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“When the Weak Lamb Dies,” by Andrew Hudgins

January 25, 2011

Today’s poem splashes the ewe, a blessing so huge it looks like waste.

It’s all requests this week, and “When the Weak Lamb Dies” is for someone with the handle howtosavethekosmos.  This one “settled my love for the art and for the reading aloud of the art,” she wrote in the comments under Praying Drunk. There might be a story there.  If you stop by, kosmos, will you tell it to us in the comments here?

What about the rest of you–is there a poem that settled your love for hearing or reading poems out loud?

“When the Weak Lamb Dies” is in Hudgins’ book, Babylon in a Jar (Mariner, 1998).  I also read his poem We Were Simply Talking from the same book just a few weeks ago.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2011 1:07 pm

    I love the tags! Thanks for this one. Here’s my long version of the story.
    I believe I was a freshman in college at the time, a biology major who’s second choice would have certainly been English. A senior level poetry class was having a poetry reading, a night at a professor’s. My best friend, a freshman english major was going and I vaguely remember hoping that my crush at the time would be in attendance as well. Though as a chemistry major, I have no idea why he would have shown up.
    Students read their poems, a few guests and professors read their own or others. And then Dr. Gary Guinn began to read this poem. And let me tell you, Gary Guinn has a voice beyond voices. Sort of like Ted Williams, the homeless man with the Golden Voice. Except Dr. Guinn’s voice is not selling you products but ideas and it’s southern. Thus, it’s a better voice.
    There was something about the voice itself that captivated my interest so I truly listened to the poem. And unlike the other poems about first love, first kiss, lost love, coming-of-age this one was hard, edgy, used the word shit.
    This poem was sad, and real, and truthful, and scientifically and agriculturally correct. This poem was more than just the normal poem. I was hooked.
    Three years later I took that same senior level poetry class. I had a different professor and I was still a biology major but my own poetry had changed. Of course, I still write abot love, adolescence, etc but I also wrote about life-hard, edgy, and sometimes shitty life. And I learned to read every poem aloud as I reveiwed it, whether it was mine or others. Poetry was made to be read and then read again, aloud.

  2. January 25, 2011 2:40 pm

    Thanks for finding your way back, kosmos, and for the story. I can imagine the scene that night very well.

    You know, I almost balked at including that last tag. :-/ But while I was reading this one over before recording, I realized that this must be a near-perfect use of the word shit. The denotative meaning is there, all the connotations of “shittiness” pool and splatter around the situation in the poem in just the right amounts, and the emotional explosiveness of the expletive gives you a chance to respond to the story while you’re reading it. Very satisfying to say it here. Very satisfying, as a writer, to see a word find it’s perfect place.


  3. January 25, 2011 2:44 pm

    Exactly. That also describes my feelings to the use of the F— word (seems like a good idea to not spell it out) in Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.

  4. January 25, 2011 3:45 pm

    I know the exact answer to this question. It was 1986. I was 19, and watching the Woody Allen film “Hannah and Her Sisters”. Michael Kane’s character was reading e e cummings’ poem ‘somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond’ ( to his wife’s sister (Barbara Hershey). Maybe it was because I was 19 and hormone ravaged. Maybe it was because my brain got to a certain point of development, but it was there that I fell in love with hearing poetry read.

    • January 25, 2011 4:41 pm

      Thanks, Jeanne! This scene? The poem starts soon after the 4-minute mark.

      • January 26, 2011 10:41 pm

        Hmmmm. I haven’t seen the film in a long time, but I thought he actually read the poem to her, while they were in bed together. It’s on Netflix. I’ll have to find it again.

  5. Peter M permalink
    January 25, 2011 6:12 pm

    My teacher in high school played a recording of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. That was probably the first poem I ever enjoyed reading over and over. I also enjoyed your reading from “Four Quartets.” I then went and read all four out loud in one sitting. It definitely left a lasting impression. 🙂

    • January 25, 2011 8:17 pm

      Well, you won’t want to miss Friday this week…another TS Eliot request is on tap.

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