Monday, February 1, 2016

Poetry in Action: Tabatha Yeatts and Kate Bush

Curious humpback inspecting diver, NOAA, public domain

Tabatha Yeatts has been sharing poem-song match-ups at her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. She's posted quite a few already (click HERE to take a look) and has invited others to join in the fun.

The only thing that gives me as much pleasure as posting my favorite poetry is posting music that I love, sooo....
Grab your scuba gear. 
It's Music Monday and we're going in.

Today I'll be showcasing one of my most favorite poems that Tabatha's written, and coupling it with the incomparable Kate Bush.

Here's Tabatha's poem (used by permission), which she posted on her blog in November 2013:

Geppetto in the Whale
     by Tabatha Yeatts

I awake, my head in my arms,
  and draw in the wet air. Still alive.
Beyond my tangled cocoon,
  sounds collide and crash --
the endless pounding of his
rivers of blood roaring past.

I stand, pressing my callused palms
  against the vast wall --
and feel the vibrations
  of his
the entrance, the exit, a circle of wind.

My fingers run
  across his smooth, slippery sides;
fingers which have pried
  shapes from wood, daubed on eyes
and prayed for sight,
  trying to craft
undulating pulse of life.

Listening to the whale's ferocious orchestra,
  I believe if I were granted wood,
I could devise a puppet right there,
  in the dark. I could clothe it
with my own jacket,
  fill it with story,
give it
with my own two hands.

After deliberating far too long about which of two Kate Bush songs to pair with Tabatha's poem, I finally decided to match it with both.
Go ahead, call me a rebel– I dare ya! 

I do think you'll agree, however, listening to these songs sequentially presents a more accurate reflection of Tabatha's poem than either song would by itself. Besides which, two vintage 1978 Kate Bush videos are always better than one!

The first song, "Moving," picks up on the fluidity of Tabatha's poem as well as her references to wetness and the "undulating pulse of life," both echoed in Kate Bush's lyrics:

Moving liquid
Yes, you are just as water.
You flow around all that comes in your way.
Don't think it over,
It always takes you over,
And sets your spirit dancing.

Oh, and did I mention the use of whale song in the recording? Well there's a no-brainer.

The second song, "The Kick Inside," pairs beautifully with Tabatha's last stanza in particular. Besides the obvious connection between pregnancy and Geppetto engulfed by the whale, you can also interpret "the kick inside" as a metaphor for creativity and Geppetto's urgent desire to craft a puppet right then and there, "fill it with story" and "give it life." My goodness, that gives me chills.

Both of these songs, by the way, are from Kate Bush's debut album, also titled THE KICK INSIDE.


  1. Thanks for the cool match, Michelle! I think Kate Bush would approve of your rebellious nature. :-) I had been thinking of pairing my "What Do Icicles Know" with Kate's "Snowflake" from 50 Words For Snow. Great minds and all that.

    1. Another great match! So many songs, so little time. Thank you for writing such an inspiring poem, T.

  2. Love the matchup, Rebel Michelle and esp. love the unique perspective Tabatha employs in this poem! Thanks to both. xo

  3. Michelle, great observation about the fluidity of Tabatha's poem. The poem and these videos were a treat this morning.

  4. These songs are new to me, I admit, but I remember Tabatha's wonderful poem, and think you've made a terrific match, Michelle. Thanks for a lovely morning greeting.