Louis Esterhuizen. Die digter se obsessie met woorde

WH Auden het by geleentheid na die digter verwys as iemand wat hartstogtelik verlief is op taal (of woorde, dan). En ek skat dat dié siening in die algemeen wel waar is; daarom dat Kate Dempsey se oorsig van die Ierse digter, Mary O’Donoghue (foto), wat onlangs op Poetry International Web verskyn het, reeds met haar openingsparagraaf my aandag getrek het: “Mary O’Donoghue, even more than most poets, is in love with words. She delights in strange and exquisite vocabulary, in retrieving precious gems from the dictionary’s seldom-visited corners. Curios like the following stud her verse: ‘miffed’, ‘scarper’, ‘bruxist’, “thigging’, ‘churt’. Yet O’Donoghue’s mining of the dictionary is aimed not at flashiness but at exactitude. Again and again in her work we find precisely the right word in precisly the right place: ‘a gallimaufry of cast-offs’, ‘the roking stewpot’, ‘the fichu of my frock’.” Aldus Dempsey.

By wyse van invulling: Mary O’Donoghue is in 1975 gebore in County Clare en woon die afgelope aantal jare in die bekende Ierse buitepos genaamd Boston waar sy hoogleraar in Engels is aan die Babson College. Bundels wat reeds deur haar gepubliseer is, is onder andere Tulle (Salmon Poetry, 2001) en Among These Winters (Dedalus Press, 2007). Sy het ook ‘n roman Before the House Burns geskryf wat in 2010 by The Lilliput Press verskyn het. Toekennings wat sy reeds ontvang het, sluit in die  Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, asook beursfondse van die Vermont Studio Center en Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Dempsey beskryf O’Donoghue se digkuns soos volg: “O’Donoghue writes for the most part in an intensely musical free verse, fusing her images together around intricately interlocking patters of rhythm and internal rhyme. Indeed, she has likened her writing process to carpentry, describing how multifarious images knit together to make a poetic whole […] This is serious, confident work. Yet it is marked by wit and humour, and is in places laugh-out-loud funny […] Textured, rich in strange imagery and always surprising, these are poems to read, relish and reread.”

Inderdaad. Beslis een van die meer verrassende ontdekkings vir my die afgelope tyd; gaan lees gerus die begeleidende gedigte wat op Poetry International se webtuiste te vinde is. By wyse van illustrasie plaas ek een van dié gedigte, “Dauernarkose“, hieronder. (Terloops, volgens die toeligtingsnota verwys die titel van die gedig na die volgende: “Dauernarkose: From the German. An experimental treatment for schizophrenics, it involved prolonged drugged sleep, and was also called ‘the continuous sleep cure’.”

 ***

DAUERNARKOSE

 

She has been asleep for three days,
a liquid length of time
 
closed over her head like a sheet
of lake-water. They think they have
 
her dreams cached away
in their clutterbook of explanans,
 
and see no flicker hint from behind
eyelids fern-stitched with blue veins.
 
But she is navigating equations,
pointed fir jungles of isosceles
 
triangles, the screams of chalk
and nails like seagull voice, dust
 
of chalk a scurf on her cuffs.
She walks past the bossy sign-posts
 
of sine and tan, and her map begins
to make sense, when the two-legged
  
travel stool of pi is pulled from under
her and she is splashed awake. She leaves
 
infinity, her last mark, a slender eight
sleeping with its face to the wall.

 

© 2007, Mary O’Donoghue

Uit: Among These Winters
Uitgewer: Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2007, 978-1-904556-70-1

 

 

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