|Mary Oliver. Summer, 1964.|
Photo by Molly Malone Cook,
from Our World (Beacon Press, 2007)
So I am very pleased to announce that the alchemist’s pillow, with the invaluable support of the Lannan Foundation, has convinced Mary Oliver to give her views on the world’s most important sports competition. I am embedding a video of Oliver’s unique insights into such pressing issues as whether Fabio Capello’s defensive-minded style of play is best suited for the England team, some curious views on why Lionel Messi has so far failed to uncork the same type of scintillating scoring runs with the Argentina side as he does with the Barcelona football club, and much, much more.
A double warning, however. First, the video is longer than anything previously posted here (around 45 minutes), so some may find it overlong. I trust, however, that the real football lovers will probably find it too short! But just in case, if you prefer to see it some other time, I am including a link here so you can visit the site and watch (or download) it at your leisure.
The second warning: you will find that Mary Oliver has not completely jettisoned the baggage she carries from her previous work as a poetess. So her discussion of the World Cup is rather tangential and elliptical, with oblique references at best. Rather than a cut and dry discussion of team strengths, weaknesses and tactics, she uses a somewhat more lyrical approach, cleverly couching her analysis in metaphors … you know, wild geese, swans and roses, roses, roses, roses … that kind of thing.
But I am sure the sophisticated football cognoscenti amongst you will see through this pesky but curious poetic patina and gain much from her commentary. And as for those of you who neither follow nor give a hang about football —Ah, you hapless, laughable souls, I do so love you anyway— you may enjoy the video nonetheless. Some of my 'poety' friend who know and care much about such matters say her words stand up fairly well on their own as poetry, even if you don’t catch the subtle sports references.
The Lannan Foundation has may other podcasts of poets reading their works. Click here to browse their list of videos of Grace Paley, Robert Creeley, Octavia Paz, Czeslaw Milosz and many others.