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PoetrySnaps! Joanna Klink: 3 Bewildered Landscapes

Poet Joanna Klink
Courtesy of Joanna Klink
Poet Joanna Klink

Today’s featured poet is Joanna Klink. One of her favorite thrills is the of capturing a complex but universal feeling in words. Much of her work is inspired by her travels throughout Arizona and the Colorado Plateau, and today she reads “3 Bewildered Landscapes”. The initial spark of the poem came when she and her boyfriend became lost in the woods during a backpacking trip. During the ordeal they entered what she calls a sort of “glassy delirium” due to exhaustion, confusion and lack of food and water.

Joanna Klink: So, it was three days on foot with packs and just everything went wrong. It rained mercilessly and when it wasn’t raining, we were being swarmed by mosquitos. And we missed a turnoff and were lost for 12 hours, and night was falling and everything just seemed so strange and inhospitable. There was no good place to set up a tent, there was no place for us. And I had that sense of everything familiar was being peeled back. Even my boyfriend seemed kind of strange to me and unknown to me.

So, it wasn’t the character-building kind of being lost when you know you’re going to come out on the other side. It was just, we were desperate and exhausted and wandering around in a wilderness with no intuition of what going forward would even look like.

Poems let you see the world when it’s just shot through with strangeness—strangeness and mystery. And you see daily life peeled back and these other blazing energies come forward, if only just for a second. Poems ask you to just come unraveled for a moment and then you’re put differently back together. This poem is sort of in that space of before you’re put back together when you’re just kind of in that state of being lost.

3 Bewildered Landscapes

STARS, SCATTERSTILL. Constellations of people and quiet. 

Those nights when nothing catches, nothing also is artless. 

I walked for hours in those forests, my legs a canvas of scratches,

trading on the old hopes—we were meant to be lost. But being lost

means not knowing what it means. Inside the meadow is the grass,

rich with darkness. Inside the grass is the wish to be rooted, inside the rain

the wish to dissolve. What you think you live for you may not live for. 

One star goes out. One breath lifts inside a crow inside a field.

Poet Joanna Klink is based in Austin where she teaches at the Michener Center for Writers. She’s received numerous accolades including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.

Poetry Snaps is produced by KNAU Arizona Public Radio and airs the first and third Friday of each month.

About the host:
Steven Law is the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps! He is a poet, essayist, storyteller, and the author of Polished, a collection of poems about exploring the Colorado Plateau by foot and by raft.

About the music:
Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.

Steven Law was the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps!