather  
  • to enjoy the interplay of gravity upon facetious hints,  
  • the chocolate dish presuming an endowment, the ladle  
  • of galactic rhythm primed as a relish dish, curved  
  • knives, finger bowls, morsel carriages words might  
  • choose and savor before swallowing so much was the  
  • sumptuousness and substance of a rented house where words  
  • placed dressing gowns as rosemary entered their scent  
  • percipient as elder branches in the night where words  
  • gathered, warped, then straightened, marking new wands.
  • Echoes
  • Once more riding down to Venice on borrowed horses:
  • the air free of misdemeanor, at rest in the inns of our fathers.
  • Once again whiteness like the white chandelier.
  • Echoes of other poems... 
Barbara Guest

Barbara Guest (1920-2006) was an American poet and a member of the New York School of poetry – part of the larger New York School of arts and literature that emerged in the early 1950s and continued to promote an avant-garde and surreal approach to the arts throughout the 1960s. Having written 15 books of poetry, she was awarded the 1999 Frost Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Poetry Society of America. She also wrote a critically acclaimed biography of the poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Herself Defined: The Poet H.D. and Her World (1984). Guest was also an artist and worked as an editor for ARTnews from 1951-1959, during her time of association with the New York School. Guest’s poetry is marked by an abstract approach to her subject matter playing against her use of vivid language. She saw composition as a matter of spontaneous interplay between imagination and the act of writing.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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