sexta-feira, setembro 24, 2010

Poetry Pairs: Eros and Thanatos

­By Elise D’Haene

(September 23, 2010) The poets Edward Butscher and Kimiko Hahn will read from their new books at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater on Sunday at 4 p.m. A reception including refreshments will follow in the sculpture garden. Fran Castan, who produces the Poetry Pairs series, will introduce the readers.

“Eros Descending,” Mr. Butscher’s 10th book, which was published earlier this year, is a collection of poems that ruminate on the struggle between love and death, with a speaker who is well past his prime and fixated on mortality.

The poet, who is 70 and lives in East Hampton with his wife, Paula Trachtman, an author and editor, was influenced by Dylan Thomas, Robert Lowell, and Elizabeth Bishop. He received accolades for his seminal biography of the poet Sylvia Plath, “Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness,” and another called “Conrad Aiken: Poet of White Horse Vale.”

“Eros Descending” brims with sensual and erotic imagery. In the poem “November’s Fabulous Island Girl,” Mr. Butscher writes: “I am a virgin, she apologizes queenly / but knowing how to ease me inside her / cradle hands mothering taut buttocks.” Underneath the longing are steady drumbeats of melancholy and loss, a sense that there is little time left on the physical plane — taut flesh now sags, as does the heart.

Speaking of that resilient muscle, Ms. Hahn’s poetry traverses themes of desire, passion, and sensuality as well, whether her subject is libidinal or political. Her perspective is informed by her experience as an Asian-American woman, and gender, the body, and language are intertwined in her work.

With a “welcome voice of experimentation and passion,” her latest collection, published by Norton and titled “Toxic Flora,” was inspired by articles in The New York Times’s science section. In the poem “On Deceit and Survival” she writes:

Yet another species resembles
a female bumble bee,
ending in frustrated trysts —
or appears to be two fractious males
which also attracts — no surprise —
a third curious enough to join the fray.
What to make of highly evolved Beauty
bent on deception as survival —

Ms. Hahn is the author of eight books of poems, including “Earshot,” awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, and “The Unbearable Heart,” an American Book Award winner. She is a professor in the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing and literary translation at Queens College.

Tickets cost $5, $3 for Guild Hall members.

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