Every year when the temperature outside begins to drop, the CR staff becomes giddy for all things fall. Matt O’Keefe positively giggles over the leaves crunching beneath his feet, and Lisa Ampleman and Nicola Mason nearly come to blows over the question of lattice-crusted versus crumb-topped apple pie. Becky Adnot-Haynes begins chucking a football at volunteers as they arrive for their weekly office hours, yelling “Think fast!” and Brian Trapp thinks the decreased humidity makes his hair look good.
In this celebratory fall spirit, we recommending curling up with your copy of 9.1 and treating yourself to a good pumpkin beer. Below, for your reading pleasure, we’ve created pairings with commentary from some of our 9.1 contributors.
Tracy Burkholder (Terrapin Pumpkinfest): I’ve never been a touchy-feely person and yet for fifteen years I’ve been a massage therapist, a profession that is nothing but touching and feeling. In “Proof” I wanted to explore the path, both personal and cultural, that brought me to a place where I regularly work my hands across the muscles of near-naked strangers. I wanted to examine the power inherent in a touch and the ways we so often avoid it.
Chris Cunningham (Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale): I’ve been writing poems about a man named Mr. Anderson for several years now—”Mr. Anderson in the Supermarket,” “Mr. Anderson Rents a Foreign Film,” “The Sins of Mr. Anderson,” etc. He’s a sad man, lonely—or at least often alone—and a bit eccentric. My wife teases me that he’s going to “go postal” one of these days and start shooting people in one of the poems, but I want him to be sad and eccentric not in a scary or strange way but in the way we all are at times, so I’ve been working on poems that try to complicate his emotional life. “Mr. Anderson in the Fall” started as a scrap of observation recorded in my notebook one morning, the kind of thing you write when you have nothing to write. When I went back to it earlier this year, the scrap grew into a short lyric and took an interesting left turn, and I saw that it could be just the kind of experience and thinking I want for Mr. Anderson. Finally, I had been rereading Wallace Stevens, and I think echoes of his “Snow Man” found their way into the poem as well.
Kelly Moffett (Imperial Pumpkin): I wrote the poems while on retreat at KY Foundation for Women’s Hopscotch House, a farmhouse surrounded by acres of land and wood. I was pondering Ann Hamilton, my reaction to my father’s recent stroke, and the rain, the way the rain clung to bare branches like still tears and refused to fall and the way that landscape is presented both still and moving in Hamilton’s work and how Hamilton kind of collects material (like pennies, honey, and sheep) to create art. Then, quite literally, a herd of deer ran through the back field and there was a setting sun and a bunch of middle distance, and all I wanted to do (emotionally) was dive into that beauty, become the herd on the move, the red sun, the still rain. I was creating from the emotional space of the “impulse to dissolve,” to become ghostlike and beautiful—a different kind of alive. “Renunciation” and “Indwelling” became an accumulation of all of this.
Dave Yost (Ichabod Ale): Years ago, I took an out-of-town date to the Faust Park carousel in St. Louis at her request and was surprised to learn she already knew a few of its animals and the workshops that had crafted them. She also told me their outrageous selling prices, and about the occasional robberies of older pieces. I’d never given much thought to carousels before, but I jotted the title “The Carousel Thief” into my notebook on the spot. Five years later, the rest of the story finally followed.