~from Michaela Hayes
Today’s poem is brought to us by CSU poet and MFA candidate Danny Schonning. I’m taking E403 Writing the Environment this semester (a great class, I highly recommend it to English and non-English majors alike) with Danny as the TA and today I asked him which poems he would recommend for our website. He first said “So many!” and I watched the familiar fluster flash across his face as he realized he was going to have to *gasp* narrow down his favorite poems. He decided to offer me a few environmental poems to go with the theme of the class, and this was among them — “The Moment When Your Name is Pronounced” by Forrest Gander.
I really like this poem. It is less environmental than exploratory of the human condition as it still is rather anthropocentric, but as a human myself, I’ve always leaned toward such literature. I particularly like the first three lines “This high up, the face/ eroding; the red cedar slopes/ over. An accident chooses a stranger.” The idea of random tragedy has always haunted me. Who decides which hikers trip and slide down the slope to their untimely demise and who decides which trip and then catch themselves? For that purpose, I like the personification of “accident” here. I like the idea of “accident” sitting behind a switchboard and pushing buttons before watching a stranger succumb to whatever is in store.