Friday, August 26, 2016

August 24

A Quiet Poem by Frank O'Hara
by Jim Harrison
won’t you celebrate with me by Lucille Clifton
Checks and Balances at the Grocery Store by Lianne Kamp
Good Hair by Sherman Alexie

On Being Told I Look Like
FLOTUS, New Year’s Eve
Party 2014 by January Gill O’Neil

We discussed the impact of knowing something about the time period and biography of the poet – how often it can enhance our understanding. In "A Quiet Poem" – eye and ear work to establish quiet... the coin of sound of a motor dropping to the sea vs. the coin of “loud” sun nicks the air... how when we close our eyes, we invite a quiet stillness... more in tune with our hearts. "Now" enjambed to the final stanza, where two things happen: The heart breathes to music, and the two singular coins lie together in the wet yellow sand.

A bridge is a great image for exploring connections. Perhaps we start out on one shore, and start building... thinking we will arrive “somewhere”... The living of life happens on the bridge – not the houses we would build upon it. We had fun with a few jokes, like the one of the Zen coroner. What was the cause of death? Birth, life. Just like the quiet poem, music enters, along with Machado.
What beauty in this the darkest music
 over which you can hear the lightest music of human

behavior, the tender connection between men and galaxies.

Oh to be able to say, “This is my job, to study the universe

from my bridge.”
Just wag your feet as you sit on the bridge...

We listened to Lucille recite “won’t you celebrate with me” with her vibrant and strong voice.
Another bridge to sit on... between starshine and clay

It is not a requirement to celebrate with her – but an invitation, as she models how she came to celebrate her struggle to be herself. Celebrating struggle might seem an unusual
and surprising response especially as the poem ends on "everyday, something is trying to kill her—"
line break -- and the aha moment, "but fails". Comments: it is better to celebrate than to be celebrated...
Be yourself – everyone else is taken. Judith brought up Alicia Alonzo... now in 90’s danced with grandson... she was blind by 19 years.

The next poem describes a scene with Mark the bagger, a cashier, told from the point of view of the customer. Delightful, because of the language, how an every day comment is juxtaposed with a product sold at the grocery store. We came up with one:
“Oh that’s a wonderful new hairdo... steel wool...”
Is Mark an old man? a handicapped youth? No matter, he repeats the same stories and platitudes but the twist in the story is how his predictable moments remind us all, “what keeps/us all rooted together.”

Sherman Alexie braids questions “Hey, Indian boy, why (why!) did you slice off your braids?”
with an overpowering sense of repetition of “braids” each question laden with increasingly insulting adjectives. One person commented that the questions act like a tortured litany of condemnations.
If vanity equals vice, then does vice equal braids?
The neologisms, “cut-hair-mourned” and “ceremony-dumb” as in mute, and no longer connected to rituals make the cut of the questions even sharper.
Has your tribe and clan cut-hair-mourned since their creation?
Did you, ceremony-dumb, improvise with your braids?
What is “good” hair – for whom? How do we fit in?

We ended with “January-Gill O’Neil’s 14 line poem. After hearing her recite the poem,
the tone reflects a tiredness of not being accepted for who she is. More formal than Lucille’s poem, without the rage, and a clever play of “complement” and “compliment” .

poems for Aug 17

The Black Woman’s Tears Swap Meet Is Open Every Day by Douglas Kearney

My Luck by Joyce Sutphen

Enemies by Wendell Berry

The Chairs That No One Sits In by Billy Collins

To Tell of Bodies Changed to Different Forms by Jorie Graham

Note with the poems: For those of you who missed David’s selection on Wordsworth, you missed a good discussion on the thoughtfully-prepared material he prepared. The discussion did not seem to want to leave what poetry is , can do— and how it has changed…

This week, we looked at how some contemporary poets “walk a line”… and the taste of contemporary poems of very different flavors… What would Wordsworth say? Frost? And you?
I treasure the insights shared in these weekly discussions.

Poems for August 17

The first poem is a masterful elegy that maximizes on the possibilities of the English language sounds (homonyms, load/lode;) and spellings. “Tears” can be noun, verb, or both (torn calendar tears) and is supported by the unusual form, where sentences have an unexpected cut off, just like bursting into tears for no reason. One person noted the large
amount of white space through which the black letters fall. The “unfinished” phrases, omissions (“she peers/through the wide between her &. “) contrast with a sense of on-going, ceaseless quantity of the amazing variety of tears.. The truncated “she always finds them in the / finds them in / finds them,” mimics a sobbing, persistence which echoes the “run-on” where tear is a “run” in a stocking. The rich metaphors and descriptions of tears, including , a multiple choice pick of tears, slant allusions to Helen of Troy (whose eyes launched the ships) and Cassandra, where tears sink the ships...
is masterful. One person commented, like “jailhouse rock”; another felt the rhymic pull, like a call and response. Rattle a scabbard of tears... tears of Mondays, Marches, 29ths, 91s, 83s – calendars-full until “wicker bin choke, shredder hacks”.
Although it is a black lament, and one feels the history of slavery, mistreatment, Kearney
paints a history of grief – who would you like to swap tears with – is someone else’s sorrow any easier to bear – or just part of the endlessness of grief.

I asked people how many ways they could pronounce the title of the next poem (by Poet Laureate of Wisconsin (check)
My Luck. Neutral descriptive. my LUCK. vs. my misfortune. MY luck – as in woe is me... Tongue-in-cheek, fun because of the element of surprise, but also you trust the speaker of the poem, even though the examples seem improbable that she knows something about luck. Carmen brought up the Chinese story about what seems like a misfortune (the son breaks a leg) but turns into a blessing (but therefore, does not have to go to war). What happens is simply what happens, and luck, perhaps that ball that hasn’t dropped yet, but very well could.

The Wendell Berry poem is quite cyclical – what is an enemy? What happens when you try to love them as yourself, -- can we love what is our enemy? Forgive ? But what exactly is forgiveness ? The poem starts with equal sorts of opposite monsters...
The key seems to lie in the brief moment described as “sun on a green branch”.
Free from them... all is well, until you think of them again... understanding you are both kinds of “monster” – indifferent, or unable to love your enemy.

The next poem Billy Collins could have referred to as “The empty chairs” or
“The vacant chairs” or even “Why you never see people sitting on their chairs on the front porch” , but he is more clever than that. “The chairs that no one sits in” doesn’t include “any more” – but simply invites us to wonder what people would look at...
if they did sit in them. Evocation of quiet/ Beauty of twoness... But on a second read, it is quite clearly a “waiting for death” poem.. He leads us gently to the turn when the clouds are “high and massive” when he imagines what is deserved to be looked at... Perhaps a tongue-in-cheek pondering about what the sound of one hand clapping could be – in this case, the sound of looking, wondering if the anthropomorphized details of the two bird calls might be joy, or warning.
Is life then, simply a case of distraction while waiting? Best not to sit in a chair
if this thought depresses you.

Jorie Graham picks up this idea in her free-flowing poem. It reads easily although it covers several pages. Although it feels to flow in a stream of consciousness, nothing ever stable – even the “subline with massive firm edges” – quickly followed between dashes “albeit under erosion” – like “men at work” and things “under construction”. Aren’t we all – and as soon as we think, we know what we are dying to be, (this question posed twice) we already a forced to “withdrawal from an occupied terrain” – the who we are then, is already replaced by the who we wear now, soon to be replaced.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A little Wordsworth

Sent to "O Pen-ers":
It seems a bit too long for reading aloud, but well worth the read, and will enrich the Aug. 4 discussion of The Day I Saw Barack Obama Reading Derek Walcott’s Collected Poems . The link below. Derek Walcott, “The Star Apple Kingdom”.

David's picks for Wordsworth:
Some Poems by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
(with some reflections on the nature of poetry)

My Heart Leaps Up
“What is a Poet”?: difficulty of responsiveness...
What is meant by the word “poet”? What is a poet? To whom does he address himself? . . . He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul,, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings on of the universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them.” –from Preface to Lyrical Ballads

Lines Written in Early Spring

Discussion: How Wordsworth walks a line. In contemporary poetry, (i.e. 20th as well as the first 16 years of the 21st) would this sort of poem survive? 200 years later, we do not have the "heartrending view of the industrial age" and Tennyson's writing about nature as "tooth and claw"... Is the poet’s purpose to offset "what man has made of man"? How does he exercise our sympathies, sense of connections...
Maura brought up this book: Braiding Sweetgrass
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science.

Paraphrase of "The world is too much with us...
little we see in nature that is ours... I’m looking for connection...
Even so, I still lament."

The third poem:
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (not daffodils)

comparing Dorothy's journal entry with William's poem:
“Apr. 15: . . . . .When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side. We fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore and that the little colony has so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay ever glancing and changing.”

Jan brought up reading the poem to her father, and the rhyming musicality touched him in ways other words could not. Summary:
the daffodils allow WW connection to joy – and the added joy of reminiscence.
starts out lonely. ends up lonely – but one can appreciating what is there later.
what kind of self would we be if we did not connect... did not acknowledge shared joy...
sister’s description more like contemporary poet. WW seems to steals her words.

The 4th poem David read aloud, to bring out the musicality of ONE voice.
The Solitary Reaper

The commentary beforehand: From Preface to Lyrical ballades.
“Emotion Recollected in Tranquillity”:
More considerations on poetry:
"be distinguished by at least one mark of difference, that each of them has a worthy purpose. "
and Frost's comments in a letter to Untermeyer in 1916: I read you[r poem] and liked it because it says something, first felt and then unfolded in thought as the poem wrote itself. That’s what makes a good poem.
...A poem positively must not begin thought first.” and The Figure a Poem makes: (1939) a poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.

Certainly in the "Solitary Reaper" -- the music affected him even w/o words... Wordsworth is
doing aurally what he did visually w/ the daffodils. but converse subject – of pain...
the moment of being caught...
sound of the metal...
maiden singing with the sound of her tool...
knows she’s singing –
admiration of the feminine.
we are not fully human until we understand death – that compassion that connects us.

The film,"The Wind that Shakes the Barley" came up, as did the 4 temperaments...

We did not get to:

Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal
We Are Seven
--From Preface to Lyrical Ballads: “ [The purpose of each of these poem will principally be] to follow the fluxes and refluxes of the mind when agitated by the great and simple affections of our nature . . . as in the stanzas entitled We Are Seven, the perplexity and obscurity which in childhood attend our notion of death, or rather our utter inability to admit that notion.”

David comments he is "reminded of the sheer difficulty of Wordsworth, and the need to immerse one's self in his work in order to get to the bottom of his poems, and sometimes even his prose. Also the need to read very closely. As a test, see what you can make of "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal." What does that opening line mean? The answer lies, I think, in the difference betw. stanza 1 and stanza 2. What has changed for the speaker? How has the change in "her" created a new awareness in the speaker--indeed a knowledge that says his former state was a sealing and slumbering of his spirit. How is the new knowledge an awakening and opening of the spirit. (See end of the Intimations Ode for a clue.) I believe that the answers to these questions bear directly on "The Solitary Reaper" and suggests what makes the singer's melancholy song so powerful and "thrilling."

When I asked him if he would contribute to this blog, he answered, "Too much of me wants to talk about what Wordsworth sees and says about suffering and compassion and also about the maturation and integration of the self through time and change. Always connection, between self and other and within the parts of ourselves."

We are fortunate to have such a wonderful and varied group drawing on 130 different people who have attended over the years and currently receive the poems.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Poems for Aug. 4

Last week, we looked at poems in translation. Act, where love is defined as "the desire of  the I for another I", a newly discovered fragment of Sappho (a different version to contrast this week); as David put it so aptly "poetry is what is lost in translation" -- and when relying on a translation we do not have the original sounds, all that is "culturally imbedded" but rather can only judge the translation as a separate poem, aside from the original.
When we discussed the Herrera, Kathy brought up the performance piece "34" by Patricia Smith: see this youtube:
"34" describes the rising waters of Hurricane Katrina in 2008, to commemorate the 34 inmates of a nursing home that was not evacuated.
I closed the session with another poem by Miller Williams, the inaugural poet for Clinton, who passed away in January, 2015. I enclose it again.
It came to my attention because of a blog report that talks about the BOA exhibit at Rush Rhees library that will close this Sunday.

"Two Brothers" poem (Sappho Fragment) by Meryl Altman
Kind Permission by John Asbury
Love Poem with Toast by Miller Williams
The Secret Denise Levertov
The Day I Saw Barack Obama Reading Derek Walcott’s Collected Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa
extrait from "The Fuehrer Bunker" by William W.D Snodgrass

The Altman version of the two brothers is a snapshot of a mother/daughter conversation where Sappho wags a finger at her mother for favoring Charoxos the go-getter brother... The ending which criticizes the laziness of Laraxos seems to stretch beyond the nuisance of it, to imply expectations of a man, with a note of lament.
see last week's discussion.

Ashbury poem plays with language in a humorous way which allows multiple layers of understanding. The first line,
"Almost tonight, let’s not and say we did."
introduces a "we" that seems to speak in code. What does "kind permission" mean -- to be the same kind of person, with rights... or perhaps a reduction of "with your kind permission" which isn't really asking for permission or doing more than lip service to any "kindness" involved...
The flow of the language is pleasing. Although there is an uncomfortableness about what is going on, it also makes us chuckle... One person commented that "The dance of 7 veils is down to 1". another said it sounded like
as Fire Island poem... However you read it, each sentence demands a double take, which is not unpleasant.

The Miller Williams also uses colloquialisms -- and that same wish to make things happen -- but also not..
"With yes and no like the poles of a battery
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,"
but then the poem veers to large issues, away from the personal..
only to veer back, ending with a complexity of the last word which is charged like the battery.
"we gaze across breakfast and pretend."

The Levertov poem repeats the word "secret" juxtaposing two girls who "suddenly discover" the "secret of life"
with the speaker who can't find it, and then you realize the discovery in a line of poetry was the poet's line of poetry... who loves them for finding it -- and loving her for writing it... which launches into the complexity of poetry... and the root of the matter -- wanting to find such a secret "and assuming there is
such a secret".

The Komunyakaa is also an excellent example of framing -- a mixed-race President reading poems by a mixed-race poet from Santa Lucia. Ending on the image of Octopus – who is not defined by it’s ink...but uses it to survive, hiding itself...
Komunyakaa's last stanza is worthy of contemplation.
The President of the United States of America
thumbs the pages slowly, moving from reverie
to reverie, learning why one envies the octopus
for its ink, how a man’s skin becomes the final page.

It would be wonderful if everyone subscribes to the idea that "We’re all sliced from the same loaf, just toasted differently..." but the identification as a "black person" vs. the person whose deeds are worthy of ink... and the drama that the ink is not used on paper necessarily... The reference to "Star apple kingdom", one of Walcott's books, describes the struggle for new social order without sacrificing democracy.
The poem was written at the beginning of Obama's 2008 term.

We need more time to read both more Komunyakaa and more Walcott...

We ran out of time to discuss thoroughly the final selection of the fragment of the Fuehrer's Bunker by Snodgrass. The opening and closing line is chilling knowing the history of the murder by and suicide of Mrs. Goebbels.
"How can you do the things you know you’ll do?–" The villanelle form is particularly effective, with the repetitions closing in with a different twist.

"You can’t pick how you’ll live. Our times will screw
Your poor last virtues from you, ruthlessly.
How can you do the things you know you’ll do?

Poems for July 27

Act by León Salvatierra translated from the Spanish by Javier O. Huerta

Charaxos and Larichos by Sappho translated from the Greek by William Logan
East African Proverbs by Anonymous translated from the Oromo by A.M. Juster

@ the Crossroads—A Sudden
American Poem by Juan Felipe Herrera

The Shrinking Lonesome Sestina by Miller Williams

The July issue of Poetry has many interesting translations. Like the poem “Script”, even though we do not have the original, they are well worth reading. To me, it is rather like reading a palimpsest where we have a hint of the original, over which a new text has been written.You might enjoy reading this site.


I don't have many notes about the first poem, but would have liked to compare the original Spanish to the English translation. Perhaps that would have clarified the title... What is meant by "Act" -- it could be verb, or noun, as a part of a play or what we do when play a part in public which does not necessarily correspond to who we are.

I love the opening stanza: "I’m going to say what love signifies" --
what authority! We know, the I is only one person, but the statement challenges us to join in, to think about what love signifies to us. The search by an I for another I... but is the "you" love in general, or the I the speaker has found? By the third stanza, indeed it seems to be both. How does a "seven cipher a life" and what does that mean? ( "I looked for you in each seven that ciphered my life".) The poem is enigmatic, and leaves me with a sense that much more more lies in the original.
Subjectivity of self... relationship and a sense of multiplicity of what "love" signifies.

The second poem inspired by a Sappho fragment is difficult not just because of translation, but also, because it is a fragment, and the modern reader does not have the background information of the brothers or situation. This article gives a bit more background --

If we compare the Logan translation with that of Meryl Altman, "Two Brothers" , there is quite a different tone again. Who are these two brothers? Why the reproach, the sarcasm?

There are no notes on the East African proverbs either. The feeling was that we are reading words of translators, and wonder what the original speakers were thinking.

Poetry in translation reminds us of our limited connection to another culture.

The penultimate poem relates to what is lost...the urgency to try to get to know others... The title is truncated on both ends on the first line: it starts as if finishing an email address "@ the crossroads", then an M dash and "A sudden" // American poem, with the epigraph "RIP Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Dallas police
officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith,
Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa—and all
their families. And to all those injured."

In this poem of witness, Herrera connects a view of America and the urgency of keeping alive the stories of individuals, "let us find //
The beauty in their lives in the midst of their sudden & never imagined vanishing".
The reader is allowed hang on to the tone of repeating “celebrate” – to look beyond the horror of mindless killing to the urgency of imagining the "leap
into a new way of living with each other?".
His comments in "about this poem": "“To write, but what? How? After a feverish penciled attempt with deep ideas, a poem-agenda of sorts, I stood up and walked away. What about the actual people shot dead? To know them, this was the key—I wanted to know them, the poem longed to know them. Too often we forget them in a rush to ‘say something.' All of them? Yes, yes. I had to include all of them, otherwise the poem could not be attained, humanity, the core of the poem, had to be the inner goal. After a new draft and new lens, a larger question came into view, ‘Can we take a leap into a new way of living with each other?' First, and most necessary, still, was to take a full moment and truly acknowledge the people on their last day.”
—Juan Felipe Herrera

The poem by Patricia Smith : 34
came up in discussion. There, she divides the poem into 34 stanzas, for the 34 victims who perished because they were not evacuated from a nursing home in the 2008 Hurricane Katrina. A skillful blending of the Lord's Prayer,
the repeated "leave them", which are the final words.

The last poem, gives a rather tedious form, "the Sestina" a chance to speak -- and already in the title,
we understand it is lonely and shrinking... in the process of transformation... The emotionally elusive form uses the repeating words to allows us to think about their meaning as the effusive lines shorten. If read "vertically" the end words go from a sense of disconnect to the last sestet of one word lines: "Time goes too fast. Come home."

It took 6 stanzas to re-arrange "home / time / come / goes / fast / to"
and of course the sounds of to / too/ two... fast preceded by "hold" and "break" as in breakfast.

The final stanza reveals more of the story.
Forgive me that. One time it wasn't fast.
A myth goes that when the years come
then you will, too. Me, I'll still be home.
Some thought the title too telling -- but I believe it captures a tone of tenderness. We read afterwards his poem, "Love Poem on Toast" -- which sounds humorous, but also has an appealing eccentricity about it.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Poems for July 20

Experience by Carl Sandburg, 1878 - 1967

How do you phrase the question, "What are you waiting for?" How do you answer it? What kind of map do you consider? What choices come up in the archeology of your emotions? What beckons us to read someone else's script?
These poems should get some discussion on these matters, started.

Discussion points:
Ferlinghetti: Oh to be able to write in such a lucid, engaging manner! Strong points made without sounding academic; repetitions of first and final lines of each segment spooling indeed, a sense of constant "re-birth". His points are serious, but the style so much fun, with such original and creative juxtapositions. Although the poem was written in the 50's, it is as fresh and universal now (and pertinent to our current climate) as then. To paraphrase Bernie, reading him is like listening to colored beads tell a story as they run effortlessly through the fingers. We spent some time discussing "what America did to Tom Sawyer -- Judith brought up how Tom is not such an amusing character in Huckleberry Finn but on the road to becoming a "slimy politician". Perhaps the spirit of an insouciant boy, curious, conniving has disappeared in America... or perhaps Tom is representative of what happens to young people in America...

In contrast, the Sandburg was lacking in sonic enjoyment, and seemed old-fashioned and stiff. The conceit of relying on maps, not understood/created through one's own experience, is good, but to paraphrase Judith, "Sandburg "settled too complacently into prairie philosopher prophet – all marshmallowy."

The third poem, I was intrigued if the specificity of Bleecker Street was necessary for understanding the poem -- and certainly, it is enriching to hear more about it from people who know NYC. The weaving of contemporary with historical details, had a dissonant feel peppered with questions, quite opposite from Ferlinghetti's easy-going style. The Unamuno quote “self-love widens into love of all that lives.” re-appearing as the final line allowed a discussion of the "equilibrium" between these two poles. To cite example: "perhaps" introduced into long questions:
"Perhaps everyone secretly admires
something momentous about himself,
with the mass and “inner life” of a cathedral,
who cherished the bliss of infinite sacrifice?
Perhaps this street remembers the loneliness
of war widows, the roll calls of absent names,
its first kisses on the corner of West Tenth Street,
the swooning confetti heat of victory,
the scalding springs of defeat?

The final poem entitled Script captures the arbitrary doom that could happen to anyone -- and worse, not just an anonymous selection but kin could become agent to murder kin. A very Kafka-esque nightmare. The final word, "alone" resonates with a clang of iron I imagine the gates of hell could produce when slammed shut.

Perhaps it is good that Bernie reminded us last week that the end, is not final... ( interview between Leath Tonino and Craig Childs, whose last book is Your last book was titled Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth.

just as Ferlinghetti says -- I'm waiting... and another re-birth appears...

Bernie’s reference from last week’s discussion…
Since that last poem was rather depressing and we finished by 1:10 or so, I shared today’s writer’s almanac poem — as a more uplifting send-off.
Here In The Psalm, by Sally Fisher

Monday, July 11, 2016

Poems for July 13

John wanted to share this link of Richard Blanco — there’s a nice introduction and he reads his poem “America” starting at 6:06 to 9:44.

We started with
Roadside Attractions with the Dogs of America by Ada Limón
skipped Poem to my Litter by Max Ritvo

For the Perillo poem, some of you might want to reference with Auden’s poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” with Breughel’s painting:

Rebuttal by Lucia Perillo (review Auden: Musee des Beaux Arts)
“Dona”[1]by Lucia Perillo
God and Me (continued) by Edward Hirsch
Ode to Some Lyric Poets -- Gregory Orr
... certain poems in an uncertain world
(this one, we read all the parts around in a circle to get the idea of a long lyric Ode.)


The first poem by Ada Limón has the ease of a Neruda Ode along with a pleasurable sense of sound that captures not just "dogness" but what it means to live in America and how to imagine three very different slices of pies.
The first sentence, 8 lines "angel-footing" on borrowed houses holds as much promise as the world's "nicest pie". Do you recognize yourself as one of the wayward and word-weary?
and the word-weary.
Perhaps its a sense of "By-bye Miss American Pie" and snap shots of good ol' boys and the sense of marvel that we keep on going without slipping out of the "national net of “longing for joy.” A sense of old-fashioned aprons worn at church suppers slips in,with the next pie -- of birds, ocean water and grief I’d like to wear an apron for you
whose ingredients don't seem possible to make the "prettiest pie".

Indeed, in these times, "of everyone wanting to make their own kind
of America, but still be America, too.", there's a hint of danger -- a hint of wanting to belong, to have the happy-go-lucky freedom of a dog with ears in the wind, but recognized as the best dog of the lot...

The first of the two Perillo poems left a few confused about what the quarrel is. Certainly there is a sense of the rebellious-- why paint things this way, old masters? Auden's satire of pre-WW2 attitudes perhaps is too intellectual -- the rebuttal says, make the suffering big, unmistakeable, instead of minute and tiny, even the "content-with-being-tiny" -- instead of people avoiding confrontation.

The second brought up a few memories of girl scouts-- as Judith put it her "involuntary servitude as a brownie"
Martin brought up the point that if a poem makes him think of something he wouldn’t otherwise have thought about.... then it's a good thing.
The language, pacing, parsing and rephrasing of the minimal choice presented by the Baez song
feels urgent,where a deathly word like "abattoir" becomes an irresistible image of a French kiss. Mockery, a bit of self-mockery and acceptance of a certain amount of passivity which carries a certain danger. The power of a group... both good and bad...

I wish I had thought of the title of the Hirsch poem -- how brilliant to have a conversation with God as an ongoing saga -- with the permission of "continued" -- it has been going on for a while and will continue!
The humor of a line like this:
"Every plant is holy every leaf etc."
every leaf (implied is) etc. no need to go on.
Yes, the world unpredictable... tragedy everywhere, but life goes on...
cataclysm, everything ending all the time, beginning all the time...
how immense the drowning when you’re the one who’s drowning... and yet, it's all right and told with just the right conversational tone...

The Gregory Orr poem was difficult as I would have had to do a lot of typing to share it.
Why did APR decide to have a long section like this? The group saw the "first part" and we passed the paper around to read each subsequent part. Orr has written wonderful books and perhaps this is part of the bones of yet another one to come.
Poetry as Survival...River inside the River...
It is an ambitious undertaking to speak about lyric poets -- which ones would you include in your ode? How do you understand the world? through whose words
what is beloved.
how to understand the references... ?

poets uncover same truths from different angles...

we closed with Maggie Smith -- I love that my daughter liked this -- the play of "what we keep from our children" because, we are trying to sell them the world... it could be a beautiful place, right?