30 April 2021

Actors and poems

I may now be a fan of Lauren Ambrose.

One of my ex-editors forwarded to me an invitation to the first-ever virtual gala of Poetry & the Creative Mind for the Academy of American Poets. The event is in celebration of national poetry month.

I've always thought that poets shouldn't read their poems as writing and performing are two different skills. That's why I rarely attend poetry readings — most of the poeple (ie, [non-performance] poets) onstage simply throw words aways. A boringly narcissistic exercise.

Actors reading poems, however, is exciting. This morning's (on my side of the world) affair bore such excitement.

Honored readers at Poetry & the Creative Mind 2021. Photo via the Academy of American Poets.

The poem that stood out was A Fixed Idea by Amy Lowell and read by Lauren Ambrose. I am not familiar with the work, even the name of the latter, but after hearing her selections, I would like to get to know her more. She chose One Art by Elizabeth Bishop — fine, it's hard not to like that perfect poem — and the beautiful, complex, yet unbelievably accessible Lowell sonnet.

Lauren and I seem to have the same taste in poetry. We like structure, something that right away says, I speak the same language as you, though foreign. And we like depth.

A fixed idea
Amy Lowell

What torture lurks within a single thought
When grown too constant; and however kind,
However welcome still, the weary mind
Aches with its presence. Dull remembrance taught
Remembers on unceasingly; unsought
The old delight is with us but to find
That all recurring joy is pain refined,
Become a habit, and we struggle, caught.
You lie upon my heart as on a nest,
Folded in peace, for you can never know
How crushed I am with having you at rest
Heavy upon my life. I love you so
You bind my freedom from its rightful quest.
In mercy lift your drooping wings and go.

The hour-long event was streamed on YouTube, but it's currently unavailable for viewing. No big deal. What's important is that you take a look at the program, which has a list of the poems read as well as correcponding links to the entire poems themselves. Another wonderful poetry resource.

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