World of Waldman

The poet Anne Waldman is a national treasure, a connection to some of the most profound American cultural high notes of the last 40+ years who is still showing us the way today.

I interviewed her for my show last year (video soon here) and she was an endearing guest who shared with me some of the simple joys of conversation, even amidst the enormous breadth of her poetic presence. In honor of that, here is her poem, “The Lie” from Helping the Dreamer: Selected Poems, 1966-1988 (Coffee House Press, 1989):

Art begins with a lie

The separation is you plus me plus what we make

Look into lightbulb, blink, sun’s in your eye

I want a rare sky

vantage point free from misconception

Art begins with a lie

Nothing to lose, spontaneous rise

of reflection, paint the picture

of a lightbulb, or eye the sun

How to fuel the world, then die

Distance yourself from artfulness

How? Art begins with a lie

The audience wants to cry

when the actors are real & passionate

Look into footlight, then feed back to eye

You fluctuate in an artful body

You try to imitate the world’s glory

Art begins with a lie

That’s the story, sharp speck in the eye.