Completely Subjective: David Wagoner’s “Casting Aspersions”

As I was looking through the selection of poems in the 2013 edition of “The Best American Poetry” One poem in particular grabbed my attention.  Written by David Wagoner “Casting Aspersions” seems to be just as much a rebuttal to an attack on him as it is  poem. Wagoner is the author of ten novels and twenty four books of poems. As a successful and established novelist and poet Wagoner’s writing style is not particularly unique but the topics he chooses to address in his poems often involve his love for nature and his anger for its destruction. Many of his poems begin with a mournful attitude for the loss of nature itself and increase into anger. His connection to nature seemingly stemmed from his urban up bringing which sounds hypocritical, a quote from him in the “Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series”, Wagoner recalls, “when I drove down out of the Cascades and saw the region that was to become my home territory for the next thirty years, my extreme uneasiness turned into awe. I had never seen or imagined such greenness, such a promise of healing growth. Everything I saw appeared to be living ancestral forms of the dead earth where I’d tried to grow up.” This event is what i believe led him to his love for nature. The fact that he had an urban upbringing but is mainly a nature poet makes him very unique, having a view of both sides and a strong opinion of both.

What makes “Casting Aspersions” particularly unique is that it is not his typical style or a typical topic that he would write about. This poem is directly addressing a personal adversary of Wagoner’s, the person or group of people he is addressing seem to have accused him of wronging him saying at one point in his poem, “ And because he was sensitive and literary,I knew he must be telling me i was sprinkling unholy water on him.” which I interpreted as Wagoner almost being sarcastic and saying that he was overreacting. I even thought that maybe Wagoner was saying that he was being soft. After looking for a situation in Wagner’s life where he may have had a problem with another writer or person I could not find anything, It may have been with a family member of a friend which would have made this very personal to him and not information that the public could come by but none the less this poem was written five years ago when Wagoner would have been 86, and assuming that an 86 year old would not get in any sort of quarrel such as this it most likely would have been a significant enough event in his life that he held a grudge over it for a long time.

mcThis image is portrays what I assume Wagoners attitude towards his adversary was, and what I picture the attitude of the poem as. A combination between annoyed and angry. Annoyed with the utter pettiness of the person and anger towards the mere fact that it was a problem to begin with, which relates back to the line “And because he was sensitive and literary.“  which I perceived as anger to towards the pettiness of the problem.

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