Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | Rachel van Blankenship reads her poem SLACK TIDE







I was struck by the crisp originality of Rachel van Blankenship's writing from the moment I first encountered it. As tends to happen out here in the blogosphere, Rachel and I met by chance (or magical intention?) on several mutual friends' blogs - Rebecca Loudon's (Radish King), Angella Lister's, Melissa Green's and Marylinn Kelly's. Rachel's comments were consistently exacting, lyrical, empathic and distinct; they carried the succinctness and musicality of poetry. Let's just say I 'heard' her voice long before I actually heard her voice? The obvious thing to do was to follow the trail that led to her blog. I was wowed and have been a regular reader ever since.  


   It was no surprise to discover that Rachel is not only a poet and artist, but a singer, too. As I mentioned in last week's Tuesday Poem post, we had the great pleasure of meeting last month and of spending 'real' time together in Phoenix, her new home town. (I've just realised it was exactly a month ago today, Rachel. Happy synchronicity.) So, yes, on Sunday 14 April, Rachel and I spent a good many hours walking and talking our way through our separate stories and histories at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens - an altogether other-worldly place. The following afternoon, we met up again and during the hour and a half or so we had available to us (I had to catch a shuttle to the airport and she and her partner Pat were meeting up for a rare Monday evening concert), Rachel agreed to my making a recording of her reading a poem she had completed the night before - Slack Tide. And here it is today in another iteration. 

There's something about Rachel's poetry that 'escapes the page'. Her words break free of tethers to occupy an independent, aural - airborne - space.  


Photograph - Rachel van Blankenship (Butterfly House, Phoenix Botanical Gardens)


Rachel's reading brings to mind an article I read some time ago on Adrienne Rich and her poetry - 

"She believed in the power of art, not only its beauty and necessity but also the real, raw, actual power of it. She agitated for poetry 'as living language, the core of every language, something that is still spoken, aloud or in the mind, muttered in secret, subversive, reaching around corners, crumpled into a pocket, performed to a community, read aloud to the dying, recited by heart, scratched or sprayed on a wall. That kind of language.'

And she wrote that kind of language. From the heart and the mind. From the gut and the crotch. She pulled us into the deep waters of her own darkest reckoning and made us understand that the reckoning was ours too. The ferocity of her vision was matched only by the tenderness at its root. . . " from Adrienne Rich's Kind of Language by Cheryl Strayed (NY Times)



'The ferocity of her vision was matched only by the tenderness at its root. . .' She's writing here about you, too, Rach. 



*



This week's editor on the TP hub is Andrew M. Bell
with Sonnet for a Hunter

Andrew writes, "Sonnet for a Hunter holds a special appeal since I lived in Western Australia for eight years. The images speak to me. I must confess that I don't entirely understand the poem, but I enjoy the ambiguity. Is the "he" of the poem a man or an animal? Does it matter? The couplet sand coloured luckless/bundles, quivers of musk is a striking image of a helpless ensnared rabbit and the final line locates it succinctly in the arid landscape of inland Australia. . . "


It's Tuesday. You know where to go, what to do. 




14 comments:

  1. Absolutely wonderful collaboration of two exquisite artists! I feel honored to be a witness to this richness.

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    1. Thank you, dear Angella. I do love Rachel's voice, the way it rises and falls, opening words and their meaning as she goes.

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  2. It's amazing, Claire. Thank you!

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    1. Thank YOU, RachVB. Ah, the things - the surprising, magical things - that come to pass. . . x

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  3. Beautiful and evocative work by both of you .... artists in the true sense of the word.

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    1. Thank you, Richard, for coming by and for your warm endorsement of our collaboration. It was a treat to work with Rachel and her words.

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  4. What a collaboration, blessed by butterflies and seaweed that moves itself into heart shapes. A inspired presentation, for Rachel's voice does carry her words beyond where the page could take us. The music is a perfect match. An oasis of beauty and joy and power. xo

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    1. Dear Marylinn, you show us that when we look for hearts - with heart - we find them, sometimes in the most unexpected places and things. Rachel's voice does carry her words beyond where the page could take us, doesn't it. Thank you for contributing your particulare music to the whole. xo

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  5. The world is too loud. Always has been. Especially underwater.

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    1. Yes, dbs, it is too loud. I agree - and it seems so quickly to have become that way. All the more reason to seek out moments and places of quiet. And we can tune not only our ears but our eyes, voices and hearts to the world of softer, subtler things?

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  6. This is a joy, listened to in the garden, eating lunch in the sun.

    Thank you, both of you!

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    1. Dear T - I can see you there, lunching in your garden in spring's sunshine. Thanks for sharing it with us! xo

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  7. This was entrancing. Not just to read but BE read a poem. Better wider deeper. I loved the accompanying music and images too. May there be more. Thank you to you both for sharing your creative gifts. xx

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    1. Hi Pammy - there's a wonderfully spatial quality to a spoken poem (not that there isn't in a written poem, but there's a different 'something', isn't there?). May there be more? Yes, please. Thanks for your encouragements xo

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