Breaking Form: a Poetry and Culture Podcast

The Impossible

May 29, 2023 Aaron Smith and James Allen Hall Episode 92
Breaking Form: a Poetry and Culture Podcast
The Impossible
Show Notes

The queens try to say it clearly and make it beautiful, no matter what, in this episode  revisiting Bruce Weigl's poem "The Impossible." TW for sexual assault and pedophilia.

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 Born January 27, 1949 (which makes him an Aquarius), Bruce Weigl enlisted in the Army soon after turning 18 and served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. He was awarded the Bronze Star. After he came back from the war, he attended Oberlin College, where Franz Wright was his classmate and encouraged Weigl to send his poems to James Wright. JW wrote back, and a line from that letter serves as the epigraph to Weigl's third book, Song of Napalm. The line is: "Out of the horror there rises a musical ache that is beautiful." Song of Napalm was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He earned an MA from the University of New Hampshire and a PhD at the University of Utah. He is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and a memoir, The Circle of Hanh. His book The Abundance of Nothing  was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. His most recent book is Among Elms, in Ambush, from Boa in 2021. Read more about him here.

Read Weigl's poem "The Impossible" here. "The Impossible" is included in Bruce Weigl's fourth book of poems, What Saves Us, published in 1992 from Northwestern University Press. We forget to fact check this, but the poem is comprised of 26 lines.

Hear Weigl read "The Impossible" in this hourlong reading, starting at the 35:25 mark.  The reading was delivered and recorded at the Friends of Scranton Public Library in October 2013.

We reference an interview with the journal Blast Furnace, the entirety of which you can read here. Another interview with Memorious can be found here.

Watch Weigl read "Song of Napalm" at the College of Southern Maryland in 1981 here (~3.5 min). He discusses beauty and horror before reading the poem.

You can hear a more recent reading by Weigl at Eastern Connecticut State U on 10/3/18 here (~1 hour).