Monday, February 2, 2009

Rand Brandes, November 27, 2008

The Culminating Event of a Drama

Dr. Rand Brandes, Writer-in-Residence, Director of the Visiting Writers Series, and Martin Luther Stevens Professor of English at Lenoir-Rhyne University, has carried the torch for poetry in the Hickory area for 20 years. As a scholar who has widely published work on Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and an organizer who has brought writers like Alice Walker, Pat Conroy, John Updike, and Amiri Baraka to town, he has put and kept Hickory on the literary map.
I first met Rand in 1994 when, shortly after my first book of poems came out, he invited me up from Charlotte to read as part of the series. That reading was the highlight of my career in poetry at that time, and remains one of the highlights to this day. Not two weeks ago I bumped into someone who wanted me to sign my book, not my new one, but the one I read from and she purchased, that night. Rand is every bit as gracious now as he was then.
What sometimes gets lost in Rand’s selfless work to promote poetry and further the academic and cultural development of the Hickory area is the fact that Rand is, himself, a wonderful poet. He is the author of one collection of poems, Balefires, and individual poems of his have been published in a wide variety of journals and magazines. He has been a featured writer at Poetry Hickory once already, and will be so again when he reads with Jeff Davis on December 9.
Like most poets, Brandes, loves words, the heft of them, the history, the nuances of meaning and sound. About the following poem, he commented, “The technical definition of ‘Catastrophe’ is ‘the culminating event of a drama, especially a tragedy.’ From the Greek: ‘an overthrowing.’ It is the exact point in the play at which the catharsis occurs.” With that in mind, I am pleased to print Brandes’ poem, “Catastrophe.”


After the play
They divorced.


This, they say,
Is the power of art—
To bring us together
And tear us apart.

No comments:

Post a Comment