Issue 420 | The Sun Magazine

December 2010

Readers Write

The Office

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a plastic rooster, tear gas

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
Letters To A Young Poet

A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgment of it: there is no other.

By Rainer Maria Rilke


Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.

Roland Barthes

The Sun Interview

Written On The Bones

Kim Rosen On Reclaiming The Ancient Power Of Poetry

To me a good poem is like a sacred mind-altering substance: you take it into your system, and it carries you beyond your ordinary ways of understanding. I call the nonconceptual elements of a poem — the rhythm, the sound, the images — the “shamanic anatomy.” Like a shaman’s drum, the beat of a poem can literally entrain the rhythms of your body: your heartbeat, your breath, even your brain waves, altering consciousness. Most poems are working on all these levels at once, not just through the rational mind.

By Alison Luterman
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

my heart went out

my heart went out, M. then there you were, nowhere visible, yet present in a way that made me turn to the spring snowflakes and whisper, live forever.

By David James Duncan
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Oar: A Summer In Three Acts

I had anchored my boat on an inside bend of the snowmelt-fed Rock Creek. Whoever christened that body of water a “creek” had clearly never attempted to cross it in June, when the burly current threatens to unfoot the knee-deep wader.

By Chris Dombrowski

The Immortal Zelensky

My mother and I had been in the apartment four days when the sink broke and Zelensky came by to fix it. He had lived in the building for seventeen years — much longer than anyone else, as I understood it — and had some kind of arrangement where he helped out the landlady, who was unmarried, with basic maintenance.

By Boomer Pinches

What Do You Need?

In Tibetan the word for “heart” and “mind” is the same because it is believed that the mind is located in the heart, not the brain, where we Westerners place it. It was a notion I quite liked but didn’t know what to do with on a daily operating basis that summer.

By Jane Ratcliffe

Selected Poems

from “Summer Dusk” | I put in my goddamn hearing aid / in order to listen to a bird that sounds / like the side of a drinking glass / struck lightly by a fork

By Tony Hoagland

Without Tending

Just down the road a row of basil stands tight / in plastic bags, a line of buoys in a frigid sea, / while our yard lies open in the bitter cold.

By Christine Poreba