The People’s Choice Award: Angela Patten
66: Angela Patten
Create a new poetry collection inspired by medieval clocks
Angela Patten’s publications include four poetry collections, The Oriole & the Ovenbird (Kelsay Books), In Praise of Usefulness (Wind Ridge Books), Reliquaries and Still Listening (Salmon Poetry, Ireland), and a prose memoir, High Tea at a Low Table: Stories From An Irish Childhood (Wind Ridge Books). Her work has appeared in many literary journals and in anthologies including The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing; The White Page/An Bhileog Bhan: Twentieth-Century Irish Women Poets; Cudovista Usta (Marvelous Mouth), Drustvo Apokalipsa (Slovenia); The Breath of Parted Lips Volume II; Birchsong I and II: Poetry Centered in Vermont; and Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poetry. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, she now lives in Burlington, Vermont, where she is a Senior Lecturer Emerita in the English Department at the University of Vermont.
If I am fortunate to receive Creation Grant funds, I intend to create a suite of original poems, based on research and observation of some of the oldest astronomical clocks in Europe, and leavened by imagination and poetic craft.
An astronomical clock has special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the Sun, Moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets. During the medieval era, these massive clocks were often decorated as ornate pieces of art featuring multiple faces, moving parts, carved ornamentation, and intricately displayed allegorical figures. Not only medieval mechanical treasures, these clocks provide a glimpse into the pre-technological, religious world in which they were created, helping to illustrate our changing concepts of time, technology, myth and religious belief. With their ornate automata depicting death and retribution, they also serve as an allegory for the brevity of human life.
In July/August 2023, I plan to visit the Munster Cathedral clock in Münster, Germany, dated 1540, the 15th century Zytglogge clock in Bern, Switzerland, and the Torrazzo of Cremona in Cremona, Italy, dated 1588. All of these European locations are readily accessible by train. As with my visit to Wells, I intend to participate in guided tours of all three clocks and to gather other legends and stories from conversations with docents and local people who are knowledgeable about the clocks and their histories.
Funding from the Vermont Arts Council will allow me to create a new poetry collection that will engage and inspire readers by drawing connections between science and the arts, practicality and usefulness, the ordinary and the mysterious.
The Bones of an Hour. “This poem touches on themes of time, medievalism, belief, and also demonstrates poetic craft.”
Crowtime. “This poem brings together two disparate yet connected images, one from family history and the other from the natural world.”
The Time Before. “This poem mentions timekeeping devices and how they have altered our sense of time.”