Monday, April 20, 2009

Etheridge Knight and Louise Glück

Sunday, April 19th was the birthday of the great African American poet, Etheridge Knight. Here's his spot-on poem on the funeral of Martin Luther King from his excellent book, The Essential Etheridge Knight:

On Watching Politicans Perform At Martin Luther King's Funeral
Hypocrites shed tears
like shiny snake skins

words rolling
thru the southern air

the scent of flowers
mingles with Jack Daniels
and Cutty Sark

the last snake skin slithers
to the floor where
black baptist feet
have danced in ecstasy

they turn
to begin

manicured fingers shuffling
the same stacked deck
with the ante
Etheridge Knight

Here's is a video cast of a Knight reading from the Library of Congress. (RealPlayer)


Saturday April 18th was the birthday of one of our finest contemporary poets, Louise Glück. Her work is at once lyrical, elegaic, and powerful in a combination rarely found in today's poetry. "Memo From The Cave" is from the early collection Firstborn, which has been reprinted with three other volumes in The First Four Books of Poems. If you had to own only one book of American poetry from the later part of the 20th century, you could do worse than The First Four Books of Poems:

Memo From The Cave
O love, you airtight bird,
My mouse-brown
Alibis hand upside-down
Above the pegboard
With its dangled pots
I don't have chickens for;
My lies are crawling on the floor
Like families but their larvae will not
Leave this nest. I've let
Despair bed
Down in your stead
And wet
Our quilted cover
So the rot-
scent of its pussy-foot-
fingers lingers, when its over.
Louise Glück

And here's a video cast of Louise Glück, also from the Library of Congress. (RealPlayer)

mosquito larvae too
keep the sutra's
translated by David Lanoue



Anonymous said...

some observations/comments

1. my birthday (also) April 19...(1941... before The Bomb)

2. hope that you don't get 33 emails from "them" asking (re the LG poem)

"what does this mean? Maybe my Poetry Writing 234 professor can tell me"

3. I, also, did a "mosquito" poem:

full moon
biting my ass

two terrific poets.....

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Happy Birthday, Ed ... a couple of days late, but when we get to this age, what's a little time between friends.

Knight and Glück let revel in all sides of the coin as we ride, singing, along the beautiful edge.