Poem of the Sea
The Tortured Heart
Holly Tannen's one-woman, one-entity show,
directed by Lynne Abels, debuted to sold-out houses
at the Helen Schoeni Theatre in Mendocino, California, February 11th and
In song and story, Holly recounts the history of her love affair with 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud.
about Practical Alchemy|
Songs from Practical Alchemy
Translations of Rimbaud
Between the worlds of day and night
The living and the dead
Between the darkness and the light
Our ancient teachers tread.
Passing their vision on to one
Feral and unforeseen
Who reaches out and teaches me
To tread the edge between.
|Arthur Rimbaud was sixteen when he arrived in Paris in 1871, bringing with him nothing but his epic poem "The Drunken Boat."|
...and since then, I've been bathing in the poem of the sea,
Milk-white, infused with stars...
I know the sky split wide by lightning, tides,
His host, Paul Verlaine, showed off the new phenomenon around the Quartier Latin. "Big hands, big feet, the absolutely childish face of a boy of thirteen" wrote Léon Valade. "Deep blue eyes, temperament more wild than shy, this is the brat whose imagination, full of undreamed-of power and corruption, has amazed and terrified all our friends."
|"He looked like an escapee from a house of correction," declared Verlaine's biographer, Edmond Lepelletier. "He could tolerate neither wine, nor poetry that was not his own ... twenty years ago, we were never sure he wouldn't end up on the scaffold. But we were persuaded that when his head rolled into that infamous basket, it would be crowned with an aureola of glory."|
Rimbaud in 1871
A drawing by F.A. Cazals
A drawing by Ernest Pignon-Ernest
|Rimbaud dreams of creating a poetic language "accessible someday to all the senses; a language of the soul, for the soul, encompassing everything: sound, scent, color; thought catching thought and pulling."|
Holly Tannen was fifteen, determined to escape Manhattan and her parents, when she first read Rimbaud. She was fifty-one when she rediscovered "Illuminations" and "A Season In Hell," and found herself driven into ecstatic states by the "exquisitely perverse grace" of Rimbaud's vision. "I've been studying magic since 1980," says Holly. "I've been an initiated priestess since 1984. It's about time something interesting happened..."
(An Exquisitely Perverse Grace)
Photographs by Antonia Lamb|
Practical Alchemy logo by Teresa Whitehill, Colored Horse Studios
Colorization by Roberta Weir
Mistress of Folklore|
Holly Tannen teaches folklore and anthropology, and has lectured on
contemporary magic at U.C. Berkeley and at Yale University. Her recordings
include "Invocation", "Between the Worlds", and "Rime of the Ancient