When asked , “ What are you working on now ?” Potter replied , “ There ’ s a series of poems about Spokane writers in ‘ Tulips for Elsie ‘— in the form of Pushkin stanzas that make an art of theft . I wrote another one of those , about my friend Travis Naught , just yesterday and am planning on writing more of them , partly because I ’ m worried about people feeling left out when they see they didn ’ t make it into the book , but also because they ’ re really enjoyable to write .”
Potter is friends and colleagues with many Spokane poets as referenced here and the poem samples reflect this . He is interested in many writers . He said , “ Lately I ’ ve been overtaken by the lectures of Alan Watts — of which there suddenly seems to be an endless supply on ’ YouTube ’ and elsewhere . He ’ s a bridge figure between East and West and a startlingly eloquent speaker capable of casually and winsomely spouting a continuous stream of the deepest insights , with a mastery of a lot of threads that hold my interest right now — Jungian psychology and Zen but also Catholic mysticism and media ecology , some of which he no doubt picked up from another influential figure for me — Marshall McLuhan . For poetry , I always go back to Stevens and Frost and Eliot or further back to Hopkins and Dickenson and Whitman . There ’ s a great podcast called ‘ Literature and History ‘ by Doug Metzger that I ’ ve been gradually working my way through over the past couple of years and I can ’ t recommend it highly enough . It starts with the dawn of writing , Gilgamesh on cuneiform tablets , to the Homeric epics , the Bible , Greek drama , Augustan Age poetry , and on and on . Many years ago , I did a master ’ s thesis on Walker Percy , and he , along with Flannery O ’ Connor , remain major figures for me . Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan , too .”
When asked about his avocations , Potter said , “ I was into skateboarding in my youth , almost to the point of going pro , but let it go for a few decades , then picked it back up again . There ’ s a poem about it in the book and maybe I ’ ll write more since it ’ s a locus of a lot of tumultuous feelings for me . I could imagine birdwatching playing a role in future work .”
Potter ’ s book is available at Auntie ’ s Bookstore and Wishing Tree Books in Spokane , Amazon , and hopefully other places fine books are sold . Potter quips , “ I ’ m considering selling them door to door , so watch for me in your neighborhood this summer .”
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He polkas two step flops out of the Serene dead ends of Vinegar Flats Where time and time ’ s children love the Unhurried pace . The sidestreet cats Meander round the poet ’ s broken Heart , beat up car , aching Iambic lines laid out like seeds In rows where syllables and weeds Comingle with pugnacious music In step with river rush and trains That sing to Dennis soft refrains And bathe the tragic in the comic Insistence on the rocky ground Divine in dialects of sound .
TRAVIS LAURENCE NAUGHT
Your body ’ s lack may have been ever So furthering but you prevail By daily grit to push the lever — Propels the roulette wheel to sail Your chair ’ s unsisyphean rolling Down sidewalks like a cop patrolling The beat for poets on the loose , Some wild and caffeinated goose , To conquer fear itself by sporting Anxiety ’ s undouble down With help from town to town to town With lustful thoughts cavorting courting Love ’ s trailing tall tales on the wheels Of what a journaled virgin feels .
60 ART CHOWDER MAGAZINE