David Ignatow

I had this great response to one of my several posts on  Stephen Dobyns – and some of you, actually two of you, mentioned David Ignatow, who I know nothing about.

  • Can anyone tell me a bit more about his work?
  • What should I read & why?
David Ignatow

Earth hard to my heels
bear me up like a child
standing on its mother’s belly.
I am a surprised guest to the air.

– David Ignatow

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I don’t know much about Ignatow (yet). I read his Notebooks because I’m planning a trip to NYC, and I thought I might find a quote or two to include with future blog posts about the city. And while I did not find the quotes I was hoping for, I came away with a lot of respect for the man. He wrestled with the tension between earning money/making a living/ supporting a family/meeting the expectations of his parents and his drive to write. And I find this such a real dilemma, so I respect him for his struggles.

    Here he is, in his own words: “Poets must have a way of life as businessmen, teachers, scientists, publishers — something of a nature that keeps them in mortal danger of their lives and their self-respect. Something which demands sacrifice from them of time, energy, thought, creativity, from which they go with a feeling of relief and accomplishment when they succeed and which permits them to write poetry then. This poetry will be rooted in their lives and be authentic, even if despairing and hard and bitter because of the demands of their lives and the subesquent disillusions. There is nothing any man should fear more than to escape for too long a time from his life. He will then have no way of returning to it and will be as lost as though he had lost his life, for in living and meeting the problems, imbalances and unfairness in life we find a meaning.”

    My dip into his Notebooks was enough to make me now want to explore his poems.

    1. Sigrun says:

      I love this: “There is nothing any man should fear more than to escape for too long a time from his life. … ”
      Thank you so much, I’d love read more!

  2. I suggest reading his essays on poetry, Open Between Us; also his book Shadowing the Ground. I loved his last book of poems–(Living Is All I Wanted)–so aware of death, so brief and concise, unintentionally wise because he never acted, or thought, like “the sage.”

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