Featured Poetry: "Toytown" by Grace Cavalieri
The name of Grace Cavalieri's legacy book, Other Voices, Other Lives, is not only a poetic turn, but a statement of intent. In her Legacy Book there are several sections in 3rd person omnipotent which aim to breathe the same air as famous women who have suffered adversity. Tragic figure Anna Nicole Smith, feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, Cora from William Carlos William's Kora in Hell. All in all they are an admix of Grace Cavalieri's poetic life, brought together in one beautiful volume; so, perhaps, we might figure that Anna Nicole Smith converses with Mary Wollstonecraft for the very first time in the pages of Other Voices, Other Lives.
Today, from the Anna section we have the heart-rending "Toytown"
Event Update: Catch Grace Cavalieri at this years National Press Club Book Fair NOV, 2nd! #NPCBookFair
At the edge of thought, a frozen pond melted.
The Guy in armor had taken it all off, and was
sitting on the floor sobbing.
Anna never saw such a thing. She should run...
tell him she was expected somewhere...or...
someone was waiting...she needed to be alone...
This strapping brute of a man had suddenly
become a minute creature, shaking with shame.
Anna knew she needed imagination for this one,
but trained otherwise from birth,
never had a chance.
She tried to look serious. She tried to look
dignified, but the naked man on the floor
reduced her to simplicity.
Could she name the problem?
Name her darkness?
The side of her sleeve was offered to his running nose.
Her field of vision blurred.
He told her this was his first day on the job
and he couldn't go through with it.
He was a PhD student working his way through anthropology.
She bent down and took his head and arms.
Now what would she do with her unused understanding.
There, under the bed, she saw her other satin slipper.
Somehow she knew it would fit.
More From Grace Cavalieri
Recently Governor Larry Hogan announced that Grace Cavlieri, poet, playwright, and long time host of NPR’s The Poet and The Poem, would become Maryland’s next Poet Laureate, succeeding the great Stanley Plumly. Now that she has been inaugurated, one of her first stops is The Kojo Nnamdi show. Kojo Nnamdi has been hosting his show on WAMU for 20 years, so he and Grace are kindred spirits in that regard–Grace has hosted The Poet and The Poem for over 40 years.
Nin Andrews is a poet. Most recently of Miss August which is out now from the awesome Cavankerry Press and most notably of the collection, Why God is a Woman. Nin Andrews is also a fan of Grace Cavalieri’s interview with Jorie Graham which she recently extolled over on ITN.
Governor Hogan recently announced Maryland’s ninth Poet Laureate to be the incomparable Grace Cavalieri. In his press conference regarding the announcement he touched on her “lifelong” dedication to poetry, and this precisely is one of those defining characteristics of a great artist. ASP celebrated this aspect of Grace in her Legacy Book, Other Voices, Other Lives which is an atemporal sampling of her entire career to now, from poetry to prose, from plays to interviews with US Poets Laureate. It should come as no surprise to Mr. Hogan nor the careful reader of her works then that she has an almost religious dedication and inescapable fascination with her art and its many ingredients. As you we shall hear, in her poem “Work is my Secret Lover,” Poetry is the muse.
Other Voices, Other Lives was my introduction to Grace. Her book sits now on my shelf between The Waves and Duino Elegies, the pages are worn from thumbing-thru, it is dog-eared, destroyed in certain ways well-loved books are destroyed, aged by the eyes, like good denim, but here the creases are black underlines, and the fading is from yellow highlighter and coffee stains. So in honor of, well, my deep admiration for Grace, I’ve picked one of her poems from Other Voices, Other Lives to share. If this is the first encounter with her poetry, welcome, hello, the books page is just yonder up the screen under “books”! If you’ve long been a fan, I think “Bluebirds” is a great poem to share with those who might not yet have been introduced to Grace’s work.
Grace Cavalieri is known widely for her stirring and empathic poetry, collected in her Legacy work Other Voices, Other Lives, but did you know that she is also an impressive interviewer? On her NPR show, The Poet and The Poem, she interviews significant poets from the US and around the world, with an aim of interpreting their lives through their poetry. In her tenure on the program, she has interviewed 9 US Poets Laureate (you can find a list with these archived interviews HERE), including the incomparable Robert Pinsky.
The name Other Voices, Other Lives, is not purely poetical, in fact, for Grace Cavalieri it is a mission statement. In her Legacy Book of the same name there are several sections in 3rd person omnipotent which aim to breathe the same air as famous women who have suffered adversity. Tragic figure Anna Nicole Smith, feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, Cora from William Carlos William’s Kora in Hell. All in all they are an admix of Grace Cavalieri’s poetic life, all brought together in one beautiful volume; so, perhaps, we might figure that Anna Nicole Smith converses with Mary Wollstonecraft for the very first time in the pages of Other Voices, Other Lives.
Today, from the Anna section we have the heart-rending “Toytown”
First Indian Poet to Record Poems for The Library of Congress to be interviewed by Grace Cavalieri for “The Poet and the Poem” Abhay K. is set to be the first Indian National to record poems for the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The SAARC award winner is known as the premier literary flag-bearer […]
The Poet and The Poem is a radio show and poetry program hosted by poet and playwright, Grace Cavalieri. For over 40 years, TPaTP has been broadcast from the library of congress, and since 1977, Grace has interviewed every US Poet Laureate to hold office. On “The Poet and the Poem” Grace examines just that, […]
Grace Cavalieri reads “Safety” “The poet Grace Cavalieri is a…truly generous friend of poetry and poets. In her writing and all she does her large-minded generosity shines.” Robert Pinsky In the folds and on the back cover of Other Voices, Other Lives, sits a few very special drawings —a rose, the dome of the capital building— […]
An Interview with Grace Cavalieri Senior Editor of December Literary Magazine, Ron A. Austin, sat down with Grace Cavalieri for an exciting and rapid fire (if, sadly, slim) look at the author behind Other Voices, Other Lives, the second installment in ASP’s Legacy Series. Read the whole interview here An Excerpt: DECEMBER How do your personal experiences […]