Verdant Vikings! Poets with Pitchers!
Updated: May 11, 2018
I am off by two weeks in recounting the anniversary below but so be it...early it is, I am, I am, iamb.
We are now marooned in the thick of the marginal occasion of National Poetry Month where so many Non-Poets Mouth off their recitations of poetry both largely sentimental and small. One might aver that April then is the cruelest month but not
those who have a mind for SPRING AND ALL.
I invited the poets Seamus Heaney and Michael S. Harper to read at my university and the event was arranged for April 24, 1994. Before a sold-out audience, they came up together to the stage. Ralph Ellison and Richard Nixon had just died. They introduced themselves and then took the time to skewer Nixon and praise Ellison. Then they read, Heaney following Harper, and the auditorium walls trembled as did the souls of all the audience members, or at least the majority who possessed souls.
Both are dead now. Heaney in 2013, Harper three years later. Both were exemplary voices, mentors, and correspondents. Thank you, dearly departed artists.
After the reading we repaired to a local bar where my young liver was driven to despair. Drinking with these two massive poets was an exercise in de-liver-ance.
Towards the end of night, each drank from his own pitcher. I could barely summon words or sobriety. I was with Poetry Vikings, both in terms of body of work and body of body, and they summoned spring then, as they do now in memory, with green thoughts and a notion that this fertile vocation would deliver us from winter--seasonally and temperamentally considered. Amen. Aye, Men!
Michael S. Harper