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Unread 03-20-2010, 08:42 PM
Alex Pepple Alex Pepple is offline
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 4,325
Blog Entries: 75
Default Maryann Corbett

You may all know Maryann to be adept at disarmingly calling a fractious discussion thread to order, or racking up publication credits in venues where no Spherean has gone before, or from Dissonance, her new chapbook -- that hot new release from Scienter Press. Now, we can add to that a splendid reading performance thanks to Tim's insider knowledge of her array of skills, and his invitation to Maryann to bring us this new podcast. It's a delight to see that performance quality is matched by the first rate quality of the work. In this podcast she includes poems from the "New and Nearby" local reading series in her neighborhood, plus others from her current and previous chapbooks.

I'm sure you'll all enjoy this podcast as I have listening to it and posting it for you. Your comments most welcome -- I know that Maryann will like to see your comments about her podcast.




Maryann Corbett Podcast


Maryann Corbett Podcast

The reading you're listening to in this podcast is the one I gave last summer. (There are a few photos, too.)

A good many of the poems were published online and can be linked to.
Here are the texts of the poems that are not online elsewhere, and links to the poems that are.

1. “Tattoo and Piercing Parlor”. (Scroll down.)

2. “Flight”

3. After the Divorce, I Hold a Yard Sale

They come in slowly, poker faced.
Such laying bare of earthly failings—
spread on folding tables, draped
on porch railings—

is sad and awkward, and they pass,
eyes down, before the bargain bins
and clothing racks that now confess
our venial sins:

The treadmill bought in a gust of hope
that fell, predictably, becalmed;
the set of free weights; the jump-rope,

enthusiasms failed. And Lord,
what hubris in these color schemes!
Which idiot was overfond
of whites and creams?

What germ of evil in our past
infected this computer's sheath,
once beige, now with a yellowish cast
like rotten teeth?

The screw loose and the weak-linked chain:
Nothing in literature or art
so bluntly explicates the line
Things fall apart....

They lie there derelict, unhaggled,
wasted, remaindered, on the skids,
redemptionless. But now a gaggle
of college kids

has blown in on a gale of laughter,
talking trash. May youth forgive
the faults age will no longer suffer!
May these bones live.

(published in The Raintown Review and Dissonance)

4. Airheads

These past few days, our local air
displays its moves with floating fuzz:
cottonwood seed scintillulas
accost my nostrils, haunt my hair.
They dance like Salome; they tease
with half-cracked helices of flight.
Waffling at each offered breeze,
fluff-head flecks, electron-light,
ride downdrafts like adagio rain—
the next half-second, loft again,
jumping at every chance to shirk
the settling down, the rooted work.
Bad moves, but just how I behave.
The weighty efforts that might save
my soul, my health, my solvency
I balk at, loving faddish stuff—
the fizz of tabloid and TV,
light music, frothy poetry—
composing life from airhead fluff.
No hundredfold of yield is found
from seed that never hits the ground,
so I take comfort when I see
white seed-fuzz piling up in grass,
brought down to earth by modest mass,
a ratio that pleases me:
Some gravitas, much levity.

(published in Alabama Literary Review and Gardening in a Time
of War

5. Front Page Photograph, Memorial Day

Do-nothing day. Still-cool morning.
In bare feet on the concrete stoop,
I pick the paper up, uncurl it,

and see: Before a grave's white cross,
(a phrase comes to me: prostrate with grief)
a woman lies face down in the grass,

forehead resting on folded arms.
I glance at the caption: fiancÚ.
And my thinking shifts, and my face warms—

the shoulders bare, the long legs parted:
the last embrace. Should I be seeing
this act of intimacy thwarted,

this woman-six-feet-above-position?
Suddenly now I find myself
firing my hard, unanswered questions

at air, while a stubborn cardinal sings,
his turf-war song like a car alarm.

I pray for wild, impossible things.

(published in Ruminate.)

6. “Showings”

7. Suburban Samsara

Season finale:
xxxxxxxxxx last fall, the street
was flaked in yellow,
xxxxxxxxxx flecked with sheet-flame,
leaf-gold layering
xxxxxxxxxx over the lawns.
The garden buddhas
xxxxxxxxxx sat bare-bellied,
navel deep
xxxxxxxxxx in a dreamed nirvana,
almost conceding:
xxxxxxxxxx Not all is suffering.

Arid, this summer.
xxxxxxxxxx After, when air
chilled, and the days
xxxxxxxxxx damped down, cheerless,
small color came:
xxxxxxxxxx the crabbed rust-brown,
the dull, dry green.
xxxxxxxxxx No gold this go-round,
wealth we waited for.
xxxxxxxxxx Only the work—
the raking, bent,
xxxxxxxxxx the wrenched back.

And we, the gullible
xxxxxxxxxx get what we get,
gold in one year,
xxxxxxxxxx rust in another,
and always, always
xxxxxxxxxx the empty branches,
their iron angles
xxxxxxxxxx scraped on the sky.

(Published in Alabama Literary Review and Gardening in a Time
of War

8. “Saturday Edition”

9. “Riddle 27”

10. “A Meditation on Dactylic Hexameter”

11. Mid Evil

Fortuna rules us both. We're both unhappy.
Someone fell ill, and so I have this course
to teach—I should be glad for this first crack,
but bristle at the absence of control.
You, too, feel like a pawn of random events:
your credit count, your schedule, your last name,
the prodding of advisers. Neither of us
planned on Intro to Lit. of the Middle Ages,
but here we both are, hauling ourselves to class
at eight, three times a week.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxGod knows I've tried
to woo you, show you how it's often spring
in Middle English, wintertime in Old,
and why, in so hard a time, someone took pains
to string together words for singing's sake.
And pains is the proper word. It was labora
and ora too: the calves slaughtered for vellum,
the skinning, scraping, chalking, scoring with lines,
the cutting of pens from quills. Pain is the word
for what it cost, for the years the words have waited
for you.
xxxxxxxxYou, who are always painfully there,
hard at work ignoring the four-stress line
and the notes of Sumer is icumen in.
You make a point of filling classroom space,
near horizontal, legs stretched front, head back,
arms folded, as if to make a narrow target
for the babble I pour over you, as if
to aim it right between my eyes: your boredom
with low-tech words in a language you don't speak.

And the last blow is this, your final exam,
in which, over and over, you call the course
mid evil literature. Yes, I suppose
for you that is the word. We both are learning.
In future I expect I'll be more guarded,
teaching the poems, holding back the heart.
You'll claim your paper. Mild civilities
will be exchanged, and then you'll lope away,
a sad C minus in your grip ensuring
we're done. It's mid-December. Snow will fall—
hrim ond hrith, but no one says that now,
since this is the sphere of Time, beneath the moon,
where everything must change, and where the poems
evaporate like hoarfrost in the sun.

(Published in Relief.)

12. Checking the Funeral Musicians' Schedule

January, 2006, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Start doing funerals and you notice it:
the time of year the old people decide
they've lived enough—that death might be more friendly
than winter is. Some go outside to meet it.
They toss the snow from walks in reckless swoops,
till their hearts bank and dive, and then the sirens
call us to muttered prayer. Mostly it's men
who get this easy out, who cheer themselves
right to the end with reasons to be, to do.
Their women, cursed by common sense, hang on,
caged in their houses, living on crumbs of care.
Their houses keep them alive and their houses kill them:
Rooms, more and more, resist the readying
for visits that rarely come. A room at a time,
they fill with the useless things that will not stop
singing the litanies of the dead and absent,
till living shrivels to a room or two,
a few clothes, dishes, everything hand washed,
warm water the last solace where the drafts
insinuate at every uncaulked crack
to say, Give up, dear. I don't know how long
persuasion takes. I do know where it ends.

There's nothing for it but to sing, although
my aging mezzo sinks more every year.
I curse the cold and salt the icy steps,
pray at the wakes and sing the funerals.

(published in Alabama Literary Review and Gardening in a Time
of War.

13. "Asparagus”

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Unread 03-21-2010, 12:21 PM
Maryann Corbett's Avatar
Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Posts: 9,578

Thanks to Alex for the work of mounting the podcast--and of making all my links work, a finicky task.

I'm going to go out on a limb and ask listeners a direct question that might be useful to future podcast-makers here. We've had different balances so far in terms of the commentary-to-poem ratio. What do you like? I've heard it said of live readings that people often wish readers would do less commentary and just get straight to the poem. That prompted my choice to edit most of it. But I enjoyed the commentary others included. Did you wish for more?

I expect people will have different views, but it could be useful to hear them.
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Unread 03-21-2010, 12:39 PM
W.F. Lantry's Avatar
W.F. Lantry W.F. Lantry is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Inside the Beltway
Posts: 4,067


I downloaded it last night, but when I went to click on it this morning I hesitated. I even had some little trepidation: what if there's a long intro by someone other than the poet? Not sure I could stand that. A few years ago, someone put out a series 7-10 minutes of podcasts with famous poets. More than half of each was an introduction, by someone else. If I want to hear J.V. Cunningham read, I just want to hear him read, I don't want to sit through five minutes of praiseful synopsis which says more about the speaker than the poet.

But I needn't have worried, I didn't hear any of that in yours. The commentaries weren't too long, and I even liked that I could hear the audience, it gave a feeling of reality to it. It was nice to finally match a voice to the words I see so often on my screen!


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Unread 03-21-2010, 06:25 PM
Catherine Chandler's Avatar
Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Canada and Uruguay
Posts: 5,717
Blog Entries: 33


What an enjoyable morning I had listening to these poems!

I was acquainted with many of the poems from your chapbook, Gardening in a Time of War (which I think everyone should have!), but it was nice to hear you read them, especially "Suburban Samsara" (one of my favorites); but also the newer ones.

Your humorous introduction to the first poem made me smile (I knew exactly where you were "coming from"), and it was obvious that your live audience enjoyed it as well.

Thanks for sharing with us, and thank you, Alex, for another great podcast!

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Unread 03-21-2010, 07:21 PM
Ned Balbo Ned Balbo is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 453
Default divorce poem rocks

It's Gilmore Girls DVD time for Cat & Jane, so I only had time to read & enjoy your divorce yard-sale poem. (I guess that fits the GG theme, too....!)
I find it very moving--objects that once meant so much laid bare like misfit toys for passers by to haggle over or scorn. What does the future hold for those college kids? Great descriptions, too. A haunting poem.
I look forward to the rest + the podcast!
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Unread 03-21-2010, 10:34 PM
Ned Balbo Ned Balbo is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 453
Default Funeral musicians

This is a beautiful, completely realized poem whose echoes of Frost are deep & resonant. I love how the portrait of old souls cut off or abandoned ricochets back on the speaker/singer at the end.
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Unread 03-22-2010, 05:22 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Fargo ND, USA
Posts: 13,831

A distinguished performance of a whole bunch of distinguished poems. Thanks so much for doing this for us, Maryann.
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Unread 03-22-2010, 06:47 AM
Maryann Corbett's Avatar
Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Posts: 9,578

Thanks, Bill, for the answer, and thanks, Catherine, Ned, and Tim for the kind words.

I'd like to give credit and thanks to my husband John: his facility and fascination with all kinds of electronics and his long experience with live sound ensured that we could give you a good, clean, tidily edited recording.
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Unread 03-22-2010, 09:35 AM
Adam Elgar Adam Elgar is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,954

Many congratulations, Maryann. Technical problems are stopping me accessing the podcast, but it's a joy to read these wonderful poems. I hope to be able to get through to the wonderful world of sound in due course.
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Unread 03-23-2010, 04:46 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 4,714

The recording sounds fabulous, Maryann. Great to have this in tandem with your new chapbook!
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maryann corbett, podcast, poetry reading

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