Posted in Readings

Courtly Love (or, the third blog post in a row with “Love” in the title)

I’m looking forward to a different sort of reading this Friday and Saturday (March 14 and 15). I’ll be performing as part of the Cincinnati Contemporary Dance Theater’s Performance and Time Arts series, which brings together music, dance, poetry, and performance. Tickets are $12 in advance, $8 in advance for students and seniors. Though the promo material says I’ll be reading from Full Cry, I’ll actually be reading new work, a sequence of sonnets called “Courtly Love (for Courtney Love),” with a slide show of images projected behind me. I’ve never put together anything like this, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

The sequence itself was inspired by the quizzical looks I got if I didn’t enunciate as I told people that Camp Freddy Holiday Residency At The Roxy - West Hollywood, CAI was researching courtly love  for my dissertation. They heard, of course, Courtney Love, grunge-rocker extraordinaire, lightning rod for controversy, feminist icon and object and victim and performer. I joked that I needed to write a sonnet sequence for her. And then I did. It’s been a lot of fun, and the first four sonnets are forthcoming in the online journal Matter.

However, poems from Full Cry will be featured elsewhere in the program: Sarah Hutchings, an amazing composer who graduated from the CCM doctoral program last year, has set part of another poem of mine to music. This time it’s “Evening Star,” a poem that is in part ekphrastic and based on this painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. I can’t wait to hear what Sarah has done with it!

And thanks to Juked for featuring a poem from my second-book manuscript–this one, Preface, appears first and sets the stage. It’s an adaptation of the preface to a 12th century Latin text called De Amore, roughly translated today as The Art of Courtly Love. The author Andreas Capellanus, presumably a cleric, gives “Walter” advice about how to woo women; it’s likely a satirical text, so we have no way of knowing how well it represents the courting technique at the Champagne court in which it was written. (There’s also a crazy section about how courtiers from particular socioeconomic classes should approach women from various classes. Farm girls are fair game, he says.) You can read the original preface, in all its awkward syntax, as translated by John Jay Perry on the eighteenth page of this pdf. It was fun to imagine what kind of advice Andreas would give Walter today.

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