Wednesday, April 25, 2007

National Poetry Month Recommendation: Stevie

I haven't done nearly enough recommending of women who write poetry this month. I apologize. Here's a quick plug for the great Stevie Smith.

I can't describe her any better than Clive James did, so I won't try: "Stevie Smith is a rare bird, a Maltese falcon. English literature in the modern age, crushed by the amount of official attention paid to it, needs her strangeness, the throwaway artistry that takes every trick, the technique there is no point in analyzing because you would have to go on analyzing it forever...When she is in form she can deconstruct literature in the only way that counts—by constructing something that feels as if it had just flown together, except you can't take it apart."

This is "Not Waving but Drowning":

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Go here to listen to her reading it.

1 comment:

  1. Line 7 amazed me! Separating by punctuation him/his would mean incredibly significant change to me I think.

    The Hood Company


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