The US poet Larry Beckett’s songs have been recorded by musicians all over the world. Song to the Siren alone (which he wrote with Tim Buckley) has been covered by David Gray, This Mortal Coil, Robert Plant, Bryan Ferry, Half Man Half Biscuit, George Michael and Sinead O’Connor. Beckett is also known in the US as a widely respected poet who has been writing, for over forty years, a series of long poems exploring the intersections of North American history, myth and song.
Paul Bunyan re-tells the legend of the giant lumberjack for the twenty-first century. Drawing on logger folklore, James Stevens’ stories and the Davy Crockett almanacs, Larry Beckett’s poem is a modern epic in ‘long-winded’ blank verse. It is a celebration of the everyday poetry of colloquial North American English, loose and rough, bragging and unbelievable. Like its eponymous hero, the poem has no purpose but plenty of pioneer spirit, drifting westward like the loggers from Maine to Oregon.