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 poetryis 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. . .