The sky, lit up like a question or
an applause meter, is beautiful
like everything else today: the leaves
in the gutters, salt stains on shoes,
the girl at the IGA who looks just like
Julie Delpy, but you don’t tell her —
she’s too young to get the reference and
coming from you it’ll just seem creepy.
So much beauty today you can’t find
room for it, closets already filled
with beautiful trees and smells and
glances and clever turns of phrase.
Behind the sky there’s a storm
on the way, which, with your luck,
will be a beautiful storm — dark
clouds beautiful as they arguably are,
the rain beautiful as it always is —
even lightning can be beautiful in a
scary kind of way (there’s a word
for that, but let’s forget it for the moment).
And maybe the sun will hang in long
enough to light up a few raindrops —
like jewels or glass or those bright beads
girls put between the letters on the
bracelets that spell out their beautiful names —
Skye or Miranda or Verandah — which isn’t
even a name, although it is a word
we use to call things what they are,
and would be a pleasant place to sit
and watch the beautiful sky, beautiful
storm, the people with their beautiful
names walking toward the lake
in lovely clothing saying unpleasant
things over the phone about the people
they work with, all of it just adding to the
mother lode, the surfeit of beauty,
which on this day is just a fancy way
of saying lots, too much, skidloads, plenty.
Kevin Connolly, “Plenty,” from Revolver. Copyright © 2008 Kevin Connolly.
Source: Revolver (House of Anansi Press, 2008).
- This poem has a strong voice running through it. How would you describe the speaker’s mood?
- Look at some of the more unexpected things the speaker in the poem finds beautiful, like leaves in the gutter or salt stains on shoes. Why are these details more interesting than a more obvious example of beauty, like flowers, would be?
- What is the effect of the poet’s use of similes that offer more than one comparison of an image, such as “the sky, lit up like a question or / an applause meter” or “raindrops / like jewels or glass or those bright beads / girls put between the letters of the / bracelets that spell out their beautiful names”? How does this technique add to the overall feeling of the poem?
- What actually happens in this poem? What do you know about the speaker’s life?
- If you were reciting this poem, would you pause after some of the jokes to give the audience time to laugh? What tone would you use? Where would you slow down or speed up?
- The poem follows the speaker moving through space (down the street, into the grocery store, then back outside looking at the sky) and through the speaker’s associative thought patterns (jumping from thinking of the sky to thinking of the name Skye; from thinking of the name Miranda to thinking of the word verandah). Write a poem in which you try to capture the way your own mind makes connections between seemingly unrelated things and try to maintain a consistent mood throughout.
So this is Julie Delpy:
Watch Kevin Connolly read “Plenty” from his Griffin Poetry Prize–nominated collection Revolver:
Also, more curiously, the Scream Literary Festival commissioned this short film, titled “Plenty,” inspired by Kevin Connolly’s poem. Tamara and three other Toronto artists were invited to plunder from Kevin’s poem in order to create, respectively, a new film (Tamara Romanchuk), a new visual art piece (Olia Mischenko), a new play (Conor Green) and a new song (NQ Arbuckle). Skye or Miranda or Verandah: Variations on Plenty, saw the premiere of all four new works, along with a reading of the poem Plenty by Kevin Connolly.