Marvin Bell, one of America’s most influential, visible, and inventive poets, likes “ideas to have a little dirt on their shoes.” His wildly original and often gritty curiosity finds inspiration in wide-ranging locales, and even wider topics. He will take on any subject in his poetry, and the conclusion of Rampant is a ten-part suite, “Journal of the Posthumous Present,” which was commissioned by the Getty Research Insititute and published as a cover feature in American Poetry Review. The poem is remarkable for its original methods and socio-philosophic investigation, and points to the signature of Bell’s career: his ability to radically examine the world through poetry.
From “The Bones Repeat Themselves from the Bottom Upward”
Later there will be a wedding in the leaves
by the white church where the Boy Scouts box
in the basement, trying to be brave.
The owner of the fishing station watches the sea
through binoculars, fixing on the darker water
where the boats clustered to thin a school.
The days have been growing raw,
and he is willing to give the last ones five minutes
before he rips the tide apart with an inboard
and drags to the beach those who didn’t
see the end coming.
“Marvin Bell enlarges our understanding of what poetry can do.”—Georgia Review
“Bell’s passion [is] for exploring the traces of paradox in language, culture and nature.”—Virginia Quarterly Review
Marvin Bell’s writing has been part of the conversation for 40 years. One of the country’s most visible poets, he is Iowa’s first and current Poet Laureate, a long-time teacher at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and has toured with the author-based band Rock Bottom Remainders. He also reads and lectures widely; collaborates with composers, musicians and dancers; and teaches in the Urban Teachers Workshop. He lives in Iowa City.