Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Michael Hannon: Imaginary Burden

I had the good fortune to hear Michael Hannon read his astounding poem "My Mother Walked Out" at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in the 1980s. It was an experience I will never forget. Over the years I have continued to be a fan of his work, which is now celebrated in the just-released volume Imaginary Burden: Selected Poems. (Available at

If you live on the Central Coast, you might be able to catch one of the readings Michael is doing in support of this new book. The next one is coming up on November 8, 7 pm at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Poets like Kenneth Rexroth, Sam Hamill, Gary Young and Joseph Stroud have sung his praises. He has collaborated for years with artists like William T. Wiley and Mary Heebner.

More good fortune: a dear friend sent me the above book and also Who On Earth (also available on after Michael's recent reading at Granada Books in Santa Barbara. I have many favorites in this small volume, including "The Thrush," "Tick Tock," and "Cold Snap." His poems have a sparse yet lyrical quality, evoking the unseen equally with the visible world.

And, he has a sense of humor. One of my all-time favorites is "The Poet At Fifty," which sums up a lifetime in one brief line: "Not only more than meets the eye, but less."

P.S.: Two of Michael Hannon's crow poems appear in the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.