Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rundel Write up Oct. 13 with original of Neruda poem.

Blackberries, with all the adjectives, ripe p’s and b’s punctuating
Blackberries, and the crossed arrangement of black art + blackberry-making; black language + blackberry-eating!

The doubling and opposing,then melding contradictions of Li-Young Lee’s story; melding of past/present; the pauses
And discoveries. I shared the fact that in Chinese, one doesn’t use just one word for instance for Moon (Yue) but
Yu Liang, which literally means bright moon — not that that MEANS the moon is bright. So a subtle doubling,
Reflected as well in the mother’s referral to persimmon as containing a sun; and the cardinal singing the sun, the sun.
It mimics the confusion of persimmons and precision; the persimmon experience at home and school; the actual persimmon and brush and ink drawing of it; How some things never leave a person; sight/insight… all revolving around the multiple memories of

I hope you all giggled at the rhyme… how would you rhyme:
I’ll take vanilla.... said the ...
the the surprise at the end.

For the Frost, this was the only poem in North of Boston that was not written in Blank Verse. Anapestic Tetrameter, or the galloping rhythm (think Night before Christmas) is handled in a natural way, creating a real sense of place, and peopled with real characters. The exaggeration
at the end makes a fitting image for wet blueberries... and the desire for them, old Loren still holding his secret and straight face.

The final poem was difficult. Here is the original Spanish.
How good a job did Dennis Maloney do in translating it?

Tal vez ésta es la casa en que viví
cuando yo no existí ni había tierra,
cuando todo era luna o piedra o sombra,
cuando la luz inmóvil no nacía.
Tal vez entonces esta piedra era
mi casa, mis ventanas o mis ojos.
Me recuerda esta rosa de granito
algo que me habitaba o que habité,
cueva o cabeza cósmica de sueños,
copa o castillo o nave o nacimiento.
Toco el tenaz esfuerzo de la roca,
su baluarte golpeado en la salmuera,
y sé que aquí quedaron grietas mías,
arrugadas sustancias que subieron
desde profundidades hasta mi alma,
y piedra fui, piedra seré, por eso
toco esta piedra y para mí no ha muerto:
es lo que fui, lo que seré reposo
de tu combate tan largo como el tiempo.

How do we understand the Earth houses us,
and how we house something?

Ask a few English speakers what they think of the poem.
Then ask a few Spanish speakers.

Tell me what you find out.

I shared the mystery of penning words to paintings with a writing exercise:

Friday, October 7, 2016

Rundel Oct. 13

see poems from Oct. 5

Blackberry Eating -- by Galway Kinnel
Persimmons – by Li-Young Lee
Blueberries by Robert Frost

+ House by Pablo Neruda
from list from Library Program Oct. 6 below:

the poet Galway Kinnell liked to use words that he said had “mouth feel.”
How does this line-up "taste" to you?
What makes a fine poem, a funny poem, an illuminating poem?
What poems do you recall as “glittering gems” filled with surprise and delight?
The first three all have fruit… Note: What looks to be a long poem in page-length, gallops along when spoken outloud.
I am hoping we will have time for the last two which were part of the program yesterday, and contrast sharply.

For those who couldn’t make the Poetrymusic: Colleen O’Brien and Chris Lee performed the following poems. I am curious how you felt the music and poetry with images worked for you.

1. House by Pablo Neruda :

Perhaps this is the house I lived in
when neither I nor earth existed,
when all was moon or stone or darkness,
when still light was unborn.
Perhaps then this stone was
my house, my windows or my eyes.
This rose of granite reminds me
of something that dwelled in me or I in it,
a cave, or cosmic head of dreams,
cup or castle, ship or birth.
I touch the stubborn spirit of rock,
its rampart pounds in the brine,
and my flaws remain here,
wrinkled essence that rose
from the depths to my soul,
and stone I was, stone I will be. Because of this
I touch this stone, and for me it hasn’t died:
it’s what I was, what I will be, resting
from a struggle long as time.
—translation by Dennis Maloney

2. Last Paragraph of Jack Kerouac: On the Road

3. 4 poems by Emily Dickinson: starting with : A Light Exists in Spring
ending with Wild Nights! Wild Nights!

4. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

5. Daffodils by William Wordsworth:
6. Sonnet 28 by Elizabeth Browning:
7. Wave by Gary Snyder: the actual performance!
8. Autumn by Toshiyuku no Fijiwara:
the words on the screen and sung in performance were different:
To my eyes it is not clear
that autumn has come
but the chill whisper
of the invisible wind
startles me to awareness.
9. Sonnet 60 by William Shakespeare
10. Where everything’s music by Rumi:

poems for October 5 (Rundel will be Oct. 13)

the poet Galway Kinnell liked to use words that he said had “mouth feel.”
How does this line-up "taste" to you?

Blackberry Eating -- by Galway Kinnel
Persimmons – by Li-Young Lee
Ice Cream Stop by Shel Silverstein
Blueberries by Robert Frost

What makes a fine poem, a funny poem, an illuminating poem?
What poems do you recall as “glittering gems” filled with surprise and delight?
It's funny how the selection this week reminded so many of the fun of children's poetry...
The sounds and rhymes of Dr. Seuss, for instance, "And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street",
the anapestic tetrameter of "Blueberries" the only poem in "North of Boston" that Frost didn't write in blank verse (think "Night before Christmas" and the galloping of the midnight ride of Paul Revere)...

Such a fun time with these 4 poems! It brought Judith to recite her poem about butter,
and "How the helpmate of Bluebeard Made free with a door"
John shared Dr. Seuss, "And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street" which we read at the end.

But to discuss:
Billy Collins criticized the use of adjectives, and if Galway Kinnel had listened to him,
Blackberry Eating would be a poem without juice... these are "the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries", the stalks are "prickly" and black returns again as "black art" and "black language"
which is also "icy" -- sharp, perhaps clear, perhaps slippery as
ripe turns to "ripest" and squinched expands to a "many-lettered, one-syllabled" verb of "squinch"
as the last word is "late September" which was pegging the season in the first line. The one "s" adjective commonly attributed to fruit that is missing, is "sweet". No Hallmark sugar in this poem!

Indeed, mouth feel is operative... and so many blackberry memories came up, I would say, even if
one didn't have the experience of eating and picking them, the experience was offered to us,
as one of the "musts" of living...

Persimmons is quite a different poem, but the "Chinese Apple" of this fruit, works as thread,
where between the pauses, he is discovering things. And yet, even though there is a risk of diminished "continuity" on the second read, there is a narrative we discover of the speaker of the poem,
his childhood, maturity, reflections on aging of his father; how the initial confusion of "persimmon" and "precision" is echoed by the confusion of "fight" and "fright" and opposition of his mother's view of the fruit (sensual) and that of the teacher's (unripe and authoritarian with no knowledge of the inner possibility to come). How when we arrive at the old age of the blind father, it is persimmons, the ones the mother describes as containing suns, representing the old Chinese culture,
where brushes are made of wolf-tail, and the practice of painting can be done without need of physical sight, the importance of the fruit become the " song, a ghost" the father yearns for, given by his son,
"swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love."
The poem continues, as time goes on, and the son realizes the importance -- even though words may have been forgotten, his father's eyesight gone, language a slippage linking two cultures, "Some things never leave a person". Read the poem, you will find more layers.
Comments from the group: comparing Persimmon/precision to the one ball and cue ball in pool;
the poem as silent and beautiful as a foreign film where images create the story with few words....the words are the sand which makes the pearl... melting together... how memory is often like that, our memories melded with feelings...

Shel Silverstein's poem brought up the element of fun... and that poetry for children doesn't need to exclude humor, or adults!

For the Robert Frost, for a poem that looked like it would last for pages, it literally galloped by, filled with anecdotal portraiture with an overshadowing of haves vs. have-nots and juxtaposition of pleasure
of berry picking with survival.
Other comments: Frost believed the "village gossip mill... the perfect way to get a slice of people’s feelings... get to know the community" as gossip is a way of trading values...
New England rural speak... pacing.

Chewink, by the way, bird species also known as the rufous-sided towhee. See towhee. Eastern, or rufous-sided, towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). Frost compares the Lorens to birds, which allows yet more connotations...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Poems for October 12

Bavarian Gentians by D. H. Lawrence (1929)
Sonnet 60 by William Shakespeare
Propositions Related Poem by Stephen Dunn
Speculations about “I” – Toi Derricotte
Old Man At Home Alone in the Morning by W.S. Merwin
Love at First Sight by Jennifer Maier
Sonnet 137 by William Shakespeare

What is meditation, and what is poem? How does time influence the way words work?
Who was "I" in 1929 or in Shakespeare's time? What specifics please the universal ear?

Bavarian Gentians:
A little background:
Autumnal : Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days; in England, it is one of the “quarter days”. Gentians + death. believe in the blood wiser than the flesh... Gentian... bitter taste and yet medicinal qualities...

The opening line: "Not every man has gentians in his house" could be interpreted as "not everyone knows how to be truly alive in the flesh /beauty like flowers..."... and we discussed the Jungian slant of the unconscious and how not everyone ready to explore it... It is difficult to explore the dark. (someone mentioned, "with bit and briddle for intellect... vs. passion. ).
Laurentian: loves to talk about way we are full of opposites. flower as voice of underworld in this world... darkness inside us... Thinking about his own his dying...

Sonnet 60:
First Quatrain: waves end on a pebbled shore; Second Quatrain: life crawls to maturity, light suffers crookèd eclipse; 3rd Quatrain nature scythed down finally the couplet: addressing the enemy time with the one thing wave, life, nature cannot do: only worth can survive, to be praised by verse .
There are reversed initial feet: (not the usual iambic pentameter): Like as
So do, Crawls to, Crookèd, Time doth, Feeds on, Praising... which according to Helen Vendler in her magnificent book, draws attention to the hastening of the waves, the attacks by eclipses and by time only to return to the iambic in the couplet... and nothing stands. The final beat: shall stand is an unshakeable confirmation of the strength of verse Stand is twice accentuated by the stress.

The idea of exchange -- past/present, and constant flux appears in the language...
luscious language:
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth sensuality
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth, delicicious and delicate...
Thy -- both individual addressed in sonnet and incorporates all of us.
Sonnet 73, same idea, but more intimate.

Propositions Related Poem by Stephen Dunn
A terrifically fun poem -- performance. This / not this. BUT.
I asked... would you memorize this? Judith no. no mouth feel.
would it be possible...? It would be as difficult as the poem points out
difficulties about being honest...The long, sentences imitate the real in life which happens in the back and forth.
humor as we identify ourselves.

Comparing Shakespeare ((richness of language) to Dunn (richness of concept/idea)... we return again to what is poetry... how we deal with uncertainty.

Toi Derricotte:
John said it had a hypnotic effect on him and reminded him of Trout Fishing in America – Richard Brautigan.

13 ways of looking at... a blackbird, or "i" and the I's story.
Intricate, beautifully intimated... G-d and T-i and the idea of I as part of God, i
as the particular...
David quoted Richard Eberhardt. "If I could only live at a pitch of madness. immaculate ego.vs. one w/ world self-consciousness... ( confession of a psychotic...)
Somewhat confessional... the story of being Afro-American as well as the personal story perhaps?
operation of id / ego/superego...
toi – (you)in French, sounds like toy in English -- only language which capitalizes “I”.
Writing vs. I – the being that is not expressed...

The Merwin: comes from his new book: At first, it seemed like meditation to me...
but reading it line by line one can sense the thoughtful calm he creates and transmits.
Kathy gave a fine review and referred to his poem "The Laughing Child"... in his mother's memory... as infant, laughing, at nothing, so hard it jostles his carriage... which changes his mother..."
"The writing is limpid poetically tuned to autumn tones, some repetitions of t and u but nothing pyrotechnic.
Often Merwin says things we know but in just the way to make you look at them afresh, as in his poem “The Wings of Daylight”.

… There is a lot of remembering in the poems, persisting, believing in a good world going on beyond him and after him. "A national-treasure-level talent for hope:"

Love at First Sight by Jennifer Maier: we read, but it was a full docket, so we didn't discuss.

Sonnet 137: I asked David why he said this was not one of Shakespeare's better sonnets.
As a response to Maier's poem, "Blind fool love... The eyes "know what beauty is, see where it lies, Yet what the best is take the worst to be."
but we concurred, the sonnet has too much intellect not enough heart...

(not everyone has gentians in his house...)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 21

September Is by Mary Jo Bang* (discussed at Rundel on 9/29/16_
Ever After by Joyce Sutphen
Metaphors Of A Magnifico - by Wallace Stevens
At the Moment by Joyce Sutphen
Pluto by Maggie Dietz,
Magdalene Afterwards, Marie Howe

compare her work with that of her mentor, Stanley Kunitz. I attached this passage of the "testing tree" to the packet.
you might enjoy reading how she came about writing them: at the top is “more” which if you click on it will take you to “about this poem”

You might wish to compare her work with that of her mentor, Stanley Kunitz –
below the final stanza of his poem, The Testing Tree
In a murderous time
the heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking.
It is necessary to go
through dark and deeper dark
and not to turn.
I am looking for the trail.
Where is my testing-tree?
Give me back my stones!

Just looking at the titles, where does your mind go? How would you write a poem to follow the words?
I love that a poem could be fiction as well as truth, but what nabs us is the telling.

Kathy's comments:
---Mary Jo Bang poem, September Is --- her recursive use of memory, enigma, in trying to understand the unreality of a terrible loss. We thought part of its power was that it could express our collective cultural loss after 9-11 and also express the very personal loss of the author's young adult son to an overdose , or anyone's deep personal loss.
---We were glad you gave us the Pluto poem (humor) and the 2 Joyce Sutphen poems ( accessible and meaningful).
Wallace Stevens poem, Metaphors of a Magnifico left us scratching our heads but most agreed the tone was ominous although couldn't say specifically why.
​---​Marie Howe's Magdalene ​Afterwards ---how does Magdelene look throughout history, across cultures, for women today? ​What does it mean? What does one do, after a tragic death to get to transcendence?
---Some of us were familiar with Kunitz's Testing Tree and thought it deserved looking at the whole poem. Jan B. mentioned this link which I said I would pass along for you to send to the group. Kunitz's Testing Tree (full poem), his preface on poetry (if you want to skip the blogger comments at the beginning, scroll down to the words "...Before the poem itself - a prose bit from Stanley, which I hope is also evocative and useful ​..."​ ​)​

September 14-- Open (some of these for Rundel for September)

Strike-Slip by Arthur Sze
The Sense Of The Sleight-Of-Hand Man - Poem by Wallace Stevens
Preamble to the Instructions on How to Wind a Watch by Julio Cortázar
A Disillusionment Of Ten O'Clock - by Wallace Stevens
The Street Octavio Paz
Gettysburg by Robert Schultz
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Night by Robert Schultz
Green Man by Robert Schultz

The Arthur Sze, selected because he is reading at MCC on September 29.
The three Robert Schultz because of the current exhibit at the MAG, "War Stories"
If you have not been to the MAG to see the exhibit “War Stories”, I highly recommend it. It is two parts: 45 textile works “Afghan War Rugs” and “War Memoranda: Photography, Walt Whitman, and Renewal by Binh Danh and Robert Schultz. The last three poems are by Robert Schultz, copied from the exhibit.

I will look forward to hearing how you respond to the poems… it is a rich tapestry, with smooth upsides and knotty undersides. If you do not get to all the poems, slate them for the following week. If someone could take notes and let me know the main points of discussion I’d appreciate it.

Strike-Slip was discussed at Rundel on 9/29/16.

It is a sound poem.. the clack of prayer beads, the coelacanth (pronounced seel-a-canth)
and the glowing eel in the darkness... enjambments layering possibilities and a sense of geographic jumping around.

Also the 3 Schultz poems:
Gettysburg: hard not to read "corpse" as copse of trees...
Green and bronze... as in medals as in keeping alive perhaps... The book "Murdering Angels" came up.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Night: strong verbs draw me in: jabs. broods. jets crying down. gape (like tunnels) sobs, cling, climb... The first part describes an approach; the second part, imagining the lives of those commemorated.

Green man: favored per. 4 lines per stanza.
First sentence ends on the first line of the second stanza. Second sentence. "His wife stil grieves". Third sentence, repeat of the first two lines. Powerful. War... what would make us commit to loss of life? Subterfuge of green in camouflage; hiding in green jungles yet killed.
Leaves as noun and verb.
Narrowed conversation.

We loved the humor in the Cortázar. Gift? ironic view of time as retiree's watch... but more...
the turn of the last sentence calls you to think about gift.. and what you have to offer...

poems for September 7

September 1913 by William Butler Yeats
Crows by Marilyn Nelson
Last August Hours Before the Year 2000 by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Secret in the Mirror by Alberto Ríos
I Am Merely Posing for a Photograph by Juan Felipe Herrera
VII by Mark Strand

The poems this week did not peel their layers easily, but rather required a prerequisite tolerance for opacity. What makes a poem accessible? What do we each want to see in a poem – and does every poem have to have it?
Starting with the Yeats, this is perhaps not one of his lyric masterpieces, with the repeating lament, in the “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.” which changes to a mournful resignation:
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
They’re with O’Leary in the grave.

Considerations on the end of one way of life continue with Marilyn Nelson’s poem which starts out reminding us to notice each “is” (as opposed to emptiness...) the crow’s scavanging has a neologism, “food’s here”- where the “is” is contracted to food... man-made contrasts with the with the larger idea of the earth’s awareness – which perhaps is like Rios’ poem about the mirror. Naomi’s poem considers the roots of old as a new millenium arrives. Rios notices more than his own reflection, but a sense of decoding a secret in “daily detritus” and smears in the mirror. Who is this small self, living in this man-made world where the perceptions of codes, like the self, are like codes to be understood.

Perhaps we are used to such poems with good sounds, a little enigma, but not too much.
The Herrera took more work, perhaps like many Latin American poems laced with surrealism, a sense of a narrative, then leaving a narrative about an illegal immigrant.
Back to identity... and being in a place by accident... like you – how are any of us “native” to land? Eyes. Colors. Listen closely. How does he mean “amber” as in thighs and serum... which comes after the blinding “white gray rubble “
how many ways can you understand, “wait, I just thought—what if this is not visible”

We ended with the Mark Strand... A good poem cannot be paraphrased... but he does earn the final lines:
“To feel yourself wake into change, as if your change
Were immense and figured into the heavens’ longing.”