I'd like to share a great poem with you, but I can't. You see, the poem is missing. Disappeared without a trace. And despite the poem's name, there is no way to sample its DNA, to track its where abouts, or even to let you read it.
The poem is "Andy-Diana DNA Letter" by Andrew Weiman. I first came across the poem in high school, where it formed the epilogue to the 1981 Harper Anthology of Poetry, edited by John Frederick Nims. As Nims wrote in the introduction to the poem, "Our anthology opened with an anonymous poem of nearly 800 years ago on the themes of love, separation, death. Now it comes to a close with a poem on similar themes and nearly as anonymous, presented here to stand for all those (poems) being written by the young in whose vision poetry proliferates. It is 'nearly as anonymous' because the poet is not yet a presence in our literary world. This is his first published poem."
What followed was a three-page love poem, from Andy to Diana, written as a string of DNA. The poem pulses just like an actual DNA strand, narrowing and widening as Andy declares his love of Diana in a colloquial tone which simply rolls off the tongue. That said, the poem is also incredibly complex. Not only does it physically resemble the double helix of DNA, the sounds of the poem wrap around each other, mimicking the matching protein identifiers of each line of DNA in what Nims calls a "phonemic double helix."
According to the brief bio in the book, Andrew Weiman was born in Orlando in 1956 and wrote the poem while studying clinical psychology at New York University in 1980. I wish I could share with you the poem but there are no copies online (and for copyright reasons I can't reprint it without permission). Anyone wishing to read this masterpiece will have to find a copy of the 1981 Harper Anthology of Poetry or the literary journal Poetry (Vol. 137 No. 2, November, 1980) which first published the poem.
This poem should be read by anyone with a true love of poetry. However, more than thirty-five years after the poem was first published, the author and poem are still unknown. I want to change this. Just as detectives use DNA to solve crimes, I hope someone out there will notice this little blog posting and track down the author. What became of him? Did he write other poems or was this his sole poetic creation? And finally, and most importantly, is there a way to reprint the poem online so it can be shared with a new generation of readers?
If anyone knows the answers to any of these questions, please e-mail me at storysouth at yahoo dot com.
Monday, October 16, 2006
In search of a lost poem
storySouth editor Jason Sanford blogs: