This week’s poetry pick is Carol Levin’s Confident Music Would Fly Us to Paradise from MoonPath Press, a pageant of poems and memories–with an energizing abundance of movement, “trajectories / of curvilinear ribbons, / movements of / muscles quivering when / I think with my brain, / bones, organs and flesh,” “move like platens / of continents slipping side to side”.
The poems themselves move from childhood to first love to second, long love.
They move from the dressing room to the wings to the stage, remain after everyone else has left the theater.
They play with language, work sound the way the singers work their ranges, their virtuosity, as in “chorus a color wheel / of parasols in pastels” and
“Note by note an oboe streams
breath on inspiration into
lobes of lung in minor keys.
One dissenting voice,
pulse of Poulanc’s orchestra,
its rests and its themes
float like a ribbon
in and out of ears
a dozen beheadings.”
Through all of this threads the theme of silence–the tension between speaking and swallowing your words, saying nothing while you are shouting inside, and then those moments when you find your voice.
The poems about performing–and preparing to perform–offer the reader the opportunity to stand in the wings, on the stage, to experience those thrills (and some of the politics).
Reading this book was also like visiting my own life, as both Carol and I are married to woodworkers, I once wore opera costumes for a performance, and I’ve studied with Mark Morris, whose work Carol writes about brilliantly in one of my favorite poems from the collection: Mark Morris: Paul Hindemith, Kammermusik No. 3.