As I look back at the notes I took while reading Worthy Evans’ prize winning poetry question, the one word that keeps popping up is Voice.
Now, if you write at all (or have taken a writing class) you’ve probably been admonished to find your voice which – as I recall – felt extremely puzzling. Of course I have a voice? I’m writing, aren’t I? But, Worthy’s poetry collection really stands out for its distinctive voice. SO, perhaps the best way to teach someone about what voice is is to show them a book like this compared to say Whitman and let them just see/hear what different voices can do.
Worthy uses a very simple, conversational tone throughout these free verse poems, yet the poems also feel mysterious. Take the poem “Sunset” where he writes: The man and his wife walked up to the / canyon lip and he said “It’s good, / not great. But the book said to do it / so here we are.” The man said he and / the wife got married and later looked / to the west. . . This poem is in a very distinctive setting, yet I wonder about time. Did the man and woman go there before marriage? After? What book? Maybe it is just me, but the poem made me pause to ponder. I love when that happens; when a poem requires more than one reading; when I ask questions.
This matter-of-fact, yet distinct tone is present throughout this collection of poems that seem to contain speakers who are unsure of something even as they try to do the right thing (whatever that is).
So, I leave you with my brief interpretation which includes a note to myself to ask Worthy about how he choices his linebreaks. That was the only stylistic question I found myself coming back to. But, again, I love when a poet has me asking questions and isn’t just telling me what to think.