Monday, July 5, 2010

Anne Porter

Anne Porter is a poet who has not received the attention her verse deserves. She was born in 1911, and is perhaps best known as the widow of the American painter Fairfield Porter. She did not try to have her poetry published until well after Fairfield’s death in 1975. She had dedicated herself to the raising of their five children, and to hospitality. Theirs was a stormy marriage, and Anne Porter had only dabbled with her own art in rare moments of spare time.

David Shapiro, a poet and family friend, encouraged her to seek publication. When her first collection, An Altogether Different Language (1994) appeared, it was a finalist for the National Book Award. Subsequently, several of Porter’s poems have appeared in Commonweal. In 2006 she published Living Things — her collected poems. Her poetry is deeply reflective, and often springs from her own Christian faith.

The Pasture Rose

Rosa humilis
The rose of the pastures
A small peasant rose

Free and for nothing
Gives us her prickles
Her five translucent petals
And her golden eye

And so to thank her
I try to learn
That dialect of silence
Which is her language
And then translate it
Into human words

As if the Lord had told me
Listen to the rose
Be the voice of the rose.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca