Friday, August 17, 2012


Happy Poetry Friday! The Amazing Mary Lee at A Year of Reading has Roundup. Don't miss!!

Today I'm pleased to introduce to you a wonderful poet and friend Barry Marks, award-winning author of POSSIBLE CROCODILES (Brick Road Press, 2010) and his recently released SOUNDING (Negative Capability Press, 2012) which contains poems written as Barry grieved the sudden death of his eldest daughter Leah.

Elegy has a long tradition in poetry -- Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies immediately leap to mind -- and Barry's poems are moving and powerful, and ultimately hopeful. Anyone who has ever loved and lost anything or anyone will find something here that speaks especially to them.

Here's one of my favorites in the collection:


by Barry Marks

How John and I are fishing,
despite everything.
Because of everything.

How you find bass
where the shore and the weeds
and a fallen log make structure.

How John has caught a bass
and I have not.

There is so much I would show you.

How the mist glides over Lay Lake
and two men,
the men who loved you,
the men who failed you,
sit in their little boat, one talking,
the other silent within himself.

How your name
is the only word I hear.

This collection will move you and inspire you. And don't let this serious lawyer-pic fool you! Barry has a delightful wry, lighthearted side that pops up all the time in his work -- and he has written many a love poem. He's quite the versatile writer. Also, many of my poems are better for his feedback. Thanks, Barry!

And because I think so highly of SOUNDING -- and of Barry -- I am giving away an autographed copy. To enter, simply reply in comments OR send me an email to irene at irenelatham dot com OR send me a tweet @irene_latham. Contest will be open until Sunday, August 19, 11:59 pm. Good luck!

And now, so you can get to know Barry a bit better, here's a short Q & A. Enjoy!

What were your favorite books when you were a teen?
After the obligatory Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Allen Poe I met the Beats and their naughty friends. At 15 or so I started On the Road, Tropic of Capricorn, Naked Lunch. Oddly, I remained traditional in poetry until college: Yeats, Thomas, the Romantics (especially Byron) and the Cavaliers (especially Lovelace).

  • What are your hobbies that don’t have to do with writing? 
  • Sailing and hiking. I miss the former terribly and wish to do more of the latter when I find the right companion.

  • What do you read in the bathroom? 
  • Magazines: Esquire, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, etc

  • What’s the riskiest thing you ever did and how did it work out for you? Married young and often. Not too well.

  • Where do you see yourself in ten years? 
  • Either happily travelling the world with someone very nice or dead.

  • I gave you twenty questions and asked you to answer seven. Were you tempted to answer all twenty? Why?
  • Yup. Always surprised at my answers.

  • What are you reading now? 
  • Kandel’s Age of Insight and a lot of poetry.

  • What author or book have you recently discovered that you want the world to know about?
  • Christopher Moore. We all need to relax and have a laugh. The Kandel book deals with how the brain perceives and reacts to art. That and Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature blew me away but they’re heavy as lead .

  • If you could live anywhere for a year, where would it be?
  • Israel, Paris or the Keys/ Bahamas for a year at least. I intend to do so in the near future – possibly all 3.

  • Do you know how to cook? What’s your specialty?
  • I eat therefore I cook. Pork tenderloin, assorted pastas, chicken breasts with Panko… recipes are boring. I cook like I wish my mother did, not like an aspiring chef.

  • Do you make plans in advance when you travel, or just hope for the best?
  • I like to have a framework for a trip but lots of room to explore, amend and settle if I find something I like. In some places, a day or two with a guide to really learn but generally, I like to poke around.

  • What’s the coolest writing-thing that’s happened to you since you sold your first book? 
  • Just reading to people and seeing the reaction. It is a connection and that is one reason I love writing.

  • Go on, give us some writing advice. You know you want to! 
  • Nope. The only thing I like worse than giving advice is listening to it. 

  • Thanks, all! And yeah, I don't know what's up with the bullet points. Blogger is just feeling generous this morning, I guess. Happy day!

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. Terrific post, Irene - thank you for introducing me to Barry Marks with such a moving, wonderful poem. Love the Q and A! (And I'd be delighted to read more, so do toss my name into the giveaway mix.)

      1. Thank you Robyn - I've no doubt Barry's poems will speak to you. xo

    3. It must be a wonderful anthology, though serious and sad, too. I like the idea in the poem, of 'going on' but that name is always there. It is hard to say goodbye. Thank you Irene for introducing your friend.

      1. Linda, you are so right. One must go on. But always, always, that name, that ache. So hard to write about, which is why I appreciate poems like this so much. Thanks for stopping by!

    4. Thanks for sharing your friend's poetry, Irene - what a powerful poem, so lightly and beautifully written. Like me, he seems to have some pretty diverse influences!

      1. Yes, Matt, diversity makes for good poetry, doesn't it? Thanks so much for stopping by!

      2. Matt, you're out winner! Please email me irene at irenelatham dot com with your address so I can get this book out to you. Thanks!

    5. So enjoyed meeting Barry and reading the sample poem. Grief is so difficult to write about without being maudlin -- I love what he's done in "Lay Lake." Had to smile at "the Beats and their naughty friends," since I was the same way :). And Irene, thank you for asking the cooking question!! I make chicken with panko all the time :).

      1. Jama, I was thinking of you with that question. And why am I not surprised about the Beats or that you make chicken with panko?! Thanks for stopping by!

    6. My goodness, that poem...that one really got me. No words. Thank you for sharing it, Irene, and Barry for writing it.

      1. Renee, don't you LOVE that feeling of "no words?" To just be sitting there with a poem, kind of stunned and in awe, emotions whirling... thanks os much for stopping by. xo

    7. The last line is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this poem, Irene. And thanks for visiting my blog today with one of your poems!

      1. Oh Laura, I appreciate so much you having me! You are an inspiration. Thank you.

    8. Like Laura, I loved that last line, which I could imagine echoing over the lake. And I smiled at the last answer in the interview, so yes, can see both the solemn/sublime and the humor. Thank you for this introduction! And moving me briefly from Edith Wharton land.

      1. Oh, Jeannine -- Edith Wharton land! I said earlier you made me feel like a princess when what I should have said is that you made me feel like one of Edith's oh so pampered dogs. :) More later, but YES I want to read The Age of Desire. I have something else to tell you too. Thanks for stopping by. xo

    9. Thanks, Irene. Great post. I wonder, when you write about something that raw, is the poem that results harder to share than others?

      1. I know for me the most autobiographical poems are definitely the hardest to read aloud to a crowd or imagine people reading.... yet they are the ones I am most proud of. It's those poems that make me feel like I am doing the work I need to be doing. What about you?

    10. Unexpected change of plans: the roundup is at A Year of Reading Thanks for changing your link!

    11. Had to come back and read all of the posts after dropping in my PSA about the roundup.

      Thanks for giving me a new poet! Love the interview questions you asked!!

      His poem has such sadness and longing and loss...without being maudlin about it. Must read more of his.


    Your thoughts?