Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Poems will not Change the World

The stone circle of the Guild of UK Writers in Second Life

Not mine, of course, but the poems of Patrizia Cavalli,* a contemporary Italian poet. I'm went to a poetry reading this morning and I took along some of Patrizia's poetry to read aloud.

Well it was not quite as simple as that sounds, because there were all kinds of technical difficulties. You see the Poetry Reading was in Second Life. Somehow I have become a member of the Guild of UK Writers in Second Life and I have attended several poetry readings there. Of course I feel a bit of a fraud, since I am neither a writer nor really a reader of poetry, although I have become more interested in the topic in these latter years and have read more than I once did.

The topic for the day was European poets and I thought to myself, I can bring something to that table. After I retired I took an upper level Italian course at the university and we studied some of Patrizia's poetry from her collection My Poems will not Change the World or Le mie Poesie non Cambieranno il Mondo. In Italian of course but I decided to choose some poems that Patrizia had translated herself into English and read the translations rather than the original.

The organizer of the group always arranges people to read some poetry on the chosen topic and she will arrange a reader if you bring something but are too shy to read yourself. However I decided that I would try to use Voice Chat for the first time ever in Second Life and read my own choices. In case of a disaster I had the poems written on notecards which you can give to someone else to read for you by dragging and dropping them, itself perhaps a potential disaster.

The event takes place in the Stone Circle you see above. The reader stands in the small centre circle and the audience sits on the stones around the outside. Its location is in a beautiful region called Milkwood, which is meant to be typical Scottish countryside scenery but of course, being Second Life, the flowers and trees are perfect, there are deer in the woods, black swans on the water and it never rains, for there is no Scottish mist at Milkwood.

But let's get back to today's event. Talk about stress city! Even though I chose not to read in Italian, using voice for the first time was an added complication. I cannot always be sure it will work. I have used the speakers before with other people talking but not the microphone. I have even tried practising this in my "grace and favour" home in Second Life and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I have watched every video tutorial in YouTube on the topic and tweaked all the settings as recommended and thus I was as ready as I ever would be to give it a whirl.

The scheduled readers, most of whom I'd heard before, read their choices in German and Italian, with translations, or simply translations and finally it was my turn. I did manage to get myself into the speakers' circle without too much stumbling around and nervously began with a little explanation about who Patrizia Cavalli is. I tried to read slowly and clearly and it seemed to work out fine although I was a bit tongue tied with my segues in between poems and I probably rushed everything.

So I survived the ordeal, for it was indeed an ordeal. But now hopefully I will be more confident next time I use voice chat in Second Life and it certainly is great not to have to type everything laboriously into the IM system there.

May I share with you one of Patrizia's poems which I think might resonate with many in my age group. They rarely have a title and this one is no exception. I hope you enjoy it.

Now that time seems all mine
and no one calls me for lunch or dinner,
now that I can stay to watch
how a cloud loosens and loses its colour.
how a cat walks on the roof,
in the immense luxury of a prowl, now
that what waits for me every day
is the unlimited length of night
where there is no call and no longer a reason
to undress in a hurry to rest inside
the blinding sweetness of a body that waits for me
now that the morning no longer has a beginning
and silently leaves me to my plans,
to all the cadences of my voice, now
suddenly I would like prison.

Patrizia Cavalli

And for completeness, in the original Italian

Adesso che il tempo sembra tutto mio
e nessuno mi chiama per il pranzo e per la cena,

adesso che posso rimanere a guardare

come si scioglie una nuvola e come si scolora,
come cammina un gatto per il tetto

nel lusso immenso di una esplorazione, adesso

che ogni giorno mi aspetta

la sconfinata lunghezza di una notte

dove non c'è richiamo e non c'è più ragione

di spogliarsi in fretta per riposare dentro
l'accecante dolcezza di un corpo che mi aspetta,

adesso che il mattino non ha mai principio

e silenzioso mi lascia ai miei progetti

a tutte le cadenze della voce, adesso

vorrei improvvisamente la prigione.

* All the possible links are in Italian, however Patrizia lives in Rome and has published several collections of her poems which are translated into many languages. They have appeared in English and American poetry periodicals, in other anthologies and also in the New Yorker. She has written scripts for RAI and has translated for the theatre works of Shakespeare, Molière, and Oscar Wilde. Her poems are both personal and dealing with wider concepts at the same time and her style is considered quite hard-bitten and edgy.


Tom Paine said...

I am sorry I missed that.

CherryPie said...

Sounds like you had fun :-)

Milkwood made me think of Tolkien, I wonder if he was thinking of Scotland too.

Dr.John said...

Living in two worlds does have its complications.

Janice Thomson said...

I love that poem JMB! You are right - it is easy to relate to. The imagery is fantastic and one feels the lethargy of life in her words. It is much deeper than it first appears to be.
Glad the reading went well for you - next time you will probably enjoy it much more. :)

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

I wonder if the name has anything to do with Dylan Thomas's poetic writings, like Under Milk Wood?

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Somehow I have become a member of the Guild of UK Writers in Second Life

JMB - your Italian puts me to shame.

Phil A said...

Well done for managing voice chat. An environment like a reading is probably gives it the best chance of being reasonably effective too.

I can’t see voice chat being popular with something like a free for all book discussion. How could you keep track of multiple conversations, or tell who was saying what?

Sean Jeating said...

Thanks for sharing this piece of poetry. Like it.

Carver said...

It never occurred to me that the second life would have events like that. Very interesting and the poem spoke to me in many ways.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I'd not heard of Patrizia before but will certainly look for her works now. I like her title. How adventurous you are in SL, jmb!

jmb said...

I'm not sure you missed much TP, but I did it.

Cherie, I think it is fun in SL.

It certainly does Dr John. I find it quite amusing in some ways.

Janice, it would fit so many people I know. I don't know if I am going to do it again any time soon.

Moggs I suppose it might. I'm sure everyone else knows except me, who just came lately.

Well I've been at it a long time James, but still not a master of it.

Phil, it works very well in this situation since only the reader uses voice and everyone else uses IM. You put the poem on a notecard place it centrally and everyone can get a copy by clicking on the card thing which is a rock! I think for a lot of things voice chat is too confusing.

Sean, I liked her poetry and this one especially. Glad you did too.

Carver, SL is full of lectures and seminars and quite a few universities have a presence there. I'm sure you can relate to that poem.

Welshcakes, I think her poetry is quite interesting. They are mostly very short, that is one of her longer ones. I find SL quite fascinating to tell you the truth.

thanks to everyone for commenting and visiting.

Cathy said...

This was such an interesting post. I found myself getting nervous for you. I HATE talking in front of people. I loved it when in college but I somehow lost that ability over the years.

Is this poetry reading something others can listen in on, or do you have to read or present a poem?

Liz said...

I am in awe of your technical ability, jmb!

Great poem though strange ending.

Milkwood - Wales surely?

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Or a mistress?

jams o donnell said...

I've never thought about Second Life. AFter this post I am tempted.

jmb said...

Hi Cathy, no you can just listen to the readings, which I have done on the other occasions. I usually get all tongue-tied when speaking too.

Liz we all know different things and you know stuff I don't and vice versa. Well she means she'd like to be in the prison of having those obligations. I thought of it as being an empty nester. I know but it is supposed to be Scotland.

Sorry James, I don't get your reference. Confused, but what else is new?

I find it quite addictive Jams but then I am determined to master the technical challenges.

Thanks again for visiting and commenting.

Ellee Seymour said...

JMB, you are amazing, so inspiring..