Friday, June 18, 2010

Abandoned, a poem by Matthew Sweeney.

Post 508 - Matthew Sweeney talks about how he makes a living as a poet, and about Alternative Realism, something I believe we can all use more of these days:

"I'm lucky enough to make my living as a poet. That doesn't mean sitting at home writing and expecting the royalties to come in and pay the rent and the restaurants because they won't. They help a little bit but like now I'm putting my tax together - late - and there are all these different strands, and royalties will be one of them but they really only come into play in a year where you deliver a new book. Most of the income comes in from other stuff like readings - I do a lot of readings throughout the year , and I go into schools and have residencies - sometimes big ones like 15 months at the South Bank or short ones like at this school, Hounslow Manor. I do radio stuff. Every now and again something good happens and it just happened recently. I'm working on a new collection - my Selected Poems is coming out soon and looking beyond that I've got twenty-five poems or so. I sent these to the Arts Council Of Ireland hoping that they might give me readies in terms of a bursary and I got a letter last week saying that they're giving me a nice one. So that takes a lot of the pressure off. You can make a living as a poet but it's a very precarious living."

He goes on to say, "The tradition I come from, the Irish Tradition, is open to what I call Alternative Realism - it's open to going beyond the borders of realism. It's also open to mixing up the humorous and the serious. And in a way that the English tradition is not so open to ... irony is much more important in English writing than in Irish."

Here's one of his poems that illustrates this.

Abandoned by Matthew Sweeney.

After two days he knew they were lying,
they wouldn’t send anyone to rescue him,
he was stuck here, forever, on the moon
without even a dead man for company.
Why did they load so much dust and rocks
the module couldn’t lift off?
How many experiments could they do?
How long before he’d replace some of the dust?
He looked up at Earth where his wife was.
What would they say to her? More lies,
he knew. His children would never learn
he hadn’t died in a meteor shower,
and neither of them would visit his grave.
He wouldn’t even have a grave!
He countered this by thinking back
to the last time he and his wife
had made love, to the borsch she’d cooked
that night, the vodka they’d drunk.
What was she doing now? Did she
know he was beaming thoughts at her
across the thousands of miles of space,
hoping that in her sleep she’d beam some back?

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