Poetry – River And Sound Review http://riverandsoundreview.org/ Wed, 02 Jun 2021 08:42:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 https://riverandsoundreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/river-and-sound-review-icon-150x150.png Poetry – River And Sound Review http://riverandsoundreview.org/ 32 32 Revisiting Peter Weir’s film “Dead Poets Society” 32 years later https://riverandsoundreview.org/revisiting-peter-weirs-film-dead-poets-society-32-years-later/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/revisiting-peter-weirs-film-dead-poets-society-32-years-later/#respond Wed, 02 Jun 2021 07:00:39 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/revisiting-peter-weirs-film-dead-poets-society-32-years-later/

(Credit: Touchstone Photos)

Peter Weir – “Society of the Dead Poets”

In the 1994 film Il Postino, a poor postman told Pablo Neruda that “poetry does not belong to those who write it but to those who need it”. This is the central thesis of Peter Weir’s 1989 drama about the age-old battle between idealism and realism. Over the years, Circle of Missing Poets provided comfort to some while others dismissed it as a collection of meaningless platitudes. Three decades later, the lure of Circle of Missing Poets has it always stayed or has it never existed in the first place?

Set in an elite boys prep school where everyone is white and privileged, Peter Weir captures the rigidity of a conservative environment where parents project unrealistic expectations on their children and teachers literally spank students to comply. Obedience is drilled into their malleable skulls and the means are justified by the so-called noble end – they will all become doctors, lawyers, bankers and engineers. Weir constructs a compelling representation of the education system as visualized by Louis Althusser, Ideological State Apparatuses That Successfully Fabricate Subjects Instead of “Free” Individuals.

Many cite Robin Williams’ performance as Mr. Keating, the unconventional English teacher, as one of the “inspiring” elements of Circle of Missing Poets. They are not wrong, as Keating was purposely designed to be a disruptive force in the suffocating atmosphere of Welton Academy. It frees boys from meaningless literary theories that are intentionally obscured by their authors to pass as “deep.” Instead, Keating takes the boys out of the classroom and engages in methods of teaching poetry that seem radical but make just as much sense as mathematical analyzes of the greatness of literature. .

In its terribly unconvincing trial for Atlantic, Kevin JH Dettmar argues that the biggest failure of Circle of Missing Poets is that he is “anti-intellectual” in his treatment of literary scholars. He insists that academics who have dedicated their lives to writing esoteric and onanistic research papers on equally complacent subjects are hurt by Society of Dead Poets populist approach to understanding poetry. On the contrary, Peter Weir’s film is so insufficient because his critique of literary criticism is not scathing enough. Dettmar writes as an accomplice to epistemological dogmatism just to seek validation from STEM researchers: “We will insist on being welcomed to the table as professionals. In doing so, he refuses to recognize the demand for reform to an outdated system that dispenses obsolete knowledge and claims it is revealing.

While many of the dramatic elements of the narrative are inherently flawed (such as the preoccupation with First World issues or the way a suicide is described in an almost comic manner), it would be wrong to dismiss Society of Dead Poets ideological message completely. Underneath all of Hollywood didacticism, Weir actually addresses a relevant development in the realm of literary criticism. Roland Barthes famously wrote that criticism will die if we do not regard the authors of the texts we read as dead, ushering in a multiplicity of our own interpretations that form the basis of the real value of art. Keating advocates the same, albeit in a sensational way, but it’s only a professional risk for a supposedly rebellious teacher in a movie.

Society of Dead Poets The emphasis on the importance of nonconformity and free thought while being trapped in the pernicious framework of the education system is exhausting because it has been repeated so often. Weir orchestrates everything in an efficient way that achieves his goal of manipulating the audience into falling in love with the idea of ​​poetry. Somewhere along the way, he forgets to ask us to think more deeply about the ideological indoctrination perpetuated by a faulty system. Enough unfortunately, Circle of Missing Poets pulls his punches during his criticism of the academic posture. Due to the reluctance of geriatric academics who refuse to let go of their educational insecurities, the waning relevance of literary criticism continues to be an observable and tragic phenomenon.

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Poet Joy Harjo: ‘Remake Our World’ https://riverandsoundreview.org/poet-joy-harjo-remake-our-world/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/poet-joy-harjo-remake-our-world/#respond Sun, 30 May 2021 16:36:47 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/poet-joy-harjo-remake-our-world/

Speaking to the graduates gathered in person at Smith’s Indoor Track and Tennis Center for Smith’s 143rd start on Sunday, Harjo shared some of his poetry, touching on the themes of connection, gratitude and healing.

“Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the keepers who knew you before time, who will be there after time,” said Harjo, the first Native American to hold the title of National Poet Laureate. “Pay attention to your mind. Without training, he could run away and leave your heart for the huge human festival organized by the thieves of time.

In an address shared virtually with students, family members and alumni from around the world, Harjo also cited lines of poems by “inspired cartographers” Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde and Smith, graduates Sylvia Plath ’55 and Laurie Ann Guerrero AC ’08.

“These poems recognize the past, give us the foundation for recognizing the place we stand in, and include the mythical elements needed to open doors to new understanding beyond the present,” Harjo told the graduates. “The youngest poets continue the cartography, as you will do in the discipline you have adopted, for each discipline, each art, embodies a kind of cartography.

She praised the 2021 class for their resilience during a time of isolation and uncertainty. “You’ve found your way through the darkness until this moment of celebration,” Harjo said. “You will tell stories for years afterwards, about what it was like then.”

Noting that “we have a lot to do to remake our world,” Harjo called on graduates to “move forward in expressing their gratitude for the challenge of history, for all the struggle, the awesome beauty and power that this represents.

“As you step into your future together, know that the challenges will increase your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual muscles, for you personally, for your family, your class, your community, this global family, this land,” said Harjo. .

The college awarded 644 degrees on Sunday: 607 undergraduate degrees and 37 graduate degrees. Members of the 2021 class have come to Smith from 45 states and 32 countries.

Smith bestowed honorary degrees on Harjo and three other notable women:

  • Deborah Bial, President and Founder of The Posse Foundation

  • Joanne Campbell, affordable housing advocate and longtime CEO of Valley Community Development in Northampton

  • Audra McDonald, award-winning singer and actress

Honorary degrees were also awarded to five individuals who were to receive them in 2020: Northampton educator Gwen Agna; diplomat and climate change activist Christiana Figueres; immigrant advocate Cristina Jiménez; pastor and educator Reverend Gloria Elaine White-Hammond, MD; and author and publisher Hanya Yanagihara ’95.

Addressing her fellow graduates, Senior Class President Jane Yuanyuan Casey-Fleener ’21, acknowledged the challenges of the final year of the pandemic, but also the opportunity it provided “to connect with each other in a way we never thought possible ”.

In addition to their academic achievements, the 2021 class represents future doctors, lawyers, artists, historians – “people who are not afraid to take risks,” Casey-Fleener said, “people who will not take no for an answer. People who are shameless themselves. “

President Kathleen McCartney echoed these sentiments in her closing remarks to graduates, noting that “Smith will tell your story with pride for generations to come.

“This community will be yours for life,” said McCartney. “You will stand with graduates like you who will change the world, who will challenge the world, and who will take Smith with them in whatever they do.”

Sofia Perrotto 21, who graduated in sociology, summed up the feelings of many older people when she described being in person to begin with as “a privilege”.

“The pandemic made me realize this privilege that I didn’t know I had – to be physically close to people,” Perrotto said.

For Perrotto, Sunday’s ceremony brought home the feeling that “it’s real. I graduated from Smith College! ”


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EPIC Poetry Group: Poet’s Corner – Secrets, What I Saw, Rebirth https://riverandsoundreview.org/epic-poetry-group-poets-corner-secrets-what-i-saw-rebirth/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/epic-poetry-group-poets-corner-secrets-what-i-saw-rebirth/#respond Sun, 30 May 2021 01:31:37 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/epic-poetry-group-poets-corner-secrets-what-i-saw-rebirth/

Here is the latest opus from Poet’s Corner, presented by EPIC Poetry Group based in Edmonds.

SECRETS

Contemplate a poem
on secrets
and how they hold us
breathless, sometimes sad
but above all responsible
by their force.

I host an old secret
hidden deep inside
so painful
I can hardly breathe.
Personal, my version of disgrace
and I want to release it.

Reflections
in prayer with
silent whispers
of our hearts
secrets we can’t control
with revelations to bring us
kneeling.

We know the secrets of
magic potions
and family recipes
guarded by ancestors
and ourselves.
A memory of joy
or a curse of reality
we will never pronounce.

And fools flouting power
and piss in the wind
they conceal secrets
with the disappearance of
life as we know it
in their hands.

Diane naab

~ ~ ~ ~

What I saw

Fleeting moments in time
we will not see each other again.
But this time
I took a moment
to savor what my eyes
try to understand.

While I was walking
the crowded street
I saw a great well dressed
gentleman talking
to a homeless person –
short or maybe slumped
by the weight of his life.

They both spoke
but their words were stifled.
And as I approached
what I saw
became
what I heard.

A caring man
hire another
need kindness
and maybe understanding.
What i heard was
an attentive ear.
Encouragement.
A real conversation
with a need
be heard.

How sad when we
assume so much
at a glance
and a shrug.

But not on this day.
What I saw was compassion
for another human being
without judgement.
A subtle meeting of minds
for a short while.

And as they shook hands
maybe a bill passed
this connection.

Diane naab

~ ~ ~ ~

Renaissance

Random rings
of all sizes
croissant, fondant
in the shadows
trees and stones
so sweet
like the breath
sleeping fog
rest in the forest
bring comfort
and peace
it consumes my being
hypnotize my soul
I am one with the wonder of life
I am the forest
Pierre
fog
peace
I am spirit
I am
I

Diane naab

~ ~ ~ ~

Diane Naab is an artist, former art gallery owner, world traveler and published author, now living in the Seattle area.

His poetry and short stories have been published in four consecutive issues of the annual literary review, Interior passages, in Southeast Alaska. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has written for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA).

Her literary background includes attending writing workshops run by PNWA, BARN Writers from the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network, Seattle7Writers Alumni, Tacoma Community College, and Gamble Creek Studio.


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Shepherd University presents poet Annie Kim | Culture & Leisure https://riverandsoundreview.org/shepherd-university-presents-poet-annie-kim-culture-leisure/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/shepherd-university-presents-poet-annie-kim-culture-leisure/#respond Sat, 29 May 2021 05:15:00 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/shepherd-university-presents-poet-annie-kim-culture-leisure/

The Shepherd University’s Society for Creative Writing in the Department of English and Modern Languages ​​features award-winning poet Annie Kim in the latest installment in the At Home with Poetry series.

Kim is a poet, lawyer and violinist. His books are “Eros, Unbroken” (2020), winner of the Washington Prize 2019 and recently named finalist for the INDIES Book of Poetry of the Year 2020, and “Into the Cyclorama”, winner of the Michael Waters Poetry Prize (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2016). Kim’s poems have been published in journals such as Beloit Poetry Journal, The Cincinnati Review, Four Way Review, Kenyon Review, Narrative and Pleiades.

A graduate of Warren Wilson College’s Master of Fine Arts Program for Writers and a Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Hambidge Center Fellowship Holder, Kim works at the University of Virginia Law School as Associate Dean of public service. She teaches law students about public interest law and writes essays for DMQ Review.

“Annie Kim is not only a wonderful poet and reader, but also a great ambassador for poetry in her video players,” said Sadie Shorr-Parks, director of the Society for Creative Writing. “I think the audience will enjoy her discussion of poetry and poetry writing.”


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Poetically yours Ep. 43 – The poet sums up the history of Memorial Day https://riverandsoundreview.org/poetically-yours-ep-43-the-poet-sums-up-the-history-of-memorial-day/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/poetically-yours-ep-43-the-poet-sums-up-the-history-of-memorial-day/#respond Fri, 28 May 2021 17:25:47 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/poetically-yours-ep-43-the-poet-sums-up-the-history-of-memorial-day/

Welcome to this week’s Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours features poems by poets from northern Illinois. The week highlights one of Aurora poet’s assistant laureates, Quentin Johnson.

Johnson was born in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea to missionary parents. He grew up in the Midwest, living in Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. He lived most of his life in Illinois, having resided in Metropolis, Ashkum, Oak Park and Aurora.

Johnson graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with degrees in Scandinavian Studies and African American and African American Studies. He also lived and studied in Norway with a certificate in sociology, while studying Norwegian history and literature, psychology and international intelligence agencies.

Johnson says he’s a word nerd and loves the language. He studied French, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Ancient Greek. Her choral career includes additional work in Latin, Italian and German. When working with non-native English speakers, Johnson breaks the ice by asking people to teach him words in their native languages, such as Persian, Russian, Polish, Gujarati, Korean, and Mandarin.

Johnson works as an animal control officer for the town of Aurora. He held this position for over 25 years. He is also Deputy Poet Laureate for the City of Aurora. Johnson seeks to celebrate the uniqueness of all people’s culture and their contributions to the great American melting pot. In his free time he enjoys being with his wife and children. You can also find him knitting on occasion.

Today Johnson pays homage to veterans with his poem “Decoration Day: Memorial Day Musings”.

At the end of the civil war,
Our nation had to mend,
So many souls who were gone!

General Logan advocated,
Their graves are “decorated”,
This is how the vacation started!

With flowers and prayers,
In the cooler spring air,
May 30, unforgettable day!

For friends and family,
A pastoral homily,
Kept warm, the embers of their memories!

After the first world war,
A new tradition had started,
From McCrae’s “In Flanders Field”!

Moina Michael took the lead,
His campaign would succeed,
The place of the poppy in remembrance was sealed!

In 1968,
Federal law changed the date,
Now the last Monday in May!

Fly the flag at half mast,
For our warriors who have passed,
At 3 p.m., may silence reign.

American soldiers by the score,
Have fallen in war,
In the service of our beloved nation.

So on this holy day,
May their memories not fade,
Show them sincere appreciation!

  • Yvonne Boose is currently a staff member of Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can read more about Report for America at wnij.org.

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The library launches the poets laureates program https://riverandsoundreview.org/the-library-launches-the-poets-laureates-program/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/the-library-launches-the-poets-laureates-program/#respond Fri, 28 May 2021 08:34:56 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/the-library-launches-the-poets-laureates-program/

The Watsonville Public Library will begin accepting nominations for the new Poet Laureate program starting Tuesday.

The aim is to elevate the art of poetry in the city and help celebrate the literary

arts, according to a library announcement Wednesday.

Applications are accepted online at https://bit.ly/345sIqL, at the library, or by email at alicia.martinez@cityofwatsonville.org until September 1.

Library director Alicia Martinez said the program will harness the power of storytelling through poetry.

“The Poet Laureate will provide a center for the appreciation and dissemination of poetry in Watsonville, promote appreciation and knowledge of poetry among our youth, and act as a voice for the growing number of poets and writers in the town of Watsonville. “

The prospective poet laureate will serve a two-year term starting in January and, among other responsibilities, will represent the city of Watsonville and the art of poetry through outreach efforts.


Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and reside in Watsonville or Freedom.

A full list of responsibilities and eligibility criteria is available at https://bit.ly/345sIqL.

Copyright © 2021 Bay City News, Inc. All rights reserved. Republication, redistribution, or redistribution without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. Bay City News is a 24/7 news service covering the Greater Bay Area.

Copyright © 2021 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, rebroadcasting, or any other reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.


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Alexandra Huynh, 18, is the new national laureate of the young poet https://riverandsoundreview.org/alexandra-huynh-18-is-the-new-national-laureate-of-the-young-poet/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/alexandra-huynh-18-is-the-new-national-laureate-of-the-young-poet/#respond Thu, 27 May 2021 17:50:09 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/alexandra-huynh-18-is-the-new-national-laureate-of-the-young-poet/

Alexandra Huynh

NEW YORK (AP) – A new freshman at Stanford University has been named the new National Youth Poet Laureate.

Alexandra Huynh, 18, is a second generation Vietnamese American from Sacramento, California who sees poetry as both a means of self-expression and social justice.

“I spend a lot of time in my head, so poetry is kind of a survival mechanism for me,” Huynh said in a May 20 phone interview from his home. “I couldn’t move around the world with the same clarity if I hadn’t worked on the page first.”

His one-year appointment was announced on May 20 in a virtual ceremony presented by the Kennedy Center and literary arts and development organization Urban Word, which created the National Young Laureates Program. in 2017. In her new position, she will be visiting students and organizing workshops across the country.

One of her goals is to pass on her own experiences to others.

Huynh was selected from four regional finalists for a position first held by Amanda Gorman, who rose to international celebrity in January after reading at President Joe Biden’s inauguration and for Huynh has become an inspiration.

“His trajectory changed what I thought was possible for a poet,” she says, noting that Gorman appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine and read this year’s Super Bowl. “She encouraged me to dream big.”

Huynh says she’s been writing song lyrics since she was 7 and got serious about poetry in high school, especially after performing at a local poetry slam and feeling the added power. words when spoken aloud. She cites Ocean Vuong and Diana Khoi Nguyen among her favorite writers, and hopes to be able to publish her own work and have it translated into Vietnamese, her “mother tongue”.

“Vietnamese itself is a very poetic language,” she said. “In Vietnamese culture, poems are spoken every day. These are references to pop culture. For me, having poetry in my life never felt like going against the grain.

Words are so natural to her that at university she plans to study engineering rather than literature as she doesn’t need a classroom to encourage her to read. At Stanford, she hopes to challenge herself to think in a way she didn’t have before and develop ideas “across disciplines.”


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Ramdhari Singh Dinkar: Desi languages ​​are reborn poetically among the young people of the pandemic https://riverandsoundreview.org/ramdhari-singh-dinkar-desi-languages-%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8bare-reborn-poetically-among-the-young-people-of-the-pandemic/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/ramdhari-singh-dinkar-desi-languages-%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8bare-reborn-poetically-among-the-young-people-of-the-pandemic/#respond Thu, 27 May 2021 05:42:00 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/ramdhari-singh-dinkar-desi-languages-%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8bare-reborn-poetically-among-the-young-people-of-the-pandemic/

For 20-year-old Sourabh Das, returning to his hometown of Kolkata has been very enriching. During the first lockdown in 2020, he unearthed a collection of Bengali anthologies in his late grandfather’s study. The collection had Kazi Nazrul Islam’s
Bidrohi,
Bhangar Gaan,
Dhumketu, and
Daridroto, From Sukanta Bhattacharya
Chharpatra,
Mithe-Kadha, and
Purbabhas and the B of Rabindranath Tagore
hanga Hriday,
Birpurush, and
Dui Bigha Jomi, all handwritten by his grandfather.

He has been addicted to Bengali poetry ever since. “Not only have I read all the handwritten anthologies, but I have also researched more. I have read extensively the works of several other Bengal poets and worked on my language and voice notes to interpret them online. I have already written 60 poems in the past year. In addition to that, I created a group of virtual poetry
Moner Kobita – online after the lockdown was imposed here last week.

Mithe-Kadha of Sukanta Bhattacharya; (right) Bhanga Hriday by Rabindranath Tagore

Like Sourabh, the pandemic has prompted many young people to take refuge in poetry – both in writing and in spoken verse – to express, connect and share their art. There has been a substantial increase in the number of amateur poets who write and perform poems in their mother tongue and
desi languages.

Poems in Indian languages ​​and desi dialects trending these days

edited poetry 3.


Simran Khurana read works by Urdu poets to learn Urdu in lockout

Simran Khurana, a final year student at Pune-based BSC, says she’s been doing poetry since childhood, but it wasn’t until lockdown that she learned Urdu and studied Urdu poets. . “I ordered a lot of books and read
Kaifiyat by Kaifi Azmi and
Karwan-E-Ghazal. I was part of a poetry group that ran sessions to discuss the poetry of Mirza Ghalib. It piqued my interest and I bought
Diwan-e-Ghalib. I have done a lot of reading in Urdu which has improved my writing, ”says Simran, adding,“ I am also a fan of ghazals and love to compose them. While I am experimenting with English, I am more interested in Hindustani poems. With poetry turned virtual, I was lucky enough to know a poet from Bihar, who does poetry in Khadi Boli, which was done by poets like Ramdhari Singh Dinkar and is almost obsolete at the present time.

A ghazal shared by Simran:

Young poets gain confidence in their art during the pandemic

Online poetry meeting organized by Nukkad Cafe.


Online poetry meeting organized by Nukkad Cafe

Owner’s Vaibhav Paliwal

Priya Jain shares short verses on her Instagram page.

Priya Jain shares short verses on her Instagram page

While poetry gives them the opportunity to express their art, Millennials and Gen Z, who struggle with anxiety and frustration over lockdown, also find it therapeutic. Business administration student Priya Jain from Pune says: “There is a lot of frustration because we are at home and there is hardly any social interaction physically. With the online courses and the shortening of their duration, we are looking for ways to pursue our passion. There are a lot of people who joined the community, were desperately looking for an avenue, ”says Priya, who recently started her virtual poetry group Ek Harf, and writes and performs in Hindustani.

“The lockdown also gave me the courage to experiment with the genre and now I can write about politics. I recently wrote about
Nakalchi BandarPriya adds.


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Montana Bookshelf: fiction, documentary and poetry for May | Books https://riverandsoundreview.org/montana-bookshelf-fiction-documentary-and-poetry-for-may-books/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/montana-bookshelf-fiction-documentary-and-poetry-for-may-books/#respond Wed, 26 May 2021 15:08:00 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/montana-bookshelf-fiction-documentary-and-poetry-for-may-books/

The authors are Elise Atchison, Rick Bass, Todd Burritt, Tom Campbell, Lyn Dalebout, Matt Daly, Joanne Dornan, Gary Ferguson, Matt Hart, Geneen Marie Haugen, Susan Marsh, Craig Mathews, Arthur Middleton, Doug Peacock, Karen Reinhart, Kelsey Sather, Jack Turner, Rebecca Watters, Tina Welling, Marylee White, Connie Wieneke, Todd Wilkinson and Terry Tempest Williams. The artists are Kalon Baughan, Tamara Callens, Meredith Campbell, Sue Cedarholm, Derek DeYoung, Loretta Domaszewski, Katy Ann Fox, Dave Hall, Dwayne Harty, Laney Hicks, DG House, Will Hunter, SJ Karikó, Laney, Jennifer Lowe-Anker, Mimi Matsuda, James Prosek, Robert Schlenker, Jocelyn Slack, Tucker Smith, Kay Stratman, Kara Tripp, Shannon Troxler, Kathryn Mapes Turner, John Wasson, Carrie Wild and Monte Yellow Bird Sr.

Good news for poetry lovers. The fourth Montana Poets series edited by Mark Gibbons is in production. Craig Czury started the series for FootHills Publishing in 2009. The second series (delayed by a fire) was released in 2015. The third series was published in 2018. The first book of the fourth six-poet series is currently available, ” Homespun ”by poet Alberton Kurt Sobolik. At the end of May, the second will be released: “Blood is not water: the poems of Mara Panich”. Future titles and poets are: “Ash in the Tree” by Gillian Kessler; “Descended from a travel bag” by Chris La Tray; “After mating for life” by Melissa Stephenson; and “Erosion” by Clark Chatlain.


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Irish poet looks back three centuries to find obsession and inspiration in another https://riverandsoundreview.org/irish-poet-looks-back-three-centuries-to-find-obsession-and-inspiration-in-another/ https://riverandsoundreview.org/irish-poet-looks-back-three-centuries-to-find-obsession-and-inspiration-in-another/#respond Tue, 25 May 2021 19:23:16 +0000 https://riverandsoundreview.org/irish-poet-looks-back-three-centuries-to-find-obsession-and-inspiration-in-another/

A woman fell in love with a poem – a quick, a roar – for a slain loved one. 18th century Irish nobleman Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill composed “Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire” after her husband was assassinated by a powerful British official. On arriving at the scene, Ni Chonaill, pregnant with their third child, drank handfuls of her husband’s blood. “My shining dove,” “my pleasure,” she called it in the poem, “my thousand perplexities” – why hadn’t she been with him? She imagined her blouse catching the ball in its folds.

For decades, “Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire” has survived in the oral tradition. Today it is recognized as one of the great poems of its time. Poet Doireann Ni Ghriofa was also pregnant with her third child when she fell under her grip, keeping a “scruffy photocopy” under her pillow. Where are Ni Chonaill’s finger bones buried? she wondered; where can we leave flowers? The grave is not marked. Ni Chonaill’s letters and journals have all disappeared. His own son omitted his name from the family records.

The fiery, shape-changing “A Ghost in the Throat” is Ni Ghriofa’s offering. It includes his translation of “Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire”, as well as a hybrid of essays, biography, self-fiction, scholarship – and a daily account of life with four children under the age of 6.

“It’s a feminine text,” begins Ni Ghriofa. “It’s a feminine text, composed by folding someone else’s clothes. My mind holds it close, and it grows, tender and slow, as my hands perform countless tasks. It is a feminine text born of guilt and desire, sewn onto an original soundtrack of cartoon rhymes.

The book is all undergrowth, an exuberant, tangled passage. It recalls the brilliant and original “Suite pour Barbara Loden” by Nathalie Léger: a biography of the actress and director who becomes a story of the obstacles to the writing of such a book, and an admission of the virtual impossibility of biography itself. “To study a female life marked by silence is to attempt a mapping of the fog,” wrote Ni Ghriofa.

Credit…Bríd O’Donovan

Ni Ghriofa is embarrassed – an amateur, she repeatedly apologizes. She has no college degrees, only her obsession – which is less with the real woman, we feel, than with the abundance of the poem, its mixture of sorrow, desire, revenge. She is suspicious in libraries, a baby strapped to her chest, a toddler by her side. She writes the book we read in the free parking lot while the baby is asleep, a stolen hour before dinner.

So intimidating at first, this work – the recreation of a life, the translation of the poem – begins to become familiar. “In Italian, the word stanza means ‘room’, ”she notes. “I reassure myself that I’m just doing housework, and that thought stabilizes me, because taking care of a room is a form of work that I know I can try as well as anyone. She reconstructs Ni Chonaill’s life as if she were taking a hem again, preventing the story from coming undone further. She pauses to stuff a child in a car seat, push a quilt into its cover, pick up pieces of pasta on the floor.

Ni Ghriofa is the author of several books of poetry, which she herself has translated, from the Irish. “A Ghost in the Throat” is his first prose book. It was read with enthusiasm, but not always carefully. I have seen appreciative reviews for the writer’s way of talking about the boredom of domestic life and the “depredations” of pregnancy on the body.

Except that’s not what Ni Ghriofa describes, not at all; not the one who is a little taken aback at how much she “enjoys her chore job”, she who looks at her body in the mirror – “my unbalanced and glorious breasts; the holy door of my quadruple Caesarean scar, my sagging belly, taut with ripples like a strand at low tide “- and feels” no repulsion, only pride. This is a feminine text, I think. My body responds in its dialect of scars. And There you go! he seems to say, And There you go!”

The unfolding story is stranger, more difficult to tell, than these valiant tales of rescuing a “forgotten” writer from the erasures of history or from the challenges faced by the woman artist. Ni Ghriofa, who spent 10 years pregnant or breastfeeding, who almost lost her fourth child (there is one heartbreaking chapter in the NICU) is immediately ready for another. Without a baby to occupy her, she wakes up shaking – “What will become of me, in the absence of this work, all this growth and this harvest?” She cannot give up this “exquisite” pleasure of service, the purpose and the physical pleasure of looking after, of feeding, of holding a little baby. Her husband begs her, asks if he can have a vasectomy (she thanks him for doing it in the acknowledgments – a first in my reading experience).

What is this ecstasy of self-denial, what are the costs? She documents this trend without shame or fear but with curiosity, even fun. She will re-educate her hunger. “I could give my days to find hers»She said to herself, launching into the story of Ni Chonaill. “I could do it, and I will. Or that’s what she says. The real woman that Ni Ghriofa invokes is herself.


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