Monday, April 27, 2009

Americans in Dublin.

There are so many great American poets working, and so few reliable recommenders to know who they are who champion them.

I chanced across three very different ones in the last week, all with distinct reading styles.

Tonight it was Jane Hirshfield, who appeared at 15 Usher's Island on the South side of Dublin Quays, reading with Irish poet's John O'Donnell and Dennis O’Driscoll, marking the 40'th anniversary of the founding of The independent legal rights organisation, FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centre).

This is the house Joyce's aunt lived in when it was a tenament, and the current owner is involved in a voluntary restoration project. The whole house was lit by candle-light, with the room where his short story: The Dead, takes place, on the first floor of the house, set exactly as it appears in the tale. A set table next to the hearth of a fire-place. The room next door was full of food and drink which we partook in after the reading.

Hirshfield reads with a very precise, almost verbal staccato delivery, softened by an exact music which reaches towards song whilst never falling conspicuously into it. Uniquely American and very distinctive. Her chimes and rhymes not clanging, are very deft and her poems not spoken in the more sing-song lyrical mode which Irish-Americans Lynch and O'Callaghan's do. This is not to say either is better or worse, merely uniquely themselves.

A treat to hear this fundamental difference between the European and American English poetic by one of the best.

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