Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Quick Wit of Lydia Davis

Last night, I heard the fiction writer, translator, poet Lydia Davis read her work at Johnson State College last night in Vermont. As an aside, I’m in Vermont for a month, writing poetry at the Vermont Studio Center on fellowship. So lovely! Anyway, back to Lydia Davis. I love her work, for its conciseness, for its edge, for its wit, for its dark humor. Stripped of all description, stripped of all narration, her ‘stories,’ if one dares call them that, translate the interior musings of a deliberate and attentive mind into what I want actually to call verse.

This is a very very short story poem (unpublished I think) that she read last night:

Contingency versus Necessity

He could be our dog
But he’s not our dog
So he barks at us

There is so much contained in those words as it relates to human/animal relations and love. What happened to their dog? The elliptical three lines leave us filling in the blanks. Like a poem.

She reminds me that the details left out can often be the best part of a poem. Strip it down, she seems to say. You can read more of her work here.

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