Bronx-born poet Naomi Replansky, now 91 years old, reads her poems in this exclusive Lilith podcast.
She has published the collections Ring Song (Scribners, 1952; a National Book Award finalist), Twenty-One Poems, Old and New (Gingko Press, 1988), and The Dangerous World: New and Selected Poems, 1934-1994 (Another Chicago Press, 1994), with more work being brought out by David Godine in the coming year. Grace Paley described Replansky’s poems as “a music for which readers of poetry have been lonesome for years.”
Replansky puts her oral poetry influences in chronological order: “Mother Goose to begin with. I once wrote, ‘Mother Goose/ Was my metrical muse.’ When I was 10 or 11, it was Kipling’s ballads (‘For they’re hanging Danny Deever in the morning’). At 13 or 14, it was the profound experience of hearing Marian Anderson singing spirituals on the radio, in particular, ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child’. From age 15-17, it was reading the English and Scottish ballads. All this was of course in addition to other poetic influences, with different kinds of verbal music.”
Replansky’s deep, rich voice faithfully conveys the colors and nuances of her poems, whether those poems are her most intensely sorrowful or
mischievous and ironic. The seven poems read here showcase her impressive range, and the tones she strikes—verbal, emotional, and intellectual—are remarkably full and varied, particularly in such a short reading.
Patricia Grossman’s new novel, Radiant Daughter, is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press.