Revival of the Spirit

by Charles Bailey  ·  April 28, 2016

The last dregs of my undergraduate college days are closing in. It is a melange of sleepless nights, anxiety, and molehills of coursework that would disturb even the most patient man. March brings me no solace or respite; spring break is, or rather was, an evanescent reprieve from the rush of assignments thrust upon me that rarely does the college student justice. I will jump for joy when I am able to walk across that stage in May. The herculean workload I am to surmount leaves me little time to pursue my own dreams. I’ve nursed aspirations of worldwide literary fame for several moons, and those beloved cogitations have waned while facing the imminent possibilities after graduation. I’ve not edited, revised, nor crafted a new poem in months, and manuscripts for class agitate my Southern-born mock ennui. But then, two weeks ago, I was gifted with Vol. 12, No. 1 of Five Points.

I’ve been quite jealous of the people who have been featured in these pages—new poets, old writers, and venerable essayists that I craved to join in the annals of fame. And yet, I’ve read their pages hungrily—from the sublime Kim Addonzio to the illustrious Andre Dubus III. . .

Then I read Mark Doty’s “Theory of Narrative.”

Doty’s words enflamed me. His sublime lines grabbed my ear and pulled me by the hand along a very interesting ride as he describes an almost happenstance meeting with another man: “Oh you’re a writer, I’m a writer, too, Juan says, / I write novels, I’ve written eight of them…” Doty makes you feel like you are driving “in the high desert north of Mexico City” with the wind on your face and Juan’s stories in your ears.

By the end of the poem, I wanted to be a musician, dig under a peach tree, read about a moral fable with a snake, and commit the perfect crime. And if I begged Juan to stop his tale, that would be the perfect crime.

After I closed the covers of Five Points, a curious feeling swept my heart. Words reclaimed vibrancy, punctuation pierced my emotions, and I fell in love with the semicolon again like a boy of thirteen does at a school dance. Mark Doty—a bard worthy of the stanza. Read him.