Friday, May 08, 2009

Poetry Friday: Anne Porter

Atticus beat me to the Writer's Almanac the other day, and sent me a link to a heart-stopping poem by a poet named Anne Porter.

With perfect pitch, Porter describes what it is about music that reaches and wrenches us:


by Anne Porter

When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother's piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold ....

(The entire poem is here.)

Anne Porter may be new to us (and how did I miss her all these years?) but she's not a new soul.

As noted in this article at Janice Harayda's One Minute Book Reviews she was 83 years old when her first collection of poetry was published in 1994, and it became a National Book Award finalist. Ms. Harayda writes:

She is a Catholic poet in the same way that Flannery O’Connor was a Catholic novelist: She describes a world that is, as O’Connor put it, founded on “the theological truths of the Faith, but particularly on three of them which are basic – the Fall, the Redemption, and the Judgment.” But she transcends the label “Catholic writer.” As the poet David Shapiro has said, Porter transmits “her Franciscan joy in created things” and “reminds us that the idea of the holy is still possible for us.” At the same time, her poems spring from everyday life, particularly her role as the mother of five children by her late husband, the artist Fairfield Porter.

Go read the whole post at One Minute Book Reviews -- full of interesting stuff. And here's a fun link to a collection of photographs and letters from the Porter family, including this photo of Anne and Fairfield Porter on their wedding day.

Here's one more article, at the Poetry Foundation, that mentions Porter. Scroll down to #4 on Donald Revell's list of poems that should be required reading.

And here's her poem, An Altogether Different Language, also at the Poetry Foundation.


The Poetry Friday round-up today is being hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day.


jama said...

I love this poem so much! It's so true. Like you, I'm wondering why I hadn't heard of Anne's work before. Thanks so much for introducing her to me. Wow. Love the photographs, too :).

P.S. Congratulations on the release of your new book! *thunderous applause*

Yat-Yee said...

She capture it perfectly. Beauty in music as desolation.

Lindsay said...

My Mom died shortly after Christmas and as we sat with her hour after hour through the night I ran out of words to say to her. In the morning they brought us a hymnbook, and we could sing to her, which we did, for hours and hours, "singing her over." When I first read this poem last week, what a wonderful confrimation it was that we had done exactly the right thing.

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander

Thank you

tp lowe said...

Anne's second book was released around a year ago. It contains all the poems from An Altogether Different Language plus several new poems. I have been buying copies of her first at every opportunity and hording them for gifts! She's absolutely my favorite poet.

Melanie B said...

Oh beautiful! She's new to me too. What a find!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Really lovely, and such a perfect explanation for why music moves us so. Thank you!