YOUR FEETS TOO BIG: WAKE FOR JOHN EATON AND LIVE BROADCAST FROM ABROAD WRITERS, DUBLIN
Welcome to our Poetry Slow Down, I’m your professor Dr. B, Barbara Mossberg, with Producer Zappa John, our Mr. Z, for radiomonterey.com, podcast at BarbaraMossberg.com, broadcast live today from Duuublin, a city where I got on the bus to find a pub on my night of arrival, and the bus driver says what brings you to Ireland and I say, a conference celebrating poetry, and he launches into a poem by Yeats, as we drive through the dark and rain, rain so fierce the streets are rivers,
You who are bent, and bald, and blind,
With a heavy heart and a wandering mind, Have known three centuries, poets sing, Of dalliance with a demon thing. Sad to remember, sick with years, The swift innumerable spears, The horsemen with their floating hair, And bowls of barley, honey, and wine, Those merry couples dancing in tune, And the white body that lay by mine; But the tale, though words be lighter than air. Must live to be old like the wandering moon.
And we passed a cafe, and I said,
“I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.”
and we’re off with Yeats, Poetry Slow Down o’ my heart, into a land where poetry is the currency of thought, of action, the land of Yeats, and James Joyce, and Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde and Heaney and Beckett and Synge ad Kinnel and where Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote and worked, I’m going to his grave at St. Stephens today, and of course UNESCO named this World Literature City, for which the Finishing Line Press, who published my chapbook Sometimes the Woman in the Mirror Is Not You, and other hopeful news postings,has contributed authors along with prize-winning poets from the U.S. and UK. I had the honor to open the conference with a poem for Nelda Nelson and John Eaton, the first day’s reading, which concluded with the Irish poet Sinead Morrissey, who last year won the T.S. Eliot prize for her book Parallax, and our shows for the next months will feature writers I’m here with, hear hear!–reading and workshopping our poems in this ethos of heart-singing language, and Irish favorites, and on the subject of red hair, the life of American composer John Eaton, whose wake was in New York City this week, father of poet Estella Elizabeth Eaton, cognosceti Julian Eaton, and husband of my sister in crime, Nelda Nelson, the opera singer and Latin American literature scholar. John was my first mentor as a poet, in my graduate school days at Indiana University. He palled around with poets around the world, whom I knew only in the anthologies, and he counseled me on how to find my voice–what a voice was (of course, from an opera composer, and Nelda gamely tried to teach me to sing, but that is another story). Our music today for this show, Part One, is in honor of John, Your Feets Too Big, Route Sixty Six–yes, he is a famous composer, he died at age 81, on his way to a performance of one of his pieces for cello and piano, he’s famous for operas playing all over the world, one of the pioneers of electronic music for whom Robert Moog develped the sythesizer back in the days when John toured as Johnny Eaton and the Princetonians, but at athe end of the day at his house, an ongoing seminar on classical and contemporary poetry, he’d go to one of his two pianos, at right angles so he could play quarter notes, all the notes you could imagine, and he’d play and sing Your Feets Too Big, and Route Sixty Six, and I’ll share with you what I wrote for him that was read by his poet daughter Estella at the wake and my poem 45 years ago written for Nelda, John, and Baby E. Next week we’ll hear from some of the world’s greatest poetry put to opera, and more Irish and Eatonian poetry . . . thank you for joining me for this shenanigans, in the sprit of John, of Ireland, of great joyous life cracked open.
So Poetry Slow Down! Are you ready to knock em back? I’m excited to get going! Thank you for joining me in the Poetry Slow Down pub! Stay tuned fo next weeks with Irish poets, Hamilton, opera audiences carted around in limos for Dante in Los Angeles, John Muir dying surrounded by pages on aurora borealis, and more.