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The Poet of Poet Laval / Carolyn L. Tipton

The Poet of Poet Laval

By: Carolyn L. Tipton

€12.00
Carolyn Tipton’s third book, The Poet of Poet Laval, begins by celebrating openings, moments that give an abundant sense of possibility.  The poems sometimes return here, but also move through other themes—by way not of sections, but of transitional poems—to death and the Spanish Civil War, to art and different perspectives on creating.  The poems then shift their attention to love—its dazzlement, its despa...
ISBN 978-1-912561-49-0
Pub Date Thursday, March 28, 2019
Cover Image “The Village of Poet Laval, Provence, France”. “[StockCube] / Depositphotos.com”.
Page Count 82
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Carolyn Tipton’s third book, The Poet of Poet Laval, begins by celebrating openings, moments that give an abundant sense of possibility.  The poems sometimes return here, but also move through other themes—by way not of sections, but of transitional poems—to death and the Spanish Civil War, to art and different perspectives on creating.  The poems then shift their attention to love—its dazzlement, its despair.  The book ends with a series of poems about our very reciprocal relationship with the natural world, noting especially the ways in which it speaks to us—the green flash!  Sometimes, the poems register dissolution and loss.  Yet they also attend to compensations, saving graces, and window-moments that can change our perception, or simply delight us with the surprise of a small revelation.

Carolyn L. Tipton

Carolyn L. Tipton, born and raised in Berkeley, California, is a poet, translator, and teacher. She has a Master’s Degree in English/Creative Writing from Stanford University and a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, where she currently teaches in the Fall Program for Freshmen. She has published many poems and translations both in various journals, including Partisan Review and Two Lines, and in anthologies, including Norton’s World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time, and Robert Hass’ Now and Then: The Poet’s Choice Columns, 1997-2000. She has been the recipient of various grants and awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also been awarded writing residencies at The Banff Centre and the Vermont Studio Center.  She has given readings of her poems and translations in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Spain. Her first book of translations of the poetry of Alberti, To Painting: Poems by Rafael Alberti (Northwestern University Press), won the National Translation Award. Her second, Returnings: Poems of Love and Distance (White Pine Press) won the Cliff Becker Translation Prize.

The Poet of Poet Laval

writes prescriptions for sleep, listing
sonorous ingredients whose names
you only have to read before slipping
into a deep canyon descended
by way of rustling poplars, the humming
of bees in oceans of deep-colored lavender, the slap
of the waves of those oceans, and there at the bottom,
dream’s diagonal door of light and shadow, the one
you never are aware of passing through.


The poet of Poet Laval
is a useful poet, writes poems
that seed the heart you thought non-arable:
soon, stirrings, presentiments of
the wild and bright; red poppies.


The poet of Poet Laval
does not exist.  Poet Laval is a village, very old,
in the north of Provence.  Touched by the thought
of a village named after a poet,
I visited Poet Laval and asked after him:
who had he been, and where could I read his poems?
These questions made everyone laugh, until
a kind woman took me aside.  “It’s like this”, she said,
“in Provençal, ‘poet’ means ‘mountain’”!  So,


no famous writer of poems ever lived here, no favorite
son who went to Paris and became renowned,
no local troubadour, whose song about a woman’s eyes
—though she’s been under ground nine hundred years—is still
remembered.  Not even one beloved in his time
for his lyrics celebrating big events: the spectacular
grape harvest, the long-delayed completion of the church,
the late birth to the lonely, childless couple.


And so I conjure a poet for this town.
In her poems—no matter what the words describe—
a window opens up: through it, the evening sky
of a summer long ago, its first stars
through the branches, the rhyming
white blossoms, whose breathed-in scent brings back
the sense that anything is possible.
All of it given back.  Everything restored.
Just for the moment of reading, of course,
but the spaciousness lingers inside.



In Vermont

It is melting season here.
April, and suddenly the still
landscape is loud with voices.  Not just
those of the birds, newly returned,
but water-voices: everywhere the sun
is melting ice & snow, and rivulets,
streams, waterfalls are pouring,
coursing, rushing down the mountainside.
Listen: what was mute as cloud 
now sings the jostling songs of glass.
It is the tale where White Buffalo
dissolves into a chant of rain.
But what if this transformation—silent, solid
white into voiced transparency—
took over the whole countryside?  What if
the birches, too, should melt
and begin ringing out like bells?



The Chinese Papercutter

The Chinese papercutter
fashions dragons with scissors

or with a knife of moon:

a fish fashioning water.

He dreams of cardinals
and finds his paper red—

the shadow of a poinsettia wing
on his design

covering it
as the appleskin’s flame
covers pale fruit.


He moves so slightly
it is as if he does not
move at all.

Motionless roses thus
arrange themselves
in vases

like hills
which at last declare their outlines
to the painter.
 


His is an art of patience,
devoid of disquietude:

he does not envy the silken kites
their intimacy with the wind

nor does he begrudge the flute
its ability to carve
melodies.

All Poems © Copyright Carolyn L. Tipton 2019

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