Poems from Here

With Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum


Today’s poem is “From Away” by Sylvester Pollet, who died in 2007. He taught writing at the University of Maine. He also was the editor of the “Backwoods Broadsides Poetry” series —publishing 100 issues over 12 years.

In his writing he said he was influenced by the nature poetry of Japanese and Chinese writers. His wife, artist Majo Kaleshian, writes, “Sylvester wrote ‘From Away’ in the early days (late ’70s) when like so many back-to-the-landers, we were learning how to be here, how to stay here….”


“From Away”

By Sylvester Pollet


I’m beginning to see

how many years it takes–

not to learn the skills,

any fool can crosshatch his knuckles

on a radiator

changing yet another

rebuilt waterpump–

but it takes awhile

to learn to cut wood

as the neighbors do,

not to see yourself;

to plant the garden

not for philosophy

but because the soil is ready and it’s time.


Poem copyright 1982 Sylvester Pollet. Reprinted from “entering the walking stick business” Blackberry Press, 1982 by permission of MaJo Keleshian.


Poems from Here” is presented in collaboration with the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, the Maine Arts Commission and the Maine Community Foundation’s Expansion Arts Fund. Special thanks to Robert M. Chute and family along with Phil Steele and Francesca Galluccio-Steele for making “Poems from Here” possible. Additional support is provided by The New Writing Series at the University of Maine. The radio version appears weekly on Maine Public Radio at 1:55 p.m. and 7:55 p.m. and on Maine Public Classical at 11:55 a.m. and 4:55 p.m.

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