For years I have been looking to be my hands on some poetry by Dylan Thomas. My luck finally lead me to find a copy of The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas. Aside from a few poems, namely Don’t Go Gentle Into That Good Night, I haven’t read much Thomas.
My want to see what he is all about is simple, and a bit foolish. Some one sharing (but not named after on purpose) the great Bob Dylan (’s birth name) should get to know what Bob Dylan was inspired by. He did of course use the name Dylan because of Dylan Thomas. Why not see what’s so great about a poet that inspires a famous name change?
Aside from finding this copy of the book, I found a short list of the previous owner’s possible favorite poems. There are three poems listed on the back of either a check out or catelog or some other card used in the Memorial Library University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wisconsin.
I’m not sure what’s more strange; the card from a discarded library book or a list of only three poems. Granted one is Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. But one would think that while reading a collected edition of a poet’s work, there would be more than three that would catch the readers attention, even if this were for school research or something along those lines.
No matter what the cause, the poems (and page numbers) are:
128 Do Not (Go Gentle Into That Good Night)
10 (The) Force (that through the green fuse drives the flower)
112 (A) Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, or a Child in London
-parentheses to finish word missing in the list
In the table of the contents there is one more poem marked, as well as the three from the card. That one is And death shall have no dominion, found on page 77.
Seeing the, even though few, poems a previous owner choice to highlight enhances the enjoyment of a book at times. It allows for the pondering of why they were chosen and leads to attempting to figure out if they will inspire in my reading the same fancy.
Now You’re The Enemy is near the top of my favorite books list. Not many books of poetry make me want to read nonstop what is on the pages. This book did just that.
My opinion of this book is, I can not and will not deny, biased. James Allen Hall, the poet who wrote these poems was a professor of mine for four of my five semesters for my Creative Writing degree. I bought my copy of the book the summer after my first two semesters of taking his classes because I needed to know what the person teaching me was like behind it all. In his words. Behind his words.
I fell in love with his teaching style and the way the material was presented (and almost unknowingly absorbed) right away. It didn’t take very long for me to know that Dr. Hall was and will be my favorite professor.
In life, James is very fun to be around. There are always laughs when he’s around. Normally a professor is just there for me to be taught by and I can care less about much else then getting the class over with. I never felt that way when learning about poets, authors, and how to write. I wanted more. I wanted to stay in class for longer than the few hours we were in there for in the first place. It was like being taught by a friend.
I rationed this book out over a few week span the summer I bought it. And after I finished reading it, I went back to reread it a few more times. This is the type of poetry I wanted to write. Poetry that takes the reader and throws them into a scene that borders on it being their own experience even though they know it’s not. I want to be able to describe the beauty in the ugly parts of life and and ugly past.
When I realized that my last semester of college was quickly coming to a close I knew that I must get a momento of my time with Dr. Hall. I went to his office one afternoon, it was before one of my other classes. I asked him to sign the book and that I really enjoyed it. Even though I’ve talked to him in class and one-on-one for over a year, I felt like I was in the presence of a celebrity. Here I was getting my book signed by my professor, when it felt like it was in the hands of Derek Jeter.
When he handed the book back to me, I resisted the urge to open it and read it right there. That would have been even more awkward than I was already making it. After a bit of small talk I went off to class, still having not peeked in the book.
What I received that day wasn’t a simple signing by an author. James Hall, with his message to me, showed that there are people who believe in my work. He has been looking closely over a collection I wrote for his class for a few months and really helped me mature my words to be presentable. I just hope that soon I’ll be able to have a signed copy of my published work to give him. I’ll just have to have patience.
The cover of Night Cadre was the first reason I picked up the book. The artwork is beautiful in it’s use of the night sky (stars, crescent moon, the spacey background) and skeletons. Upon picking it up and looking more closely at who the poet was, I was surprised to find out that Robert Hunter is the key lyricist of the Grateful Dead. I wish was I able to say that I knew his association with the legendary band. I’m knowledgeable in music, but I guess not in everything.
When I got it home I was like, this is cool. I found the card for a reading by Hunter in Manhattan. It was for sometime between 1991 and 1992 since this book was published in 91 and Idiot’s Delight, which is advertised for said was released in 92. I thought it was a great find in this book. One thing I wish happened, though, was that the person who owned the book brought it to the reading. I’m taking a guess that the owner didn’t bring the book for the simple fact that it isn’t signed. It could have been brought to the reading and it wasn’t able to be signed due to time, crowds, or some other reason. Either way it’s cool just having this piece of history.