Patty Seyburn – “Ode to the Santa Ana Winds”

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Back in the winter of 2006, I applied for a tenure-track teaching job at CSU Long Beach, which was conducting a search for creative writers to replace Gerald Locklin and Elliot Fried, both of whom had started teaching only part-time after decades of work in the academic trenches. The school ended up hiring three one fiction writer, Lisa Glatt, and two poets, myself and Patty Seyburn. I was familiar with Lisa’s work, since she had been published in PEARL magazine, but I was not at all familiar with Patty’s work, nor was she acquainted with mine. Over the years I have gotten to know her work and appreciate the way she can take a topic that has a public presence and write a poem that does not yield to gratuitous sentiment even as it flaunts its accessibility. Today, the L.A. Times ran one of her poems in the Opinion section, and even though it is not a “typical” poem of hers (though it would be hard to say what is “typical” of her poetry), I still savor how her leap toward the metaphorical apposition of “frenzied bacchanal” stamps this homage as having been filtered by none other than her sensibility. Her writing often imbibes of what might be categorized as feminist devotional, and there is a through-line between her work and Anne Bradstreet that deserves critical attention. On the other hand, would a reader be mistaken in comparing her deftness as a poet with someone such as Howard Nemerov, whose book SENTENCES I was reading just yesterday? Seyburn’s poems always keep me slightly off-balance, and if you enjoy that sensation as much as I do, rest assured that a search in your browser will quickly yield many more links to her poems.

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