There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Poets get a bum rap. From Lord Byron to Sylvia Plath, they have a reputation for being moody drama queens, wont to stick their heads into ovens. Despite the morbidity, I’ve always secretly believed that poets are the greatest writers of all. Maybe it’s just an inferiority complex, but I’m stuck on the notion that good poetry is at once vivid and succinctyet profound, in a way that, say, Prozac Nation is not. And some poets even manage to speak in verse. Take, for instance, Les Murray, winner of a T.S. Eliot Prize and Australia’s leading poet. On the book jacket for his new collection, Learning Human, Murray says poetry, “like prayer…pulls all the motions of our life and being into a concentrated true attentiveness to which God might speak.” Murray writes in a vocabulary that draws heavily from Australia’s aboriginal culture but is also distinctly his own. In “The Buladelah-Taree Holiday Song Cycle,” the poet describes Australians on holiday by using an Aboriginal narrative style. The result is ironic without being snarky: “the impoverished dog people, suddenly sitting down to nuzzle themselves; toddlers side with them: /toddlers, running away purposefully at random, among cars, into big drownie water (come back, Cheryl-Ann!). /They rise up as charioteers, leaning back on the tow-bar; all their attributes bulge at once…” Australia’s unofficial national poet reads at 8 p.m. Monday, March 26, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. $10. (202) 544-7077. (Annys Shin)