The time I met Robert Bly

I believe it was 1995 in the fall when Robert Bly came to Rapid City, S.D., for a psychology conference of some sort. It wasn’t one of his men’s movement gatherings, although he naturally touched on some of that during his presentation. I went to see him because I hoped he would read some poems. Just when it seemed that he probably wasn’t going to, I asked if he would read “Finding the Father” from his Selected Poems, which I had brought with me. My father had transcribed “Finding the Father” in the front of the copy of “Iron John” he gave me when I started college, so hearing Bly read it was a big deal for me. Later, Bly asked me up on stage to act out the part of a man angry at his father. I think I just had to scowl and shake my fist in the air.During a break, I gave him a copy of a chapbook I had crafted and explained that the theme of my poetry had to do with my father and my parents’ divorce and his absence from my life, So acting angry with my father was no stretch at the time. Then Bly reached into his knapsack and pulled out a copy of his book, “Meditations on the Insatiable Soul.” He asked me my father’s name and signed it “To Eric and Frank, with thanks for being the one angry at my father.” About seven years later, I read “Finding the Father” at my father’s funeral, one of most difficult things I have ever done. But the thing about my dad was that he understood where my anger and poetry were coming from. Because we were both familiar with Bly’s work—both his poetry and his men’s movement books—he understood that I was acting out my part in a sort of ritual that young men need to go through to leave childhood behind. I probably didn’t understand that fully at the time. In different ways, Robert Bly and my father helped me to understand, though.

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~ by ericedits on October 15, 2007.

One Response to “The time I met Robert Bly”

  1. I have been reading many of the entries. Thanks for sharing this one…

    Like

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