A Poem for NPM, Day 9

An excerpt from a “novel in verse” is up for today. The verse novel in question is Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red. As the front flap of the book puts it, an “extraordinary epic poem [that] bridges the gap between classicism and the modern, poetry and prose, with a volcanic journey into the soul of a winged red monster named Geryon.”

Anne Carson herself is a professor of Classics in Montreal—or at least she was at the time of the printing of the book. So she really knows what she is talking about and she does so beautifully.

Off we go into ancient Greece…


His mother stood at the ironing board lighting a cigarette and regarding Geryon.

Outside the dark pink air
was already hot and alive with cries. Time to go to school, she said for the third time.
Her cool voice floated
over a pile of fresh tea towels and across the shadowy kitchen to where Geryon stood
at the screen door.
He would remember when he was past forty the dusty almost medieval smell
of the screen itself as it
pressed its grid onto his face. She was behind him now. This would be hard
for you if you were weak
but you’re not weak
, she said and neatened his little red wings and pushed him
out the door.

—Anne Carson

(from: The Autobiography of Red. London: Jonathan Cape, 1999. 36.)


Other poems for April

Poets.org: Richard Kenney, “A Pot of Tea”

Knopf: Julia Hartwig, “Tell Me Why This Hurry”

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