Channeling the Duende: George Kalamaras’s “A History of Green”

From the snowy Midwest, a fellow poet laureate (albeit at the State level in Indiana) has written a lovely poem about green, based on a poem about yellow. What a gift for us, in California, on this gray rainy day.

No more corn

George-Kalamaras George Kalamaras’s poem draws inspiration from Charles Wright’s “Yellow,” a sonnet-length catalogue replete with images of that color. But Kalamaras’s “A History of Green,” three times longer than Wright’s, evokes an even greater abundance. It careens from Fort Wayne to Greece to India, Burma to Spain, to encompass poets and shrines, plants and animals and insects, in lines thick with rhyme and sound repetitions. The color green suggests a poetics of the duende, which the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca called “the spirit of the earth,” invoking death and desire in a single whirling moment.

Kalamaras, who began his term as Indiana’s fourth poet laureate, on January 1, 2014, is currently teaching a course on the poetics of place at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, his academic home for many years. Poets mean different things when discussing “place.” For some, it means an allegiance to region in the narrowest sense…

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