Shane Michael Manieri for Word for Word Poetry, July 14, 2015
Featuring Poetry Society of America
Imagine you’re at an amazing night of singing gospel hymns accompanied by a jazzy band or a snappy orchestra, sitting around a piano and other instruments including drums, cello, and a trumpet. Or that you’re outside under a tent eating southern food, or sipping a cup of coffee, taking time to meet and fellowship. What a beautiful night! That is what the evening, in partnership with The Poetry Society of America, is like. A church revival. There is a quality of instruction and inspiration in the air, the environment fills with hallelujahs and amens, feeling purpose-driven, as if the words coming from the poets’ mouths were instructions in righteousness, that through them the world—or rather the country: America— might be saved, might change.
There is no coincidence, then, that the great bronze sculpture of William Earl Dodge leaning against a podium giving a speech, oblivious (it seems) to the world around him, haunts the evening. It turns out, after doing a little Google research while the readers prep, that Dodge was one of the wealthiest New Yorkers of his time. A Wall Street businessman in the years leading up to the Civil War and who saw slavery as an evil and wanted to see it end—yet peacefully. It did end, obviously, though not so peacefully, and its aftermath still troubles our country: our politics: and our people. The whole doom of the figure of the man, his metal heft, his broad shoulders, his dead speech; the grey skies and impending storm above us, reminded me of a poem by Sylvia Plath, ‘Gold Mouths Cry’:
The bronze boy stands kneedeep in centuries,
and never grieves,
remembering a thousand autumns,
with sunlight of a thousand years upon his lips
and his eyes gone blind with leaves.
|Caroline Randall Williams|
boring, but more alto, more bass-like—is when
|Shane Michael Manieri|