The place to be

Tonight, that is. Philip Larkin’s poems, read by a roster that includes Zadie Smith, Paul Simon, and other notables, with live performances of some of Larkin’s favorite jazz. If I were anywhere near Manhattan tonight, I’d be there.

Larkin’s most famous poem is probably “Annus Mirabilis,” with these opening lines:

Sexual intercourse began

In nineteen sixty-three

(which was rather late for me) –

Between the end of the Chatterley ban

And the Beatles’ first LP.

I’ve written just enough poetry to know I should never write any more, but back in my bright college days I came up with what I thought was a nice Larkin semi-parody:

Sexual intercourse began

In nineteen seventy-three

(and was all theoretical for me)

With Pam Grier in Coffy

And the cover of Carly Simon’s third LP.

Coffy being my first blaxploitation movie, and No Secrets being second only to Playing Possum in the gallery of Carly Simon Hotcha Album Covers, at least to male music fans of a certain age. (I know the album came out late in 1972, but what can I say, 1973 was the year the photo jumped out at me from the racks of Sam Goody.) And if you’ve seen Pam Grier, no further explanation is necessary.

I wonder which poem Paul Simon will read? The cover of Still Crazy After All These Years included some lines from Ted Hughes, whose influence on Simon’s songwriting remains invisible to me. But Philip Larkin? It’s all over the place in Simon’s catalogue. Can’t believe I didn’t realize it before now.  

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4 thoughts on “The place to be

  1. Charles Everett says:

    “Playing Possum” was actually Carly Simon’s fifth album and came out in 1975. You must have confused it with “No Secrets,” the album that has “You’re So Vain.”

  2. Read it again, Charles.

  3. profmondo says:

    I’d actually venture a guess that Larkin’s best known poem is “This Be the Verse”. The English public voted it one of the 100 greatest English poems a few years back.

  4. Yeah, but who listens to them?

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