“Negative Space” by Ron Koertge (repost; Academy Award Nominated Short)

Good luck to poet Ron Koertge, whose poem “Negative Space” inspired the animated short film of the same name by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata. Their film is nominated for an Academy Award on tonight’s Oscars in the “Short Film, Animated” category.

I usually try to fly under the radar here, relying upon word-of-mouth and friends sharing posts with other friends, but occasionally a poem will get mentioned or linked to by a bigger fish out there. In this case, Ron’s poem has been linked to by NPR and by Colossal, a leading visual arts and design site. I appreciate their generous linkings and welcome any new poetry fans that discovered us from their sites.

Ron Koertge is one of my favorite poets–I’ve shared a couple other poems by Ron here and here–and I couldn’t be happier for him (or for poetry) that he has garnered so much positive and well-deserved recognition. I’ll be rooting for Ron and Max and Ru tonight … I even picked them in my Oscar Pool! Please be sure to check out Ron’s website, his Tumblr, or visit him on Twitter.

Here’s the trailer to “Negative Space”; the poem follows below.

“Negative Space” by Ron Koertge

My dad taught me to pack: lay out everything. Put back half. Roll things
that roll. Wrinkle-prone things on top of cotton things. Then pants, waist-
to-hem. Nooks and crannies for socks. Belts around the sides like snakes.
Plastic over that. Add shoes. Wear heavy stuff on the plane.
      We started when I was little. I’d roll up socks. Then he’d pretend to put me
in the suitcase, and we’d laugh. Some guys bond with their dads shooting
hoops or talking about Chevrolets. We did it over luggage.
      By the time I was twelve, if he was busy, I’d pack for him. Mom tried
but didn’t have the knack. He’d get somewhere, open his suitcase and text
me—”Perfect.” That one word from him meant a lot.
      The funeral was terrible—him laid out in that big carton and me crying
and thinking, Look at all that wasted space.

“Negative Space” by Ron Koertge, from Sex World. © Red Hen Press, 2014 (via Writer’s Almanac)

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