The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 04, 2007

"I Have, By Default It Seems, Conquered a City"

This is a bit embarrassing to mention, but the poet Thom Gunn (1929-2004) is a relatively new discovery of mine. When I embarked on this poetry recording project, back in October, I had read only a few of his poems. Luckily for me, August Kleinzahler volunteered to be one of the first poets to come into the studio, and in addition to his own poem, he chose to read a work by Gunn--a tense and evocative piece titled 'Moly.' I was smitten.

I've been devouring Gunn's work since then, and I feel very lucky to have found in the FSG vault (buried between Tom Wolfe's old white suits and an unpublished Jonathan Franzen novel) a recording of Gunn reading at our 50th Anniversary party, back in 1996. I'm going to split it into two posts for you. This first is Gunn reading his own poem 'Night Taxi,' where the title of this post can be found.

Gunn Even though it is set in San Francisco, this poem always makes me think of the study done in the UK showing that taxi drivers' brains actually expand to larger than the normal size, allowing them to store maps of the entire city.

I thought I would post the Gunn poem this early, just in case anyone else needs a bit of a catch up before the end of the month, when August Kleinzahler will read Gunn poems and talk about hanging out with him San Francisco. In fact, another good thing to have before then would be FSG's new edition of The Man With Night Sweats, which includes a new introduction by August. You can buy it here.



Thom Gunn... I always thought that was such a great name for a writer (or a mobster). Nice to finally hear what his voice sounded like.

By the way, Heaney reading Hughes was mind-blowing (just tacking that on here because there was no comment option on that one).

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