Friday, March 29, 1991

VARIATIONS IN WHITE AND BLACK



VARIATIONS IN WHITE AND BLACK

Language is the music of thought.
—  —Andrei Vosnesenski

The composer Satie, who ate only what was white
would've loved this cavernous room suspended from dark beams
with its white rug, walls and venetian blinds of white linen.
The hostess, the guests, even the keyboards of the baby grands
and our poems—all in variations of white and black.
Sighting down the vault created by the raised piano lids
snuggled in each other's curves like tired lovers,
Kirk and Marilyn play a four-handed improvisation
on Pachelbel's Canon in D. Dah dada dá dah-dum. . .  I think: gun barrel.
Just after the war we are overly sensitive to images of war.
Sasha, a Soviet vet who survived fire, reads about Afghanistan.
More piano wires taut around the slender necks of poems
of those who can never break free or go back:
Marilyn to Cuba, Oleg to the Ukraine, Sasha to his unscarred face.
We prepare to read translations, but because each line
requires a leap of faith from one image to the next,
we fine-tune them mid-air. Music is the mother of mathematics.
At one point, near the end of Haydn's Variations by Brahms,
the notes begin to merge, forming new ones like hawks mating mid-flight.
At the right moment a chorus of frogs joins in
but there's a hole in the sky; how do they measure time?
As the last note descends, it is silent; they say frogs
are the living barometers of the earth's health.
They say Gaia's final chorus will be silence in spring.
They say in some places it's already begun.
Where does a Möibius strip begin and end?
Sasha transliterates Kirk's name, and we are drunk on this music,
the sum of this defenseless layer of human culture.
Notes leaping over the small mossy stones in our ears
add up to a temporary respite from the shadows of raptors—
useless angels of the war, any war.
Even the frogs are listening to the Hallelujah Chorus.


3/29/91
Santa Rosa

1991 The Paper

Sasha: Alexandr Karpenko

Sunday, March 17, 1991

Erin Go Bragh! Padraigín McGuillicuddy on KPFA 3/17/91




CAMP MEEKER'S PADRAIGíN MCGUILLICUDDY
TO HOST IRISH MARATHON
ST. PADDY'S DAY ON KPFA F M

"...And (I) was angry that my trust could not repose
in the clear light like poetry or freedom..."
—Seamus Heaney, from "Oysters"

In a rarified patch of Camp Meeker sunlight dwells one of the most sylvian voices of KPFA FM—that of Padraigín McGuillicuddy. She will host the 12th annual St. Patrick's Day marathon on Friday, March 17th, from 9 am to 6 pm. on KPFA, FM 94.

McGuillicuddy, who is the founder of the St. Patrick's Day Marathon said, "In its heyday, the marathon went from 9 a.m. to midnight, but I'm running low on stamina these days—so I'm only going to 6 p.m." But don't let that fool you. Even so, nine continuous hours of scintillating Irish programming is the ultimate Tir-na-og (Irish for Land of Youth, the Celtic equivalent of nirvana) for the serious Celtophile.

St. Patrick, A Strathclyde Romanized Briton, was said to have rid Ireland of its snakes—but then again, there probably weren't any snakes on the Emerald Isle to begin with. The only snakes I ever remember seeing were in Phoenix Park Zoo in Dublin—unless you want to count the solid line that sometimes divides the county roads. (Late at night, after a few good Guinesses they do look a little like snakes....) Snakes aside, St. Patrick is Eire's patron saint and it's a good excuse as any to celebrate the Celtic Twilight of Irish culture.

"It's the one day of the year for anyone who plays Irish music is guaranteed a gig, and it's the one day of the year that any political issues such as the strife in northern Ireland is given any reasonable coverage in the American media," says McGuillicuddy.

Having grown up in an Irish household, I commented to McGuilicuddy, I learned two versions of history; Anglo history in school and Irish history at home. She said, "Yes—two disparate versions of history, indeed." And never the twain shall meet.

Padraigin—an Irish diminutive form of Patrick—will produce an integrated show well worth taping. Her program promises to cover the whole gambit—from music to poetry; history to politics—with several guest speakers thrown in to boot. She will open with a morning concert featuring traditional uillean bagpipes and fiddles and the Morning Reading will highlight the 1988 S.F. State Vision and Voices International Symposium—addressing the problematics of identity of Irish women.

In the January issue of THE IRISHMAN, McGuillicuddy writes of the women who "fell out of history," and suffered a saga of immigration, repression and silence. Over and over in their art, poetry, prose and very presence they conveyed an image of women moving from stone to vegetation to speech—‚ "the green leaf of speech tumbling from their mouths." And into silence.

At noon, Irish language poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill will read from selected poems in both Irish and English addressing the far reaching affects of colonialism and culture.

AN CRANN THE TREE

There came this bright young thing
with a Black & Decker
and cut down my quince-tree.
I stood with my mouth hanging open
while one by one
she trimmed off the branches.
(tr. Paul Muldoon)

Do tháinig bean an leasa
le Black & Decker
do ghearr sí anuas mo chrann.
D'fhanas im óinseach ag féachaint uirthi
faid a bhearraigh sí na brainsí
ceann ar cheann.

For those politically bent, "Mama Mac" will "shoot it out" at 1 p.m. via phone with lawyers from the Justice Campaign for Irish prisoners abroad representing political prisoner and award winning poet, Joe Doherty who has been incarcerated in solitary confinement for over six years in New York without trial—he has been accused of no crime in the U.S other than being Irish and and illegal alien.


McGuillicuddy will also cover the status of the Birmingham Six and the Guilford Four, Irish citizens imprisoned in English jails for 15 years for crimes even which the authorities consider them innocent.


According to McGuillicuddy, Amnesty International has rated the English with the worst abuse on record denying basic human rights to Irish political prisoners.

It has been said there are more Irish in America than in Ireland—and this is certainly true in the Bay Area. Rich in poetry and politics—the place where William Butler Yeats described Erin in the poem, "Easter 1916" uprising (the Irish equivalent of our Civil War) "transformed utterly; a terrible beauty is born." Little known fact: Yeats was a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley.

Ireland is Europe's most impoverished country today, and the estimated 10,000 undocumented illegal aliens from Ireland are among the highest illegal alien group in the Bay Area—higher than that of the Hispanic population.

Accurate figures are unavailable but a conservative estimated 200,000 illegal Irish aliens are living in New York alone. "And it is to them especially, this latest hemmorhage of brains, brawn and talent, that is America's gain and Irelands loss, that we dedicate our St. Patrick's Day programming," comments McGuillicuddy.

The program will conclude with contemporary Irish music with Michael Black, one of Ireland's leading folk musicians, and the hottest music from left field....that of Irish rock and fusion music, the Liffey Beat, including U2, the group that received the 1988 Grammy award.

McGuillicuddy says it's no small coincidence that the psychology the west coast of Ireland and California are similar—their rocky coasts, less fertile land—lead to wild flights of poetry and imagination, while the eastern (European) seaboards tend to breed conservativism and complacency.

"This is the time of year western Sonoma County is most like the west of Ireland—especially Colman Valley Road with its green pastures and sheep—it makes me homesick for Kerry." laments McGuillicuddy. I'll second that.

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig agus sliante agaibh. Happy St. Patrick's Day and good health!

(from EASTER, 1916) ....What is it but nightfall? no, no not night but death; Was it needless death after all? For England may keep faith For all that is done and said. We know their dream; enough To know the dreamed and are dead; And what if excess of love Bewildered them till they died? I write it out in a verse— MacDonaugh and MacBride And Connolly and Pearse Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.

—William Butler Yeats, 1916


© 1991 Maureen Hurley
ca. 3/15/91 The Western Sonoma County Paper

Writing the two blogeen pieces of Padraigin prompted me to go into my old writing archives from the early 1990s. I found one article but not the tear sheet with photos and page/issue numbers. They were written before the advent of the internet, so they are not archived at The Bohemian's web site.

From 1979 to 1992, The Paper underwent several name changes, The Paper, The Western Sonoma County Paper, The Independent, and lastly, the Bohemian. I was with the paper through all of its name changes, except for the last one.

Accessing these files written under OS 7, in Appleworks, has been a challenge in that there are no direct translators. I was able to open them but they are loaded with formatting artifacts, so to clean them up for these blogs, has been time-consuming.

Also, my Appleworks files don't represent the final edited copy with its sidebars. Most of my tear sheets, stored in my shed, but the roof blew off during the storms of 1995-96 and turned to pulp. So in most cases, I have no hard copy. I had a few bad xeroxes, which I was able to resurrect the photos.

I decided to post most of the pieces close to their original month date, as I cannot go back in time to post them. I have put the date in the header to alert you, the reader, that they are not current events.