Poems In One Hand. Essays in the Other.

by | Sep 29, 2008

Portland poet and essayist, Floyd Skloot, is the unique position of having two books introduced at once. His fourth memoir, The Wink of the Zenith, is out from University of Nebraska Press. And his new book of poems, The Snow’s Music, is out from Louisiana State University Press.

Last night, while reading at Powell’s, Skloot said The Wink of the Zenith is getting good reviews but he fears his new book of poems could be overlooked in the process.

Not by this site.

Here’s a selection from The Snow’s Music, a poem Skloot shared last night during his reading:

The Ensemble

The actor playing Claudius has worn
the same shirt to rehearsal every night,
a faded royal blue polo with torn
sleeves and grayed message: Ophelia Was Right.
The student of divinity who plays
Laertes has stopped seeking his inner
hothead. He’s come to believe the boy stays
calm and affects rage while his voice, thinner
the louder it becomes, gives him away.
That new beard, flecked with white, will have to go.
Meanwhile, the Gertrude whispering her way
through another chest cold still does not know
her speech from Act Three, saying No more sweets,
Hamlet! instead of No more, sweet Hamlet!
Her husband playing her son is two beats
too fast on every line. No surprise. Yet
his quick mouth suggests doubt, a racing mind,
something she has not considered before.
At the bar tonight the Director is kind
in his final notes, knowing little more
to do now, certain it will come together
tomorrow. He orders one more round,
toasts cast, stage crew, opening night weather,
Shakespeare, Denmark. He savors the sound
their laughter makes as it rises and falls.
He’s loved them all since the first casting call.

After Skloot read, I asked him if he’d written a play. He said not yet, but it would be an interesting challenge. He mentioned that he used to act and that the theatre has a big impact on his writing.