May 1, 2012
A highlight of blogging for Best American Poetry last week (see “This Be the Poet”) on the Poetry Society of America’s Larkin event at Cooper Union was the quick conversation beforehand with Aaron Poochigian about Larkin’s work. In less than two minutes in the break room at Paragraph, Aaron focused my attention on the poet’s forms and subjects, emphasizing his essential avoidance of sentimentality, his centrality to the development of contemporary poetry, and the Expressionist brilliance in the ending of “High Windows.”
Another came after the reading. Vijay Seshadri talked to me about the challenges of reading Larkin, of getting your mouth around his words, hearing them — in your voice, in his. He compared reading Philip Larkin aloud and reading Elizabeth Bishop aloud.
“Try it,” he said. “Read ‘At the Fishhouses’, and read ‘Church Going.’ Try it.” I do. Four lines into each, the difference in mechanics of speech alone is striking. Contrasts expand and strengthen with each read.
Nourishment, space constraints, and lines from John Berryman, occupy my essay, “A Concern with Space Leads Elsewhere” at the new Inquisitive Eater from New School.
With your next meal — alone or with another — and surely with food, read poems. A suggested list, to start:
Bishop’s “At the Fishhouses”
Larkin’s “Church Going“. (listen on YouTube or read in the new The Complete Poems. edited by Archie Burnett (FSG, 2012)
Seshadri’s “The Descent of Man.”
Berryman’s Dream Song 29
What do you see, taste, hear? Let me know…