Friday, April 4, 2008

What's the Verse That Can Happen? Donald Finkel Poetry Tribute Monday Night at Duff's

Posted By on Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 5:00 PM

Next Monday, April 7, beginning around 8 p.m., three dozen poets will read their favorite Donald Finkel poems in a tribute at that venerable House of Poems, Duff's.

You know, like a tribute CD, only substitute poetry for songs.

Rumor has it that one of the poets is eleven years old, and that the master of ceremonies edits this paper.

Donald Finkel -- yep, that's my dad.

Not gonna belabor this -- you can read the nuts and bolts in Paul Friswold's sweet Night & Day section item -- but like I said: That's my dad.

There'll be a piece about the reading in Sunday's Post-Dispatch, written by Dad's former student Howard Schwartz, who teaches creative writing at UMSL, and who organized the gathering, and who is an all-around mensch.

Accompanying the online version of Howard's piece in the Post will be a couple of sound files of my father reading his own work. I know this because I provided those files, which I got from Brian Cochran and Andy Cox, two former students of Dad's in Washington University's writing program. Check out their sometime online lit mag, WordVirtual.

Here are the sound files (with thanks again to Brian and Andy):

"Backing Up":

"Erratum":

After the jump you can read the text of the two poems and see a few photos of my pop.

What the hell, here too is the vintage (circa 1964) pic I supplied to the Post to run alongside the story. I believe it was taken as part of a shoot for a Saturday Evening Post story about the nuclear family. (My parents found that endlessly amusing.)

My mother, Constance Urdang, is holding Josephine; Dad's got Samuel. The girl on the right is my sister Liza; little Amy is in that odd contraption. The kid in the rocking chair who looks like the photographer just stole his lunch money and threatened to kill him is, well...

click to enlarge df8.jpg

-Tom Finkel

Backing Up (reprinted courtesy of wordvirtual.org)

Far-sighted owl can't see dinner under her beak. Backing off, she gets the picture and stoops for the kill. Now it's her dinner's turn to retreat.

Scallop, dying, turns on me all sixty-something sapphire eyes on the fringe of her mantle. Barefaced, barefoot on the sand, I blink back, stunned, then turn away.

And what will my feet see tonight when I back them from their stifling cloisters, blinking in the bed-light? What will they dream in the velvet dark, naked under the comforter, side by side?

--Donald Finkel

Erratum (reprinted courtesy of wordvirtual.org)

No. It's the righteous who inherit. At this very moment a righteous microbiologist is perfecting the clone of piety.

They're already good so they'll move when they're ready. Soon they'll be everywhere--

courtrooms, cathedrals, hospitals, armories, out in the suburbs walking a beat, assaulting the walls of asylum like plastic kudzu.

They'll send the Pied Piper back for the grownups, robed, saintly, a full head of wise grey hair.

Don't be deceived -- it's the righteous, who else, who'll inherit. Who wrote the testament?

Coming soon, to every bookstore window, exclusive! a thousand copies, austerely bound, authoritative, compulsory.

The meek can retreat to the mountains, sink their tremulous roots in the crevices, and drink the wind.

--Donald Finkel

Here's a few pics of my dad, and one of my mother:

click to enlarge df3.jpg
click to enlarge df5.jpg
click to enlarge df6.jpg
click to enlarge cu1.jpg

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