The Books of My Numberless Dreams

BBC Radio 3 & Poetry Friday

Posted on: March 16, 2007

Before I get into things please tell me what you think of the New Yorker makeover? I’m not fond of it. I don’t appreciate the way graphics dominate the top of the page (on my screen) and I have to scroll, scroll to get to the content. What’s the big deal about that huge embedded cartoon…thing? Eh. Everything else looks all right.

I’ve fallen in love with BBC Radio 3, with its Speech and Drama programmes specifically. This Sunday, the 18th at 4:oo pm EDT it will be Harold Pinter’s play, The Homecoming for Drama on 3. The ads for it were simply delicious. Some fellow was going on about how he simply couldn’t go without his daddy tucking them in at night (when he was younger?), and didn’t daddy simply love to do it, prompting his brother for confirmation in the most sly and insolent way imaginable. I tell you there’s nothing like to the breath of dirty, dirty going ons to get one interested in high brow literature.

And if you love the sea as much as I do, you’ll want to tune in later at 6:30 for “By the Sea”, a Words and Music programme in which Alex Jennings and Fiona Shaw will read sea themed poetry and prose by Bishop, Masefield, Hugo Williams and Charles Dickens interspersed with music written by Britten (!!), Mendelssohn and Mozart, among others.

Saturday will be your last chance to listen to the remarkable Crossing the Bar which is a mixture of any Tennyson poetry to do with the sea, arranged around his long Enoch Arden, with sea songs performed by the excellent acappella trio Coope, Boyes and Simpson. It’s really, really lovely with some fantastic readings of Kraken and The Sea-Fairies. The second is now a favourite of mine due to the way they handled the reading–really made them sound like sirens!

Right then, on to the poem. I’ve had a few Jack Gilbert poems that were printed in The Paris Review waiting to be posted. “Ovid in Tears” has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day or the ocean but it’s created a space for itself in my personal landscape.

Ovid in Tears

Love is like a garden in the heart, he said.
They asked him what he meant by garden.
He explained about gardens. “In the cities,”
he said, “there are places walled off where color
and decorum are magnified into a civilization.
Like a beautiful woman,” he said. How like
a woman, they asked. He remembered their wives
and said garden was just a figure of speech,
then called for drinks all around. Two rounds
later he was crying. Talking about how Charlemagne
couldn’t read but still made a world. About Hagia
Sophia and putting a round dome on a square
base after nine hundred years of failure.
The hand holding him slipped and he fell.
“White stone in the white sunlight,” he said
as they picked him up. “Not the great fires
built on the edge of the world.” His voice grew
fainter as they carried him away. “Both the melody
and the symphony. The imperfect dancing
in the beautiful dance. The dance most of all.”


8 Responses to "BBC Radio 3 & Poetry Friday"

I hate the New Yorker changes. It’s awkward and way to commercialized. I’m glad someone else noted it.
Shame on them.

Very much enjoyed Ovid in Tears — nice blog you have.

Everyone seems to be going for the “blog” look, which I probably wouldn’t mind if the designer hadn’t arranged the content in quite that fashion. It is awkward and a bit obnoxious in comparison to the older style where, at a glance, I saw four to five major pieces at the start, and comics were stuck to the side where they belonged…

I’m glad you enjoyed the Gilbert poem and thanks for the compliment.

I’m okay with the New Yorker look. It looks more tailored for the online consumer (note the word: consumer) now than previously. It’s evident the direction that they’re heading – more visual, less intimidating, perhaps to shed off their image of a fuddy-duddy magazine.

They still have Adam Gopnik on the payroll, so I’m okay with The New Yorker.

Hey, speaking of new looks: nice new look!

Jack Gilbert: interesting choice, imani. Who else do you like among living poets? (Or the barely but firmly dead: I was sad to see Kathleen Raine and Charles Causley go.)

Can’t seem to get into the New Yorker site. I hope this make-over doesn’t apply to their regular publication. I would hate to see the cover of the magazine change.

Dark Orpheus Gopnik is certainly a better writer of articles than he is of books. I’m more of a Michael Specter girl myself, along with Anthony Lane (waaaaaay better film critic writer than Denby) and Sasha Frere-Jones who I’ve been following long before he was at the New Yorker.

Ian, thanks!

Marly hmm who else? I do like Derek Walcott, Lorna Goodison and Raine too (recommended by yourself!) although I haven’t bought her book yet so maybe it is too soon to say. I also like all of what I’ve read by Jesse Ball (six poems maybe?) and Kevin Young.

JCR hmm it works for me so it may do so for you if you try again. I doubt they’d be so rash as to mess with the paper magazine look and, in any case, the image taking the spotlight on a cover makes more sense.

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