Friday, October 10, 2003

Jonathan Holden - Manhattan, KS

Holden is a sweet, wryly funny man who is quick with a hearty laugh. We sit in a spacious and beautiful living room in his home in Manhattan, and talk easily about all manner of things, my favorite being a story about some girls heckling him when he was young for being too skinny. He turns to me and says, "Skinny Man, Skinny Man," bringing back the memory with real pleasure and maybe the smallest amount of leftover tragedy.

He brings up Wordsworth a couple of times, and we both recall the same line, "emotion recollected in tranquility." He brings up Kim Novak and we both recall her as well, in the old William Holden film, Picnic.

Much of Holden's best work is nostalgic, and he's plumbed his own past most beautifully in his memoir Guns and Boyhood in America.

He reads to me from his earlier book, The Names of the Rapids, and recalls for me the genesis of some of those poems.

It's an autumn afternoon, but the outside sun suggests late July or something. A gigantic wooden deck stretches out to the side of the house. I tell Holden how much I like it, and he tells me he does, too, but he regrets how often it has to be resealed. He hires someone to do it, and thinks he probably pays too much. The dollar amount sounds high to me, but I think to myself there's not much of a chance I'd do it for any less, nor would I want to do it on my own if I still had one.

I shoot some pictures of Holden up against a blue sofa, the light coming in the gigantic living room. We shake hands and say our goodbyes. I walk out onto the small cul de sac and head for a bigger road, one big enough for the rolling tin can that I know is out there waiting for me.