Louis Ferlinghetti is 100!

And still as pertinent as ever.

This is his 2007 poem, Pity the Nation:

Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”

Louis Ferlinghetti is 100!

A disaster to be a girl…

I thought this was terrific.

First Choral Ode from Norma Jeane Baker of Troy (a translation of Euripides’ Helen) by Anne Carson

[enter Norma Jeane as Mr Truman Capote]

Norma Jeane:
Enter chorus.
I am my own chorus.
I think of my chorus as Mr Truman Capote.
He was a good friend, he told me the truth.
You’ll never admit it when you’ve made a mess,
he said to me once
and that was true.
I can still hear his funny little girl voice – Truman
had a voice like a negligee, always
slipping off one bare shoulder,
just a bit.
And he hated melodrama,
though he loved to quote poetry – highbrow stuff –
here’s one he says is about me –
by Stevie Smith (it’s called ‘Persephone’):

I am that Persephone
Who played with her darlings in Sicily
Against a background of social security.

Oh what a glorious time we had.
Or had we not? They said it was sad.
I was born good, grown bad.

And isn’t that how it always starts, this myth that ends with the girl ‘grown bad’?
She’s in a meadow gathering flowers
twirling her own small sunny hours.
When up rides a man on black horses.
Up rides a man in a black hat.
Up rides a man with a black letter to deliver.
Shall I make you my queen?
She’s maybe 12 or 13.
Rape
is the story of Helen,
Persephone,
Norma Jeane,
Troy.
War is the context
and God is a boy.
Oh my darlings,
they tell you you’re born with a precious pearl.
Truth is,
it’s a disaster to be a girl.

Up came the black horses and the dark King.
And the harsh sunshine was as if it had never been.
In the halls of Hades they said I was queen.
[exit Norma Jeane as Mr Truman Capote]

Anne Carson is working on sonnets to perform in Iceland later this year.

Anne Carson: First Choral Ode from ‘Norma Jeane Baker of Troy’ (a translation of Euripides’ ‘Helen’) via the London Review of Books app

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n05/contents

A disaster to be a girl…

On Gods, Human Rights, and the Poet by Mona Arshi | Poetry Foundation

Powerful blog post on language, truth and the possibilities of poetry here from Mona Arshi.

On Gods, Human Rights, and the Poet by Mona Arshi | Poetry Foundation:

And if there is one thing history has taught us it’s that language can be deployed to otherize people and groups. A poem is not a human rights instrument or the pleadings in a court case, nor should it seek to be, but one activity that the human rights lawyer and poet share is the restless interrogation of language. What happens in the post-truth toxic waters, where language in politics becomes untethered from critical reason? Poetry needs to continue to strive to make space for itself and think the unthinkable, the unimaginable on the page.

On Gods, Human Rights, and the Poet by Mona Arshi | Poetry Foundation