Poetry Podcast: The Dark Apartment

I miss reading out poetry. When I was still in college, it was something I did off and on and got away with. You discover more of a poem when you read it out aloud. You end up replacing terms that you think are more appropriate. You curse the poet for those extra punctuation marks. You wonder why the poet hurried through the third verse. Struggling with the rhythm, you then find the poem.

So here’s me reading James Schuyler’s The Dark Apartment.

You wonder why a poet would write about The Dark Apartment.

James Schuyler has to be one of my favourite poets, despite the fact that I have read very little by him. From the piece I linked to some remarks on his poetry.

Largely exempt from the daily grind, Schuyler vastly prefers attending to the unrehearsed incident and the play of the mind as it moves with its intrinsic vigor through observation, association, and reflection. Such variegated activity of the mind serves to direct, if not precisely to organize, the poem on scales both fine and large.

The recent conversation about infidelity in one of the posts reminded me of The Morning of The Poem which won him a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1981. His poetry is a stark portrayal of homosexual love and the pain of honest sexual statements. From another post, this is how I first chanced upon James Schuyler’s poetry.

The poem…

Coming from the deli
a block away today I
saw the UN building
shine and in all the
months and years I’ve
lived in this apartment
I took so you and I
would have a place to
meet I never noticed
that it was in my view.

I remember very well
the morning I walked in
and found you in bed
with X. He dressed
and left. You dressed
too. I said, “Stay
five minutes.” You
did. You said, “That’s
the way it is.” It
was not much of a surprise.

Then X got on speed
and ripped off an
antique chest and an
air conditioner, etc.
After he was gone and
you had changed the
Segal lock, I asked
you on the phone, “Can’t
you be content with
your wife and me?” “I’m
not built that way,”
you said. No surprise.

Now, without saying
why, you’ve let me go.
You don’t return my
calls, who used to call
me almost every evening
when I lived in the coun-
try. “Hasn’t he told you
why?” “No, and I doubt he
ever will.” Goodbye. It’s
mysterious and frustrating.

How I wish you would come
back! I could tell
you how, when I lived
on East 49th, first
with Frank and then with John,
we had a lovely view of
the UN building and the
Beekman Towers. They were
not my lovers, though.
You were. You said so.

It’s been a while since I read out poetry. My throat maybe a bit dry and scratchy. The nervousness may show as well. But Bah!

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13 Comments

Filed under Borrowed Words, Podcast

13 Responses to Poetry Podcast: The Dark Apartment

  1. good stuff here.. but you got sea gulls or some kinda bird voicing their love in the background… out of curiosity…. what did u use to record and edit the piece?

    but why does the UN have to be dragged into this? :(

    dude is bisexual :)

  2. Poems are *always* meant to be read aloud, at least in the head if not on podcasts!!

    You have a great voice, although the poem itself sounded a little too literal and unsophisticated. But then I am hearing his name for the first time.

  3. thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. listening to poetry adds something extra to it too. i lok forward to more poetry podcasts!

  4. km

    No need to be self-deprecating…you did a wonderful job reading it!

  5. Venk At Ease

    Good job! Pleasure listening to you. Pls do more of these.

  6. Anon2

    Well read. I can also see why this poetry became essential reading for you circa 2000.

  7. Angelo: I couldn’t spot the gulls, but I live rather close to the Thames – and they kick up that racket all the time! Btw, as far as I know Schuyler was homosexual, however the partner that he lived with for ten years was bisexual.

    Alok: It isn’t his best poem. But I’ve always been drawn to its starkness. It’s from another time I guess.

    Monica: Thank you Thank you Thank you! Thy wish etc.

    km: *cough* Danks.

    Venk at Ease: Will do.

    Anon2: Angsty, Twisty, the sweeping entry of characters etc. Yes, 18 is about the right age.

  8. Nice rendition.

    It would be good to listen to some Urdu couplets in your voice.

    Also, have you read Jaun Elia? IMHO, he is one of the best Urdu poets of the last 25 years or so. You might like his poems.

  9. you speak Urudu? ;) AWESOME! would love to hear Mohib’s idea out in yo voice.. not that I understand.. apart from a few words here and there.. but it’s just intersting…to hear someone in a different language than what one is usually used to…

  10. Neha,

    More More of this stuff.Ahem, How about some Tamil stuff from Silappatikaram, in the nice sweet angsty voice of Kannagi? :)

  11. Mohib: Will try. And yes, I have read some of Jaun Elia. From “Shayad”. Will go read more.

    Angelo: Well speaking Urdu is rather close to speaking Hindi. In fact current day Hindi is infinitely peppered with Urdu. Though many of the hard words have been looking for meanings. :)

    Vidya: Enne? Nakkal aa? :) My ability to read or speak Centamil is poor.

  12. Amazing voice you have…impressive…do more of it on your blog…do u know deutsch?

  13. Nice. Would mind sending some our way too. english, hindi, urdu, french, tamil anything you love.

    BM.