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Anna Laura Reeve and William Shakespeare
Episode 628th September 2023 • The Beat • Knox County Public Library
00:00:00 00:10:01

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Anna Laure Reeve was born and raised in Knoxville, and she earned a Master of Arts in Literature & Poetry Writing from the University of Tennessee. Her poems have appeared in Terrain.org, Jet Fuel Review, Another Chicago Magazine, and many others. She recently won Beloit Poetry Journal’s Adrienne Rich Award, and she was a finalist for the Heartwood Poetry Prize and the Ron Rash Award in Poetry. Her book Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility was recently published by Belle Point Press. She is an assistant editor of Juke Joint, a literary magazine based in Jackson, Mississippi.   

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, most likely in April of 1564. When he was 18, he married Anne Hathaway with whom he had three children. Shakespeare made his living as an actor and playwright, and his works include 38 plays in addition to 154 sonnets and various other types of poetry. Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616.

Links:

Read an early version of "Tennessee Red Cobb" at Appalachia Bare

Read "Méniére's Disease" at The Racket

Read "Look at Everything" and "Children of Asylum Seekers" at The Racket

Read "That time of year thou mayst in me behold (Sonnet 73)" at Poets.org

Read "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes (Sonnet 29)" at Poets.org

Anna Laura Reeve

Anna Laura Reeve's website

"Poets in Conversation: Anna Laura Reeve" at Beloit Poetry Journal

Two Poems from Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility by Anna Laura Reeve at ACM

"Motherhood Unshorn: A Review of Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility" at Literary Mama

William Shakespeare

Bio and poems at Poets.org

"Shakespeare's Life" at Folger Shakespeare Library's site

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Mentioned in this episode:

KnoxCountyLibrary.org

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Transcripts

Alan May:

Welcome to The Beat, Knox County Library’s poetry podcast. Today we’ll hear poet Anna Laura Reeve read several poems. The first three, “Tennessee Red Cob,” “Meniere’s Disease,” and “Look at Everything,” are from Reeve’s book Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility, which was published earlier this year. Reeve will follow with two poems by William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 73” and “Sonnet 29.”

Anna Laura Reeve:

“Tennessee Red Cob”

Grasping the bound ear with the heel of my left hand,

I pierce the top shucks with both thumbs, punching open a slit.

Dry husks rip with a groan and squeak as the great creamy teeth

gleam. Another hard tug frees the whole magnificent horn of plenty.

Dented kernels neatly aligned or occasionally shoepegged—a word

that looks like the jumble it means—sit jammed tight and topfull

as a flush of button mushrooms. I love this corn for its gravitas:

heavy as milk glass, alive as an animal. Its meal, light as wheat flour.

Maíz, elote, late daughter of corn mother, let me never guess your secret.

You know mine. Hunger and awe. Within them, you continue your

ancestors’ work of nine thousand years at your own behest. And let

me pull another ear open again, pink husks billowing like skirts,

rubbing ivory kernels free, until your red furry cobb

rests in my hands, glittering faintly, light as a twig.

“Méniére's Disease”

My tea is steeping.

Windchimes clatter whitely on the porch,

banks of bamboo bow

and shoulder into the wind

The inner ear, its coils

its mazes

I forget for a moment which way

the letter z faces, and write it backwards.

The tiny hairs of the innermost ear,

so innermost it is almost

the brain, so innermost we almost don’t believe in it,

send messages in Morse code:

dizzy dizzy vertigo

nystagmus dizzy ess oh ess oh ess

Husband crouched over the toilet for hours,

then, recovered, driving to work

on gray highways, for hours.

Degenerative and idiopathic means

he is losing his hearing.

That orienting light for the eyes

in the back of the head,

repository

for the alphabet of degrees between music

and silence.

“Look at Everything”

Springscent lifts on the last day of February.

The complex formations of Lent bunching

to the west, Putin’s war to the east. Grape hyacinth

and purple deadnettle open miniscule lips

with a puh and each efflux is so sweet

bees will find it. On my run this morning,

the rain-swollen stream released vapor overhead

like a little blindness. Obscurity. Fragrance.

I thought, as I ran, of the Ukrainian teacher

photographed as she taught students sheltering

in a Kyiv subway. How much easier it is

to teach spelling rules or animal life cycles

than to explain murder to a child. Once, I tried

to tell my daughter of an assassination

but found myself plummeting, suddenly,

to the foot of the mountain. How does a mother,

father, teacher, or anyone who loves a child,

puncture the seal, allowing safety and death

to taste each others’ breath. It is the difficult work

of the child to observe. It is the work of the teacher

to say Look at everything, then look again at me.

“That time of year thou mayst in me behold (Sonnet 73)”

That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou see'st the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west;

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the deathbed whereon it must expire,

Consumed with that it was nourished by.

This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

"When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes (Sonnet 29)"

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee—and then my state,

Like to the lark at break of day arising

From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven's gate;

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Alan May:

You just heard Anna Laura Reeve read her poems “Tennessee Red Cob,” “Meniere’s Disease,” and “Look at Everything.” She followed by reading “Sonnet “73” and “Sonnet 29” by William Shakespeare. She was kind enough to record these poems for us at her home, here in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Anna Laure Reeve was born and raised in Knoxville, and she earned a Master of Arts in Literature & Poetry Writing from the University of Tennessee. Her poems have appeared in Terrain.org, Jet Fuel Review, Another Chicago Magazine, and many others. She recently won Beloit Poetry Journal’s Adrienne Rich Award, and she was a finalist for the Heartwood Poetry Prize and the Ron Rash Award in Poetry. Her book Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility was published in April of this year by Belle Point Press. She is an assistant editor of Juke Joint, a literary magazine based in Jackson, Mississippi.

William Shakespeare is considered by many to be the greatest playwright of all time, and he’s one of England’s most famous poets. Not much is known about Shakespeare. He was born, most likely, in April of fifteen sixty-four. When he was 18, he married Anne Hathaway with whom he had three children. Shakespeare made his living as an actor and playwright. His literary reputation was, at the time, based mostly on his poetry; playwrights weren’t very well-respected in Shakespeare’s day. His works include 38 plays in addition to 154 sonnets and various other types of poetry. Shakespeare died April 23, sixteen sixteen, in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon.

You can find Anna Laura Reeve’s book Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility in our online catalog, along with, of course, works by William Shakespeare. Also look for links in the show notes. Please join us next time for The Beat.