Tuesday, February 26, 2019

“We did not plummet into space”

A clue in a Newsday crossword got me thinking about plummet. Which in turn made me think of Ernest Noyes Brookings (1898–1987). Brookings, a Navy veteran and a designer of machine parts, began writing poems while residing in a nursing home. A book of his poems was published in an edition of 400 copies: We Did Not Plummet Into Space: Variety Poems of Special Interest (Charlestown, MA: Innerer Klang, 1983). It’s a book I cherish.

Brookings’s poems are sweet and startling, with lines and stanzas often moving in whatever directions the poet’s rhyming dictionary suggests. Content as an extension of form: radical formalism, says I. Here are the final stanzas of “My Jobs”:

[A number of musicians have set Brookings’s poems to music. A collected poems, Golden Rule, was published in 2016 (London: Boatwhistle Books).]

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