Zachary Hertz

Winner of the Louise Louis / Emily F. Bourne Student Award in 2004

from Didonid

He has every right to take revenge on someone, anyone,
Preferably after my death,
But it doesn't even matter anymore,
I am hounded by Furies,
Listening to relatives cackle over suicides
And talk about that awful Aeneas,
I am awful,
I was awful,
Forgive me Dido you know these things
Tell me I wasn't as bad as I think I was,
And deep inside my topaz heart
I worry that I'm all out of butter,
I kicked blind Cupid, am I going to hell,
Tell me I acted appropriately,
I want heaven,
I want to sit in Elysium,
Sip nectar,
Spew bile,
No guilt.
He should just die already
In death, you never have to say you're pathetic
And self-pity is encouraged.
Someone told me he swooned;
I doubt it, but you're the expert,
And if there's one thing I learned from you,
The only difference between swooning and tripping
Is the arms you fall into.

Brian Henry on Zachary Hertz

The 12-part sequence "Didonid" reimagines The Aeneid with Dido at the center, often with explosive results. The language of the poem wavers between the direct and the oblique, but never loses sight of its goal of revising and updating the myth. The structure of this lyric poem works with both opera and epic, cycling events and phrases into new combinations. Alongside this sophistication is a voice distinctive for its lack of selfdeception; the narrator of "Didonid" is not interested in making friends or appearing sympathetic, which makes reading the poem a difficult pleasure.

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