Alicia Stallings, one of the finest poets writing today, talks eloquently and persuasively about negative capability, the movement of bats (“falling into flight”), fear, surrender of control, motherhood, selfhood, free expression, and what we mean when we talk about courage in poetry. As if this were not enough to make you rush to watch this, she also delivers stirring performances of her poems “Explaining an Affinity for Bats,” “Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Ascribed to Martin Luther,” “First Love: A Quiz,” the wonderful “Fairy-Tale Logic,” and others.
“Explaining an Affinity for Bats” by A.E Stallings
That they are only glimpsed in silhouette,
And seem something else at first—a swallow—
And move like new tunes, difficult to follow,
Staggering towards an obstacle they yet
Avoid in a last-minute pirouette,
Somehow telling solid things from hollow,
Sounding out how high a space, or shallow,
Revising into deepening violet.
That they sing—not the way the songbird sings
(Whose song is rote, to ornament, finesse)—
But travel by a sort of song that rings
True not in utterance, but harkenings,
Who find their way by calling into darkness
To hear their voice bounce off the shape of things.
“Ultrasound” by A.E. Stallings
Brain, soul, or both—
Unfurls here, pallid
As a moth?
Mine, and quicker.)
In this cave
What flickers fall,
On the wall?
Spine like beads
Strung on a wire,
Of our desire,
Two shadows rhyme,
Two moving hands
That tell the time.
I am the room
The future owns,
The darkness where
It grows its bones.