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Poetry and Blackberry Picking with Seamus Heaney and Robert Hass

Over on her blog, turbidus has posted a (poem of the day) Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney, including a great video of Heaney reading it:

I would just like to counter / respond with my own favorite poem about blackberry picking, by Robert Hass from his breakout second book, Praise:

Picking Blackberries with a Friend Who Has Been Reading Jacques Lacan

August is dust here. Drought
stuns the road,
but juice gathers in the berries.
We pick them in the hot
slow-motion of midmorning.
Charlie is exclaiming:

for him it is twenty years ago
and raspberries and Vermont.
We have stopped talking

about L’Histoire de la vérité,
about subject and object
and the mediation of desire.

Our ears are stoppered
in the bee-hum. And Charlie,
laughing wonderfully,

beard stained purple
by the word juice,
goes to get a bigger pot.

A poet and blogger made a really interesting observation on this poem a few years ago that I just ran across:

I also like the way Hass employs the word “stuns” in “Picking Blackberries…” to give a quick nod toward Sylvia Plath’s “Blackberrying.” Plath wrote of the flies buzzing round her English blackberries: “The honey feast of the the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.” The acknowledgment of the debt is a classy little move, typical of the work of Robert Hass. (via sonnets at 4 a.m.: A Poem by Robert Hass.)

Though of course I’ve read Sylvia Plath, I have absolutely no recollection of this poem, but now I want to rush out and read it.  (I can’t read a poem for the first time online; there’s something about computer screens that seems to inhibit that initial connection for me.)

For more poetry by Robert Hass, and some background on him, check out Robert Hass : The Poetry Foundation:

Robert Hass is one of contemporary poetry’s most celebrated and widely-read voices. In addition to his success as a poet, Hass is also recognized as a leading critic and translator, notably of the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and Japanese haiku masters Basho, Buson and Issa. Critics celebrate Hass’s own poetry for its clarity of expression, its conciseness, and its imagery, often drawn from everyday life.

Praise, by Robert Hass –
Praise, by Robert Hass –

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Upcoming Bay Area Films of Interest

  • Castro: Sing-a-long Sound of Music November 27, 2015 – November 29, 2015 The Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114, United States
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is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.



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