Welcome to this month’s poetry classroom, with poet and professor David Wright. We invite you to respond to the poems we’ll share here—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of David and each other, and write your own poems along the way.
Variable clouds, modulating hills,
Lakota language for prairie grasses:
not cattail, not undulant sea.
Utopia in the fields—colony of furniture,
gathering of kitsch and handiwork.
Loss sounds like a native translation of a hymn:
Oh God, in a rabbit skin,
Oh God who is a hawk coming to rest
on a moraine above a scored
and crosshatched silver field.
1. A toccata is a fast-moving piece of music. Is this poem in any way like a toccata?
2. The poem begins in a way that almost sounds like a weather report. If Iowa was a weather report in this poem, what would it forecast?
3. Is Iowa something you would generally associate with classical music? What comes of making such an association in this poem?