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  • Writer's pictureNathan Brown

Frogs, Redwing Blackbirds, and John Denver

I just spent a week in Northwest New Mexico, or Southwest Colorado, depending on which map you’re looking at. The only sounds around were frogs, redwing blackbirds, and the wind through the pines and aspens that were bursting into bloom. I’ve not known such peace and quiet in some time. The setting took me back to something in my core that I’m having a hard time comprehending.

While there, I read an essay by Tony Hoagland (a poet I love) in which he used the word—among others like it—“obliquity.” I closed the book, looked at the stars, and wanted to bring him to that porch with me, sit him down, and say “Tony… Tony… such bullshit. This is why no one reads poetry." I wanted to tell John Ashbery, and other dissociative poets, to kiss my ever-living ass… and to please stop killing trees to make books.

And I wanted to tell them all: If I were to die tonight, there is nothing I’d want more than to spend my last few hours listening to the hokey, hopelessly sappy, and associative songs and lyrics of John Denver. “Rocky Mountain High,” “Annie’s Song,” “Country Roads,” “I’m Sorry,” and his rendition of “Boy from the Country.” In comparison? Every line Ashbery, and his ilk, have ever written: Total crap.

People in our age are dying to hear something… aching for a message of some kind… crying out for a little hope… a little encouragement. What is wrong with beauty delivered in a way that touches our hearts? That makes us want to be something better?

Post-postmodernism is over. Let it die the death it needs to die…

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