The lush, lexically gorgeous and emotionally complex poems of Little-Known Operas guide us through the terrain of love, sex, same-sex marriage, illness, death, and art.
“MARIA CALLAS WENT TO HAMBURG” from Little-Known Operas
In 1959 when Maria Callas went to Hamburg her hair
was still neoclassical. In the film she emerges at 0 minutes:
7 seconds, silk legs the clapper of an underwater bell.
But the moment I need to tell about is at 42:30, prelude
of the Pirata aria, when resting her left hand
on the conductor’s cage, head down eyes closed, cloistered,
thirty seconds forty fifty, she doesn’t know us, we are nowhere and no one,
descending figure, strings distressed, dissonant, trembling, swelling,
(remember Mom in the ‘60s? her door closed sometimes till noon—)
“Here is a Gospel According to Patrick Donnelly, a book of revelations of what it means to be human, to be hurt, to be awed, to be stunned by our world—and to find love late in life. It is a book of tenderness towards everyone who’s been in pain, everyone who’s been ill, everyone who’s had a mother, loved music, everyone who’s lived on this third planet from the sun.”
“The poems in Little-Known Operas delight me with their wit, pathos, expertly executed confusion, and their sincere and exuberant wondering. When Jesus himself does the wondering— ‘Jesus said, Will someone tell me, please, what pink grass is called?’ —the mystery of creation is exponentially increased, and our poet is left standing in his own world, which turns out to be a galaxy of swirling reflexes.”
“… There are meditations on one’s preferences in the steaming firmament; meditations on the glimmer of limitless light. Even one’s warm vacancy in the bardo is considered with a revealing amount of tenderness. Like constellations or little known operas, Donnelly’s metaphysical epiphanies leave their own unique trail of poetic warmth and wakefulness. Indeed, all islands are connected under the water. Donnelly’s ‘Little-Known Operas’ is an all-around lovely book.” Read the full review.