Literary Arts | Poets in Pajamas

Lance Larsen on Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to My Socks” and Running, in the Summer of 1977

“I love Pablo Neruda’s big-hearted exuberance, especially his odes,” says former Utah poet laureate (2012 – 2017) Lance Larsen. “Linguistically and metaphorically, ‘Ode to My Socks,’ goes everywhere. Neruda the man was a collector of antiques, maritime flotsam and jetsam, glassware, seashells, figureheads of ships. In 2019 I was lucky enough to visit all three of his quirky houses in Chile —in Santiago, Valparaiso, and Isla Negra — which have been converted into museums. Those visits allowed me to take in visually what I’ve experienced on the page since I first read him as a college sophomore.”

Lance Larsen reads Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to My Socks”

Larsen is the author of five poetry collections, most recently What the Body Knows (Tampa 2018) — see our review here. His prose and poetry have appeared in Paris Review, Southern Review, New York Review of Books, APR, Brevity, Georgia Review, the London Times Literary Supplement, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. His “Quail Egg” appeared in the December edition of Poetry Magazine.

For our Poets in Pajamas series, Larsen has chosen to read “Also I Ran,” a poem that has him revisiting the summer of 1977. “Two facts haunted me. Fact one, my best friend was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Fact two, after visiting him, I felt the need to use my legs by running home at night,” the poet says. “The writing was an attempt to link those two facts on the page using a language that felt as true and complicated and elegiac as the experience itself.”

Lance Larsen reads his “Also I Ran”

 

Larsen has won a number of awards, including a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Sewanee, Ragdale, the Anderson Center, and the NEA.  He teaches at BYU, where he serves as department chair and fools around with aphorisms: “A woman needs a man the way a manatee needs a glockenspiel.” For more on the poet, check out this interview in Massachusetts Review.

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