lyric poetry

To a Corpse

Okay, I've turned forty.  On my birthday I celebrated my obsolescence by translating a sonnet titled "To a Corpse."

I Long Dared Not Speak

I've returned from Poland.  It will take me a while to process the amazing things I've seen, from the Baltic to the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.  For now, I thought I'd just rave a little bit more about Anna Akhmatova.

Hello Goodbye Hello

Here at the University of Washington, our over-long academic year is finally ending, and I am eager to be gone.  Quick as I can, I'll be at a spa near Poznań in Poland, first stop on a East European vacation.  I thought I'd post a poem about departures:  Anna Akhmatova's "Pesnia poslednei vstrechi" (Song of the Last Meeting).

Dance Fever

I've long been fascinated by Isadora Duncan's later career. After the 1917 October Revolution, she moved to the Soviet Union, where she opened a dance school for girls. She married the poet Sergei Esenin, drank to excess, and then, when the state failed to fund her school sufficiently, undertook a deliciously scandalous tour of the USA.

Hot Stuff, Cold Comfort

Today I heard that my parents might be coming for a visit. That sent me into a cleaning tizzy. While I scrub and scour, I've been thinking about poems that capture the intimate ritual relationship between people and the things that populate their domestic spaces.

I Am Not a Peasant

Kopna means stook or haycock. Skird means rick. I'm looking up words in my trusty Russian-English dictionary, and things remain clear as mud. Sometimes translation from one language to another is only a prelude to figuring out what a text says.

Living During Interesting Times

Today during coverage of Dubai's debt crisis I heard for the umpteenth time since the recession began a reporter mention "the old Chinese curse 'may you live in interesting times.'"  This is one of my pet peeves.  This "curse" isn't Chinese in origin, and it's not that old.

Mothers, Daughters, Mothers

In a few weeks I'm going to Illinois to see my niece Ellie for the first time.  I'm sitting up late tonight trying to imagine my younger sister as a mother.  It's not easy.  To me she's still the girl whose biggest aspiration in life was to own the newest Strawberry Shortcake doll.