Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Inspirations at the Dan O'Connell 7/3

Last Saturday there was no feature poet at the Dan; it was an all-open-mic affair, with the theme of 'Inspirations', i.e. which poets/poems have inspired you, or what have they inspired you to write?

I chose to recite William Blake's 'London', which would have been one of the first poems to deliver a cold spinal shock while I was a teenager. In my view it still stands as one of the great city poems, along with the likes of Lorca's 'New York: Office and Denunciation', which I featured as one of the recurring poems on this blog.

Next up I read Pam Brown's 'At the wall', from Dear Deliria: New and Selected Poems. As I said (with a wry smile) on the day, I hope this poem inspires someone to do something other than write poetry. It's a serious punch in the guts - the kind we need.

Finally I read the final (88th) sonnet from Ted Berrigan's The Sonnets. Every hair on my body was standing to attention for those last few lines, ending with 'It is 5:15am ___________ Dear Chris, hello'. I would've first read bits of Berrigan more than ten years ago, but more recently, after reading The Sonnets in full, and hearing Berrigan read them more or less in their entirety after downloading an mp3 from UbuWeb, they've become a central text for me. They're a freaky construction of repetitions, appropriations, interrelations, shifting textures and tones.

It was fun listening to other poets' inspirations, and the fruits thereof. Ledong Qui took the theme laterally, and surprised a few people by pulling out a thesaurus and flicking at random, sampling words from it. Berrigan would've approved.

Below: Reciting 'London' (photo by Michael Reynolds).

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