Thomas Lux, “The First Song”

was sung after the first stone was thrown at a beast,
after a spear in a man’s hand
brought down a pile of meat.
Of course we sang of that!
We hardly had a language and we sang.
We sang the stories, which turned into better stories,
which is why stories are told
and told again. Then, when we had more time

and bellies full enough with food,
we sang of love. But it began
with stones and sharpened sticks,
then sharpened sticks hardened
in fire.

thomas-lux-headshot.jpgFrom God Particles, Lux’s eleventh collection. Last month, Elizabeth Hoover observed how “Lux prizes simplicity in language, and his deceptively plainspoken style allows for powerful images,” in a review for the LA Times. In that vein, I love his earlier poem “The People of the Other Village.”

In an interview with The Cortland Review, Lux commented on poetry readings: “A lot of poets don’t read their work well, don’t write their work with the intention of it being read out loud, but they still do readings, for the check, obviously, but nothing is duller than a monotone reading of work that’s essentially incomprehensible—and there’s a lot of that. I would rather have lit matches stuck in my ear.” He’s not like that; you can hear him read “Render, Render” at the Academy of American Poets website.

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3 April 2008 | guest authors |