He talked for half an hour before reading a poem.
Time is illusory, he said.
It passes, but it also stands still.
He said there might be people on distant planets just like us.
That could be frightening, he said.
Or it could be wonderful.
He said his astronomer friend said the universe is much bigger than we can imagine.
He said the deconstructionists were wrong.
He said poetry is alive in South America.
People don’t care if they don’t understand it.
He said North Carolina is beautiful—tell no one.
He said people read more poetry now than when he first started writing.
He said listening comes first, then seeing.
He read a poem about a blind man who held seashells in his hand.
He read a poem about a frog who was a believer in rain.
He read poems inhabited by the ghosts of trees.
Waves of innocence usurped a boat.
Nameless voices undulated like the sea.
A silent cricket was the pupil of night.
He said humans are not special.
Animals have language, he said.
And we have imagination.
—from Poets Respond
March 19, 2019
Christopher Brean Murray: “My poem recalls the thrilling experience of attending a reading by the great American poet, translator, and environmental activist, W.S. Merwin.”