Monday, July 29, 2013

Andrew Sean Greer

Andrew Sean Greer is the author of The Story of a Marriage, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, and the newly released The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.

Earlier this month I asked him about what he was reading.  His reply:
I am reading a book of Japanese Poetry translated by Kenneth Rexroth. While not particularly a fan of his school of poetry, I have found that his translations are eye-popping, perhaps precisely because he has no interest in antiquity, or in much literal meaning, only in sound and sense. Thus, his ancient Greek poetry collection knocked my socks off. Similarly this collection took me out of a very bad mood last week in Seattle. A poem I have known for a long time—Ariwara no Narihara's Moon poem—I always read in Gatten's translation:
This is not that moon!
Nor is this spring the spring that was.
In those days bygone!
My being the single thing.
Remaining as it ever was... (Gatten, 1986)
But I sat there eating a grouchy lunch and read Rexroth's:
This is not the moon,
Nor is this the spring,
Of other springs,
And I alone
Am still the same.
No flourishes, no romance, no eastern mystery to it—here, at last, is a poem. And its freshness and honesty moved me.
Visit Andrew Sean Greer's website and follow him on Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue