Poet of the Day – Nate Maxson

National Poetry Month April 5, 2020

Nate Maxson

Map Of Isola Di Pantelleria (Half Sung)
A temporary coagulation: wind land
This desire for the near zero, horizonal: Riehman’s zeta function
No grasp of the temporal but to swim
Moving towards it but never arriving
The giardino pantesco: old stone, obsidian cairns ringed over single trees for trapping the fog

Daylight’s vapor turned to rain
The other side of the world we still think of in 2D terms,
Low tone/ last song
Far island crags/ 300 miles from Tunisia/ places that you dream but never see
Patches of wiry dead grass breathing in the blue nocturnal
An assumption of home, of return: not when but where
A magic trick hidden in hand motions and wolf prints in the mud, faked to scare the neighbors
On this hill where we can briefly see
Down below, a little city, lights in every window, all going out like stars
  1. What inspired you to write this poem?

In early 2019 I wrote a series of poems inspired by Italy and Italian history. This poem was inspired by my discovery that on an island off the coast of Sicily called Isola Di Pantelleria there are these ancient gardens called the Giardino Pantesco and what they are is they’re these circles of stones that are thousands of years old and inside the stone circles are plants and the plants grow because the stone rings capture fog inside them in the morning. I just thought that was so cool and I had to write a poem about it.

2. What do you like about this poem?

I like the mathematical reference to Riehman’s Zeta function at the beginning of the poem and I like the ending. I’m good at endings.

3. What would you change about this poem?

Well in an earlier draft of this poem there were some italicized lines that were meant to be a song (that’s why the title is half sung not just sung) and I took them out because I thought they were too cute. Now I’m not so sure if that was really the case.

4. Where, when, and how often do you write?

I write between one to three poems a week. Sometimes I’ll write down notes on a scrap of paper when I’m at work to play with later. I sometimes go a graveyard in my neighborhood and sit quietly among the stones and write what comes to me on my phone for use later. First drafts on paper, later drafts on my laptop is generally how I do it.

5. What poetry books are you reading right now?

Oh let’s see, I’ve been reading a lot of Colorado poet Zachary Schomburg’s books “The Man Suit” and “Fjords”. He’s really excellent. I’ve also been reading “All Of This Candy Belongs To Me” by Rich Boucher who is a local, Albuquerque poet that I’m friends with whose work consistently knocks me off my feet. Lastly, I’ve been reading the collected poems of Ted Hughes in conjunction with the collected poems of Sylvia Plath. I know I know but whatever we might think of them -one a brilliant young woman suffering from mental illness turned sad girl martyr and the other the arch prince of bastardliness who wrote blazing poems about animals and was abusive to the other- their poems ARE in conversation with one another and their influence on each other’s work is obvious. Lastly

Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. The author of several collections of poetry, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Picture of Nate Maxson