Margaret Atwood: Love & Destruction

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Plays: 157

This is an excerpt from Margaret Atwood’s first appearance at 92Y in March of 1975. She read from a collection of poems, You Are Happy, and was introduced by Grace Schulman, then-Poetry Center director, with the following words:

Margaret Atwood’s poetry is remarkable for its wide range of tone, from whimsy to controlled panic. She writes with detailed accuracy of unfamiliar creatures—giant tortoises, pig-men—illuminated by radiant light and yet issuing from a dark center. Her poems embody a vision of the universe in which love and truth are weapons, and where impulses to murder and create are one impulse. She sees a world in which freedom for the hunter obtains death for the victim. Its people identify with gods they have endowed with brutality and endlessly repeat ritual acts without knowing why…. The poet explores love and destruction with first-hand immediacy.

The series of short poems in this excerpt tell the story of Odysseus’s visit to Circe—but from Circe’s point of view. “For me, poetry is a foray into the unknown,” Ms. Atwood has said. “And it sometimes opens up areas that I later go into with electric light and explore more thoroughly in prose.”