Friday, March 30, 2007

Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box

In a January post, we referred to Alice Quinn's fascinating book Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box - uncollected poems, drafts, and fragments. Last night Alice Quinn gave a marvellous talk at the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire as the opening event of the Poetry Now Festival. Quinn, the poetry editor of the New Yorker, gave a tremendous insight into the life and work of Bishop, over almost two hours, with illustrations from the notebooks, and her often charming paintings and drawings. Bishop is now a very popular poet on the Leaving Certificate course.

There is a short audio slide show on the New Yorker site here in which Quinn discusses putting the book together and covers some of the ground in last night's talk. She also reads and discusses the poems 'In a Cheap Hotel', 'Foreign-Domestic', 'Keaton' and 'Dear, My Compass' and you can see the relevant illustrations too. Click here for an article and interview in The Atlantic.

There are many wonderful things in the book (including the love poem on page 44,
'It is marvellous to wake up together
At the same minute; marvellous to hear
The rain begin suddenly all over the roof ...' continued)
and, valuably, 16 facsimiles of the various stages of the work which eventually became her famous villanelle 'One Art.'

Alice Quinn's book has been the subject of some controversy, especially since the distinguished critic Helen Vendler (here) criticised it as a form of invasion of privacy and betrayal of trust.

Here, Anne Stevenson shows 'Why Elizabeth Bishop is so good.'

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