Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Epithalamium NYC by Anne Carson



I washed my hair the morning I got married put
on
red boots found license woke C. set off for City
Hall
had ceremony drove to Fairway got cups of tea
sat
at bench on boardwalk watched man & woman
at
next bench come almost to blows over her having
put
ketchup on his egg sandwich too bad they couldn’t
just
trade hers had the sausage Don’t ever put ketchup
on
my egg sandwich he clenched You handed it to me
she
cawed meanwhile their aged father paying no heed
was
pulling out bits of paper one after the other That’s not
it
he’d say That’s one from four years ago beautifully
mild
he searched on his wife I bet kept track of the list
when
she was alive bluish mist lifted sank on the water a
statue
(Liberty) slid us a wave from way across the bay.


Found this poem in the New Yorker, August 24 2009. Here it is for those who like to read it that way. Epithalamium links well to the poem I posted last week by Vana Manasiadis because she is a fan of Anne Carson  and her genre-busting style. Through Vana, I became a fan too. Autobiography of Red is one of my favourite books. 


Apologies to those I promised a sonnet to - especially Tuesday Poet Fifi Colston whose artwork inspired me. I thought I'd nailed it yesterday but realised I hadn't quite got the rhyme scheme down, and have since spent hours and hours and hours over the thing but, at 1.09 am on Tuesday morning, I am bailing. 


I feel the poem lacks weight and it's not helped by the way the rhyme seems to trivialise the message. I am tempted to take it back to its raw, non-sonnet beginnings and post that. But no, it leaned so strongly towards the sonnet form that I really had to take it there. Maybe next week. 


Do go to Tuesday Poem for more poems - Janis Freegard is this week's editor.  

15 comments:

Helen Lowe said...

Don't give up on the sonnet, Mary.

I like the stream of consciousness style of this poem, and the juxtaposition of the new relationship with the more established ones; also the casualness around the marraige.

Helen Rickerby said...

Thanks for the Anne Carson. I love her work too. All the best with the sonnet. Sometimes if you put something aside and then come back to it, you find your subconscious has done a lot of the hard work on it, and it's easier to finish.

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks Helen. Been thinking about it this morning. The relentlessness of the rhyme scheme did start to feel a bit nursery rhyme to me. Or maybe I'd worked on it too long and lost the stuff inside the poem to the form. Might let it rest and get back to it again in a few days. Thanks for the encouragement.

I like the way this poem balances finely the stuff of liberty vs. being in a relationship - the three marriages at different stages all sitting there (the one who washed her hair, the couple with the ketchup, the old man and his late wife) and the Statue of L in the distance waving. ....

Mary McCallum said...

Hah! Helen R - we must have commented at the same time. The Helen in my comment above is Helen L... and then you pop up with the right advice - to let the poem rest. I woke up this morning with an image in my head of a baby (the poem) being born but with its head stuck half way out. To let it rest like that? I guess with a little tug it could make its way out and then I'll swaddle it and let it be...

As Vana's publisher, I thought you'd like Anne Carson, Helen R - !

Kathleen Jones said...

Haven't read Anne Carson's work before, so thanks for the introduction - I love the structure!

Mary McCallum said...

I love the structure, too, Kathleen. No accident that I chose it when I was grappling with a sonnet. This form really appeals.

lillyanne said...

Love this poem, Mary - I think I remember it from the NYer last year, and it's lovely to meet it again - it repays several readings. It's very witty, and beautifully structured. Thanks for sharing it.

But as others have said, don't give up on the sonnet!

Belinda

Helen Heath said...

I'm reading Autobiography of Red at the moment. Anne Carson is pretty amazing.

lillyanne said...
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Belinda said...
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Helen Heath said...
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Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

Anne Carson is amazing. Thanks. Good luck with the sonnet wrestling!

Mim said...

I like her notes/jots. They add up.

Mary McCallum said...

Comments deleted because there was a problem with blogger comments last night and some people had to comment twice thinking nothing had come up.... thanks for all support on the sonnet! Will re-engage with it in the weekend ... I like the way you refer to the poem as notes/jots, Mim ... and glad you're enjoying Red, Helen. I will re-read it one day when I have a moment *laughs*

Claire Beynon said...

Well, here I am, a bit of a slow poke, bringing up the rear (so to speak!)...

I really enjoy the tautness of this poem, the way it pretends to keep its various elements out/at bay/separate, whilst all the while, drawing them in.

I confess I had to look 'Epithalamium' up. How fat with ritual and history it is...

ORIGIN late 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek epithalamion, from epi ‘upon’ + thalamos ‘bridal chamber.’

Thanks. C