The poet Greg Glazner founded the creative writing program at the College of Santa Fe. When the college collapsed, he was forced to move on. He now teaches at the University of California, Davis, and in the Pacific Lutheran Low-Residency MFA program. The poem â€śFin de la Fiestaâ€ť is from Glaznerâ€™s first book, From the Iron Chair, which won the Walt Whitman Award, judged by Charles Wright, who, incidentally, was just appointed United Statesâ€™ poet laureate.
â€śFin de la Fiestaâ€ť is a poem that seeks the authentic in an event, the Fiesta de Santa Fe, that sometimes struggles with authenticity, an event with its roots in conquest and branches in commerce. It might be easy to dismiss or embrace the event entirely, but one of the poetâ€™s jobs is to complicate tone, to explore the full complexity of experience. What I love about Glaznerâ€™s poem is the lush language
The tone is complex. The speaker is clearly wrestling with his own judgments leveled at commerce, historyâ€™s bloodletting and a certain blind religiosity. Thus we get the poet weighing the â€śfalsenessâ€ť of â€śmock adobe,â€ť â€śsentimental verses,â€ť â€śhotel lights,â€ť â€śtrinket shops,â€ť the televisionâ€™s â€śadlight,â€ť and the â€śfederal officesâ€ť against the â€śgracesâ€ť of â€śsurrender,â€ť â€śearnestness,â€ť the â€śbell choirâ€ť and the simple â€śneed to send up lights and sing.â€ť
The poet judges but does not finally condemn. The poet Randall Jarrell, once wrote, â€śI identify myself, as always, / with something that thereâ€™s something wrong with, / with something human.â€ť
â€śFin de la Fiestaâ€ť acknowledges the wrongs (foremost among them, â€śthe pueblo slavesâ€ť), but tracks the speaker as he lets go of everything that divides him from the experience until he can see the kernel of goodness. At the close, Glazner replaces the opening catalog of public eventsâ€”â€śLos Conquistadores, Horseback, The Burning of Zozobraâ€¦â€ťâ€”with another catalog of intimate events: â€śascensions, / cupped candles, palms flickering, / woodsmoke, breath.â€ť
What makes poets important is partly this reluctance to participate fully until they have found a way to balance the authentic against the inauthentic. In â€śFin de la Fiestaâ€ť weâ€™re led by speech into speechlessness, brought to the end of reasoning, of judgment and the distance that judgment brings. In the final image, the â€śfiestaâ€ť is life itself, the â€śfinâ€ť enlarged to the final â€śfinâ€ť we all face. Our ephemerality as creatures is the poemâ€™s true subject and what calls us together, calls us â€śmĂˇs cerca.â€ť The poem ends on an image of this ephemerality: â€śThe vacuum. / Each face flushed brilliantly against it. Then not.â€ť