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Thursday, March 18, 2004

Neruda centennial.

Mrs Philocrites and I spent yesterday evening listening to some fine poets pay tribute to Pablo Neruda, whose centennial is this year. If you ever get a chance to hear Martín Espada read, take it. My wife studied with him when she was in college, and we've gone to hear him in Cambridge twice before. Incredible.

I have to admit that I was surprised to hear Jorie Graham read Neruda so very effectively; I don't find her especially Nerudean, but she is a great teacher of poetry. Also reading yesterday: Ilan Stavans, editor of The Poetry of Pablo Neruda; Marjorie Agosín (who grew up next door to Neruda!); Dr. Rafael Campo; and D.A. Powell, whose work I knew nothing about but about whom I have to tell a funny story.

Twice last night, as Mrs Philocrites and I were walking around campus, our conversation drifted back to the poets we had heard. (Or to Helen Vendler, who was also there and whom we both admire.) Each time, as I asked a question about Powell and my wife was just starting to answer, who should we see before us but D.A. Powell! It was uncanny. The first time was right outside the Sackler Museum, no surprise. But the second time we were leaving the Harvard Bookstore on the other side of campus almost an hour later. I will hereafter refer to him as the ubiquitous D.A. Powell.

And since I was on a classical music kick Tuesday, let me say that while Samuel Barber wrote great orchestral music, the recording I own of his setting of Neruda's "Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair" is nowhere nearly as good as hearing good poets read the words.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 18 March 2004 at 7:21 PM

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March 19, 2004 06:53 PM | Permalink for this comment

Further poetry news: Thursday night, Mrs Philocrites went to hear Robert Pinsky lecture and read some of his new poems. One of them, "Inman Square Incantation," is about our neighborhood! Ouch! (I'm kicking myself for not being there to hear it.) Ouch! Ouch!

Perhaps inspired by Neruda, I'll try composing my own "Ode to Inman Square" this weekend.


March 19, 2004 08:38 PM | Permalink for this comment

Wow, getting to hear Jorie Graham read Neruda in the company of Helen Vendler. I'm jealous.

Graham is simly a very powerful reader. I heard her read from The Errancy pre-publication and it was like being in the same room with a tornado.


December 10, 2004 09:53 AM | Permalink for this comment

Aha! Robert Pinsky's poem, "Inman Square Incantation," mentioned above, was published in Ploughshares last year and is on-line.

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