“And this,” said the publicist who’d been introducing us, “is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.” I registered a slight grimace on Mr. Muldoon’s end.
“A poet, huh?” Mr. Tyler said, walking closer to him. “You’re kidding.”
As if on cue, the lead singer of Aerosmith began reciting the opening stanza of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” He pointed at Mr. Muldoon to finish the line.”
“If formal verse can be likened to carving, free verse to modeling, then one might say that doggerel verse is like objet trouvés — the piece of driftwood that looks like a witch, the stone that has a profile. The writer of doggerel, as it were, takes any old words, rhythms and rhymes that come into his head, gives them a good shake and then throws them onto the page like dice where, lo and behold, contrary to all probability they make sense, not by law but by chance. Since the words appear to have no will of their own, but to be the puppets of chance, so will the things or persons to which they refer; hence the value of doggerel for a certain kind of satire.”
We hope our friends in New York will join us tonight for a special National Poetry Month installment of the FSG Reading Series. Rowan Ricardo Phillips (The Ground) and Glyn Maxwell (One Thousand Nights and Counting) will read at the Russian Samovar. I’ve had the privilege of hearing Phillips read before, and I highly, highly recommend experiencing it live.
The Russian Samovar
256 W. 52nd St
Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney reading his poem “Keeping Going.”
During his SXSW Interactive talk, Andrew Mcafee asked Tim O’Reilly for his advice to young innovators. O’Reilly quoted the last stanza of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, reprinted below.
"The Man Watching" by Rainer Maria Rilke
I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister
The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.
What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler’s sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.
Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.
(Robert Bly translation)
One from the archives: Paul Muldoon reads Rainer Maria Rilke's “Archaic Torso of Apollo” and then discusses why he's drawn to this poem in particular.