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)