2019 Summer Reading Issue

Well-Versed

A pocketful of poets & photographers reflect on summer

Ask a poet to show you a glimpse of summer and they will not give you words on a page.

“OK,” they will tell you, tying a silk cloth over your eyes, and then they will take your hand, guide you to the end of the sidewalk, where you will leave your shoes.

The earth feels wet and cool beneath your feet, each step like a distant memory, and the more you trust the ground beneath you, the more you will notice that everything is alive. Whether or not you’ve been here before, or think you have, there is something foreign within the familiar, and the possibility of discovery ignites you.

Just beyond a swollen creek, where chorus frogs shriek in the wake of an August rain, something will demand your attention — a fragrance, perhaps. Or filtered light flickering across your face and skin. Or the sense of nearby movement. You will know when it arrives, and when it does, it will draw you closer to the source.

Before the cloth slips down below your eyes, you will feel a shift in the air. And then you will see it: a moss-laced grove, a golden field, the garden of a lover who still haunts you. The poet who led you here is gone, and in the midst of this enchanted dreamscape, you have unearthed something within yourself, a pain or a delight — an awakening that cannot be reversed.

This is the beauty of poetry. Sweet or bitter, subtle or Earth-shaking, whatever truth has been revealed reminds you of the exquisite cauldron of human emotions that you might stumble upon at any instant.

For our annual August Reading Issue, we invited a number of our favorite poets (including two Poet Laureates) to take us somewhere special with their words, matching them with a gifted photographer to illustrate their vision.

In this dreamy, golden season dripping with raw honey and memory, each moment is ripe with surprises. You’ll see. You can leave your shoes behind. You need only be open to discovery.  Ashley Wahl


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