Saturday, July 11, 2009

`Booklight and Kitchen Light'

In an e-mail Bill Sigler refers to Fred Chappell as “the literary version of my uncle in the hills of Western North Carolina,” and quotes a passage from one of my favorite poems, Chappell’s book-length Midquest:

“These are the flower-worlds with all
the visionary petals shriveled away.

“Please hold my hand, may we
go down now, home?
Where booklight and kitchen light
furrow the silence?”

Near the end of the poem, Chappell’s stand-in, Old Fred, is speaking to his wife. The moment is central to the poem, to Chappell’s vision, and to my understanding of our place in the world. We’ve had a peek at Chappell’s Appalachian Paradiso. Now it’s time to go home. Even mystics, sooner or later, return. We need the sustenance: “booklight and kitchen light.”

A previous mention of Midquest prompted at least one reader to buy a copy, the happiest possible byproduct of criticism.

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