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March 21, 1980 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-03-21

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A poet finds his audience

The Michigan Daily--Friday, March 21, 1980-Page 7

11 II

Avenue at Liberty St. 761-9700
Formerly Fifth Foram Theater


m .

Galway Kinnell made his annual visit
to the University to read his poetry
Wednesday night. After a brief in-
troduction by Professor Bert Hornback,
Kinnell took the podium and after a few
comments launched directly into a
Perhaps he whould have warmed up
first. He had trouble reading his poetry
at the start. Even though he held a copy
f each poem that he read, he preferred
recite them from I memory-and
stumbled through some of them
because of it. Whe n his memory failed,
his speech slowed and occasionally
stopped entirely while he scanned the
page before him, searching for the next
line-a difficult task in the dimly lit
Pendleton room.
Most poetry depends upon a convin-
cing oral performance and even though
Kinnell's was partly flawed, the
audience was still convinced. They
sponded warmly to the poems that
innell did read well. They laughed
freely at the humor of "After Making
Love We Hear Footsteps" (a poem
about the midnight wanderings of Kin-
nell's son Fergus) from his forthcoming
book Mortal Acts, Mortal Words and
applauded its tender beauty. They were
awed by Kinnell's verbally intense ren-
dition of "Blackberry Eating" and
overwhelmed by its powerful, clear

visual imagery.
PART OF Kinnell's success with the
audience was due to the audience's
familiarity with his poetry. He has ap-
peared in Ann Arbor almost every year
for the past ten years. He has called
Ann Arbor poetry audiences "the best
poetry audiences in the country" and
feels that they are knowledgeable and
receptive, even though he has noticed a
drop in attendance since 1972.
Kinnell read two poems.that recently
appeared in The New Yorker:
"Daybreak" and "The Gray Heron."
He called them "mere observations,"
but they were much more than that.
"Daybreak" begins with an obser-
vation "On the tidal mud, just before
sunset,/dozens of starfishes/were
creeping.", but quickly moves to
establish a broader significance for
those crawling creatures. "It was/as
though the mud were a sky/ and enor-
mous imperfect stars/moved .across it
as slowly/as the actual stars cross
heaven." The poem continues the com-
parison in quiet language that implies a
universal meaning for a potentially
trite metaphor.
"THE GREY HERON" depends
heavily upon observation and also
moves away from the observation
through clear, subtly handled
metaphor. The heron metamor-

phoses-believably-into a lizard "with
linear mouth/expressive of the even
temper/of the mineral kingdom."
Here, and in the next few lines, the
lizard takes on an almost human
character that mirrors the
inquisitive curiosity of the poet in the
poem.' "It stopped and tilted its
head,/which was much like/a field-
stone with an eye/in it, which was wat-
ching me/to see if I would go/or change
into something else."
Kinnell also read two poems by
James Wright: "A Blessing" and "The
Life." He allowed himself to depend
much more on the written poems in
front of him-perhaps because they
were not his own poems-and con-
sequently they were among the best
read though not the best poems of the
evening. While it is unusual for Kinnell
to read the' works of another poet at one
of his readings, there were unusual cir-
cumstances in this instance; James
Wright is dying of cancer in New York.
Kinnell did not mention this during the
reading; but his consideration was ap-
parently in honor of Wright.e

KINNELL also read "Little Sleeps-
Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight"
and "Lastness" from his most recent
book of poems, The Book of Night-
mares. He ranged freely from the
published text apparently because of
both lapses in memory and-intentional "
changes in the verse. In general, he
maintained his momentum throughout
the two poems and the emendations
were consequently inoffensive.
When Kinnell tried to end his reading
after 45 minutes with a simple "Thank
You," the audience applauded until he
returned to the podium. While some
rock musicians may plan to do an en-
core or two, encores are a rare oc-
currence for poets. Perhaps, the
audience was disappointed that Kinnell
failed to read "The Bear," a poem that
shocks the senses while simultaneously
offering a strange transcendence or
any of his other heavily autholigized
poems; or maybe the applause was a
tribute to the poetry of a poet they know
and love and who they expected more
from. Whatever the case, the audience
wanted more. Kinnell read what he
referred to as an "ole Persian poem"
that wittily denounced anyone who was
unhappy with his reading and then
retired for good.
While the audience was left smiling,
it might have been better if Kinnell had
responded with some more of his own
poetry. The audience clearly didn't
want to leave. Their well-founded vision
of Galway Kinnell as one of the best
poets writing today was not quite
equalled by his inconsistent perfor-
4 t

Fri-5:40, 7:45, 9:50
Fri $1.50 til 6:00 (or cop.)
Sat, Sun-1:20, 3:25, 5:40, 7:45, 9:50
Sat, Sun $1.50 till 1:45 (or cap.)
your school
be next?

Late Show!
AA& Fri & sat
-v: :. i

Arts Chorale due to perform

A special amount of enthusiasm and
esprit de corps enhance both the
University Arts Chorale and the Cam-
ps Orchestra and set them apart from
her University musical
rganizations, according to their
respective conductors.
Both musical groups are one-credit
courses and are comprised mainly of
non-music majors from every school in
the University, although music school
get of your
I. high horse

students are allo'Wed to join. The two
organizations will be collaborating
Wednesday, April 9, in Hill Aud. and
will perform Leonard Bernstein's
"Chichester Psalms."
"They really enjoy building
something beautiful together-they're
there strictly because they want to be,"
said Arts Chorale Conductor Lawrenca
Campus Orchestra Conductor
Charles Gabrion agreed. "It's a nice
catharsis-its gives them an oppor-
tunity to perform with others. They're
in it for the social and artistic aspects
and for the sheer pleasure of in-
volvement," Gabrion said.
MARSH described the Chichester
Psalms as "a staple of the choral diet"
and a very gorgeous work. "The text is
set so well with typical Bernstein flair."

Marsh said. "I'm excited about it."
Gabrion said he felt the performance
should be great fun and said he is
looking forward to the concert. The
campus orchestra will be performing
other orchestral works, including peces
by Wagner, Prokieff, and Vivaldi.
The Arts Chorale was fomed in 1949,
when the University felt there was need
for a campus choir for non-music
majors, according to Maynard Klein,
its founder. He said the choir began as a
non-credit course for LSA students but
later became a credit course including
students from all over the University.
The Campus Orchestra is a much
younger organization, Gabrion said,
but was formed in 1973 for similar
reasons. The two groups both have a
membership of about 90 students and
perform at least two concerts each
year, one per term.

MAJOR EV41S presents
in oncert
March 22 8pm
Michiga'n Theatre
Tickets are 7.50 and
are available at the
Michigan Union box
office, Schoolkids' Records,
Where House Records, Huckle-
berry Party Store, for more
information call 763-2071


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