New Recruits Episode 15: Nadine Rapps Reads John Ashbery

If you’re new here, check out Episode 1 for more information about how this series works.

Nadine Rapps is my mother’s friend. For most of my childhood, my family and Nadine’s family would spend a week in the summer at a cottage resort called “Silver Eagle.” The cabins were run down and there was a terrifying pinball machine in the rec room and I’m pretty sure the owner was anti-Semitic, but I loved it more than Disney World.

I have a vague memory of playing Scrabble with Nadine and her son in cottage 12 at Silver Eagle. She played the word “spur” and went to check the dictionary to make sure she had the correct spelling. She said something like “what is a spur anyway? Something for horses?” and her son said, “It’s the thing the man uses to make a baby.” Sorry Josh, that story needed to be told on the internet. It was absolutely necessary.

Nadine was also part of the family band that brought us such hits as “Honey on Toast” and “The Statue Game.” You’re welcome Canadians who remember this.

Anyway, I knew I had to choose a poem for Nadine that had trees in it. She likes trees. So, John Ashbery has made it into my little blog series. He can add “New Recruits Feature” to his long list of accolades and hopefully that will console him if he never wins the Nobel. Ashbery is also the first American to grace this website. There’s another one coming. Stay tuned.

So here’s Nadine reading John Ashbery’s “Some Trees“:

Q&A

What was your first impression of the poem?

I really appreciate how he likened the characteristics of trees to the human spirit, because that is something I have been reading and reflecting on for some time.

Which line of the poem do you like best?

“That their merely being there/ Means something; that soon/ We may touch, love, explain.”

Why?

I believe that trees in their very existence have meaning and purpose, especially a loving energy.

What does this poem make you think of?

It takes me back to my fond memories of being in the forests of Northern Ontario in the summer time.

Are there any words in this poem that you don’t understand?

comeliness, reticence

Would you like to understand them?

Yes

Have you encountered a poem like this before? Is this poem different from what you expected poetry to be like? If so, How?

I have yet to encounter a poem like this before. I’m very fascinated by the mechanics of its phrasing.

Does this poem remind you of any other piece of art or media?

It reminds me of the paintings by the Group of Seven at the McMichael Art Gallery.

Do you have any questions for the poet?

Do you have a deep connection to nature and trees?


Nadine Rapps is interested in yoga, meditation, journaling, cooking, and nature. She is an interior designer. She feels a great connection to nature, especially trees. When she is in a forest of trees, she finds that they are very healing and full of nourishment.

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