Poet Of The Week

Julie Hart

     April 6–12, 2015

Originally from Minnesota, Julie Hart has lived in London, Zurich and Tokyo and now in Brooklyn Heights. Her work can be found in Five Quarterly, Denim Skin, PANK Magazine, The Rumpus, Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Floor Plan Journal.

Paean to Tim Riggins

He is not ripped
not steroid freaky
but you have to appreciate
the pecs on this guy
also the chiseled V
that directs your eye
to the promising
pelvis—and I don’t
easily wax prosaic
about the physical—
but those biceps
and then of course
the kicker is
his utter nonchalance
when he throws
those square-toed boots
up on the coffee table
the jeans so well filled out—
it should be a sonnet.
Then the bad boy long hair
stringy sometimes
not quite as clean
as you might hope
the asymmetrical eyebrows
above the calm eyes
of a Botticelli angel:
wronged and wronging
in equal measure.
He tries so hard,
he loves like thunder.
Every bad, impetuous thing
he does is for love.
He has his ass
so sweet, so tight
handed to him
in a handbasket
The ones who love him
cannot help him;
the ones he loves will not.
He is doomed.
He blames himself.

We love his innocence
a place we can only imagine.
We know how this turns out.
We are helpless
we cannot hinder
his disillusionment.
How could we?
It came to us
far faster than to him.
We wish we could
transform his Beauty into Truth.
I haven’t said anything yet
about his mouth.

—Originally published in Denim Skin

Tell us about the making of this poem.

I was binging on Friday Night Lights, in the end captivated by the character of Tim Riggins. He basically grows up before our eyes, from a beautiful dumb animal to a guy who doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but just can’t keep out of trouble. Everyone in the town sees him a certain way and they can’t set that preconception aside. So I just started out the way I usually do, in close description, and then I wrote the line, “he loves like thunder,” and the rest poured out like a cloudburst. It’s been through only one edit. It says what I wanted it to say.

What are you working on right now?

Another long poem à la James Schuyler’s “The Morning of the Poem,” about teaching again after a long hiatus and just my thoughts and daily life.

What’s a good day for you?

Walk for an hour, sit at a coffee shop and write for two hours, walk back home and type in what I’ve written. Then I watch Netflix, eat dinner with my husband, and we read aloud to each other. We’ve almost finished Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time.

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? What neighborhood do you live in? What do you like most about it?

Less than two years, but I love it. We live in a third-floor walk-up in a brownstone. I like how quiet it is, how many trees, how close to the Promenade. There’s very little traffic on our street. You can hear the Staten Island ferry horns. It’s a port, you know!

Share with us a defining Brooklyn experience, good, bad or in between.

Perhaps only in Brooklyn could a newcomer join a walking tour of literary Brooklyn Heights, learn about the Yawp, show up the very next week, do erasures with Leigh Stein, finally hear people saying “Tim Riggins, Tim Riggins” all around her after the open mic, sign up for a class with Leigh, get published within six months and discover a place where poetry is not dead, but walking down the street all around her. “Everyone in Brooklyn seems to be a poet. All poets, all the time.”

Favorite Brooklyn poet(s), dead and/or alive?

Auden, Moore, and what is your name, please?

Favorite places to read and write in Brooklyn (besides home, assuming you like to be there)?

I walk to different coffeeshops to work in the morning: Gorilla on 5th Ave, Pedlar on Court St, Bien Cuit on Smith. Good coffee, ambient background noise, and no one talks to me.

Favorite places to go in Brooklyn not involving reading or writing?

The Promenade
Iron Chef on Clark St, like a neighborhood bar in Tokyo
Sociale on Henry St, Italian the way Modena makes it
Jack the Horse on Hicks St, get the oysters

Last awesome book(s)/poem(s) you read?

-Sarah Gerard, Binary Star—a fever dream of a book
-Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book Three—I can’t get enough of this guy, lucky he has four more volumes coming
-Jason Koo, “No Longer See”—I love the long-form thoughts he can keep spinning like plates

Fill in the blanks in these lines by Whitman:

I celebrate the everyday, every day
And what I make you should taste,
For every word in me as good as nourishes me, as
     every word in

Why Brooklyn?

In four or five blocks you cross from one little world into another. It’s travel, it’s time travel, it’s a spectrum of humanity available nowhere else. You cannot continue to believe there is only one way to live.