“Minding Rights”: Five Questions with David Yezzi

I decided to research the poet, David Yezzi, because I really enjoyed his poem, “Minding Rights.” I found this poem in my Best American Poetry book, and decided to further research David Yezzi and learn more about his career and literary background. David Yezzi was born in Albany, New York and received a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Carnegie Mellon University and a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Columbia University School of the Arts. David currently works as the chair of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. He is the editor of “The Hopkins Review,” and is the poetry editor of TNC. In addition to this, David was a co-founder of the theatre company, Thick Description. In 1998, David was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. Many of David’s poems have been published in journals including, The Atlantic, Poetry, The Yale Review, The Paris Review, The New Republic, and many more. In addition to his poems, his literary essays have been published in well known journals including, in The New York Times Book Review, The New York Sun, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and The (London) Times Literary Supplement. A few of David’s poetry works include, “A Stop Before Starting,” “Cough,” “Crane,” “Minding Rights,” “Lazy,” “Itchy,” “The Good News,” “Mother Carey’s Hen,” etc. The poem, “Minding Rights,” was one of my favorite poems that I read this year. It is about a man who purchases flowers everyday, and this individual thinks that he is buying them for his wife, but then realizes that he is buying them for another purpose. This poem is not hard to understand, and is very beautifully written. After reading this poem and enjoying it so much I decided to read more of David’s poems.

I chose to write about the poem, “The Good News,” by David Yezzi. This poem was interesting because in the beginning it seemed very simple, and a brief description of David and his close friend hanging out, but then as the poem continues there is a deeper meaning illustrated. The poem starts out by describing two friends hanging out and drinking, “A friend calls, so I ask him to stop by. We sip old Scotch, the good stuff, order in, some Indian—no frills too fine for him or me, particularly since it’s been ages since we made the time.” After reading this first line I was not sure what the rest of the poem would be about. Clearly these two friends have not seen eachother in a long time and are catching up. The poem all of the sudden gets confusing, “As if remembering then, he spills his news. Though I was pretty lit, I swear it’s true.” His friends spills his news, but the news is never mentioned in the poem, so this made me very curious as to what the good news was. Even though his good news is never mentioned, I still found this poem very interesting because I could easily relate to these two individuals who are reconnecting after a long period of time, and catching up on important things that have happened since they last saw each other. I enjoyed the last line of the poem, “By morning, I couldn’t remember half of what the guy had said, just his good news, my slurred goodbye, the click of the latch, the quiet hall.” This was a good ending to the poem because it accurately described the ending of any adults night after drinking, and the news is mentioned again, without any further detail which makes the poem more interesting.

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