As I said last week, I am 90% of the way there toward selling my house. (Just waiting to be sure the appraisal comes in high enough in this tough market). So I am beginning to cull through my stuff and get ready to move. I really love this part of moving – paring down, looking forward – and I wanted to bring you all along with me. So each Friday I will be giving away a book to one person who comments on that post and explains why he/she would like to read the book.

Last week’s winner was Amy. She won Our Purpose by Al Gore. Congrats, Amy.

This week’s title is an autographed copy of J.D. McClatchy’s Ten Commandments. The book came to me in a series of events that I’m not sure I can fully recreate. I was living in Cleveland, going to graduate school at Case Western Reserve Univ. , and during that time, Cleveland State Univ was hosting a big poetry conference. In one of those twists of life that bring you opportunities you never could have expected, I volunteered or was asked to be a driver for some of the visiting poets. My folks were J.D. McClatchy and Stephen Greenblatt. Talk about a powerful pair of people in my little Geo Metro. Mostly, they talked to teach other, but on the return trip to the airport, McClatchy asked me a little about myself and then gave me a copy of this book with an inscription wishing me luck with my future endeavors. I appreciated the gesture, and I appreciate the story even more.

Now, I”m passing the book and the tale along to one person who would be interested in owning this book. McClatchy’s poetry is masculine – strong, face-forward, rich with allusion. His poems are deep in the tradition and replete with references to Camus and Auden, to Elizabeth Bishop and Dickinson. The book is shaped into sections, each loosely wrapped around one of the Ten Commandments. On some level, this collection is formed around the idea of aging, of outgrowing one’s youth.

Who doesn’t need an evil parent
To explain why the world doesn’t love us
From the start, why the heart’s unjust,
Why happiness is veiled like a widow? — from “Pantoum”

As I reread these poems in the pre-dawn light where I can see a break in the clouds like a whale’s partially closed eye, I think they are powerful and rich – not beautiful to me like Milosz or Lee – but still worthy and valuable.

Please comment if you’d like to receive this book. I will randomly choose a winner next Friday. And if you spread the word (via blog, Facebook, Twitter), I’ll give you an additional “entry” for each place.

Cover of Ten Commandments by J. D. McClatchyTen Commandments by J. D. McClatchy