Louis Jenkins’ poems have been published in a number of literary magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 1999 and Great American Prose Poems. His books of poetry include An Almost Human Gesture, All Tangled Up With the Living, North of the Cities, European Shoes, Words and Pictures (with Richard C. Johnson), and Tin Flag: New and Selected Prose Poems. All of these titles are published by Will o’ the Wisp Books. Louis Jenkins and Mark Rylance, actor and former director of the Globe Theatre, London, co-wrote a stage production titled Nice Fish, based on Mr. Jenkins poems. The play premiered April 6, 2013 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and ran through May 18, 2013.
Poetry Month 2015: Louis Jenkins
THE POET He is young and thin with dark hair and a deep, serious voice. He sips his coffee and says, “I have found that it is a good idea to check the words you use in a dictionary. I keep a list. Here is the word meadow. Since I was a child the word meadow always had connotations of peace and beauty. Once I used meadow in a poem and as a matter of practice I looked the word up. I found that a meadow was a small piece of grassland used to graze animals…. Somehow meadow as no longer a thing of beauty…. It is spring. A few cows are grazing in the muddy meadow. There are patches of blackened snow beside the road. It is nearly dark and the ragged poplars at the far end of the meadow have turned black. The animals, the stones, the grass, everything near the earth darkens, and above: the azure sky. * THE WRITER’S LIFE I once believed that behind all the things I did—or more often, failed to do—there was a purpose, or at least some coherent principle, a raison d’être. If there is such a principle it has never become quite clear to me. Instead, over the years, I have managed to take a random selection of bad habits and herd them together into a life. Also, in order to disguise my absolute laziness, I have mastered the age-old art of appearing to be productive when, actually, this is the only thing I’m doing. (Republicans suspected as much all along.) When someone comes up to my desk I get busy scribbling, totally preoccupied. “What? Oh, I’m sorry….” In my haste t appear industrious I find I have written “…and herd them together into a wife.” [from Before You Know It: Prose Poems 1970-2005] * * * Skinnied down a bit from the poet’s Web site: