Introductions: Rick Barot
May 26, 2020
By Rebecca Hoogs, SAL Associate Director
It is bittersweet to introduce Rick Barot to you in this medium. This event was originally scheduled for March 15 to launch his new book, his fourth book, The Galleons, into the world. And though May finds us still floating on our own, we are very glad to deliver a care package of Rick Barot and his poems to your particular island today.
In his new book which he will read to you from, Barot twines into couplets strains of memory and history, present and past. Poet Victoria Chang, in a review of the book, described “The Galleons [as] ultimately about the speaker’s many journeys—from the Philippines, as a descendent of his grandmother, as a writer, a thinker, a lover, and a human.”
Upon reading these poems for the first time, I was struck by the beginning of a line in the very first poem in the book: “And because waiting is thinking…” If this is so, and it rung immediately as true, then we are in the great think now—the great think of it—and who better to show us how to think through it—or just think in it—through poetry than Rick Barot. His work has a stillness that I admire—as if the speaker’s memories or observations or intersections are on canvas, carved from marble, crafted from washi tape—works of art ready for the ekphrastic eye. “Poetry,” he said in an interview, “is very much on the front lines of describing the world as it is, as it is unfolding.”
I read these poems in The Before, before the unfolding, on a bright weekend away where I touched things, touched people, and where these poems touched me. Now, in The Unfolding or The Waiting or The Big Think (what will you call it?), I take solace in these poems, and in the new “During the Pandemic” poems Rick will read to us. It is a gift that literature and poetry can still touch us, and to be reminded that waiting is thinking is writing is art. So I ring your doorbell and step back 6 feet. I give you Rick Barot.
Rick Barot gave an online reading on May 15, 2020, as part of our 2019/20 Poetry Series; SAL Associate Director Rebecca Hoogs delivered this introduction.