Who is Seven Responses?
Paul Kane, poet
librettist for Lewis Spratlan's response, Common Ground
When we reached out to Lew and asked him to write a work for Seven Responses, he immediately responded that he'd like to work with Paul Kane. We can see why; Paul's libretto is beautiful and thought-provoking, with Greek-inspired structure and characters balanced with fully-contemporary metaphors referencing the earth and its environment.
Paul teaches at Vassar College in upstate New York; previously, he has taught at Yale and at Monash University in Australia. He serves as poetry editor of Antipodes; as Artistic Director of the Mildura Writers Festival in Australia; as General Editor of the Braziller Series of Australian Poets; and as Poet Laureate of Orange County. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, The New Criterion, Grand Street, The Kenyon Review, Verse, and elsewhere. (See below for a sample of his poetry.)
Read Paul's thoughts on what poetry is in this fascinating interview from Cordite Poetry Review: http://cordite.org.au/interviews/paul-kane/
And see his really cool notebook stemming from his time at the University of Auckland: http://www.nzepc.auckland.ac.nz/features/tapa/Kane-Paul-TapaNotebook.pdf
Here's what he has to say about the notebook: ''This Tapa Notebook was given me by Michele Leggott after I gave a talk at the University of Auckland on 10 August 2011. That talk, 'Leading a Double Life: The Poetics of Home in the U.S. and Australia,' underwrites my general approach to the Notebook: a series of images with commentary and analysis. I have used postcards and photographs to build up a memoir that weaves together several thematic strands which emerge over the course of the Notebook (some having to do with power and authority, revolution and violence; others having more personal, poetic and even humorous colorations). The idea is to present the reader or viewer with portraits, vignettes, and narratives that illuminate some of my experience within the context of my time. Above all, I hope it provides an enjoyable encounter.''
Paul has published five collections of poems: The Farther Shore (Braziller), Drowned Lands (South Carolina), Work Life (Turtle Point), A Slant of Light (Whitmore), and The Scholar’s Rock (selected poems in Chinese translation); two editions with The Library of America: Ralph Waldo Emerson: Collected Poems and Translations (co-edited with Harold Bloom) and Emerson: Essays and Poems; three anthologies, including Poetry of the American Renaissance; a critical study: Australian Poetry: Romanticism and Negativity; and two collaborations with the photographer William Clift: A Hudson Landscape and Mont St.-Michel & Shiprock.
by Paul Kane
Gray across the bridge, the bridge
itself silver, shining in the dull air,
the gray mist and water below
pale, obscuring any view but
the prevalent neutrality. Gray, then,
with splashed color, lights moving
slowly, the bridge trafficking in
anonymous lives, sequestered worlds –
it could be this way always, somber
and yet not sad: washed, toned down,
quiet, even serene. It would be
all right, with much still to praise.