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Video Poem:  Death in the Morning by Liam Day

Liam DayLiam Day, poet and essayist who lives on Jones Hill in Uphams Corner, traces his ancestry back more than 200 years to cemetery plots in a tiny village in Ireland where his mother grew up. And when he walks past another burying ground, this one much closer to home, he realizes “how ephemeral we are.” The Dorchester North Burying Ground in the heart of Uphams Corner with its four centuries of men and women buried there has been calling him to do more than walk past - day after day - staring in through the wrought iron fence at the ancient gravestones.

Liam conceived of his project - to write a poem about the graveyard - because of his appreciation for the Irish writer Tim Robinson “who wrote two companion volumes about the Aran Islands, which lie just off the Irish coast in Galway Bay. Though desolate, the islands are also beautiful in their desolation and Robinson's books are an attempt to map them, not just physically, but culturally and historically as well.”

The poem, “Death in the Morning,” which was put to video by Camilo Cardenas, may not be “anything remotely similar” to Robinson’s work, but “he is who I had in mind, and his writing is what I had in mind."

Liam is Director of Youth Development and Health Promotion at the Boston Public Health Commission. He previously served as Director of Communications at Pioneer Institute for Public Policy and, before that, he was an administrator at a public charter school in Framingham. Liam played a year of professional basketball in Northern Ireland, where he also ran a program that brought Catholic and Protestant children together through basketball, before returning to the States and teaching for six years. Liam has lived on Jones Hill since 2006 and been a member of the Uphams Corner Main Street board of directors since 2008. He walks to work every day up Dudley Street and loves the way the morning light hits the Masonic Building.

Camilo Cardenas filmed the video as Liam Day recited his poem "Death in the Morning" walking through the graveyard.  Row after row of multi-century old gravestones holding on to the hidden lives of those who helped form our history are juxtaposed against a backdrop of spoken words.  So, too, is the sky and trees and wrought iron fence that keeps the ancient souls at home.

Read below about The Team of Inspired Artists that helped create this multi-media work of art.

Death in the Morning

Black night bleeds grey, the gloaming red, the morning pink.
Bare branches sprout buds; buds blossom; blossoms turn.

New light falls on red leaves, a church roof’s red tiles,
red brick buildings across a median-divided street.

Three planes trace wakes across the clear sky.
They glint in a sun chasing them west.

As wind rises and dies,
leaves flutter and dart to the ground like butterflies.

Weathered, the color drained, they clog storm drains, trigger street flooding,
pavement over which the runoff glides flat and smooth like a headstone:

marble or granite worn to grade of now illegible engravings
like ancient peaks to a river valley’s gentle slopes.

Where they lie, the Davenports, Clapps and Swans
see only sky, the tops of oak trees whose acorns rain.

The husks break on markers, collect on the curved pedimentals.
The rest, which is what Esther Davenport,

long tried with a painful sickness she bore with Christian patience,
sought, what we all seek,

they infer. Though it would mean missing half our lives,
hibernation’s a state to envy.

Practically speaking, it would prepare us for what’s next,
which, like the destinations of planes I track

from one edge to the other of the cemetery’s frame of sky,
I can only surmise.`

Two More Members of the Team of Inspired Artists

Aaron DevineAaron Devine

Write on the DOT is a reading series run by UMass Boston MFA students to promote and support local writing.  Aaron Devine is a writer, translator, and educator living in Dorchester, Massachusetts and proud to hail from St. Louis Park, Minnesota.  He is currently working on his thesis for an MFA in fiction writing at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he also teaches undergraduate creative writing.

Highlighting a poet's connection to place is the foundation for a project called the "Video Poems."  Video, in its ability to capture the moment, is an excellent form to capture the poet, poem, and place in a moment.

According to Aaron, "Here I want to explore Dorchester, Massachusetts as a setting. Each month will feature poets who live, work, or study in Dorchester, reciting their work at a location they've selected as either a direct or indirect complement to their poem."

Aaron Devine website
Contact Aaron:  aajamde@]yahoo.com

Camilo Cardenas

Camilo CardenasThe October / November video poem was filmed at the Dorchester North Burying Ground in Uphams Corner on November 9, 2012. Camilo Cárdenas, a Dorchester-based artist and filmmaker, directed this video poem.

Hailing from Colombia, Sr. Cardenas has spent the second half of his life living in the Boston area but never losing the personal style he brought with him from his native country. 

Camilo is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where he majored in Sculpture. While at school he worked in several different mediums of Sculpture as well as Film and Animation. A majority of his Film work is done with 16mm and Super 8 film stock and hand processed. Most of the films that Camilo has done have been a collaboration with his wife, Belén Santos, also an artist.

His most recent body of work is "Angeles," a series of bronze, copper and glass sculptures depicting a troubled yet protective image of angels.

Visit Camilo's website.


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Posted: December 9, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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