3545/1243378728-11031952fire.jpgLast week on the Poetry Chain, Mike Hickey shared a prose poem about Eve (of "Adam and..." fame). This week, he picks someone who's very important to the Seattle poetry scene: Bob Redmond. Here is what Hickey says about Redmond:

For many years in the Emerald City, Bob Redmond has been a tireless community organizer in the same vein as Barack Obama. He is also an extraordinary poet of the people à la Walt Whitman. Therefore, Bob might be described as the African-American Father of American Poetry. Kinda.

Bob is the driving force (official title: Senior Programming Manager) behind One Reel, the company that produces Bumbershoot (among other events). If you've ever attended a literary event at Bumbershoot, it was because Redmond organized it. He also organizes Seattle's Poet Populist program, and dozens of other arts-related programs. Here is Bob Redmond's poem for the Seattle Poetry Chain:

May, 2009

Ohio, you looked so good from the plane,
your sturdy old maples and humble slopes
holy. There could go an Amish carriage,
there could grow clean-eared corn, rolled-up
sleeves, the open arms of Erie spilling two canals
bloodward west and south. Then we know how
it goes: highway, the Hough falling down,
skyline split from chimneys tipping flame,

ash landing because nothing just a husk.
There go the jobs down the culvert.
There percolates the cancer-making well.
There goes the family hurtling headlightless
through the cicada-stained night.
What is left after a mastectomy, or
Cuyahoga catching fire for the tenth time?
What's a Jerusalem for whom no one weeps?

Come now from the deeps to his dunkingness,
from Saints Vincent and Mary, to all public
and private defeats: come, there he is, dancing
through the cul de sac, through the asphalt key,
to the everlastingly empty hoop forging,
summoning desire from so much lack, until
it is different, until like a river never so clean:
like a Baptist rising, the whole city of Cleveland

lipping up to the rim

Thanks to Mike Hickey and many thanks to Bob Redmond for taking part in the Seattle Poetry Chain. Bob (almost literally) knows everybody in Seattle's artistic community, so it'll be fascinating to see who he chooses for the next link on the Seattle Poetry Chain. Tune in next week at noon.

(Special note: To illustrate his piece, Redmond suggested that we use a photo of the 1952 Cuyahoga fire. The above posted photo is from here.)