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Poetic Praise



Humble thanks to Ellen Taylor for her remarkable poem "Lilies/ For Rick Park" in the Journal of March 9. I presume the dedication signifies that she was inspired by the villanelle form of my poem of awhile back in these pages (Aug. 18, 2016), "Decennial Villanelle" (every 10 years I write one). It's a tricky, deceptively difficult form and Taylor handles it with apparent ease, working in a creation myth, King Midas, and an ecological commentary about the threats to the Smith River in an ongoing three-part narrative.

In my turn, I suppose I should tip my hat to a couple of the great predecessors who first schooled me in the form: obviously, Dylan Thomas ("Do Not Go Gentle...") and Sylvia Plath ("Mad Girl's Love Song").

Turns out that Ms. Taylor is a popular fixture at one of our local clinics, responsible in part for keeping our science columnist Barry Evans on the right side of the dirt. For that alone she deserves our thanks.

But speaking of that dirt business: the first people to bring Taylor's poem to my attention seemed a bit surprised to see me still vertical, having thought (heaven forfend that they should have hoped) that perhaps the lilies indicated that I was no longer with us. I can only quote another of my great literary heroes, Mark Twain: "Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated."

Rick Park, Eureka

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