Linda Bamber, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

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Linda Bamber

Linda Bamber‘s collection of poems, Metropolitan Tang, was published in 2008 by Black Sparrow Books. Her book on Shakespeare, Comic Women, Tragic Men, connecting issues of gender to matters of form, has been widely excerpted and anthologized. Her poems, stories, essays and reviews have appeared in such places as The Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, Tikkun, The Nation, Raritan, and Ploughshares, which awarded her the Ploughshares Prize for her story “The Time-to-Teach-Jane-Eyre-Again Blues.” She teaches in the English Department at Tufts and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

An Excerpt from “Tempo and Duration”:

Recently I attended a musical performance of which I heard almost nothing, which happens to me sometimes. The rest of the audience applauded wildly, so I guess it was really good. Across the curved, elliptical balcony railing I could see a man my father’s age who had heard every note.

View the Winter ’09-’10 issue here.

After the jump, Linda writes about the process of composing Tempo and Duration, a poem that appears in the Winter 2009-10 issue of Ploughshares, guest-edited by Tony Hoagland.


“Tempo and Duration”


Often things start for me with a connection between a “this” and a “that.” In this case, what moved me to sit on the floor of the gallery at the Met and take out my notebook was a connection in my mind between my father looking at art and the older gent I had seen taking in the music at the concert. Any mention of my father tends to remind me of his absence from this earth; and the occasion of the concert was also a sad story; so this piece began in an elegiac mode. (Its working title was “Endings.”) But as the narrative developed it seemed to include experiences whose endings were not their most notable feature–and not, in any case, particularly sad. Once I realized that the essay was more about tempo and duration than about loss, I found a lighter tone, letting go of some sadness and including some mildly comic moments (e.g., the guards shooing me out at the end of the day). I was pleased to find the final line, “There’s always another bus,” which in effect says the opposite of what I started out to say. I was pleased to arrive at an ending that says nothing really ends.