Tuesday Poem: “Mute Song” by Kate Camp

“Mute Song” is my personal favourite from the recently released Best New Zealand Poems 2010. Camp is the author of four collections of poetry (published by VUP), and “Mute Song” appears in her most recent collection, The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls (2010). I was interested to read that Camp wrote this poem after attending a reading by my poetic hero, Christian Bök.

In the author’s comments, Camp states: ‘This poem was inspired by a news story about a black swan in Germany which appeared to have fallen in love with an enormous plastic paddle boat in the shape of a white swan.I wrote it after hearing the Canadian poet Christian Bök speak in Wellington. Bök’s work, with its crazy ambition and gigantic scope, reminded me that poetry need not be limited to the possible, the real or the confessional; territories in which I had previously spent a lot – maybe too much – time.” You can read the poem here.

Even better: you can listen to Kate Camp read her poem. Audio versions are available for those poems that are part of the new collection, The Best of Best New Zealand Poems. Last week I put together a video presentation for the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE), conference in Indiana, where I recite two poems. It made me appreciate the effort it takes to capture audio.

Check out other poems on the Tuesday Poem hub.

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