Nathan Brown poem: "Between Two Artists" + Ira Glass' advice on "something begets something"

This past weekend I heard Steven Purcell read this poem, "Between Two Artists," by Nathan Brown, whom I'd met a few years back at a Laity Lodge retreat. It's such a perfectly witty poem, which imagines a (one-way) conversation between an art critic and God. Nathan, who currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Oklahoma, is a distinguished speaker, musician, photographer, songwriter, and award-winning poet. He is author of eight books, most recently Karma Crisis: New and Selected Poems (2012). His book, Two Tables Over, won the prestigious 2009 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry given by Oklahoma Center for the Book.

Between Two Artists

Dear God,
I have always admired
your work. And were it not for that,
I wouldn't bother you with this.

But I must say, your installation peice
at the Point Lobos Nature Reserve
above Big Sur simply goes too far.

The Monterey Pines are too tall,
the Cypresses too fanned out
in perfection with trunks tied
to intricate knots that would take
centuries to unravel.

The cliffs appear
superimposed for dramatic effect
with impossible jags giving way
to fairytale caves that burst forth
gushes of blue water like a French soda
topped with cotton candy cream spray.

The crashes of waves and explosions of foam
are too much like a Disney Land ride.
There are too many kinds of birds, too many
varieties of plants, and too much color in both.

In short, it lacks integrity. It does not speak
to the truth of the way things are. And I don't
think viewers will trust or believe its authenticity.

(From Suffer the Little Voices, Greystone Press, Edmond OK 2005)


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