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« "Improba Carmina" [by Catullus, trans. Molly Arden] | Main | Ted Berrigan in Irish America [by Terence Winch] »

November 21, 2014


Terrific interview...fascinating interviewee (sorry). As for contemporary poets, try D.A. Powell, Maureen N. McLane, Mark Strand, Mary Rueffl, Louise Gluck, David Groff, Philip Levine, and (naturally) Mark Doty. Stepping back just a little to include the relatively recently deceased, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Galway Kinnell, Maxine Kumin, Stanley Kunitz, and Wislawa Szymborska.

I met a composer a few years back who was setting a single poem from Louise Gluck's THE WILD IRIS. The poems are short and seem to me to fulfill the requirement of having "language that is simple and that can unfold over the length that music requires without losing its meaning." Here are a few lines from her poem "End of Winter":

Over the still world, a bird calls
waking solitary among black boughs.

You wanted to be born; I let you be born.
When has my grief ever gotten
in the way of your pleasure?

Poetry is so often verbal music -- so many rich possibilities for collaboration between poets and composers. I'll track down the translations of Cavafy. Thanks for a great interview.

Louise Gluck's THE WILD IRIS is a great pick and one of my favorite volumes of poetry. As a visual artist, I have worked with some of the poems to make paintings and have considered creating a suite of paintings linked to the whole poem cycle. It would be interesting to hear Rainer Maria Rilke's DUINO ELEGIES in a big score. For a truly American voice, I would turn to Charles Wright. Particularly, his book APPALACHIA. A few lines from his poem "Indian Summer II":

"As leaves fall from the trees, the body falls from the soul.
As memory signs transcendence, scales fall from the heart.
As sunlight winds back on its dark spool,
November's a burn and an ache."

I'd say Louise Glück and The Wild Iris are the clear favorites so far...

Thanks to Brian, Joy, and Carla for their recommendations.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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