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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rerun: 4 Digby video poems from The Throne of Psyche

Mercer University Press, 2011,
in hardcover or paperback
Cover art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Design by Mary-Frances Glover Burt

Carving pumpkins, herding cats and progeny, writing some tight small poems in a pause mid-novel: I've been empty of blog posts somehow, so please take this little homage to and appreciation of Paul as an apology. More anon.

Videos by UK-born Paul Digby, composer, videographer, singer, fine cabinet-maker, painter, knitwear designer, computer genius, and more. There is nothing this man cannot do! Or so I suspect. He writes lovely music, but evidently that's not enough for him--he has to put the rest of us to shame in innumerable categories of creation with his apparent belief that he is a human being and so can do things! He lives in an obscure corner of Ohio. I can't imagine what they can do to deserve him.

This one is a riposte to Billy Collins, for writing a poem about taking off Emily Dickinson's clothes, a thing that is forbidden!

And this one is about the sad adventures of a nesting doll. It's a harsh, cruel world out there, full of unexpected powers.

Here is where I let it all hang out about being a Southerner in the bitter, snowy, lakeside winters of upstate New York. Do I always feel like this? Of course not! Snow is magical.

And this poem I wrote when my eldest child had meningitis--about the strong, sudden knowing that he would live, when things were at their worst.


  1. powerful verses; and a new experience, listening, watching, and imagining the "undiscovered country" of poetry... hope your child is okay, now.

    1. Mudpuddle, thank you, and yes, he is a great, strapping young man! It was new for me, also--to have someone ask for poems and make them into little movies. So sweet of him.

  2. "Carving pumpkins, herding cats and progeny, writing some tight small poems in a pause mid-novel, etc." In short Renaissance Woman, recently resident on Mount Olympus, is now among us again, distributing tablets (more conveniently recorded on polystyrene these days in deference to her admirers' feebler bodies) and I, for one, welcome the visitation.

    1. Hah, if I climbed a mountain to get some tablets of wisdom, it would definitely be a mountain of my own past errors! But it is sweet and generous of you to imagine me as a Renaissance-woman / Moses / Olympian, even though I am none of those.

      I've been having fun writing sonnets because I'm too busy to write on my novel. It's interesting what profoundly weird things can be put inside those little rooms, even though they began life in the world long ago with such a clear subject matter.

  3. Assuming you're following the ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme sequence never just say sonnet, say Shakespearean sonnet. It sounds better. Actually Miltonian is harder (much harder) - I only ever did one of those.

    Welcome to the club. Almost everybody I knew tried to switch me to vers libre but I needed the strait-jacket.

    1. Well, yes, have been writing Elizabethan sonnets at the moment. But have written plenty of other sorts--terza rima, etc. I've been wearing that very cool jacket quite a while. I like the freedom of it--the idea that it will drag me some place I never expected. Now that's freedom. Freedom from me, me, me!

    2. The most shocking thing to the mainstream of poetry today is to leap for form, these days! Hewing to tradition is at last avant garde.

    3. Ah... scrolling down your post I caught a line I'd missed previously, about your eldest child. We're linked you and I, though I suspect we'd rather not be. Sometime in the mid-forties, aged about eight, I went down with meningitis. Mercifully I can remember nothing other than my mother saying (afterwards): "It was the headaches, the headaches." In those days it should have been a death sentence but M&B had been introduced one or two years earlier and I survived to mention this. The timing of the illness and the drug's introduction might have encouraged me to think I'd been saved for great things. I've poo-pooed that in the past but listening to your reading I may have had distant second thoughts; thankful I have the capacity to recognise that a poem, addressing such a matter, must be read aloud with no inflections on the part of the reader. And this you do. I suppose you (no, not you, someone else) might say it's just a techno-poetic thing, a minor consideration compared with the saving of two young lives. But I'm grateful for this reflective pause.

      Thanks too for "I've been wearing that very cool jacket quite a while." I had no option since prior to 2008 I didn't even read poetry, much less write it. It pleases me that you chose sonnets; it's been a bit lonely out there.

    4. Oh, the video poem! Took me a minute to realize. I am sure that was quite an experience for your family. And you, even if you do not remember. Yes, I'll never forget that potent influx of knowing that he would be well. And it came at a time when he hadn't stirred at all for a long time (and did not for seven days), and when we didn't even yet know whether it was viral or bacterial meningitis. I was lucky in the sense that I recognized what it was immediately when he woke in the morning. He just looked odd in coloration, his eyes were strange, and the first thing he said was that his neck hurt. Boom! Off we went for a spinal tap, me lugging the baby and my big boy. Then my parents came and fetched my daughter. What a week!

      I like other forms, too, and have especially done a lot of blank verse, long and short. (Wallace Stevens wrote some short blank verse--I remember that being a surprise, long ago.)

      I think it was 1974 when poet Michael Harper told me that I had a gift for form, but I didn't pay what he had said any attention for a long time. If I had been smarter, I would have!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.