Vesper Sparrow

On Monday I received the sad news that Deborah Digges passed away last weekend. Deb was a professor of mine at Tufts and a huge inspiration for me as a young poet—I took my first undergraduate poetry workshop with her. She was incredibly generous with her students, a beautiful poet, and one of the loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Both her writing and her presence will be sorely missed.


The last time I saw Deb was at a reading she gave as part of the jubilat/Jones Reading Series in Amherst a year ago last fall. She read all new work from a manuscript that will hopefully be published by Knopf next year. The poems were breathtaking and I remember her being very joyful, both at the reading and beforehand when we met for coffee.

As poets, she told us to memorize as many poems as we could, to “make them the marrow of our bones.” Here is one of my favorite of her poems that I will soon be learning by heart.

Trick Birds At The Carnival

They too have fallen out of the rapt original into now, nor could
they say how or why or circle the moment that once felt intended.
What is tameness? What does it mean to be tame? To be reckless
enough to trust any being–rooted, bound by less and less. That
dullness born of ravenous craving without pretense feeds on
distraction, accident, the indifferent cruelty or good will of
others it has forgot, knowing the forgetting but not the memory.


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