I wasn’t going to make a post like this. It felt too self-aggrandizing. But I decided, however I explain or justify it, not making this post would be more wrong at this point. I am just so deeply grateful for the way these two people put my poems into their own voices. It is an honor and I want to thank them. Okay, sure, and brag a little bit too. “Hey, these wonderful, talented and beautiful people felt my work was worth reading out loud and recording!”
Okay, yup, there it is, narcissism and all. But I suppose it’s not that different from wanting to share with you where my poems get published, and hopefully in the not-to-distant future, how to purchase a book of my own poetry.
I do a lot of reading and recording of poems that I love by poets whom I admire. Just look at my YouTube channel, or the last two Aprils here on The Dad Poet. My own poems are few in those readings because I’ve been slowly summoning up courage to send them out into the world in hopes others will publish them. Most journals and e-zines, as you’ve probably heard me say before, consider poems posted on your blog to be “previously published,” so I’ve been sparse with my own poem posts.
So imagine when two marvelously gifted people, one a far away friend in Brazil, a poet and a photographer, and another, a beautiful actress, complete stranger to me, living somewhere between LA, NYC and Horsforth, England. . . both of these people within the same twenty four hour period are inspired to record a poem of mine. Imagine what that does for someone who has been writing and hoarding his poems for twenty years! Well, not entirely hoarding, but I’ve only sent out a few until this year, got a couple of small printings and two little awards. But this is different, actually hearing someone you admire read your work!
My friend Ann confessed to me that she kept replaying a poem of hers that I had recorded. It’s indescribable the feeling of accomplishment when your work is being read out loud, recorded and shared by someone else. I understand now what she means. Aside from publishing, I cannot imagine a better affirmation of my work.
There is a spunky, beautiful young actress I found on Soundcloud. We had both read Frank O’Hara poems for the Poetry Foundation’s Record a Poem Project, and that’s how we discovered each other. In mid-April I got a reply to one of my posts here that the lovely Frances Uku read my poem “Overvision,” and recorded it on for National Poetry Month “I hope you’ll forgive me,” she said.
Are you kidding, Frances? I could have fainted, it was so lovely. I was spell-bound. It’s fascinating the inflections others give your words, maybe not where you imagined them, but magically, perfectly appropriate. I am still stunned by the beauty of her reading.
Then last night I looked down at my somewhat smart phone and saw that Frances had tweeted the poem again to her followers and “Supermoon lovers.” And that was that, I had to make this gushing post. Oh, I’ll quit glowing and let you listen.
And then there is my dear friend, Ygor Raduy whose native tongue is Brazilian Portuguese. He first dazzled me with his reading of Whitman’s “I Saw in Louisiana a Live Oak Growing.” Later he blew me away by reading what I think is the greatest love song ever written (by Rainier Maria Rilke) in both English and German. He’s brilliant and kind, an admirer of Mozart and Sylvia Plath. How honored I was to hear him read one of my poems. I confess, it’s a slightly sexy piece, with some personal commentary on the power of language. So it doesn’t hurt to hear it read in this handsome man’s gorgeous accent. Thank you, my friend. You don’t know what you have done to reinforce my faith in my own dreams, that others would find my words worthy of recording.
Since the only other place this appears online is on YouTube, and I don’t want to distract from Ygor’s interpretation with my own reading, which I frankly like far less than his, I’ll just include the words below for you to follow along.
“So, she’s a poet? I am too.” I smile,
but I am looking at his eyes.
“No,” he says. “She’s decorated.”
I picture her in drapes by Martha Stewart.
He’s more than just a little drunk.
Pride and bitterness wrestle
a twisted match along his face.
He looks away, down the street,
and now at me. “She doesn’t write
Hallmark cards.” And I wonder if
those are her words or his.
They have the ring of an old,
repeated conflict. The match, for now
has ended, without a clear champion.
What makes you think I do? That’s
what I want to say. But I just nod.
The street is dark, nearly three AM.
“She’s good,” he nods. “She’s very, very good.”
I wish he’d look my way long enough to kiss me.
And I know instinctively, that she
has lived this moment too.
Two poets fallen for a dancer,
a linguist who dances.
What hope is there in this?
The irony makes for what he calls fodder
for her poems, and he fears perhaps, next
for mine. “Language is a lie,” he finally says.
“It cannot tell emotion, honest like the body.”
And his body, at this moment, when I wish to argue,
deftly moves against me. His head bends low;
his lips touch mine. A lone car slowly passes.
We do not look up. The long kiss makes
his argument, and contradicts its honesty.
Later, walking past the fountain, he speaks
of oneness with the moment and how it cannot
be captured in words. I clench my teeth,
and write about it now, as honestly as I can.
- Here’s the best way to see this weekend’s ‘supermoon’ (pix11.com)
- Poetry, poem by Nikki Giovanni (silverbirchpress.wordpress.com)
- Reading Poems Out Loud with John – Emily Dickinson Edition (dadpoet.wordpress.com)
17 Comments Add yours
How awesome!!!! What an incredible joy to get TWO requests within 24 hours of each other — all about reading YOUR poetry to the world! And then to have Frances reading your poetry! This is really beautiful and affirming that you are truly doing what delights your heart! I love waking up to this news on a Monday morning. Keep up it up, dear friend. Love, Lisa
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Aw, thank you, Lisa. I’m glad I could cheer you too. 🙂
David, I don’t know where to post this — I LOOOOVE the new pic of your boys at the top of the page! It looks like you all have a great time together. Lots of warmth and regard. Endears me to you guys! Love, Lisa
Aw, thanks, Lisa! I was doing some cosmetic work on the blog this week. It’s still mostly the same theme, but I added the twitter feed, and tidied up my links a bit, dropped and added a few. And that header picture now randomly rotates about a dozen photos, mostly of my sons, but a few birding ones in there too. Feel free to refresh it and see. lol My sons are the best. I really feel that way, and we do get together pretty much every week, and stay in contact a lot in between. But god, are they growing up.
David, after I posted, I saw that they rotate!!! They are awesome!! — the pics AND your sons! I hear you about growing up — even my “little” six year old — I was looking at his hands the other evening, and we realized they are almost as big as mine!!! My sweet loves!!!
David – I love hearing from other parents that they think their kiddos are awesome. The other day, I was at the gas station w/ my little ones. The clerk was like “Your kiddos are really cute!” I said, “Yeah, they are awesome.” And she said, “Most people don’t say that. They say ‘they are little brats.” I was shocked and instantly felt something for each little child who has ever heard that.
Keep rockin’, Dave. Love the twitter feed and the tweaks! Love, Lisa
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I have marveled at Frances Uku’s voice on Linktv….what a marvelous treat to have her read one of your poems…Wow! Congrats!
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Thanks for letting me share my pride a bit. 🙂 I was worried this post would be too much. But I hope it also spreads the word about the artistry of Frances and Ygor.
Frances Uku could read poetry to me all day long … what a beautiful voice! And, what an honor to have her read yours.
Ygor … there’s something about an accent that makes poetry seem even more wonderful, and he has done a great job with your poem…
What an honor, Mr Poetry Guru … well deserved!
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Yes, John, I agree. Funny thing is, and I hope Ygor doesn’t mind my saying this, but he worries sometimes in our conversations that he is “butchering” our language, but I often marvel at how he speaks English better than some who have spoken it all their lives.
Tell him not to worry … he does very well.
I tell him this. And hopefully he’ll read these words you said too. 🙂
Now just persuade him to read the Vulture Tree poem! 🙂
haha! Great minds! I was just thinking the same thing. 🙂
David! Congratulations on these gifted readings of your poems. (And don’t be apologetic about sharing them with us! We’d be sad if you kept these poems to yourself!) You know that “Overvision” is one of my favorites, so hearing it in Frances Uku’s lovely voice is an especial treat for me. But then, this double joy of being introduced to your “Decorum” by Ygor Raduy…how fantastic. I love all the nuances about language and the body in this piece, and how, as means of relating to others, they can be in conflict with each other.
I also love what great companion pieces “Overvision” and “Decorum” make.
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Thank you so much for that Jennifer. I hadn’t thought before about “Overvision” and “Decorum” as companion pieces, but you may be right. They do look good together, both have something to do specifically with language and human experience, and it would be nice to see them together in my first volume. 🙂 Thank you again, and congratulations on your new chapbook!