Monday, April 6, 2015

Georgia State Poet Laureate - Judson Mitcham


In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I would look up and see who the state poet laureate is. The current Georgia Poet Laureate is Judson Mitcham according to the Georgia Council for the Arts website. There is an interesting interview with him and one of his poems on the blog "How a Poem Happens" by Brian Brodeur.

The Poetry Foundation has a sample poem and a short bio as well. It seems that Judson Mitcham has an undergraduate degree in psychology as well as a PhD. He has at least 3 collections of poetry published including Somewhere in Ecclesiastes (1991)  which won The Devins Award. There is also a biography of him on the Georgia Encyclopedia site.

You know what I find a little sad? My local library doesn't seem to have any copies of his collections of poetry. Instead they have a copy of one of his novels, Sabbath Creek. At least one of their online reference tools, Literary Reference Center, has copies of about 5 of his poems.

It's not like he was appointed this year. According to the reference material, he was appointed to his position in 2012. Funny about the library. I really would have expected at least one collection there.

Below is one of Judson Mitcham's poems. I do not own the copyright for this poem and will remove or excerpt it upon request.

Question
But if a man falls in the forest,
if he trips over his own feet
and falls out of control,
and if no one else is there
when he thuds to the dirt,
is that man still ridiculous?
And if a train rattles off
into the cool night, miles from the house,
if it quiets the baby, has it become a kind of lullaby? If a tree
falls in the forest ...
                                                And there is no God
to witness it, and no human
either, is there a question—
when the deer lifts its head
to listen, when the crow
opens the air
with its old raw note, when
the ants and the beetles come
to interrogate the dead one suddenly upon them?

The full text of the poem can be found in the Chattahoochee Review September 1, 2013 issue or on the Literary Reference Center site if your library has it.