Here’s a performance of a poem in time for St. Patrick’s Day to start Dave and my celebration of the poetry of Kevin FitzPatrick. Longtime readers here may remember me speaking of Kevin late last year when he became seriously ill and then died. I even published a post then that discussed some things that FitzPatrick’s poetry did that my own poetry, or much other contemporary poetry, didn’t make enough use off. Despite that earlier post, I’m going to say a few more words about the value of his poetry you may not hear at first — even though most of his poems are clear, plain spoken, and easy enough to understand for most readers.
Right there is a first potential problem. Some readers have an “Is that all there is?” response to many of Kevin’s poems. To the degree that I knew Kevin’s internal processes I don’t think he was troubled with that “problem.” He wanted his poetry to communicate to audiences not inured to modern poetry which might communicate in a non-linear way or with great reliance on esoteric imagery. But just because FitzPatrick doesn’t “come in hot” with arresting first lines, occult mysteries, and outlandish similes or settings, doesn’t mean it can’t have some other values. In the series this post initiates, I hope to show some of those strengths.
This is the picture that seems most “Like Kevin” to me.
Today’s piece uses the poem that led off FitzPatrick’s final collection, Still Living In Town. And for St. Patrick’s Day? Besides Kevin’s own Irish heritage, this one is about taking a fresh look at Ireland’s Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney. Like Heaney, FitzPatrick liked to take a sly look at his subjects.
There’s a player below to hear The LYL Band’s performance of this poem by our friend and fellow poet. In our celebration of Kevin earlier this month we performed all the pieces live, one after the other, without rehearsals or preliminary run-throughs. This leaves some rough spots, sure, but perhaps we can take them as evidence of life for us left to sing against the taking from us?
There’s a fairly long intro before the words begin today, which documents how our recording session began: with Dave coming from the stairs into the studio as I am already commencing my musical part. He then needs to start almost without thought.
Oh, what if you don’t see the graphical player below? This highlighted hyperlink is another way to hear that same performance.
One thought on “Blackberries”
Here are two things I should have included when I first posted this while traveling.
FitzPatrick’s poem references Seemus Heaney’s poem “Blackberry Picking,” and while knowing that poem isn’t a requirement to enjoy this one, reading or re-reading Heaney’s piece adds contrast to FitzPatrick’s. Here’s a link to Heaney’s “Blackberry Picking:”
Kevin FitzPatrick’s publisher doesn’t seem to have a way to directly order his books. Kevin’s final collection, the one that includes “Blackberries,” is “Still Living in Town” published by Midwest Villages and Voices in 2017 with this ISBN number:
I hope that information will help you order it from your local bookseller or access it via your library.