|Aengus Woods, co-Curator of IAC’s Poetry Fest, introduces Poets|
How it’s NY: New York was the subject of several poems, and two of the poets live in New York.
It was a feast of voices, accents, sense and sounds….Here we are, tucked in together on a sunny Saturday afternoon, language thrumming on the walls as we listen in the dark.
Saskia Hamilton is a highly-awarded, former Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard who teaches at Barnard College. She read all new work from a collection-in-progress called Nightjar—“like the bird,” she said. Dark-haired, casually dressed, she read with ease and authority. I was struck by the following images (quoting now from my notes) referred to in a poem called “Midsummer Rain”:
People standing outside a bar . . .White shirts blossoming on the street . . .Rain drives them back inside . . .
in a far field north of heredoes your desk face the wall or the window?which sound is in the fore?
With his mod hair and his dark clothing, David Wheatley might have been a hip schoolmaster or a mid-sixties pop star. His use of form (rhymes and near-rhymes and the feeling of balladry) and his subject matter (the natural world) are traditional. His genial nature and good humor set his work apart from its models. “I do like my creatures,” he said, and proved it by reading several poems about birds that were as light and darting and lovely as their subjects. Much delight was generated by a poem that answered, in one line, the question in its title:
Have You Seen This Cat?Because it’s awesome!
Several love poems came next, including one for Maud, his pug dog. “Pugs are a cross between E.T. and an Ewok,” he said. “You’re not supposed to buy them because they can’t breathe properly.“
The weatherman for Boston ponders whether, I’d bet not,the snowstorm coming north will come to town tonight [. . .]Everyone on earth is sleeping. I am the keel-scrapebeneath their tidal breathing which is shifting down through tempo to thewaveform of the sea. The gathered even draw and lift of air.Further east a blizzard of homogenous decisions breathes above the folding and unfolding pane and counterpane of wavesas if the white so loves the world it tries to make a map of it, exact and blank tostart again, but the sea will not stay under it.The ricepaper wafers are melting. Millions of babynails cling to the wind liftinghoarsely off the Atlantic. The whole thingis mesmeric. For hours the snow will fall like rhythm.Listen.