David Ignatow was a prolific writer with 17 books of poetry over the span of his career. He was born in Brooklyn in 1914 and was eventually employed in his father’s bookbinding business. After being poet-in-residence at several colleges including University of Kentucky, University of Kansas, and Vassar College, as well as being a professor at CUNY, he became President of the Poetry Society of America from 1980-84. Mr. Ignatow passed away in 1997 and I was fortunate enough to pick up a collection of his work titled at my ease: uncollected poems of the fifties and sixties from BOA Editions published in 1998. This collection is about life in its plainest form, almost pessimistic but still has hope and the possibility of waking up to a brighter morning. These poems are good for anyone feeling apprehension for the new year. The information about David Ignatow was provided by this volume of work and more can be found at Poets.org and Poetry Foundation using the links below:
I wasn’t able to obtain permission from BOA editions in time post his poems in their entirety but I will an excerpt from his poem “Resolved:”
Do you love?
Then you are wretched:
you have been hitched
to a plow, the ground
is hard and dry. ….
in the knowledge of your achievement.
It is possible to be happy.
I also love his poem “The Jobholder” as there are days for many of us where we feel the same way. He describes the mundane cycle of boarding the bus to go to work, disembarking to return home, and waiting for his turn to die. In this sense it is almost too dismal to take as concrete fact that this is how Mr. Ignatow lives. Surely, something interesting lies around the next corner. In his preface written in 1994 for this book he explains how he wishes his audience to read these poems and feel pleasure and relief. Perhaps he means that by reading his work we will know that life isn’t always so full of mundane, negative, or painful things and that it is time to embrace life for all of its ups and downs. That is how I view these poems, and hope you have some thoughts on them as well if you get a chance to read him.
Thanks for reading, please stop in tomorrow for more linked poems…