Month: June 2015

An Image Of Love And Oats

Every morning, I open Neruda’s One Hundred Love Sonnets on the breakfast table and escape to his Chilean Isla Negra.  I let him fold his wings over me and get an insight into his romantic mind: his sexual longings and love for his wife Matilde; his celebration of the the body, the female form and all its comparisons to food, birds, stones, water and mountains.   For ten to fifteen minutes I am where he is.  

On his island, its shores and mountains, vineyards and harvested earth, I feel, for the briefest of moments, his mind and vision and wish that breakfast could last all day long.  The tender sonnets of one of Latin America’s foremost love poets, bestow my humble oats with ambrosial qualities, making the mundane passionate and extraordinary. Born in 1904 in a small town in central Chile, Neruda became one of the most renowned poets of the 20th Century. He shared the World Peace Prize with Paul Robeson and Pablo Picasso in 1950, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his poetry in 1971.   His poetic genius is unmatched and I love how his writing can be so simultaneously affectionate and astute.  I don’t normally post my own work here but there is no cause for alarm! This is just my morning, my

Breakfast With Neruda
By Tracy Gaughan

Open on my breakfast table, your book
of Sonnets. They bear the aroma of warm grain
from the Black Island, a measure of romance
and oats, milled by the buhrstone of your poet tongue.

Spoons of sand in an ocean of moon, I draw in
the perfume of your labour: earth, chaff, threshing
de-hulling; sweet carnal desires ripening
under the hot Chilean sun.

You transform this cereal ritual
Into an impassioned banquet of words
From your heart to my mouth – before sonorous steel
Pilfers me from our constellation of breath.

I return each morning like thirst, unquenchable.
Refill my empty nets with your shoal of syllable.

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The Typewriter Project

What would you say?

What would you say?

The Typewriter Project is a program of the Poetry Society of New York.  Situated in Tompkins Square Park, NY from June 15-July 19: members of the public are invited to don their poetic hats and enter a small wooden den, a soul’s confessional, with a  typewriter, paper scroll and a hidden USB kit, which will allow every entry to be collected and posted on-line to form one long running public dialogue.  Such a fantastic idea – the project’s mission is to document the poetic subconscious of the city while providing a fun and interactive means for the public to engage with the written word.  

Encouraging people to engage with poetry has always been a passion of mine; it’s something I try to do through my show and I believe that if you find poetry once then it’s almost impossible to stop finding it.  It’s everywhere, in everything, to quote Neruda: On our earth, before writing was invented, before the printing press was invented, poetry flourished.  That is why we know that poetry is like bread; it should be shared by all, by scholars and by peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity. 

In March 2015, Ireland embarked on a campaign to find the country’s best loved poem of the last 100 yrs.  RTEs A Poem For Ireland Competition received nominations from thousands of people eager to express their connections to certain poems and reasons for their nominations. The purpose really, was to start a national conversation about our poetry and poets. To open ourselves up, in a liberating, free-thinking sort of way, to the joy and ceaseless pleasure of the written word. And guess what?  People are only bursting to get involved with poetry.  All we need are the opportunities.  So hats off to Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski for coming up with such an innovative idea. Now  all we have to do is wait and see how lyrical New Yorkers can be  – the literary ball is in their court until July 19th!

Yes: Molly Bloom And The Female Word

Tomorrow is June 16th, the day in 1904 that the events of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses take place and when Joycean’s all IMG_0003over the world will be celebrating Bloomsday!  Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, born in Dublin in 1882.  He earned a BA from UCD with a focus on modern languages (he was conversant in 17 including Arabic and Norwegian!); met and married Galway woman Nora Barnacle with whom he left Ireland in 1904 for Europe – where they lived until Joyce’s death in Switzerland in 1941.  His best known works are the early short story collection Dubliners; A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man; the play Exiles and poetry collections Chamber Music, Gas From A Burner and Ecce Puer.

Despite Ulysses, being banned for many years in the UK and US due to it’s explicit prose, it was Joyce’s landmark novel, published in Paris in 1922. A modern retelling of Homer’s Odyssey the story recounts a single day in Dublin: June 16, 1904 and sets the characters and incidents of the Odyssey in modern Dublin, representing Ulysses, Penelope and Telemachus in the characters of Leopold Bloom, his wife Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. The final episode is the most notorious and Molly has the last word.  In her closing soliloquy, she muses, in graphic detail, on love and life and sex. She closes with Yes – a word that Joyce described as the female word, that he said indicated acquiescence, self-abandon, relaxation and the end of all resistance. A passionate sexual woman – go Molly! Here’s an abridged version with a musical interpretation by English singer/songwriter Kate Bush:

…I love flowers I’d love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven there’s nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying there’s no God I wouldn’t give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why don’t they go and create something I often asked him atheists or whatever they call themselves go and wash the cobbles off themselves first then they go howling for the priest and they dying and why why because they’re afraid of hell on account of their bad conscience ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they don’t know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharons and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas 2 glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

“But all my life–so far– I have loved best how the flowers rise …” WestWords Perfect Pair!

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All the beauty of the world can be seen on the faces of flowers.   Today is the first reasonably sunny afternoon in Ireland and the flowers of the fields are craning their chilly stems for a glimpse of that under-provided, fair-weather friend of the Irish isles. Mary Oliver articulates their beauty much better than I can.  Described by the New York Times as ‘far and away, America’s best-selling poet’, Oliver won the Pulitzer Prize For Poetry in 1984 for her fifth collection of poetry American Primitive. In 1992 she won the National Book Award for her New And Selected Poems. Influenced by both Whitman and Thoreau, Mary Oliver’s creativity, is stirred by nature and her poetry is grounded in memories of Ohio and her adopted home of New England, where she still lives.   This is:

MOCCASIN FLOWERS
By Mary Oliver

All my life,
so far,
I have loved
more than one thing,

including the mossy hooves
of dreams, including’
the spongy litter
under the tall trees.
In spring
the moccasin flowers
reach for the crackling
lick of the sun

and burn down. Sometimes,
in the shadows,
I see the hazy eyes,
the lamb-lips

of oblivion,
its deep drowse,
and I can imagine a new nothing
in the universe,

the matted leaves splitting
open, revealing
the black planks
of the stairs.

But all my life–so far–
I have loved best
how the flowers rise
and open, how

the pink lungs of their bodies
enter the fore of the world
and stand there shining
and willing–the one

thing they can do before
they shuffle forward
into the floor of darkness, they
become the trees.

The Flower Duet (feat. Anna Netrebko & Elina Garanca) – Sous le dôme épais is the famous duet for sopranos, from Léo Delibes’ opera Lakmé, first performed in Paris in 1883. The duet takes place between the characters Lakmé, and her servant Mallika, as they go to gather flowers by a river.