Friday, January 8, 2016

The Lost Pilot, by James Tate

While looking up some of the specifics of James Tate's work, I just discovered that he died last year. I can barely type this now; I feel heartbroken.

Tate won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition for The Lost Pilot. I know I should tell you the year and how old he was, but given how sad I feel, I don't want to have to read his biography to find out the information. Not now anyhow.

In the title poem, The Lost Pilot, Tate writes to his father, who died during WW2, while Tate's mother was pregnant with him. While the poem is about a relationship to a father that he never met, its power lies in how relevant it feels to many estranged relationships. Personally, it speaks to me about my relationship with my father.

Specifically, this line.

All I know   
is this: when I see you,   
as I have seen you at least

once every year of my life,   
spin across the wilds of the sky   
like a tiny, African god,

I feel dead.

Please read the the poem, if not the whole book. I am too sad to write much more, having lost one of 
"poetic fathers."

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