Een van die lekkerste snuffelplekke op die internet is vir my The Paris Review se webtuiste, want hier kan jy rustig deur al die vorige uitgawes lees; so stuit jy telkens teen die ongelooflikste bydraes. Soos die onderhoud wat Will Aitken in 2004 gevoer het met Anne Carson, sekerlik een van die mees kreatiewe en vernaamste digters in die wêreld van die digkuns tans.
Carson is op 21 Junie 1950 in Toronto gebore. Na haar studies in Antieke Grieks aan die Universiteit Toronto het sy in 1981 gepromoveer met ‘n tesis oor Sappho; ‘n studie wat direk aanleiding sou gee tot Eros the Bittersweet in Decreation.
Volgens Aitken se inleiding, die volgende: “Although she (Carson) has always been reluctant to call herself a poet, Carson has been writing some heretic form of poetry almost all her life. Her work is insistent and groundbreaking, a blend of genres and styles that for years failed to attract notice. In the late eighties, a few literary magazines in the United States began to publish her work. Canadian venues were considerably less welcoming, and it was not until Carson was forty-two that a small Canadian pub- lisher, Brick Books, published her first book of poems, Short Talks.”
Teen die middel van die 1990s was dit egter ‘n perd van ‘n totaal ander kleur: “By the mid-nineties, Carson was no longer trying to find publishers; rather, publishers were clamoring to find her. In short order, three collections of poems and essays appeared—Plainwater: Essays and Poetry (1995); Glass, Irony and God (1995); Men in the Off Hours (2000)—as well as a verse novel, Autobiography of Red (1998), which seamlessly blends Greek myth, homosexuality, and small-town Ontario life. Two ostensibly academic books followed: Economy of the Unlost and her translation of Sappho’s poetry, If Not, Winter, both in 2002 […] Awards and accolades came tumbling in: a Guggenheim Fellowship (1995); a Lannan Award (1996); the Pushcart Prize (1997); a MacArthur Fellowship (2000); and the Griffin Prize for Poetry (2001). In 2002 Carson became the first woman to receive England’s T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos.”
Gaan lees gerus die volledige onderhoud; dit is fassinerend om te sien hoe ‘n digter van Carson se statuur haar ambag as digter benader.
By wyse van lusmaker plaas ek twee vrae, met haar antwoorde daarby.
So there’s this dense otherness that you just want to find out about. Whether it’s relevant is beside the point.
One thing I do understand about the Greeks is that they, too, understood otherness and valued it. That is what the god Dionysus is as a principle—the principle of being up against something so other that it bounces you out of yourself to a place where, nonetheless, you are still in yourself; there’s a connection to yourself as another. It’s what they call ecstasy. The Greeks invented this concept, but they also embody it for us, which may just be our utilitarian approach to them. But who can say. We are always going to be looking at the Greeks and figuring out who they are in relation to what we are. We can’t get out and be in a third place and judge both of us.
Can we discuss Sappho’s Fragment 31? In Eros the Bittersweet you use it as an illustration of Eros’s lack. And then when you come back to it in Decreation it’s an almost completely new reading of the poem in spiritual terms.
Oh, that’s perplexing. Let’s see. The difference between the two readings derives from ignoring or taking into account the final verse of the poem in the manuscript that we have. It’s a completely puzzling half-verse having to do with daring and poverty, and when I decided to try to make sense of it in Decreation the only way I could do so was in spiritual terms. The poem up until that point is concerned with an erotic triangle, but then in this half-verse it goes to a new place, which I chose to understand as a place facing God. I don’t know where spiritual reality goes for Sappho—the poem doesn’t go on after that half of a verse—but I was trying, in Decreation, to interpret it as a space of poverty in the mystical sense of the annihilation of the self.
He seems to me equal to gods that man
whoever he is who opposite you
sits and listens close
to your sweet speaking
and lovely laughing—oh it
puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking
is left in me
no: tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead—or almost
I seem to me.
But all is to be dared, because even a person of poverty.
Geniet die naweek wat op hande is.
Louis de Wekker