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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Praise for Poet Marilyn Donnelly

I've been listening to the archives of the now-defunct radio show Prosody, hosted by Jan Beatty, and I'm glad I did because I have discovered the inimitable, clever voice of Marilyn Donnelly (scroll down to the show on 6/7/11, or look it up in iTunes). A Pittsburgh citizen, Donnelly mixes word play with an insightfully cutting eye on culture. Her first full-length book Coda  is available from Autumn House Press (2010). Unfortunately, due to poor health, it is not Marilyn Donnelly herself who is interviewed and who reads her poems, but her editor Ann Burnham.

Here are a few of her shorter pieces (I transcribed them from the podcast, and may have made errors in word choice and certainly in linebreaks, for which I apologize in advance):

Human Inflation

Many C-E-Os come to a juncture
where the E-G-Os need accupuncture.

Reflection on Fame

I used to fear anonymity.
Like Willie Loman everyone deserves recognition.
I saw Joan Crawford one time--it was enough.
She wore a white turban of slithery jersey,
steadied with a raucous ransom from the five and dime
and a dress with shoulder pads as wide as a wide receiver's.
That sight made me a believer in simplicity, anonymity.
It made me shun rhinestones.
Now I wish to be small, like the wren.
Believe me, Emily Dickinson had the right idea,
settled at home in her private New England bones.

Valentine for Richard Wilbur

Ah Dicky dear,
No one has your way with meter and rhyme
So won't you come up and show me
your sestina sometime.

Thoughts After Reading The Scarlet Letter

Had only Hester known
About testosterone.


He who took the steps by two
Now pauses on each tread.
And I who love him so
Am filled with dread.

Not all the poems are humorous (obviously). Listen to the podcast and enjoy the longer, more serious pieces as well; you might even be inspired to order the book.

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