25 September 2008

Robin Robertson and Simon Armitage

Went to see these two British poets the other night at Loyola University's downtown Rubloff Auditorium (as distinct from Northwestern University's downtown Rubloff Building--Thorne Auditorium--and the Art Institute of Chicago's Rubloff Auditorium--all, no doubt, the result of donations by Arthur Rubloff of the real estate firm) in an event presented by the Poetry Foundation.

Victor has read Simon Armitage's recent translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, so Robin Robertson was the real surprise to me. Firstly, he has a wonderfully sonorous reading voice--I could listen to him forever. Secondly, his poems are chock full of gorgeous sounds. Only a few were not entirely convincing or took an easy way to closure. I was delighted to discover this fine poet.

Simon Armitage who is--at least by appearance--a good deal younger than Robertson, also delivered a good performance, but I liked him more for his manner--the patter between poems--than the work itself. A couple of poems--especially the first one he read, about a sperm whale--were knockouts, but on the whole I wasn't so impressed. I still look forward to reading Gawain, which Victor liked very much, but I wasn't wowed enough to buy another Armitage book.

On the other hand, I bought Robertson's translation of Euripedes' Medea without hesitation, and plan to get to it just as soon as I finish (or abandon) Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine.

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