Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nick Laird & Dishwasher Sagas

As ever, I am a whole week behind: the kids have been off this week on mid-term breaks and the whole household has descended into the sort of chaos that only mothers know: washing to beat the band etc; constantly running out of food and trying to think of 'free' activities that involve exercise of some form. And then the dishwasher which was already getting very weepy, tired and emotional decided that since I'd got a few euros to spare it was time to sputter and blink it's death.

Cue a few interesting days of manual dish washing, in which the kids learned very quickly that 'hands that do dishes' should be anyone's but their own. The new DW was installed yesterday with the usual three hour saga, involving sawing, hacking and much swearing that accompanies any seemingly plain and simple job in our house...

In the midst of all this a friend sent me a link for Nick Laird's article in last week's Guardian.

Laird discusses the political poem, coming from the stance of hearing Elizabeth Alexander's inauguration poem and mentioning Robert Frost's inaugural poem back in 1961 (for JFK). There is a tightrope that has to be walked when you decide to write poetry about politics: "To watch words carefully is a small political act, a safeguard against doublespeak. In daily discourse it leads to questions about truth and power." Laird suggests that 'poetry and politics' is interchangeable with that other unhappy pairing of words, 'imagination and reality.' From reading Wallace Steven's lecture 'The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words,' he argues that Stevens thought that perhaps a 'coalition' between the two worlds was/is possible.

Now, I bet you never thought you'd see Nick Laird, poetry and politics and a dishwasher all in the same post. No, neither did I.

13 comments:

Liz said...

Like the jam-packed post, Barbara, that is the makings of a real poet - a finger in all sorts of pies ; ) And hooray for washing machines...we still have the fairy 'hands....can feel as soft as your face' way of doing things! ; )

Elisabeth Ingram said...

Thanks for the link to the Nick Laird article; I had not read it, very interesting!

Clare Dudman said...

Ha, very good Barbara! Nice connections. Thanks for the link from me too!

Rachel Fox said...

It was an interesting read the NL article. In it he writes with a thoughtful gentleness that I find really appealing.
x

Totalfeckineejit said...

Hey B good luck with the new dishmangler contraption There are TWO such devices in this castle Meself and Mrs EEjit.As for poems about this and that commissioned kind of yokes like frosts thingumy for jfk and wotsernames lines for barrack, i haven't read them but i doubt they would be any good.Frost is a great poet but as soon as you are told to do something (for me) kreativity goes out the proverbial.Witness anything written by a laureate for special occasions -always terrible and turgid - even ted hughes(poissibly my favopurite poet)And all these magazines that give a 'theme' or such for submissions -always hopeless unless ye have a poem ready ritten that fits da criteria.
Love peace and blessings to all may we live long and prosper and collect many modern appliances of domestic convenience.

BarbaraS said...

Liz, as long as the fingers don't get caught in the door, eh?

Elisabeth, you're welcome :)

Clare, connections don't always come from where they should, but I'm glad about that :)

Rachel, he is thoughtful, that's why I liked it.

TFE, thing about Frost is that he famously couldn't read the text because of the glare of light from the snow (?), so he recited an old one he knew by heart. In fairness, he was 87.

Dominic Rivron said...

I have resisted the temptation to buy a dishwasher for this very reason: once you've got one, it becomes essential, like a fridge and a cooker. I quite enjoy washing up, too. :)

I remember hearing a wonderful lecture by Paul Foot on Shelley and how political much of his poetry was (Ode the the West Wind, for example).

Dick said...

A great cocktail, Barbara! Fine article by Nick Laird, which I missed first time around.

BarbaraS said...

I can't say the same Dominic - with six kids and an adult, washing up is unbearable... and everyone does such a bad job... :)

Cheers Dick, glad you clocked the Laird. Home and away: maybe that's what I should call these things :)

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Barbara, poetry and dishwasher...well if I were really a good poet I should write a poem about what happened to me in my mother's house in the countryside on Sunday. I woke up in the morning and pressed the door handle to go into the living room and kitchen from the bedrooms' space...well, no way: the door was blocked and my mother and wife were on the other side. What had happened was that the last of them who closed the door behind had used the lock for the last time, the spring connected to the iron of the handle had broken leaving the iron dead inside and the door firmly closed and unopenable....I was trapped in the bedrooms...unless I broke the door completely with kicks.... luckily the bathroom window was at the ground floor....
A great poem for Seamus Heaney or for you?

BarbaraS said...

A great poem, Davide - either way - I love it.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Hmmm. He uses an awful lot of quotes which, IMO, clutter up the article. And though I've now read it twice, I'm not sure where Nick Laird is coming from exactly. Does he believe the poet has a duty to write about politics, or not?

BarbaraS said...

I did say it was interesting to read...