Literature 7-24-2006

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Robert Buchko

This is the second in this latest series of weekly poems, brought to you by Magers and Quinn Booksellers. See the Collections area for the last series, and look for the call for poets upcoming to participate in the next one.

Robert Buchko

The Legend of Houdini’s Lost Sister

For years she practiced the art of escape
among rows of corn where her mother’s hands
blossomed in rough husks, always waving

her back. She was unreachable then,
while chains held her, and the body writhed

to free itself, everything was possible
beyond that landscape of silos vanishing
into dusk. Pierced with swords, nearly-
drowned, she rationed her days into fire.

Even as she died, she imagined her own

beautiful emergence into the world,
her fingers still working at the lock.


I have always felt an intense admiration for those artists who are able to communicate the idea of their art. This is not confined to writers alone. In fact, I feel that Kandinsky, Yo-Yo Ma, Nietzsche, Dizzy Gillespie, and Van Gogh (to name only a fraction) are some of the most articulate artists in terms of critical analysis of their own aesthetics, and aesthetic discourse in general. In this brief missive I would like to share an Informal Statement of Poetics that, in part, guides my writing and offers some insight into my own aesthetic principles.

“The secret of poetry is silence, the unheard echoes of utterances that wash through us with their solitary innuendos.”

“Style is the ability to see through things— great style is vision.”

“Timing is essence.”

        – Charles Wright

Writing shit about new snow
for the rich
      is not art

        – Issa

“One can speak verbal ‘music’ so long as one remembers that the sound of words is inseparable from their meaning. The notes of music do not denote anything.”

        – W. H. Auden


Robert Buchko earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana, 2001. He has won two Academy of American Poets Awards., and recently was a finalist in New York University’s Washington Square Review Poetry Contest, 2005-06. His poems have appeared in various journals, most recently in the Beloit Poetry Journal, (Summer 2006). He has just completed his first manuscript of poems, Gathering the Wild. He lives and works in Minneapolis.