LEFT COAST WRITERS BOOK EVENT: David Hathwell, Author of The Power of Telling
It continues: “Over the course of 50 poems with straightforward titles, retired high school English teacher Hathwell (Between Dog and Wolf, 2017, etc.) explores the world around him. Nature is a touchstone of his poetry. In “Poplar,” he expertly describes the titular tree “catching a breeze, flutter sage and silver wings” while in “Sunflower,” he lingers on the “wide blank face” of the “saddest flower.” The author also showcases culture in his poems. “Fred’s Girl” is a propulsive ode to the Fred Astaire–Paulette Goddard duet in the film Second Chorus, and “Sunday at the Symphony” captures the ethereal experience of live classical music. But the poems aren’t limited to the author’s immediate surroundings. A visit to the Spanish Steps, where Keats died in 1821, is the subject of “Readiness Is Everything,” which encourages readers to “imagine the world without you.” Hathwell plays with humor in “Dust Is Winning,” about the futile fight to keep things clean, and shows his cynical side in “Red Dress,” which describes the “ruby radiance” of an ensemble depicted in advertising. The act of writing is another recurring theme in this collection. “Song” depicts a successful writing day, in which “I rise from my desk, / Majestic, and I dance,” while “Sure Thing” warns readers “that language is prepared to lie / When you ask it to.” Quiet moments are also rich material for the poet. Throughout, he matches his message to the pacing of the poem, creating an immersive experience for readers. In “Finding Myself in the Morning,” readers sink into Hathwell’s serene, solitary scene where he can finally “not wonder / who is speaking, or what comes next.” In “Ten O’Clock,” the audience can sense the descent into a “deep, forgiving sleep” … A volume of ambitious and engaging poems.”
David Hathwell’s debut collection, Muses, was from David Robert Books. His poems have appeared in more than a dozen literary magazines, national and international. LCW celebrated his last collection, Between Dog and Wolf, in 2017. A former English teacher, he has degrees in English from Stanford University and Columbia University, as well as an advanced degree in music theory from Queens College of CUNY. He is now a piano student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a bass in the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco. (“My musical training, as much as any other influence, has shaped the character of my poetry.”) He lives in San Francisco with Stephen Goldston, his partner of forty-one years and husband of eight.