The Raven, a reading by Christopher Walken

The Raven depicts a mysterious raven’s midnight visit to a mourning narrator, as illustrated by John Tenniel (1858) / Public Domain

courtesy of pdclipart.org

Well, Happy Halloween everyone. Reading The Raven on Halloween is a rather nice tradition, I think. There are quite a number of celebrity readings on YouTube, including one by Christopher Lee, which I thought quite good. I went with Christopher Walken for today.  Personal bias: I can hear the New Yorker in his voice. He’s from Queens, New York.  Anyway, enjoy.  Have a lovely Halloween and don’t eat too much candy corn.



Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door—
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
               Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
               Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
               This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
               Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
               Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
               ‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
               Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
               Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
               With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
               Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
               Of ‘Never—nevermore.'”

But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
               Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
               She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
               Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
               Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
               Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
               Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
               Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Featuring Yorkshire Poet, Paul Brookes: Interview, Poetry Reading, and Writing in Yorkshire Dialect


Map showing Yorkshire highlighted against the historical counties of England excluding the City of London, in 1851 courtesy of Dr Greg, Nilfanion and MRSC.  © Crown copyright and database right 2010 under CC BY-SA 3.0

Indo-European


I don’t remember when I first encountered Paul Brookes (Wombwell Rainbow) and his prodigious work marked by a keen appreciation for art and history and his observations of everyday life salted with irony and humor and his rich Yorkshire Dialect. I think Paul either submitted work to The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt or to an issue of The BeZine, maybe both. I do remember I had to look up Wombwell. It seemed to me a rather odd name for a blog. Wombwell (clearly not Paul’s family name) turned out to be the town were Paul currently lives in Northern Yorkshire and “Wombwell” may mean “Womba’s Well” or “well in a hollow.”

What prompted today’s post is that I am able to bring you one of Paul’s poetry readings. I’ve used this as an excuse to also get to know Paul better. Read on: this is an interesting interview. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.  / J.D.

INTERVIEW

JAMIE: Paul, are you the only poet in your family?  How did you come to poetry?

PAUL: The only published one, yes. When I was seven or eight I remember holding my head in my hands at home when my English homework was to write a nonsense poem in the style of Edward Lear or Lewis Carroll. I had brain freeze. Off the cuff Mam wrote one for me about an Elephant with a propeller for a nose. It was very funny, though the elephant died. His propeller was used as his grave stone. Mam was also the youngest editor of NALGO magazine when she worked as a secretary for the hospital board in Harrogate. I don’t know where she got her creativity with words.

JAMIE: Quite frequently you write in Yorkshire dialect, which as a reader I find charming and challenging.  What made you decide to do that?   

PAUL: Dialect is always said to be dying out and being replaced by Received Pronunciation. I remember my late Mam balling at the broadness of my late sister’s dialect when she was chatting with her mates on the telephone. No mobiles then. My Mam encouraged us to have a “telephone” voice so we wouldn’t sound “so common!” Dialect for me provides metaphor, strength, muscularity and gives a sense of place. (Editor’s emphasis.) I know it is challenging but worthwhile. It is often painted as a comic device, used by lowly characters in plays and satirised by Monty Python in the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, however this micky taking has a long history. In the nineteenth century there were locally published Almanacs in which dialect was used for humorous purposes. Yorkshire folk love not taking themselves seriously. Yorkshire dialect is often shoehorned into rhyme. I wanted to use it in unrhymed poetry to hark back to our Norse ancestors.

JAMIE: Pride of place is obviously important to you. You’ve named your blog for the town in which you live.  Is the Yorkshire literary tradition – quite impressive from the Bronte sisters to Ian McMillan – an inspiration?

PAUL: I was dragged up by Yorkshire writers, studying Barry Hines “KES” in school,  Ted Hughes selected poems, Tony Harrison’s selected poems. Ian McMillan is often seen as a “professional” Yorkshireman, bigging up the county. He also has his tongue well and truly in his cheek when doing this, an aspect folk from other parts of the country don’t see. They view it instead as the over earnest promotion of “God’s country.”

I was not born in Wombwell but a small town between Harrogate and Knaresborough called Starbeck. You have to pass through it to get from one to the other. Starbeck is a place between tourist destinations. A “through” town.

From there we moved a lot to Darringto, a place by the side of the A1, close to a notorious black-spot for car accidents, to various places in Barnsley, Wilthorpe, Pogmoor, Ward Green, and the little village of Dodworth.

I love being settled in Wombwell and getting to know familiar customers in the supermarket where I work part-time. I love engrossing myself in the local history and culture, gaining a sense of belonging.

JAMIE: We’re coming close to putting a wrap on 2019.  What’s on your literary agenda for 2020?

PAUL: Hope to have the final part of  A Pagan’s Year finished. It will be called Ghost Holiday and be about pagan festivals and stories from August to December. This is in collaboration with my great Dutch friend and amazing artist Marcel Herms. Also on the agenda for 2020 is Skyfish, poems about delight written in response to the paintings of Iranian artist Hiva Moazed.

POETRY READING

If you are reading this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view the video.

PAUL BROOKES (Wombwell Rainbow) is a shop assistant. He lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. His chapbooks are The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). First part of four connected books, other three unpublished as yet. Second book is made up of four short stories, already published in Alien Buddha Press’s short story anthologies ). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017.This is the first book of a threesome called “A Pagan’s Year”,and covers June and July) ,A World Where (Speculative poetry) and She Needs That Edge (narrative poetry) with Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (Sci-Fi poetry with OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls, responses to paintings by Marcel Herms (Alien Buddha Press, 2018),Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018)

Stubborn Sod, by Marcel Herms (paintings) and I,(poetry) ,(Alien Buddha Press, 2019.This is the second part of “A Pagan’s Year” January to May), As Folk Over Yonder ( ebook with Afterworld Books, 2019).  Forthcoming Skyfish, responses to paintings  by Hiva Moazed and companion book to “Port of Souls” (Alien Buddha Press, 2019)

Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Day, September 21; 100TPC Read a Poem to a Child Week; “The BeZine” in Solidarity with the Global Youth Climate Strike

A mother reads to her children, depicted by Jessie Willcox Smith in a cover illustration of a volume of fairy tales written in the mid to late 19th century. / Public Domain

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” Lemony Snicket [Daniel Handler], Horseradish



The Brooklyn Book Festival was launched in 2006 to address the need for a major free literary event that embraced the diverse constituencies of New York City. The Festival’s mission is to celebrate published literature and support the literary community through programming that connects New York City readers with local, national, and international authors, publishers, and booksellers. To this end the festival develops original programs that are hip, smart, and diverse and collaborates to present free and low-cost programming includes the Festival Day, the Bookend Events, and the BKBF Children’s Day.

BKBF Children’s Day is presented by the non-profit Brooklyn Book Festival, Inc. and the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council.  Be sure to visit www.brooklynbookfestival.org or check out the official Facebook page, follow the Festival on Instagram (@bkbookfest) and on Twitter (@BKBF).


This is a global event. Events scheduled for the “Read A Poem To A Child” initiative will take place from September 23th – 28th and will include readings in bookstores, schoolrooms, community centers, public parks and at private homes. Co-founder Terri Carrion explains that, “All you have to do is read a poem to a child in any setting that is convenient, and you can sign up on our website at http://100tpc.org/sign-up/


IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE GLOBAL YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE

CALLING YOUTH & ADULTS

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS of poems, feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, art and photography, music videos, documentary videos on climate change for The BeZine blog is open through September 10, 2019. In solidarity with the world’s youth, we’ll post work on Climate Change throughout September. Your original previously published work may be submitted as long as you own the copyright. NO simultaneous submissions.  Please note in your subject line: For the climate change blog. Email submissions to bardogroup@gmail.com. All honors to Contributing Editor Michael Dickel for coming up with this idea.


ABOUT 

Jamie Dedes. I’m a Lebanese-American freelance writer, poet, content editor, blogger and the mother of a world-class actor and mother-in-law of a stellar writer/photographer. No grandchildren, but my grandkitty, Dahlia, rocks big time. I am hopelessly in love with nature and all her creatures. In another lifetime, I was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. I’ve had to reinvent myself to accommodate scarred lungs, pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure, connective tissue disease, and a rare managed but incurable blood cancer. The gift in this is time for my primary love: literature. I study/read/write from a comfy bed where I’ve carved out a busy life writing feature articles, short stories, and poetry and managing The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

“Love After Love” by Derek Walcott, text with a reading by Linton Kwesi Johnson

“There is the buried language and there is the individual vocabulary, and the process of poetry is one of excavation and of self-discovery. Tonally the individual voice is a dialect; it shapes its own accent, its own vocabulary and melody in defiance of an imperial concept of language, the language of Ozymandias, libraries and dictionaries, law courts and critics, and churches, universities, political dogma, the diction of institutions. Poetry is an island that breaks away from the main.” Derek Walcott, The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory: The Nobel Lecture



The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

– Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984

If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view this video reading. 

Derek Walcott, VIII Festival Internacional, 1992 courtesy of Jorge Mejía peralta under CC BY 2.0 license

DEREK WALCOTT Sir Derek Alton Walcott, KCSL, OBE, OCC (1930 – 2017) was a Saint Lucian poet and playwright who was awarded the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works include the Homeric epic poem Omeros (1990), which critics view as Walcott’s major achievement.

Walcott called himself “an elated, exuberant poet madly in love with English.” He was influenced by modernist poets such as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.

Walcott had a sense of himself as a poet from his early youth. In the poem “Midsummer” (1984), he wrote:

Forty years gone, in my island childhood, I felt that
the gift of poetry had made me one of the chosen,
that all experience was kindling to the fire
Interview: “Derek Walcott, The Art of Poetry No. 37”, The Paris Review, Issue 101, Winter 1986.

At fourteen, Walcott’s first poem, a Miltonic, religious poem, was published in The Voice of St Lucia, the local newspaper. He was condemned by a Catholic priest for his Methodist-inspired poem, which the priest considered as blasphemous. By nineteen, Walcott had self-published his first two collections with a loan from his mother, who paid for the printing: 25 Poems (1948) and Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos (1949). He recovered the costs and repaid his mom by selling copies to his friends.


ABOUT 

Jamie Dedes. I’m a Lebanese-American freelance writer, poet, content editor, blogger and the mother of a world-class actor and mother-in-law of a stellar writer/photographer. No grandchildren, but my grandkitty, Dahlia, rocks big time. I am hopelessly in love with nature and all her creatures. In another lifetime, I was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. I’ve had to reinvent myself to accommodate scarred lungs, pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure, connective tissue disease, and a rare managed but incurable blood cancer. The gift in this is time for my primary love: literature. I study/read/write from a comfy bed where I’ve carved out a busy life writing feature articles, short stories, and poetry and managing The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton