Six Irish American poets to read at Saint Michael's College

COLCHESTER I, too, dislike [poetry], said poet Marianne Moore (1887-1972). But, despite her perfect contempt for it, Moore discovered a place for the genuine in poetry. Saint Michaels College Associate Professor Greg Delanty also recognizes the genuine value of poetry. He has organized a free, public reading by six Irish American poets in the Hoehl Welcome Center at Saint Michaels College on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. Delanty and the other poets will read their poems from Emerson College Professor Dan Tobins recently published The Book of Irish American Poetry, which will be available for purchase at the reading. Delanty will also read poetry by late Saint Michaels Professor John Engels, whose work is included in Tobins massive (over 200 poets, over 800 pages) anthology. Dan Tobin will read his own poetry too. According to Tobin, Delantys poems explore the boundary between Irish-ness and American-ness. A perfect example is Delantys We Will Not Play the Harp Backward Now, No. The poem is introduced with this epigraph from Marianne Moores Spensers Ireland: If in Ireland they play the harp backward at need. In annotating Moores words, The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry explained that The harp is the symbol of Ireland. To play it backward is to be sentimental about the past. New Irish poet Delantys homage to Moore beautifully blends old country sentimentality with new world determination: We, a bunch of greencard Irish,/ vamp it under the cathedral arches/ of Brooklyn Bridge thats strung like a harp./ But well not play/ the harp backward now, harping on/ about those Micks who fashioned/ this American wind lyre/And if we play the harp right way around now/ well reveal another side of the story/many of us learned the trick/ of turning ourselves into ourselves,/ free in the fe fiada anonymity/ of America. Moore herself expressed the permanence and pervasiveness of her Irish heritage by ending Spensers Ireland with this telling line: I am troubled, Im dissatisfied, Im Irish. Joining Delanty and Tobin at the Nov. 15 reading will be Thomas OGrady, director of the University of Massachusetts Irish Studies Program; Joan Houlihan, director of the Concord Poetry Center; David Cavanagh, Johnson State Colleges dean; and Christine Casson, scholar and writer-in-residence at Emerson College. Nov. 15 is also Marianne Moores birthday! Why wait for March 17 to celebrate Irish-ness and Irish Americans? Breithla Shona Dhuit, Marianne Moore!

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