Poem of the Week | February 05, 2013

This week we’re christening our brand-spanking new winter “Moonhead” issue 35.4 with a poem from Justin Gardiner’s feature. Gardiner is the 2012 Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Fellow, sponsored by PEN Northwest.  He is also the recipient of the 2012 Larry Levis Stipend through Warren Wilson’s MFA program, where he graduated in 2005.  His poems have appeared in journals that include Quarterly West, New South, Zone 3, and ZYZZYVA.

Author’s Note:

“It was hard to be a great writer,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “if you loved the world and living in it and special people. It was hard when you loved so many places.”  And I think that tension is there, underlying most everything he wrote: how, despite his dedication to art, he was also always being pulled toward the unmitigated joys of just living his life.  While hard to pinpoint as a governing aesthetic, I hope a similar tension shows through in my first manuscript, Naming the Lifeboat.  Only a handful of the poems therein are set down in Antarctica, but they are a culmination of sorts, of many of the other poems of travel and nature, and I am happy to have several of them appearing together in this issue.

Naming the Lifeboat


The phrase calls to mind two scenarios:
neither good.  The first—to name it preemptively,
at the journey’s outset, with all hands
idly aboard—is seen as a harbinger of need,
a provocation of the fates asea.  The second
signifies a desperate act, when all is lost
or may soon be: the first oar dipped
trembling to wake in the ocean surrounding.
Christening the world keeps warm
the lonely heart—though be wary, too,
of the fears you might help
to shape, of the solace we may be
forced to seek, in the consolations
of what gets named.