Poetry Friday: Éireann Lorsung

h1 June 29th, 2007 by eisha

Music for Landing Planes ByThis week’s happy accident: I got a catalog from a nonprofit literary press, Milkweed Editions. And in said catalog I find a book of poetry from an author who is totally new to me, Éireann Lorsung. Already I’m in love with the title – Music For Landing Planes By – and the cover art, “Plenty” by Jennifer Davis. And the blurb mentions Lorsung’s website, ohbara.com, where she sells her handmade crafts and clothing. So I checked it out. The clothes and pillows are cute, in an Anthropologie kind of way. And she makes these shadow-box things that look like this, which I like very much.

But the real happy accident here is that, in the book’s description in the catalog, they include a complete poem, “Dressmaker.” And… wow. I’m reminded again what it is poetry can do better than any other medium. The imagery is firmly grounded in the tangible and everyday – cloth, pins, scissors. This, plus the terseness of the phrases, the almost argumentative tone, gives the poem a raw elemental feel that perfectly underscores the theme. Here’s a taste:

Nothing touches like tan velvet touches
the palm. Now the cracks come, because what gives
without taking?–Doesn’t exist. Say

you forget what is lanolin, what is raw about fleece
uncarded & unwashed. Say the silver feel
of charmeuse lines your sleep. You’ve lost

what there was before pins & needles, sound
a scissors makes through cloth on a hardwood floor,
thick waist of the dressmaker’s dummy…

Read the rest here. And another poem, “Volans,” is here. Now I’m off to find her book…

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10 comments to “Poetry Friday: Éireann Lorsung”

  1. Curious! Now I want to drag out all my Brian Eno ambient music and hunt this down.


  2. Ha! I actually get that.


  3. I noticed from your link that she has a BA in English and Japanese. Plus, she studied in Italy and taught in France. I wonder, was this poem originally written in another language? I couldn’t find any reference to that, but something about it eludes the normal cadence of English, beyond the usual “otherness” of poetry. It somehow reminds me of translations of French poetry. Well found, jules!


  4. That would be Eisha’s doing . . . not mine.

    But good question, Sara. That’d be interesting to find out.


  5. oh, yes…sorry, eisha! Well-found (I say again.)


  6. I see what you mean, Sara. I’m not familiar enough with translations of French poetry, but since her bio says she’s from Minnesota, I had just assumed she wrote in English. Could be wrong, though. If I can get my hands on that book, I’ll let you know.


  7. hello,

    what kind words. thank you. jennifer davis pointed me to your site and i thought since i was here i’d just say that i did write that poem in english. i just tend to be terse and awkward in my speech, so that may be coming through; i wouldn’t doubt it’s in part due to my exposure to many languages. it’s possibly of interest to note that i wrote this poem in response to someone i didn’t like very much–he asked me to be more confessional and self-revelatory, so i wrote a poem i thought of as a bit of a puzzle on its surface, but which is in essence pretty factual and straightforward: i make clothes.

    anyway, thanks again for the kindness.


  8. Oh, thank you so much for responding. I love it when I can’t quite put my finger on something in a poem. It makes it stay with me longer. But to have this insight is lovely.


  9. Welcome, Eireann! Thanks for visiting, and for the excellent poem.


  10. [...] this post from June, Eisha featured an anthology of poetry by Éireann Lorsung, published by Milkweed this [...]


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