Mary Angela Douglas? She is what used to be called a fugitive poet, the word, “fugitive” hinting, with a shudder of mysterious delight, a poet of amateur genius, unrecognized to all but a few fellow travelers. They move past clouds of shrubbery with quiet, solemn, discernment and delight, through wooded paths, towards those broad future plains where celebrants dance in unrestrained ecstasy.
We met Mary on Scarriet, when she responded positively and enthusiastically to Scarriet’s defense of embattled North Carolina poet laureate Valerie Macon.
Mary Angela Douglas permits us to see the adventures taking place in her “eternal child” soul—there is no need for her to research a piece of poetry, to fidget and stare into dust-mote space while she thinks of “a word.” Starlight brings her words, and poetry-light beams up from her like a fountain.
Louise Glück, meanwhile, comes adorned with recognitions and medals, but no less a poet for that, since her poetry shows at times it is wiser than prizes. The muses’ shadows cover the brightest fish in the stream (that brightness is just a dream); all are equal where the green water falls with a chuckle on the green rock.
Mary Angela Douglas has nothing to fear.
This is Scarriet, where the excellence of poetry lives in the veins that sing quietly in hands.
As the first seed, Louise Glück is accorded the honor of going first. She speaks.
The night so eager to accommodate strange perceptions.
The darknesses of this line are thrilling; we see a million shapes between our midnight and our brains. This line has muscle, like an eel waiting patiently in a cave beneath the sea.
Mary Angela Douglas approaches the podium with a flutter; her excitement is palpable. The stately Glück left profundity in her wake. Douglas stirs in the mossy stream. We see the reflection of a wren. The boughs hover.
With utterance of raindrop wings, Douglas:
The larks cry out and not with music.
This contest, between these two women—it has some strange import, we feel.
Poetry seems forever changed.
The ghost of Shelley comes to the edge of the wood.