Apostle Town by Anne Carson
After your death.
It was windy every day.
Opposed us like a wall.
Shouting sideways at one another.
Along the road it was useless.
The spaces between.
Us got hard they are.
Empty spaces and yet they.
Are solid and black.
And grievous as gaps.
Between the teeth.
Of an old woman you.
Knew years ago.
When she was.
Beautiful the nerves pouring around in her like palace fire.
"Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is
to watch the year repeat its days.
-Anne Carson, from “The Glass Essay"
Yes, that you travel inside of. I think that’s what poems are supposed to do, and I think it’s what the ancients mean by imitation. When they talk about poetry, they talk about mimesis as the action that the poem has, in reality, on the reader. Some people think that means the poet takes a snapshot of an event and on the page you have a perfect record. But I don’t think that’s right; I think a poem, when it works, is an action of the mind captured on a page, and the reader, when he engages it, has to enter into that action. And so his mind repeats that action and travels again through the action, but it is a movement of yourself through a thought, through an activity of thinking, so by the time you get to the end you’re different than you were at the beginning and you feel that difference.
- Anne Carson, The Art Of Poetry No.88 from The Paris Review
"Give me a world, you have taken the world I was.”
-Anne Carson, from “Tag"
I thought I saw in my heart a flock of crows,
roving my inside moors with funeral swoops,
big crows down from famous mountains,
passing in moonlight, lamplight.
Like grief, like a circling over graves,
they smell zebra flesh,
they plane down my spine in a shiver of ice -
at the beak a dangle of meat.
And this spoil licked by the demons of night
was only my own Life in tidbits –
my own vast boredom circling upon her every minute,
ripping off mouthfuls –
my soul, fleshrot dropped on a field of days
for those old crows to chew down whole.
-Émile Nelligan, “Crows” (Translation Anne Carson)
the resistances of language you must keep talking.”
-Anne Carson, from “XXVII. Husband: I Am” in “The Beauty of the Husband"
"My mother forbade us to walk backwards. That is how the dead walk she would say. Where did she get this idea? Perhaps from a bad translation? The dead, after all, do not walk backwards but they do walk behind us. They have no lungs and cannot call out but would love for us to turn around. They are victims of love, many of them.”-Anne Carson, “On Walking Backwards,” from “Plainwater"
Short Talk on Ovid by Anne Carson
I see him there on a night like this but cool, the moon blowing through black streets. He sups and walks back to his room…He sits down at the table; people in exile write so many letters. Now Ovid is weeping. Each night about this time he puts on sadness like a garment and goes on writing. In his spare time he is teaching himself the local language (Getic) in order to compose in it an epic poem no one will ever read.
Anne Carson, excerpt from Short Talks
“The poet is someone who feasts at the same table as other people.—But at a certain point he feels a lack,” Carson has written. “He is provoked by a perception of absence within what others regard as a full and satisfactory present.” In “Decreation,” she asks, “When an ecstatic is asked the question, What is it that love dares the self to do? she will answer: Love dares the self to leave itself behind, to enter into poverty.” In Carson’s work, this poverty is figured as a form of unexpected wealth. To leave the self behind is to no longer be slave to its limitations; it is a form of power as well as transcendence.
Anne Carson from The New Yorker