POETRY MONTH 30/30/30: Inspiration, Community, Tradition: DAY 14 :: Daniel Owen on Bill Kushner
I first encountered Bill Kushner’s work at a reading at the Poetry Project a few years ago. That night, he read from In Sunsetland With You, a book of poems that emanate from young Billy’s relationship with old Abe Lincoln, poems that, with a language of grace and humor, narrate the misadventures of a lonely, horny, eternally innocent, old, sad, and joyous spirit through the wars, highway-watching nights, and skinny-dippings of Sunsetland. What struck me most about these poems, and what continues to strike me through all of Bill's work, is the delicate balance between wrenching and buoying the heart. Bill’s poems are like walking through the world with one’s eyes open, with the workaday bullshit stripped away; he reads the raw Whitman writ on every street corner or fragment of memory, real or imagined. Over the course of eight books, Bill has rambled through the streets of Sunsetland and New York, across sonnets and daily diary poems, lustily crusing through time present and past, Billie Holiday records, beefcake babies, always in a mood of love, love, love. Yes, love appears on almost every page and it sure feels real, flapping in the face and the mind and the blood of a humble human life.