by Shaileen B.
The arrivals and departures of boats make such beautiful subjects for poems, which are always abandoning or landing at places inside ourselves. Think of "Where Go the Boats?" by Robert Louis Stevenson, "Arrival at Santos" by Elizabeth Bishop, "Arrivals, Departures" by Philip Larkin, and "To the Harbormaster" by Frank O'Hara, for example.
When I asked Karen Garthe, a New York-based poet, to share a poem with our blog readers, she picked one inspired by coming-and-going boats. Garthe will return to Baltimore, where she grew up, on March 5, to appear in the Poetry & Conversation series with her one-time teacher, Clarinda Harriss.
About her boat-inspired poem, Garthe writes:
I was living in Gateway Plaza on the Hudson (just north of The Battery) and my window looked out on the North Cove Marina. The World Financial Center presided in headwinds like a throne overall... the river with Jersey on the other side, the apartment buildings, the park benches, all the boats. An architectural fence on one side of the cove is wreathed with Frank O’Hara’s quote:
One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes. I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life.
The marina was filled with extreme yachts, shameless luxury vessels you’d imagine moored at the lips of Dubai. I was fascinated by big boat comings and goings, riveted when captains slipped them in and out of what was only a little squared-off pond. At that time, there were only a few boats for chartering, whereas now—post 9/11—the luxury yachts are mostly gone and everything that remains is for hire.
This poem is from watching boats.
Then, too, I was especially in love with, even preoccupied with Barbara Guest’s poem "An Emphasis Falls on Reality" from her book Fair Realism. CHARTER is my poor homage and my imitation of her poem’s cadence and song.
Here is the poem (click to enlarge):
For more Poetry & Conversation, please join us in the Poe Room March 5 at 6:30. Follow @librarypoems to learn about other poetry events at the Pratt Library, & join the conversation at #PrattPoetry.