Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Exemplary Sentence

This from Joan Didion's new BLUE NIGHTS: You pass a window, you walk to Central Park, you find yourself swimming in the color blue: the actual light is blue, and over the course of an hour or so this blue deepens, becomes more intense even as it darkens and fades, approximates finally the blue of the glass on a clear day at Chartres, or that of the Cerenkov radiation thrown off by the fuel rods in the pools of nuclear reactors.

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Years Resolution/Messiah on the NewsHour

One of several resolutions for the new year: blow the dust from this six-month neglected blog, which, after a summer break, I began to miss. There's something appealing about the form, the public notebook/scrapbook/commonplace book. It's been crowded out during a crazy, overwhelming time.

Begin again with this: the people at PBS NewsHour have produced a beautiful bit of video for the holiday. I went down to DC and read my poem "Messiah (Christmas Portions)," with a terrific film crew in attendance, at an Episcopal Church in Tenleytown. I have a longstanding distrust of "illustrating" poems in practically any fashion; usually I'd prefer to let the words do the work they were made for. But what producer Anne Davenport and her fellow PBS staffers made here delights me; the poem seems opened out to a wider audience, and the editing's so intelligently done that I don't even notice the cuts in the text made for time's sake. Four minutes on the evening news? What more could a poet ask for -- at least when it comes to speaking in the social space.

from PBS NewsHour, 12/21/11

Watching this the first time, on television here in the Springs on Wednesday night, I was taken back to the Provincetown church where I heard the town Choral Society give the performance the poem describes. I went, in truth, because there was a guy in the chorus I liked who'd invited me, and I had the impression that he was asking me on a date; in fact, I think he was just beefing up the audience. But in truth my pleasure was not dented by the fact that he wasn't interested. All these years later, the poem has another life, removed from its occasion, which is exactly what ought to happen: the originating scene erodes, vanishes in time, and the poem becomes, if one's lucky, free to belong to anyone.