About Me

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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in TESOL, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU M√ľnchen, where he tutors composition and edits weekly flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor of Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at M√ľnchner Volkshochschule and runs the Amerikahaus Literary Circle.

20121019

Oysters


by Seamus Heaney

Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,

My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.


Alive and violated,
They lay on their bed of ice:
Bivalves: the split bulb
And philandering sigh of ocean --
Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.


We had driven to that coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool of thatch and crockery.


Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
The Romans hauled their oysters south of Rome:
I saw damp panniers disgorge
The frond-lipped, brine-stung
Glut of privilege


And was angry that my trust could not repose
In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
Leaning in from sea. I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.



Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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