Her reading showed her passion for poetry and how carefully she crafts her poems. Poems sang and were well-marked with sharp consonant sounds. She often leaned into the mike, and gestured with her hands, helping to portray the poem's effect on her as she remembered the place the poems were written.
While reading from her collection "Ghost in a Red Hat" today in the car to my husband while we traveled toward home, I caught the spirit of her words. We stopped at a rest stop and took a walk in the woods and the rhythm and cadence followed me up the trail, almost as if I were counting along with Edna St. Vincent Millay in her Counting Poem. Rosanna Warren has that same quality of perfectly crafted meter that chants along with you. Her poem Man in Stream is from this collection. Her reading reminded me to choose crisp, clear nouns as well as active verbs when writing poetry.
Her poems move from place to place, following a wanderer who connects with others in many places in the United States and around the world. Poems take you to the Palace of Tears, 42nd Street, Avignon, Greece, and follow a red fox, or smack the tarmac, or to a Kmart with roof stove in.
One poem, Earthworks, dedicated to Frederick Law Olmstead, which covers fifteen pages of this volume, took her ten years to write. It shows the dedication to research, careful editing, smooth control, that can go into the heart of a poem.
What I took away from her reading and craft session included:
- take time with poems, polish them until every word counts
- rehearse your reading so that the words tumble off your lips with ease
- poems capture the history of your personal ghosts, allowing them to live beyond you
- poems are often conversations with others in the art world