One of my favorite writers, both in poetry and prose, is Richard Brautigan. In the ’60s and ’70s, particularly, he entertained and inspired me. I have always wanted to write even one thing as good as he did. He said more with a greater economy of words and style than any other writer I’ve ever known. That’s something which has eluded me greatly.
Brautigan’s poem “Night”, more than most of his other work, has always intrigued me. With two simple words juxtaposed on two lines, he captured volumes of images and possibilities. And in that profound simplicity I am constantly humbled by what he accomplished, and the memories I have of Brautigan and his work.
Here is the poem. Don’t be fooled by its brevity, nor by its deceptively simple use of words. It’s about structure, nuance, and ultimately, that very simplicity itself.
While I have found his writing to be an inspiration to me, I have not written, and cannot hope to write, anything approaching his level of genius.
Below is one of my poor attempts to write something in a style like Brautigan might have done, but anyone who knows his work knows how miserably I have failed. I offer it up not as exemplifying Brautigan’s work, but rather in contrast to his mastery.
One lens clean, the other dirty,
the world is alternately distorted and pretty.
My apologies Richard. I will do penance by rereading your masterpiece, “Troutfishing in America.”