Month: February 2016

WestWords Perfect Pair

I’m a huge fan of American poet Sharon Olds.  It’s her honesty, humour and humility I find so appealing.  I sometimes can’t get through one of her poems without surrendering to sadness or joy.  Her poetry is known for its free verse style, characteristic of Walt Whitman, and she is the author of one of contemporary poetry‘s best-selling volumes The Dead And The Living, at more than 50,000 copies. Childhood, family life, femininity, eroticism and politics are just some of the topics vividly described in her collections which include Satan Says, The Gold Cell, One Secret Thing and Stag’s Leap, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. An unforgiving self examination here in:Campagnola---backs-in-art-009

© Giulio Campagnola

SELF PORTRAIT, REAR VIEW
By Sharon Olds

At first I almost do not believe it, in the hotel
triple mirror, that that is my body, in
back, below the waist, and above
the legs – the thing that doesn’t stop moving
when I stop moving.
And it doesn’t even look like just one thing
Or even one big, double thing
– even the word saddlebags has a
Smooth, calfskin feel to it,
Compared to this compendium
of net string bags shaking their booty of
cellulite fruits and nuts. Some lumps
look like bon bons translated intact
from chocolate box to buttocks, the curl on top
Showing, slightly, through my skin. Once I see what I can
do with this, I do it, high-stepping
to make the rapids of my bottom rush
in ripples like a world wonder. Slowly,
I believe what I am seeing, a 54-year-old
rear end, once a tight end,
High and mighty, almost a chicken butt, now
Exhausted, as if tragic. But this is not
an invasion, my cul-de-sac is not being
used to hatch alien cells, ball peens,
gyroscopes, sacks of marbles. It’s my hoard
of treasure, my good luck, not to be
dead, yet, though when I toss the
main of my ass again and see,
in a clutch of eggs, each egg,
on its own as if shell-less, shudder, I wonder
if anyone has ever died
looking in a mirror, of horror. I think I will
not even catch a cold from it,
I will go to school to it, to Butt
Boot Camp, to the video store, where I saw
in the window, my hero, my workout jelly
role model, my apotheosis: Killer Buns.


Music from spoof English heavy metal band Spinal Tap there, Big Bottom is from the soundtrack to the 1984 film satire This Is Spinal Tap, documenting the exploits of heavy metal rock bands of the time.

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Serbian Encounter

I came across this amazing Serbian poet, feminist and activist Radmila Lazic while researching for an upcoming show about women and was really struck by her poetry.  A Wake for the Living, published in 2003 was the first translation of her poetry into English by fellow Serbian poet Charles Simic.  She has published numerous essays on literature and is the editor of an anthology of women’s poetry and another of anti-war letters. Lazic is also the founder and editor of the Serbian journal of women’s studies: Profemina International for Women, Writing & Culture.  This is something of hers:

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A Woman’s Letter
By Radmila Lazic

I don’t want to be obedient and tame.
Coddled like a cat. Faithful like a dog.
With a belly to my teeth, hands in the dough,
Face covered with flour, my heart a cinder
And his hand on my ass.

I don’t want to be a welcome flag at his door,
Nor the guardian snake under his threshold,
Neither the snake nor Eve from Genesis.

I don’t want to pace between the door and the window,
To listen hard and be able to distinguish
Footsteps from night-sounds.
I don’t want to follow the leaden movement of the watch-hands,
Nor see falling stars
For him to gore me drunkenly like an elephant.

I don’t want to be sewn with needlepoint
To the family portrait
Next to the fireplace with balled up children,
In the garden with puppy children,
And I the shade tree,
And I the winter landscape,
A statue under the snow.
In a pleated wedding dress
I’ll fly to heaven.

Alleluia! Alleluia!
I don’t want a bridegroom.

I want gray hair, a hump and a basket
To go roaming in the woods,
Picking strawberries and dry twigs.

With my whole life behind me,
The smile of that boy,
So dear and irreplaceable.

 

(trans. from the Serbian by Charles Simic)

Study of the past

This weeks show features the poetry and music of History with Sharon Olds, Derek Walcott & Maura Dooley alongside Tori Amos, Ludovico Einaudi & Norah Jones.

Digital image

  Tracy Gaughan ©

 

Presented by Tracy Gaughan