Friday, March 14, 2008

St. Patrick's Day, March 17 - Calendar and More

We recently heard about the poetry series at Del Rossi's Trattoria in Dublin, NH -- haven't been there yet, but the event for this weekend's Irish mood sounds like a good one, with Massachusetts/Celtic poet/singer Kate Chadbourne. From Chadbourne's web site,, here's the gist:

16 March 2008 ~ Poems, Songs, and Stories at Del Rossi's ~ I hear great things of Del Rossi's, both in terms of food and in terms of poems. I'm honored to be invited to share some of my own poetry, as well as some Irish songs and stories in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Come at 1:30 for free coffee and snacks; open reading starts at 2:00 and I perform for about 40 minutes sometime after that. And afterwards, I plan to sample some of Del Rossi's Italian delights. St. Patrick, I'm sure, would approve! Route 137N. Dublin, NH 03444 (603) 563-7195 .

Here's one of Kate's poems, as published in Wild Violet:

The Two Anns Help Me Make My Bed

By Kate Chadbourne

when I am wasted and gone beyond
unsnaking the sheets from the clean heap,
soul-stunned enough to tip onto
a blank mattress and tug
a skinned duvet up to my ears.

Sister to a quilting bee,
or a barn-raising, this moment —
all six hands stretching the cornered sheet
over the long tablet of the mattress,
all six hands evening out the top sheet
and pulling it over the foot so it stays,
all six hands steering the duvet
into its harbor and buttoning it to the mooring.

Then out they go, my two Ann friends —
Ann of the poems
and Anne who keeps stories —
and I fall into a charmed rest,
ferried through the night
by the particular blessing
each has imparted
on the sleepy skies
of the pillow cases, cool and blue.

If you're on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River, the Irish Heritage Festival in Burlington ( is a top-notch weekend-through-Monday draw. On Saturday, there's a pennywhistle workshop for all ages at 1 p.m. at the Fletcher FreeLibrary, an Irish fiddle workshop with Sarah Blair at the First United Methodist Church ($15) at 5 p.m., Blair's concert in the same location at 7 p.m. ($10), and at 1 p.m. on Sunday, the festival ceili at Contois Audistorium, followed there in the evening by the annual Burlington Irish Music Showcase -- this year featuring Patti Casey, James McGinniss and the Redeemers, Longford Row, O'hAnleigh, and many more ($15). Monday catch the St. Patrick's Day concert from traditional Irish-Canadian group LEAHY, at the Flynn Center ($27-39;

Monday of course is the actual date for St. Patrick's Day, and I vote for a start with a traditional Irish breakfast at the Ri Ra Irish Pub at 123 Church Street (802-860-9401) between 9 and 11 a.m. -- or hold that thought for later in the day, when offerings include fish and chips, lamb stew, and beef and Guinness stew.

This year's festival doesn't include a poetry event -- what a shame, for the region where poet Greg Delanty has been braiding Celtic with Vermont for years! -- but here's a wild tidbit from a 2003 investigation of Robert Frost's work that was held at Dartmouth College. What better celebration of the Green than combining New England's grand old man of poetry with the island's heritage?!

Rachel Buxton - Oxford University
'Structure and Serendipity': Affinities between Robert Frost and Paul Muldoon

Robert Frost is a vital figure for a number of contemporary Northern Irish writers. Poets such as Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon and Tom Paulin discuss him at length in interviews and in their criticism, and the Frostian influence permeates much of their poetry. This paper focuses on the ways in which Frost's attitudes towards form and play - on both aesthetic and metaphysical levels - have filtered into the poetry and various critical writings of Paul Muldoon.

Muldoon has long been attracted to Frost's studied slyness and wryness. As he perceives it, there are two areas in which this Frostian 'knowingness' operates. Firstly, there is the knowingness of a crafted, controlled and controlling, form. Secondly, there is the fact that many of Frost's poems have, built into them, an element of arbitrariness, of playful unpredictability - a quality Muldoon has termed Frost's 'calculated capriciousness'. Muldoon discusses Frost's 'The Silken Tent' as a pertinent example of the combination of these two qualities. Much of Muldoon's work displays the same fusion of structure and serendipity, of seemingly random behavior within systems of formal constraint.

Frost's and Muldoon's approach to metaphysical matters parallels their conviction that, in the composition of a poem, freedom is most often evident within, and indeed dependent upon, the constraint of a design. Both poets, when speaking or writing of cosmological or theological issues, profess a belief in external constraints - be they societal, genetic, or a 'fate' imposed by a deity - within which human free will might operate. Frost's poems 'Design' and 'Stars' are of particular significance in this regard, as are Muldoon's 'Blemish', 'White', and 'Incantata', all three of which demonstrate a marked, if tangential, relation to Frost.

No comments: