Thursday, February 05, 2009

An Evening of Margaret Atwood

imageOne of my students is teaching me about poetry. Some people are sort of automatically awed when they meet a pianist (or an author, LOL). Well, I’m one of those people who is automatically awed when someone writes poetry.

So, having just found a poem I loved by Margaret Atwood, I wanted to see if I could hear her read it.

I didn’t find the one I love, but stumbled across two others, plus an interview on her newest book, Payback. The book was released at the same time as the whole economic mess. I haven’t read it, but it’s about credit and debt in literature and history (and even the future!). Fascinating stuff.

And the first video is her reading her poem, “This Is A Photograph of Me,” the second her reading of “Morning in the Burned House.”

Here's the poem I was hoping Margaret Atwood had read. (Sorry, I can't get the italics off in my blockquotes!)

Tricks with Mirrors


It's no coincidence
this is a used
furniture warehouse.

I enter with you
and become a mirror.

are the perfect lovers,

that's it, carry me up the stairs
by the edges, don't drop me,

that would be back luck,
throw me on the bed

reflecting side up,
fall into me,

it will be your own
mouth you hit, firm and glassy,

your own eyes you find you
are up against closed closed


There is more to a mirror
than you looking at

your full-length body
flawless but reversed,

there is more than this dead blue
oblong eye turned outwards to you.

Think about the frame.
The frame is carved, it is important,

it exists, it does not reflect you,
it does not recede and recede, it has limits

and reflections of its own.
There's a nail in the back

to hang it with; there are several nails,
think about the nails,

pay attention to the nail
marks in the wood,

they are important too.


Don't assume it is passive
or easy, this clarity

with which I give you yourself.
Consider what restraint it

takes: breath withheld, no anger
or joy disturbing the surface

of the ice.
You are suspended in me

beautiful and frozen, I
preserve you, in me you are safe.

It is not a trick either,
it is a craft:

mirrors are crafty.


I wanted to stop this,
this life flattened against the wall,

mute and devoid of colour,
built of pure light,

this life of vision only, split
and remote, a lucid impasse.

I confess: this is not a mirror,
it is a door

I am trapped behind.
I wanted you to see me here,

say the releasing word, whatever
that may be, open the wall.

Instead you stand in front of me
combing your hair.


You don't like these metaphors.
All right:

Perhaps I am not a mirror.
Perhaps I am a pool.

Think about pools.

-- Margaret Atwood

Here’s a cool site: Save the Words is where you can adopt a word that is dying from the language and promise to help use it back into activity. It's fun! The words say, "Pick me!" LOL!

Do you write poetry? Listen to it? Read it? What author has been inspiring you, lately?

10 bonus scribbles:

Lauren 2/05/2009 09:44:00 PM  

Beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing it. I love poetry. I love how it phrases things and says things in a different way.

I used to write poetry and then I lost all of it when my computer crashed...nearly five years ago now...seems much less. Anyhoo, after I lost all of it I couldn't bring myself to write anymore. Although, that being said, my WIP kind of starts with a poem.

Robin 2/05/2009 11:32:00 PM  

Those poems are wonderful. I didn't know Margaret Atwood was a poet. It makes sense - her writing is so lyrical.

My favorite poet is e.e.cummings. Figures, huh?

StarvingWriteNow 2/06/2009 07:01:00 AM  

I fixed the video clip on my blog. I also will forward the original one to you via email. It's amazing.

I wrote poetry in high school. Lots of angst back then. I think my favorite poet is still Walt Whitman.

Melanie Avila 2/06/2009 09:12:00 AM  

I'm not really into poetry but I second what Robin said about Atwood. It makes sense to me that she also writes poetry.

You're determined to make me read more of her work, aren't you?

spyscribbler 2/06/2009 11:32:00 AM  

Lauren, I do, too. It's amazing to me how beautiful it is, how poignant, how it uses words so powerfully.

Wow... I would be devastated!!! I'm sorry, Lauren!

spyscribbler 2/06/2009 11:32:00 AM  

Aww, Robin! I didn't know she was a poet, either, not until my student told me.

spyscribbler 2/06/2009 11:34:00 AM  

WriteNow, that video clip is AMAZING! WOW! I can't imagine it! I would be terrified, but I wish I wouldn't be. That would be an AMAZING experience! Breathtaking!

spyscribbler 2/06/2009 11:35:00 AM  

LOL, Melanie, I've read so little Atwood! I'm determined to make myself read more of her! :-)

Amy Nathan 2/06/2009 11:50:00 AM  

I've always wanted to adopt!

Meet my new little word:


Isn't she cute?

I even ALMOST bought the t-shirt! Watch for senticous in blog posts to come. It means prickly, thorny. As in attitude, not cacti. ;)

spyscribbler 2/06/2009 11:53:00 AM  

That's SO cute! Hah! LOL! It sounds great: "senticious."

I've been trying to adopt, but I can't choose one! It's terrible! I can't decide!