From the Newsletter | Remembering Poet Linda Pastan

By | Jul 20, 2023
image shows a black and white blurred train station with people walking through it. The words Moment Minute and the outline of a clock overlay the train station image.

What lyrical poetry can do—but rarely does—sounds impossible. It can blur the distinction between thought and feeling, between speech and song. And though it can’t stop time, it can give the moment a form that lasts. Linda Pastan’s poetry does all these things.

When she died this winter at the age of 90, Pastan left us 15 exquisite books—from A Perfect Circle of Sun (1971) to Almost an Elegy (2022). For those of us who knew her, the poems in these volumes have a different aura now. There’s something new in their spare lines, always mysterious and lovely—a new poignancy, a new eeriness, which may be the memory of her living voice.

In her books, she’s free of time. She’s a girl in her childhood bedroom, a young mother, a grieving daughter. She’s at a window in her house in the woods, watching the leaves fall—or it’s the end of summer and she’s leaving the island. In her books, she’s every age she ever was…the queen of a rainy country.

Moment has been honored to feature Linda Pastan’s work over the years. In the last weeks of her life, she wrote a poem called “The Mysteries” and shared it with me. It’s a last word of sorts, an almost serene confession of bafflement. How to explain our bounded lives with their joys and griefs? How to explain our intractable illusions? We’re grateful to the Pastan family for allowing us to publish this poem for the first time.

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