Marilyn Hacker NCLA talk review

This review was published in December 2015 in The University Paper Newcastle here.

On Thursday 19th, Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts welcomed the critically-acclaimed and award-winning American poet, Marilyn Hacker, to the Culture Club to read and discuss some of her own work.

Hacker’s poetry is renowned for its political aspects, and its use of different poetical and lyrical styles from many different cultures and geographical regions.

Taking the stage, Marilyn’s opening reading was particularly poignant.

She chose to read one of her poems about the impoverished in Paris, where she has lived for many years.

She quietly told the audience that she had been at a restaurant just around the corner from the terrorist shootings on Friday 13th.

The multicultural streets of Paris came alive through her words, as she depicted still-life pictures of the poor in Paris through stark, biting verse.

They were amazingly intimate, focusing on individuals yet still conveying the huge numbers of those suffering from poverty.

Marilyn went on to read more of her powerfully political poetry; ‘There was the word refugee’ felt particularly relevant to the current political climate.

But the skill of Marilyn’s poetry lay in her ability to move deftly from forceful radical poetry about geo-political problems, to domestic snapshots of freshly cut loaves of bread.

She paints the kitchen scene as masterfully as beggars curled up on Parisian pavements.

There was no attempt to glorify war, or terror, and her blunt military language depicting a boy who was best in has class at maths and science, moving to vomiting in a trench latrine, was incredibly moving.

Marilyn also paid tribute to many other poets; there was a real sense of the whole world of poetry being encompassed in each word she spoke. Her poetry wrapped around the audience like her own ‘sibilant wind’, and was particularly touching in light of current events.

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