Featured Poet: Rodger Martin, Hancock
Rodger Martin’s third volume of poetry, The Battlefield Guide, uses physical locations on the battlefields of the American Civil War to reflect upon America today. Released by Hobblebush Books in 2010 this is his second book. The Blue Moon Series, (Hobblebush Books: 2007) was selected by Small Press Review as one of its bi-monthly picks of the year. He has been awarded an Appalachiaaward for poetry and a New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Fiction Fellowship. Additionally he has received fellowships from The National Endowment for the Humanities to study T.S. Eliot and Thomas Hardy at Oxford University and John Milton at Duquesne University. His work has been published in literary journals throughout the United States and China. He and six colleagues have been translated in the book On the Monadnock: New Pastoral Poetry released in China in 2007. He is managing editor of The Worcester Review, teaches journalism at Keene State College and directs New Hampshire’s Poetry Out Loud Project.
I regularly listen to DR radio on my computer (Danish Radio) particularly the folk and world music channels. One day I heard Carl Lundgaard's "Waltz for Chrstine" and it immediately brought vivid images of a father waltzing in the rain with his 4-year-old daughter across the large, wooden deck of a vacation spot on a bay or lake or river. In particular, the images brought back my own daughter at 4, and my own childhood innocence and the heart ache of a parent's ultimate inability to protect a child from the ravages mostly we, ourselves, loosed upon this earth. As I heard the waltz again over a period of time, the images became more forceful and the music almost haunting, insisting I respond in writing to the world around me -- Katrina (but as much the Great Flood of 1927), the BP Oil spill (or as much the Exxon Valdez or Torrey Canyon), the humanity-caused warming planet. This poem was that response. After the poem evolved, I decided I must have the CD as well and in my internet research to purchase it (only available then in Europe) I found an English translation of Lundgaard's liner notes about the song. I was surprised (since there are no lyrics) to find the emotions that had driven him to write the music paralleled the language images his music had evoked within me. He had written it for his own daughter, who had left him as a teenager to travel to El Salvador and Guatemala to serve as a human shield to protect the peasants against the corporate abuse rampant in Latin America. There are some youTube versions of the accordion, but the version which influenced me is with an accordion and violin on Lungaard's cd Yderland.
After Carl Erik Lundgaard’s Valsen til Christine*
Like the dusk call of parents
gathering again their important things,
summer rain drips from the deep eaves
soothing backdrop for darkening green.
A father balances a daughter in his arms.
They eddy like a quiet river about the promenade.
A planet rests on his shoulders.
He knows where the river flows:
the puppy clambering the peak of a flooded home,
the pelican flapping useless wings,
the great white bear, quizzical at its shrinking floe.
An accordion, skiff of the ancients,
skims the soft liquid of a violin--
so needy, so needed, crossing
the lost waters of this earth.
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