Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Ohio Voice

Around the upper Great Lakes – Minnesota, Michigan – the rural people speak in a quick clipped flat deadpan, precise and quiet: Norwegian with the sing-song erased. But you get as far as Ohio, and a trace of the South creeps in, at odd moments: sometimes a syllable will hang, and change tone. There's a little ferocity and a little languor in it.

Sometime in the late 1970s Oliver finds her Ohio voice. She drops the Yeats, around the same time that she drops the capitals at the start of her lines:

. . . the rain, everybody's brother,
won't help. And the wind all these days
flying like ten crazy sisters everywhere
can't seem to do a thing. No one but me,
and my hands like fire, . . .

It's exciting to watch, to see someone settle into their native idiom. You have to go sit at the masters' feet, but you also at some point have to say, “screw the masters: this is how we talked at home.”

Patching my life back together, doing things I should have done a while ago. Catching up. The intensity of my love just grows. Nothing contains it or dampens it. Maybe it will burn up my whole life, and leave nothing behind. I hope so.

Thanks for the new suggestions, here, by mail, on facebook! I'll update the report post in a day or two with the new arrivals.

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