Thursday, May 18, 2023

Spoken Word Club Features Poet Barbara Goldberg








If the Dresser were allowed only five words to enter the poetry of Barbara Goldberg, the Dresser would choose danger, death, sex, psyche, and fairytale.


Take “Furlough,” the first poem in Goldberg’s Breaking & Entering: New and Selected Poems where the first line begins with sexual attraction:


I love to see those tall, lean, muscular men


The next several lines depict danger, possibly verging on death


I love to see those tall, lean, muscular men

with their clean-shaven heads and digital


watches toss their kids in the air. And I love

to see them drop, not weightless, but light


as grenades.


As we learn more about this type of man, we see his soldierly discipline, the mind controlling his behavior, his bodily actions, the essence of his psyche, and we enter a story landscape, possibly an untold fairytale for those children tossed so casually in air.


as grenades. This how children learn that fear

can be fun. And fathers, that this too is hand


to hand combat. To cradle or kill—what story

do we tell ourselves to justify. …


Six sections of Breaking & Entering provide heart-stopping imagery and lyrical allure. Finish reading “Furlough” in the New section.


Not to be missed in section II—Berta Broadfoot and Pepin the Short is “Aliste Speaks with Double Tongue.” In this poetic story about a nursemaid who substitutes her daughter Aliste for the royal girl Berta set to marry King Pepin, Goldberg offers a poem written in two columns that can be read as two columns or line by line across the two columns. Here are the first three lines:


                               I couldn’t stand    this fact: they were torturing her

                                     I couldn’t sit   I could hear her shrieks

                       I paced, a wild thing    She couldn’t save me now


Section III Cautionary Tales recounts Goldberg’s versions of Little Red Riding Hood. The Dresser is loath to pick just one poem when there is “Teeth”—We all live in dread of our teeth…; “Née Maggie Malone”—She didn’t shave her legs or underarms…(winner of the first Word Works Washington Prize) and “Night at the Opera”—Although Aida and Rhadames are buried alive/in a crypt…(as told by the eight-year-old author) and much more.


Without a doubt, Section IV Marvelous Pursuits demands that an out loud reading of “Ballad of the Id” which begins I am your rose hips and bunting and bootleg.


In section V The Royal Baker’s Daughter, the Dresser favors the three-part poem “My Father’s Mistress”—She of No Name who wore sensible shoes unlike the narrator’s mother, Herta who lived in a rustic chalet, or Lily who was a Marlene Dietrich look alike.


The title poem by the same name of section VI The Kingdom of Speculation is certainly the Dresser’s favorite where


Eggs coddled or poached are the food

of choice in the Kingdom of Speculation


this is where the rich eat eggs and the poor, heavy-in-the-stomach dumplings.


Why not request one of these poems when Barbara Goldberg is featured in a virtual reading on May 23, 2023, at 4 pm Eastern from Spoken Word Club. Bring a poem of your own for the open mic. Here’s the link:{"ref":"52","action_history":"[{\"surface\":\"share_link\",\"mechanism\":\"share_link\",\"extra_data\":{\"invite_link_id\":792016829159657}}]”}