Graves and Bishop - I only got to one Dead Poets session – Alastair Reid spoke on (and read from) Robert Graves, and Mimi Khalvati took on Elizabeth Bishop – it was a terrific hour. Both poets read some astonishing poems. Alastair Reid had known both Graves and Bishop personally, and Mimi Khalvati managed to channel Elizabeth Bishop as though she was present in the room that morning.
Alastair Reid in conversation – Tom Pow interviewed 81(?)-year-old Scottish poet and translator, Alastair Reid, for 90 minutes, but I could have listened for double that time. Reid has travelled all over the world and, as well as translating their work, was a friend of Neruda, Borges, and dozens of other celebrated writers, particularly in Latin America. He said he didn’t like the idea of working for a living and spending what little time he had left enjoying himself, so he decided to set his own agenda as a writer and traveller. He was lucky – jobs came up, mainly teaching and writing jobs at just the right time, and he heard about them through entirely chance encounters – but he took advantage of his luck.
His most famous poem, Scotland, was beamed onto various buildings in St Andrews throughout the festival, and he did read it at the 100 Poets Gathering – despite disowning it and then setting the original copy on fire live on stage! More of all that in another post.
He also took Jorie Graham’s headline spot on the final night. Jorie Graham was ill and her doctors told her she couldn’t travel. So we got Alastair Reid instead. More of that later too.
I'll do a part 3, and then try to sum up the poetry in one short post. Then I'll say something rather against-the-grain about Scotland, Calvinism, and Alastair Reid. Then I'll report on the 100 Poets Gathering. Then I'll say something about my own event. Then I'll leave StAnza 2007 behind, as you're probably all getting bored of it already.