Berkeley Talks: Poet Ishion Hutchinson reads 'The Mud Sermon' and other poems
The Jamaican poet's reading was part of an ongoing monthly poetry series, Lunch Poems, which begins this season on Oct. 5 with Inuit poet dg nanouk okpik in the Morrison Library
In Berkeley Talks episode 179, Jamaican poet Ishion Hutchinson reads several poems, including "The Mud Sermon," "The Bicycle Eclogue" and "After the Hurricane."His April reading was part of the UC Berkeley Librarys monthly event Lunch Poems.
"I take this voyage into poetry very seriously," begins Hutchinson, "and take none of it for granted, because of the weight of history, both growing up in Jamaica and knowing the violent history that comes with that. But also the violence, too, of canon, and seeing that my work as a poet, in part, is to figure out what sort of emancipatory forces I should summon. Luckily, I stand in great shoulders within the Caribbean tradition of many poets and writers that I admire, and envy, and wish they hadn't been born. Don't tell them that. This isn't recorded, of course."
Heres A Mud Sermon, one of the poems Hutchinson read during the event:
They shovelled the long trenches day and night.
Frostbitten mud. Shellshock mud. Dungheap mud. Imperial mud.
Venereal mud. Malaria mud. Hun bait mud. Mating mud.
1655 mud: white flashes of sharks. Golgotha mud. Chilblain mud.
Caliban mud. Cannibal mud. Ha ha ha mud. Amnesia mud.
Drapetomania mud. Lice mud. Pyrexia mud. Exposure mud. Aphasia mud.
No-mans-lands-Everymans mud. And the smoking flax mud.
Dysentery mud. Septic sore mud. Hog pen mud. Nephritis mud.
Constipated mud. Faith mud. Sandfly fever mud. Rat mud.
Sheol mud. Ir-ha-cheres mud. Ague mud. Asquith mud. Parade mud.
Scabies mud. Mumps mud. Memra mud. Pneumonia mud.
Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin mud. Civil war mud.
And darkness and worms will be their dwelling-place mud.
Yaws mud. Gog mud. Magog mud. God mud.
Canaan the unseen, as promised, saw mud.
They resurrected new counter-kingdoms,
by the arbitrament of the sword mud.
Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He is the author of two poetry collections: Far District and House of Lords and Commons. He is the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, the Whiting Writers Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Poetry and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, among others. He is a contributing editor to the literary journals The CommonandTongue: A Journal of Writing & Art, and teaches in the graduate writing program at Cornell University.
Lunch Poems is an ongoing poetry reading series at Berkeley that began in 2014. All readings happen from 12:10 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month. A new season of Lunch Poems will begin on Oct. 5 with Inuit poet dg nanouk okpik in the Morrison Library.