Saturday, August 28, 2010

James Dickey, A Memory

In the New York Times, Dwight Garner has written a neat little lit-crit analysis of James Dickey's Deliverance, both the book and the film. You can read the complete essay here.

I cannot remember if I came to Dickey's poetry through Deliverance or to the novel through his poems. I remember several of them, one most affecting being "The Eye-Beaters."

Reading the beautiful analysis of Deliverance in the Times had me remembering another piece written by Dickey, neither poem or novel. It was an essay, appearing in one of the popular magazines like Life or Newsweek during or shortly after the Vietnam era.

In it, Dickey wrote of getting a haircut in a southern barbershop. His hair was long, and he wanted it trimmed but kept long, and there's was a bit of ribbing from other patrons. I don't really remember the point of the essay -- tolerance, openness, free expression, I suppose -- but I remember the final image.

Dickey gets out of the barber chair and dons a jacket, perhaps a denim jacket, on which an eagle holding a banner has been embroidered. The banner bears the word Poetry. 

Funny, isn't it, how a written image lingers in memory?

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