In glorious sunshine, this year's dlr Poetry Now festival got off to a flying (and quite cerebral) start yesterday. I went along to Belinda McKeon's inaugural lecture 'The Eye of The Poem' at lunchtime. Beginning with a mention of The New York Times' recent celebration of World Poetry Day via Twitter, McKeon moved into a consideration of what happens within a poem from the reader's perspective and otherwise. Quoting from a number of the festival poets, she visited the place of the poem in today's world of information overload, referencing William James and the Psychology of Attention.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the keynote address by Canadian poet Anne Carson. Carson's presentation, The Untranslatable (In All of Us), looked at the difficulties of actively representing in translation the various unknowables which fill the spaces within, around and among words. Sounds heavy, yeah? Well it definitely required a level of concentration which the audience seemed intent on reciprocating. (There may have been one drowser - but we'll allow him the excuse of jetlag!) Illustrated with a variety of imagery, from paintings by Francis Bacon to photos of the snowbound exterior of a house dressed with soft toys (I kid you not), a key theme was Hölderlin's translation of Sophocles which, though widely derided on it's publication, has evolved to become a key moment in the initiation of modern principles of poetic translation. Phew.
It was nice to meet blogging pal Emerging Writer and that most vigorous of poets Dave Lordan at the event, sharing memories of previous Poetry Now keynotes, somewhat more 'agitated' in terms of audience participation.