Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Anapestic Ribaldry

I read at the University of Vermont a week or two ago, and Glen and I had the pleasure of meeting the very charming Irish-born poet Angela Patten.  Yesterday arrived in the mail a remarkable gift from Angela: a copy of Ciaran Carson's translation of the 1780 Irish comic narrative poem,  The Midnight Court (Wake Forest U Press, 2006).  Wow. Thanks Angela!  I plan to read it on the plane to LA today,  for the story—apparently it's about a Faerie court of women trying a man for his (non)use of his sexuality, rather a pagan theme—but meanwhile, what a treat to see a recently-written poem that uses meter--let alone a noniambic meter!— with such skill and wit!  It's a rare recent poem—or translation— that reminds you why poetry is considered an art for the ear.  I think this one is a must for Poetry in Rhythm, working title for an anthology of metrically diverse poems I am coediting with Canadian poet and Stonecoast MFA student Alexandra Oliver.  Check out this excerpt:

Not long was my slumber when nearby, thought I,
the land rocked and rolled and a turbulent sky
Brought a storm from the north, an incredible gale
That lit up the harbor as fire fell like hail.
In the blink of an eyelid--a thing I still see—
A female approached from the side of the quay,
Broad-arsed and big-bellied, built like a tank,
And angry as thunder from shoulder to shank.
Of her stature I made an intelligent guess
Of some twenty-one feet, while the hem of her dress
Trailed for five yards behind, through the mire and the muck,
And her mantle was slobbered with horrible guck. . .

I could imagine settling in to hear a full reading of this poem, just as I described doing at Michael Maglaras' reading of Hiawatha, which recently kept a sizable audience (and not an audience of poets, either!) happily listening for over five hours. . .


Sun Singer said...

A description for another age: "Broad-arsed and big-bellied, built like a tank, And angry as thunder from shoulder to shank."

Difficult not to smile and wonder at how it might sound with a good voice behind it.


Annie Finch said...


Ms. said...

I have been away or I would have let my cousin in law (a Vermonter) know you were reading. Next time you read in Vermont, if you can, post it ahead of the time (though I'm not sure how close she might be-it's a big State in so many ways...I hear your governor is proposing a single payer health plan -sounds like ancient history, but, maybe Vermont will lead the way as it so often has).

souliere consulting - life recovery said...

Though you don't know me, I found your name on LinkedIn (looking for Maine poets) and followed you to your blog. What a great poem. I have just recently posted some of my poems and feel very amateurish with my work now that I have read yours. Thank you for your work.

Annie Finch said...

Dear Ms., I usually post upcoming readings on the news section of my website; it would be great to be able to do it here for fans of the blog too. I'll mull that over and see if there's a way. I'm based in Maine but read often around New England and beyond.

And thanks for the nice comments Souliere!