Rae Armantrout Discusses Her Poem, “Overhearing”, At The Kelly Writers House

ray we’re going to end with to talk about two poems one is a very old poem overhearing and the other is Mother’s Day which everybody has a copy of I think overhearing is my favorite home was certainly a until just saying and since chucks in the room and it’s sort of about him it might be farming oh he probably won’t think. but he won’t think it’s fun right um what do you want to read it and then we’ll talk about it at seven he’s in it sure overhearing the way the Tennessee waltz is about having heard the Tennessee waltz before an almost floral nostalgia totally self-contained is what we call beautiful you’re in the rocker I am on the couch long since hauled off but stationed like organs in this dream you’re saying a bit too loudly. that i’m afraid the one doing dishes now dead and the one in the bathroom now gone well over here why you wanted me when I wake up to hear you thrashing yelling out in a dream there’s. much we could say about that I mean at the end of the first section you talk about what is beautiful what we call beautiful and it has something to do with the self-reflexivity of this amazing song the Tennessee waltz which turns out to be a song about a waltz that actually doesn’t exist as a thing no. what is beautiful and and this also the the song is all about nostalgia for this naija for infidelity is missed it but it’s also nostalgia for this night when the song that doesn’t exist except in this present in song was playing and that’s beautiful well this thing aesthetic going on there’s a circularity to it I suppose um and it’s it’s that that makes the circularity makes it self-contained and uh I mean I think we often find and the self contained in the end the circular beautiful that’s often what’s attractive about a traditional poem like I say Yates or Keats poem is something like that when I read the first section and hadn’t gotten to the second I thought this is a night where the song is always going to be associated with the breakup of a relationship when I got to the second section which was a is a memory of relationship that you don’t know until the last few lines is still going on because the person you’re remembering who said very loudly I want you did he say that let’s see well I’m I’m talking about a dream that I had yes where this person we don’t know that the dream yet has been caused by the very man who’s yes in bed having loud having his own dream and that loudness gets you to dream about when he said to you I want you but I way colors to hear i wake up to hear you thrashing yelling out in a dream. I’m having this dream first where I’m dreaming about him saying something loudly and I’m embarrassed because it might be in front of my parents but that’s me dreaming and then I noise wakes me up and it’s him having nightmare. it’s there’s the contrast between me having this you know i mean there’s a little embarrassment in it but still it’s bound to be a kind of pleasant dream right partly and then I wake up out of that dream and find that he the person in my dream is in fact in a totally different dream that’s a bad dream what’s. beautiful about that story non story to me is that everything is gone from that memory the rocker is gone the both parents are gone one dead one gone yeah the only thing that’s left is Chuck you know yeah you know and and it’s. the Tennessee waltz is beautiful but you’re dancing you’re still dancing with your darling it’s true in the onion take it in New Year’s Eve but I’m also dancing with whatever darling I’m dancing with in the Unreal song yeah. let’s talk about over here let’s I I don’t know if I mean I hope everybody who hasn’t read that poem will go and look at it because that you think it’s it’s. remarkable ray and the let’s talk about the title. it means a lot of things yeah um first literally refers to the dream where he’s speaking too loudly and yeah worried that your parents will say hello here and then and then of course when I wake up I overhear him having a nightmare and yelling yeah and then you know I guess there is the kind of fun commenting on the song and you know from a removed point of view looking at his song is a kind of overhearing it right and then the third sense which comes from that second is overhearing is a kind of overlaying over reading right yet. Tennessee waltz is about a song in the Tennessee waltz and you’re telling two stories the two sections are kind of overhearing yeah yeah marvelous

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