Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cinnamon Wakes: Blake, Arjuna, Poets House, and a Dragon by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Sunday morning musings over coffee, as the fall arts season begins:

The Morgan Library (at Madison & 36th, Manhattan) opened two days ago an exhibit I have been waiting for: William Blake's World: A New Heaven Begun . Over 100 works, including two watercolor series rarely shown: "The Book of Job," and illustrations to Milton's "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso." [Ends January 3, 2010].

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art opens on October 17th an exhibit I dearly wish I could see but will most likely miss, since I live in NYC: Heroes & Villains: The Battle for Good in India's Comics. To quote the LACMA site: "This exhibition examines the legacy of India’s divine heroes and heroines in contemporary South Asian culture through the comic book genre. Indian superheroes and their archenemies are visualized from ancient archetypes that have long been depicted in traditional painting and sculpture, and are deeply ingrained in India’s historical imagination. In the twenty-first century new incarnations of ancient Indian gods and goddesses are made manifest as modern superheroes brought to Earth to vanquish the evil forces." [Closes Feb. 7, 2010]

Poets House, the world-class poetry library/center started in 1985 by Stanley Kunitz and Elizabeth Kray, holds the grand opening September 25/26th of its new building (in Battery Park City near Tribeca, Manhattan). Poets House has 50,000 books open to the public, and runs c. 200 poetry programs every year. An all-star roster of poets will read at the opening, including some of my favorites such as Cornelius Eady, Kimiko Hahn, and Galway Kinnell.

Which leads the lobster and the canary-- as we stir cinnamon into our coffee-- to note a good essay by Carl Phillips in the new issue of American Poet about Brigit Pegeen Kelly, "The Surreal is No Less Real." Phillips writes of Kelly (winner of the 2009 Academy of American Poets Fellowship):

"To persuade the reader, poem after poem, that the surreal is no less real than what we call the real, to argue for—successfully—something akin to spiritual vision side by side with the more common suspicion of anything but the cold hard facts—this requires a rare authority, at the level of intellect, to be sure, but also in terms of language and, especially evident in Kelly's work, sheer beauty. [...] Perhaps the best way to describe [her poems] might be these lines from Kelly's own "The Dragon," from her third book, The Orchard:

'...and the air
Was like the air after a fire, or the air before a storm,
Ungodly still, but full of dark shapes turning'. "

I gaze into my coffee cup, at the cinnamon streaks and roils, and think on Kelly's words...

No comments: