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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Poetry: Rod Clark

Air Date: Week of

A poem is not a poem until it's read to another person, says Wisconsin poet Rod Clark. Clark shares a pair of his nature poems.


GELLERMAN: Writer Rod Clark maintains that a poem is not a poem until it's read aloud to another person. He says otherwise it lies dormant in its cocoon, never to be born.

Well, we have the airwaves and he has the poems and the voice, seems a shame not to let his words take flight. Here's Rod Clark with some verse and some musings that inspired them.

Clark’s Island, Rough Rock Lake, Ontario. (Photo: Rod Clark)

CLARK: When I'm up north, I love to go fishing toward evening, and there's always this mood just as the light is fading, darkness begins to descend, and it's at that interval, before darkness falls and the mosquitoes bite, that you're hoping that the fish will bite, too. So this is kind of an incantation, hoping that the fish will strike.

Night Bite
Now dark,
No lark,
What luck is this?
All this time our lake lures listless,
Dark and awesome, aproned isthmus
All these hours ‘til now.

Now see the rod twitch,
Ripple-splinter jackfish
Shatter/slash the river glass


[MUSIC: Ketil Bjornstad & Svante Henryson “Ice Melting” from Night Song (ECM Records 2011)]

Clark’s Island. (Photo: Rod Clark)

CLARK: Well, once more this it out, on a boat, toward evening, a butterfly has just landed on the prow of the boat and I am hearing the loon cry over Rough Rock Lake, which is up in Ontario. In the cry of the loon there's beauty and music but there's also an incredible sadness, almost a coolness that rises from the rocks. At evening, it is the most spooky and wonderful and mysterious sound you can imagine. So this is called "Island Evening."

Island Evening

Smoking river, silver boat
blue/black velvet Mourning Cloak
lingering on the evening’s prow.
Darkness falls upon us now,
and all the things that I have broken,
all the love I’ve left unspoken,
Echo in the loon’s libretto:
Hoo ha! ha! Hoo ha! ha! Hoo ha! He-e-e-e-e! ….





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