Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Poems for September 15

With the Fringe coming up, this week, we discussed a few Cummings poems, which you will be able hear set to to contemporary music -- a different way of "making things new".
There are many different types of poems that Cummings writes... which is a reminder that it is not fair to judge a poet by just a handful of poems. The larger question,
is how others can approach a poem, enjoy it, feel they have seen a piece of the poet, a piece of themselves in a larger part of art.
Flaubert: “Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.”
Poetry isn’t about “getting it” for art is not something to “achieve” succeed in
or fail at, but rather invites us to have a conversation and relationship with it.
I look forward to our conversations!

Poems by Cummings
1. who are you,little i
2. may my heart always be open to little (New Poems, #19; 1938
3. supposing i dreamed this (is 5: 1926; IX from FOUR)
4. Song (but we've the may)
5. your little voice (Tulips, 1925, Amores, I)
6. imagine i'm/ from XAIPE (Greek word for “rejoice”)
(dedicated to Hildegarde Lasell Watson), 1950
7. in the rain- (Tulips, 1925, Amores II)

I find it interesting to compare the comments of the Thursday group with the Monday on the first poem -- "little" seems to be one of those key words for Cummings -- and in addition to looking at the parentheses, the peering of a smaller i, Martin noted that "five or six years old" could also refer to the passage of time--- not necessarily confined to a child, but a feeling which may have happened five or six years ago... Elaine noted the colon after "feeling:" which accentuates the importance of it. Marcie was reminded of the style of A.A. Milne who captured the magical tone of childhood... and Jan shared an anecdote of her 5 year old grandson, who didn't want his mother to grow old. Judith reminded us that English is the only language that capitalizes "I" in the nominative case.
We tried reading the poem aloud in different ways, as we did on Thursday -- a male voice, a female voice, a voice for what is inside and outside the parentheses... each voice finding a unique cadence as the poem unfolded in multiple understandings.
May my heart always be open to little / is a perfect poem to read line by line, pausing to allow each line to carry its own meaning, before attaching it to the next line. The slant rhymes are rich -- fail/smile; eye-rhymes of wrong/young; the juxtapositions of old/stroll; separating of hungry and thirsty with fearless and supple (echoes of "pull" in usefully, truly). Cummings weaves a rich texture with simultaneous sounds and possibilities. We discussed as well the missing "much", which would have ruined the rhythm and not allowed "love yourself so" to stand on its own next to "more than truly". I asked if people felt "pulling the sky over w/ a smile" was a little too sentimental, still thinking about the critique of Cummings as a minor poet, stuck in adolescence. What word other than smile would foil the "fail"?

Supposing i dream this... we noted how the wind does wrap -- words are pulled closer together separated by commas without spaces, and no one swells to noone'echoing the double "o" of fool...and latter "poor".
The 'f" wonderful/flower/laughing juxtaposes with dark jealousy -- and one senses a
complex view of a couple... We commented also on how Cummings, even when embracing a serious theme, still seems to have fun-- not to say that there is a playful tone here, but(one senses even with the darkness, the roaming, unhinged wind)he is enjoying the way he is crafting the feeling. 2nd Stanza, "since the best he can do/ is to peer through windows,unobserved -- the "he" seems to be self-observing...

Just as Thursday's group noted, everyone concurs how a Cummings' poem keeps growing in breadth and scope the more you decipher in it.

"But we’ve the may" as a first line, introduces syntax as an entity unto itself... what does "may" mean as subjunctive (will, possibility, uncertainty, desire, doubt) or as month, when one dances around the may pole? Must, when, now, until follow suit --
saying, doing, growing -- "without until". Marcie pinpointed how we use "until" --
da-da-da-da-da of life goes on until... and something ruins it, or changes it...

There was a typo -- 4th stanza -- it is "dim" not drim -- although we enjoyed the neologism.

Your little voice: Elaine noted the sense of witnessing whirling dervishes with the dizzy spacing and how the tone rises to an ecstatic otherness... We all enjoyed the sense of random capitalizations (and how they are NOT random! ex. up/Up which connects the alliterative "delicious dancing"(up) "Up" to the contradictory "pale important" //
how Humorous makes you think of medicinal humors and humerus bones
This is such a contrast from the first poem, where "little" is important to his emotional interior. Martin wondered about his poems as dreams where reality is a dreamscape where disparate things merge...)

imagine i'm ... we discussed at length the shape -- a breast with a nipple, pregnant lady, half a spinning top, a French soldier's helmet, a diamond cut in half… crosses of Calvary… drawn back bow or arrowhead. We tried reading it in different ways to capture the sense of interruptions...
i’m asking you dear to…
what else could a…
no but it doesn’t…
of course but you don’t seem to realize /i can’t make
it OR..
i can't make it clearer…
war just isn’t what we imagine …
but please for god’s…
O what the hell/ yes it’s true…
(it's true that was me)
That was me but that me isn’t me…
can’t you see now…
no not any — christ (swearing) but you
(but you) must understand
i am

Yes, I made a typo with yell... which works pretty well, but it is what the hell.
What is the O... god's O... omega, fullness, and the only capitalized letter in the poem? Kathy summarized it as "inner thoughts about war" -- the turmoil of it...

We ended on in the rain --
and spent some time on "rarely-beloved" rare as unusual… what is coined in sunset...

Back to little i... and the wonder of day linked by sunset to night... and the morning starts again, thinking of one's lover... how rare and precious...

So much more to say. I have tried to point out possibilities that lie in our very rich, very marvellous discussion.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Poems for September 11 -- CUMMINGS

E.E. Cummings ! and one poem by Pablo Neruda
by Cummings (first lines)
Unto Thee I
who are you,little i
may my heart always be open to little
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
one//t //his
(a// le
If you forget me — by Pablo Neruda

To prepare for the upcoming Fringe and special performance of Cummings in musical settings, I showed the loop that will be given before the performance. The first four Cummings poems are part of the CD. It is interesting to me to hear two different composers write different versions: for instance, both Joyce Hagen and Regina Baiocchi have written versions of "i carry your heart" and "i like my body". Baiocchi likes to give her own title, as Cummings usually doesn't have one. In the case of "i like my body" Hagan also gave her title, "so quite new" , whereas Baiocchi chose "love crumbs". Knowing that composers are interpreting the poems with their personal idea of lyrics is yet another step beyond discussing the poems in our group.

Both Christine Donkin and Hilary Tann wrote versions of "who are you little i"
which are quite different. I do hope you will come hear the music at the Fringe in the Sproull Atrium, Sat. Sept. 20 at 6 pm.
unto thee i : from Tulips published in 1922 in the section called Orientales

we noted the formal “Thee” and “thou” – sacred implications; the I and Thee could be inseparable. The poems feels bathed in softness with heavy alliteration of /f/s/l –
like a prayer rising as the poem trickles down the page. We noted line breaks
such as 3rd stanza, “...inhale the”
and the eye must travel before arriving on the word

Ending on the foreign word, as if landing in a mysterious land.

who are you little i – published 1963, in 73 poems, year after his death
Juxtapose the sound of long and short I:
I: i / night / high
i: six / window/ if

Elaine noted the cleverness of five (long I) or six (short I) – where the important first person as a child has nothing to do with the adult world. Mike noted how “i” is a pair of eyes peering .– Inside (in parentheses) the child knows a wonderful way of feeling not just what a sunset is, but an acceptance of day/having to become night – with so many more implications.
The bigness of little is held in a parenthesis!

may my heart always be open to little - published in 1938
Each line can be read alone by itself and then read again with the next line – so two simultaneous thoughts.
then slow down further.
May my heart always be open
to little
and suddenly the heart is addressing (the birds who are) the secrets of living.

Note how hungry and thirsty are separated by the positive, “fearless” and “supple”.
2nd line of last stanza: note how “much” is implied after so – if you have a break as you read the line it changes the meaning.

and love yourself so more than truly.
I don’t know if the 3rd stanza is zen – having the courage to let go to do nothing –
what is do nothing usefully?

i carry your heart with me - published in 1958
We read both stanza by stanza and with 2 voices – one within and one outside the parentheses. The doubling gives a strong feeling tone – almost possessive –
and the marvelous capacity of love that lies inside, and yet allows the stars the freedom to follow their own path in this interconnectedness.

The two vertical poems.

one//t is from Xaipe (which means rejoice in Greek) published in 1950.
The first and last word: one

the light in alighting, is lightened by floating, so both not heavy, but also a source of light. One this / is not a usual combination. One. This snowflake is upon a gravestone.
Where are the other snowflakes. Addresses the unicity of one. Preserves the unicity of the one under the grave. The gravest one. The more you decipher, the deeper it becomes.

l(a : published in 1958 – I apologize – the “l” was missing in the handout.

l (a leaf fall s) one l ness.
The two l’s, like I’s or ones, are separated by what’s in parentheses. one is followed by l,
which is not the same (1 is numeric, one is spelled). The loneliness heightened.

if you forget me:
I don’t know who the translator is, but it would be important, as Jim pointed out, to know.
We spoke of the psychological steeling one can do, so that if you are not longer with your loved one, (your beloved country, your beloved profession), it will be easier to accept the loss. Neruda cautions himself, anticipates, yet warns, giving a sense of both imminent separation, and hope.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

poems for September 8

How do poems reflect time periods political and social slants? If someone wrote a baseball poem in 2014 would it have anything in common with Thayer's late 19th century favorite, or Williams' approach?
In contrast, what are the satisfying characteristics of Kenyon's "songs", Ryan's pithy wit and Siken's self-absorbed man?

Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer (published in the Examiner, 6-3-1888 – for fun see

The crowd at the ball game by William Carlos Williams (1938)
Three Songs at the End of Summer by Jane Kenyon (in Otherwise, published by Graywolf Press in 1996)
In Case of Complete Reversal -- Kay Ryan (in Poetry, September 2014)
Landscape With a Blur of Conquerors by Richard Siken (2014)

I wonder, like Auden about influences -- who has read whom, and can we tell?
“When reading a poet who found his own voice after 1922, I often come across a cadence or a trick of diction which makes me say “Oh, he’s read Hardy, or Yeats, or Rilke” but seldom, if ever can I detect an immediate, direct influence from Eliot. His indirect influence has, of course, been immense, but I should be hard put to it to say exactly what it is.” – W.H. Auden

This heads an article about Eliot and oral performance of poetry.
Would we change our opinion of The Waste Land if reading "He Do the Police in Different Voices"? How differently will we read Casey, the crowd, the sounds of summer and the sobs, Ryan's clipped almost cryptic short lines... the meditative verse of the poet talking to himself -- or maybe to nobody...

Monday's discussion started and ended with poems that hook the audience -- diction, sounds, images wrap us into a baseball came, and a painter's world of choices, making us feel part of the process -- and arriving at more universal considerations.
Whether written in 1988 or 2014, written as a joke or as a serious writer, the point remains, that we poems that touch us, give us a piece of ourselves to think about in the larger context of humanity.

Casey at the Bat, written in 1888 is "The Night Before Christmas" has lively sounds that bring alive a gripping baseball game, the hopes pinned on a hero, his arrogance and his downfall. The anti-climatic stroke is the failure of the bat to meet the ball,but more than "air" is shattered by the blow -- we as readers are, and know the spectators in Mudville. The poem doesn't tell us this, or try to hammer us with a lesson, and we in our discussion, we enjoyed bringing in examples of politicians and iconic figures who are built up as answers, but whose arrogance interferes.

Williams delivers a more cerebral poem about crowd mentality, where the baseball game is quite incidental. Written in 1923, a quick review of history will reveal changes in Europe, the return of the last US troops from Germany, the rising price of bread, fall of the German mark, rise of power of Hitler. Also, some KKK action, and in Italy, all non-fascist parties are dissolved. George Bernard Shaw's "St. Joan" is performed. All of these events have an impact on crowds...
Williams captures in clattering couplets what is.... parallel to what the crowd is...

Kenyon's "Three Songs at the End of Summer" started a discussion about depression, happiness, the difficulty of being so when someone is screaming at you, "Relax, relax", and how she blends different aspects of time. The crescendo of feeling from crows and midwives, to the "right now" of the sounds of the camp, breaks into the 6 lines of wrenching sobbing that wracks her entire body, before entering a
childhood memory... as if the tears were her entry way to the deep interior part of her, knowing, she is about to die...

The Kay Ryan poem, elicited a discussion about accessibility, and what makes a poem, feel like a poem: how do we sense that each word is carefully chosen... how does the non-linear arrangement of two sentences reveal a depth of thought over time?
Martin reminded us that built into an event is the opposite. Hearing “your son fell off the horse...” might sound bad, without knowing this is the thing that will save him from going to war.
How strange to talk about a thing that isn’t, a direction that could be!
how to understand this... the age of miracles...
how we find ways to cope.
vs. Kenyon's “this is the only life I have...”

Many felt Ryan reinforced the resilience of life to adapt...
Is a stack of minuses thus, not negative, but rather a storehouse that will provide an out?

Judith reminded us that the way to paint bamboo is to paint bamboo until you don’t know you’re painting it.
John brought us the point that as a species, we are programmed to multiply... but have ability to commit suicide... abort...

The final poem, Landscape With a Blur of Conquerors by Richard Siken feels as if it is on the way to being abstract... but is recognizable... How do we create, and what how do we wield power? We go with Siken to explore what this means in the poem.
One of his comments about the poem was this: "I’m uncomfortable with the way I contaminate the world with myself, with my greed and hungers and multiplicities. What’s the answer? That’s a good question.”

He allows us as readers to look at our greed, hungers and multiplicities.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Rundel September 4

Among the Elements in a Time of War by Eamon Grennan
First Song by Joseph Stroud
The Juggler by Richard Wilbur
Realism by Czeslaw Milosz (written in his 80’s)
Of The Work of Love and Why She Has This Book Made by Doreen Gildroy

In Dead Poets Society, Williams plays unorthodox professor John Keating, who rejects the conservative culture of the elite Welton Academy and implores his students to strive for meaning in their lives. In the film’s pivotal scene, Williams tells his students, “we don't read and write poetry because it’s cute, we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for...”
He goes on to quote Walt Whitman’s “O Me! O Life!,” a poem that ends by speaking directly to its readers: “You are you, and life goes on... the powerful play goes on and you will contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” ‪‬‬

The poems last week reflected elements, such as fire, air, sky, water, earth, but juxtaposed with war; the transformation of blossom to hummingbird wing; a poem which juggled form and rhyme as it described a juggler and how it is that we defy gravity, turn the table on ordinary things; a meditation on Dutch painting and life; a description of what can happen by taking five minutes to oneself.

For the first poem, directions were to read, until you wanted to stop!
For some, that meant pausing at the end of a line; for others, at the end of a phrase, others to read a long line followed by an indented line...
So how does line inform an innate feeling tone? We noted the anthropomorphic fog, face of earth, the sounds that enveloped each element. Such great brokenness in one uninterrupted (aside from the lines) stanza with indents... silence of the present moment. This poem develops a sense of waiting, the way it is in war, someone pointed out, where 99% of the time one waits, and then the 1% of unimaginable destruction comes. Here the last line is the earth itself-- its indifference for a moment broken
could not stop sobbing... Powerful.

Joseph Stroud, born in 1943 in California, has an odd use of punctuation.We read up to each period to feel how the sentence (or lack of one) pulls against the line. It starts with a fragment, 3rd line ending with a period followed by "I thought" which does thread a sentence on the next two lines. Wonderful use of enjambement with 7th line,
heads/disappeared; and 5th line up from the bottom, "bloodstone/turned".
The poem ends with two mysterious fragments, allowing us to ponder "all these gone years". The group had varying ideas of the horses at the end, as well as the moon-crossing blackness, some feeling a sense of dread, others a sense of reassurance.

Wilbur has done it again -- wit, masterful form, still providing poems in his 90's!
The Juggler appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of American Poetry Review.
We read this one also up to a period, to see how the chaotic first stanza smooths into a more regular 6 line stanza with both rhyme and slant end rhyme. The explosion of exuberance, the crash in the penultimate stanza is following by three "if's"
in a quiet afterthought which made some feel "zen at work, clearing out the cobwebs, breathing in and out our energies." The props lie still, but we would clap for someone who can defy the ordinary, the weight of the world -- for once.

Milosz takes a different perspective of the ordinary. We again read up to a period to draw attention to the variety of line length and sentence. Yet more fragments.
Recognizable still lives. A spot of light in the stark and cloudy landscapes leads to the thought that all this was painted, here eternally, because once, it was. The next word is "Splendor (certainly incomprehensible)/touches... and then we have a series of paradoxical surprises -- cracked wall, refuse heap, jerkins of rustics, a broom and two fish bleeding.
But the surprise is not finished! A sudden duo of imperatives appear -- Rejoice! Give Thanks. At the end it is OUR song -- rising like smoke from a censer -- as if purified...

The final poem was an arrangement of one sentence in a couplet, two singletons; a couplet, one singleton; two couplets, one singleton a couplet.

Having a line stand by itself with white space of a stanza still hangs on to what precedes it, yet allow both to be independent. I love this kind of collage, and Gildroy does it well.

and made myself : could mean, compose oneself

think about : could be a command, as if another person is there under the tree.

and made myself think about, is a whole different story.
The creation of a voice grabbing her heart from this 5 minute pause feels as savage as an excavation in a mine. Great contrasts of tone...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 18

Planting Peas by Linda M. Hasselstrom
No by Mark Doty
The Want of Peace by Wendell Berry
Telephone by Devin Johnston
Finding the Lego by Maryann Corbett
Could Have Danced All Night by Dean Young

What are the sounds, smells, of dark, the sounds of "closed" ? What pushes us to want silence in a rooted underworld? What echoes from a man-made contraption carried to the natural world by a mocking bird, and a piece of lego? How do we sense the wolf tearing our world apart...

In the July/Aug. 2014 issue of American Life in Poetry, there are some fine poems by Lucia Perillo and an interview. She says of MS, whose rules her life, "The trick is to make despair sound interesting... don’t battle MS, relent to its humiliations, which are the same humiliations of most lives, only on an accelerated timetable." Two poems by Dean Young who states, "I believe reality is approximately 65% if."

We examined darkness, roots, the quiet silent work passed on from generation to generation -- the sybil who introduces Eliot's poem "The Wasteland" asking for one thing -- to finally die... the long O sounds of Hasselstrom's poem prompted a discussion of how to pronounce Shakespeare... "ore", hoe', snow, old, furrow -- and one by one would be oown by oown... The great mother, the push and push back of life whether of peas or turtles...
Doty captures the world of the child, and layers in this line, "I think the children smell unopened," both their own "unsmelled" lives, as well as understanding the unopened secret of the turtle.

For Berry's "The Want of Peace", a discussion of the role of empires who must insist on obedience.
"The Telephone" ended up delighting us, the more we uncovered the details, the way, in the game of "telephone" one whispered sentence is carried from person to person, in this case, bird, to bird, from present to past of Indian, French explorer, naming of land, to wind, as the essence of spirit.

Likewise Corbett's poem took us both to the world of the child, remembering the harsh slap of a mother, and the world of the mother, remembering her harsh slap delivered, with a final choice of such memory.
We ended up singing "I Could have danced all night" remembering Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady... Corbett's opening idea, "You find it when you’re tearing up your life,
trying to make some sense of the old messes,"
or Dean Young's,
"The wolf appointed to tear me apart
is sure making slow work of it."

If we narrow the windows to limit dark messiness, the light appears stronger...
Our discussion was enriched by the Spartan story of the boy and the fox: perhaps like the reference in Wendell Berry's poem (We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness)

Once, a 13 year old Spartan boy stole a fox from a village near his camp. Alas, a trainer found him and asked him what he was doing off campus. The boy had seen the trainer and had hidden the fox beneath his cloth. As the boy said nothing, the trainer insisted. The fox, still alive, beneath the boy's cloth, started scratching him, in order to escape. While doing that, the boy continued to deny the stealing until the wounds suffered by the fox killed him.

The apogee of one’s training was to comprehend the laws and to be a vital member of the Apella, the Spartans citizens body.

Young's poem has the very Buddhist idea of embracing suffering -- here, poor feeble wolf, unable to use your fangs, bite...

And on it goes... we hang on to life, for we are not the sybil and when our hearts skip a beat... we are both closer to death, but feel so alive.

I Could have danced all night
And still have begged for more

I could have spread my wings
And done a thousand things
I've never done before

I'll never know what made it so exciting
Why all at once my heart took flight
I only know when (he) began to dance with me
I could have danced all night

/what keeps our little engines going? desire, desire, desire, says Kunitz.

Poems for August 25

How do we remember -- what details help unleash a story, "the taste of a hush from far away" (see Merwin's poem "Drinking Tea in the Small Hours"... how do we perceive "Loss" -- like a last name, a brother named, then taken away, the nearness sensed, in words that do not belong to us, (and as reader, feeling they breathe...)

from APR, July/August 2014
Locked by Jennifer Grotz (note last line: "I mean the man" not "I mean the mean"
three of the Nine poems by W.S. Merwin
The Laughing Child
The Mapmaker
World Without Glass by Pamela Sutton (correction: worship, not worship)
Swift Trucks by Erika Meitner

the selection of poems also echoes some of the themes of last week: “It’s never the aboutness of anything but the wailing underneath it” (Frank X. Gaspar.)

Line up: a young poet reading her poem stanza by stanza; 3 poems by an older poet using the "suspended, unpunctuated line" -- read line by line; A poem squeezing meaning out of stone; a composite poem starting with trucks. (the last two poems read stanza by stanza).
Forgive the typos-- lately I have been making interesting ones... Female Futurity became “female futility”… and there were several in the poems. Reading out loud is a good check!

We started by saying outloud "the taste of a hush from far away” -- a little magic to sprinkle into the idea of 5 Thurs; 5 Fri; 5 Sat. and 5 Sundays in the month of August, only to set the tone of energy into 5’s which morphed into a small excursion of polyhedrons … I love a group that can be comfortable with such a start!
There were multiple points where we quoted Steiner's “All acts of communication are acts of translation” as we took words, crafting ideas about a poet’s intention and our own ideas to match to them…

Locked: Martin pointed out the psychological, David and Judith the lack of craft of the metaphysical poets…yet a poem working the sound and conceit as if to follow their footsteps. David said about this line:
"but now there is nothing left to be solved like a riddle" (“If it had been my student, I would have said, take more force than finesse—) DS

Other points of intrigue about this inner landscape poem-- how it ends, bringing in God -- how He only loves the "strong thief /I mean the man who breaks his heart for God

(strong…. is the important word — like Donne’s "batter my heart”— but thief implies a different cunning and there's a discordant unrest of the urgency of breaking the locked heart--to seize "what is left". we don't know the why behind the lurching from what the speaker "thought I wanted to be" -- not the key, but the instrument for the key... we sense her awareness of something dramatic holding her away from life... Many felt the rhyming trees/key; lock/block/ sends/ascends detracted from the strength, as if she were having more fun with sound play than crafting an image.

Merwin’s poems have the mark of experience the abstractions of the first poem lacked and brought forth a lot of meaningful memories and good discussion.
In the first poem, the innocence of childhood, the wisdom of experience looking back combine using the perspective of the mother and retrospective "later" used twice more. The idea of wicker, and “wick” as “quick” or life… the shaking of the carriage layers a "shake of memory" to imagine the instant, and how it was captured in words-- and ending on the feel of being that happy child, laughing.

Cowbells too “rang” lots of echoes…including a reference to
Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae by Ernest Dowson:
I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind...[7]

The idea of sound shepherding memory...
the sound of it will make you remember (implies "you’re from around here; I give this bell to you")

My question to the group: how does Merwin earn the last lines…
" he did not tell me that there is no question
in its sound and no place or promise
only the calling of one note at a time"

They seem to flow, naturally, without imposition. Is it the double negative… or two different things. one note: present in moment— one note: sound of the plurality of the legacy.
We enjoyed discussing this, the singularity of being called, outside of a crowd of memories, hints of forbears, history...

In Merwin’s “Mapmaker” he references Vermeer’s geographer — we didn’t discuss the nuances of the differences — of what does a map maker does in the 20th c. that is different from what a geographer in the late 17th c. would do. Vermeer used the same light from a corner window in his paintings; For us, the window frames the inside man and map, outside world: interiority/exteriority ( and the shape of the cosmos imagined in 1668–1669).

John brought up this story: Richard Powers: Galatea 2.2
2 patients – the one by window tells what he sees. Day after day, a story evolves. One day he falls extremely sick and the second patient doesn’t say anything, because he wants the “window bed”. When he is moved there all he sees is a brick wall.

The geographer has to imagine what can’t be seen. The poem is “stilled” in the present suggestion of future, calling on the past.

In Sutton’s poem, David filled us in on the excerpt of Frost:
“between the woods and frozen lake
the darkest evening of the year.”
("stopping by woods…” was written on a June evening — maybe the longest day of the year —anniversary of the death of his daughter. allure of the darkness. giving it all up.)
Quite a bit of discussion about associations with stone… the stoning of women, the “braided stone” (Scottish, says Judith: braid= broad) - how we carve stone vs. print on it… the allusions in the beginning of the poem of glass… something to see out of, into, shattered, the desolation without any vision at all… vs. the end of the poem, in a world without glass, but a crystalline morning… and shattering of wings by wars.

We looked at the last poem from the viewpoint of the composite poem — how the poet captures a chaos, a disturbingness.
We could have discussed all afternoon.
Alan Watts... spontaneity vs. caprice...
Tony Hoagland: Characteristics of the Composite Poem:
1. it likes information; range of realms.
2. aims to capture the irregular character of experience, it’s lopsidedness and illogic. disproportionate and disheveled by design.
3. relative tonal impersonality, offering an appearance of detachment.
4. it refuses the paradigm of a singular heroic speaker... instead brings together diverse voices and sources which exist in counterpoint and , only collectively, create a field of knowing.
5. when the composite poem fails, it might be from an over-indulgence of randomness... susceptible to a lack of progression or to passivity. ideally the parts must complicate and activate each other.
p. 38 – Tony Hoagland – Towards a Postmodern Humanism – APR Mar/Apr. 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

poems for August 11

The Tuft of Flowers by Robert Frost (to read and think about -- we won't have time to discuss it but do thank David for mentioning it 8/4!)

Poems allow us to project, lay claim on the world, without being chained to any one truth. I look forward to our discussion and sharing of next weeks poems.

Living With The News by W.S. Merwin
(We grow accustomed to the Dark) #428 - Emily Dickinson
What Gorgeous Thing by Mary Oliver
A Poem – by WisÅ‚awa Szymborska
Before and Every After – Marianne Boruch
What does it mean to "be the daylight" and what is darkness?
The first poem with its suspended lines, can be read line by line slowly, or one voice in a big whoosh...
What news? That someone has died, that your moment of death is coming near, or some news that grabs you with a tenacious immediacy.. In this 17 line poem, only the second line does not complete a phrase.
tide keeps///
coming in faster

Who is this someone, who happens to be me? The poem gives clues that lead into different directions. We particularly enjoyed "real estate" as in reading the paper, right before the obits.
Dickinson with her inconsistent Capitals, M-dashes, sometimes rhyming, sometimes not, allows us to enter, or exit darkness, as one person remarked, rather like the experience of a bi-polar person.

Juxtaposed next to Oliver, the question of craft comes up -- which for Oliver is whether it is strong enough to save her from sentimentality"?
Some thought yes. One thought no. Look at the proposed revision and discussion below.

— ing rings through out the poem, even in “pin…k” She is not preaching, and uses the G of gorgeous, a rather flamboyant word, to end with G of grateful at the end.

With condensing, does this poem reach the reader more directly?

"I do not know what
the bluebird keeps saying.
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts
without questions."
Szymborska's poem brought up a host of ideas with her use of double negatives and perspective of an "otherworld".
Who is "you" -- and what miracle is it that there is nothing/usual in being brought together.
Carmin shared a poem her sister had written, written at her memorial. The gist is this:

“Our moment in time.”
In a nanosecond, (3 hundred billion+ years from now)
will your molecules and mine collect together into you and me again
for a brief reunion...
and wonder if we’ve lived countless other lives before and after.

Other thoughts:
form is emptiness and emptiness is form... nothingness and everythingness...
Robert Graves: inside out ...
John brought up “The night inside me.” Jackson Brown...
"I used to lay out in a field under the Milky Way
With everything that I was feeling that I could not say
With every doubt and every sorrow that was in my way
Tearing around inside my head like it was there to stay

Night in my eyes, the night inside me
There where the shadows and the night could hide me
Night in my eyes
Sky full of stars turning over me
Waiting for night to set me free"...

when we exist we occupy space... miracle that we disappear back into non-space...
title: ars poetica... how a poem comes into being... Chapman’s Homer. David quoted the final stanza of Frost's Desert Places:
"They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places."

Judith quoted Pascal and we could have continued all afternoon.


The final poem
is complex, rife with the history of the world. Kathy kindly shared a context of medical students brought into contact with art. It is the kind of poem that needs a group -- for instance... Bertram is not Bertrand in the "what would Russell do" -- but I shared the quotations on this site which shed their light on the poem.

Much more to say on all the poems, but as ever, a quite enjoyable read aloud and discussion.