Wednesday, April 27, 2016

poems for April 20 and 21

Always on the Train by Ruth Stone

Great discussion today — but as usual, poems bring up more than discussion of poems. I did share another Ostriker poem at the beginning— “Spring" (see attachment)
And ended with reading the entire haiku of the last selection — enjoy "C Poems" with music as well!
It must be spring that I would send so much… and of course, next week will have a different drum beat. Take what you will and enjoy!

In view of Earth Day:
1) The cover of City magazine (see DSC05864)
2) Jim’s recommendation of apod: astronomy picture of the day:
The archive starts from June 16, 1998.
3) Phone Governor Cuomo— ​Seven days remain until the 401 Water Quality Certificate decision for "Constitution" pipeline must be announced.​ If Governor Cuomo fails to deny the certificate by April 26th​ his decision making power will be deferred to FERC which will decide for him.
FERC would immediately authorize the cutting of trees along the pipeline route and later begin laying pipe. Let's not ​sit back and ​allow our governor to abdicate his responsibility to prevent the degradation of forests, fields and streams (over 250 ​streams ​would be trenched), and to keep us safe from the harmful health impacts of fossil fuel infrastructure buildout.

Responses to poems:
David was reminded by the Ostriker poem of Elizabeth Bishop — “The Moose”
no matter what happens, there is room for joy.
John was reminded of Boulez “éclat” (dazzling burst) in Hillman’s recycle poem:
(about 10 min.)
There is also a youtube of “éclat: multiples” — about 30 min. of what to my ear is similar.

sending out poems for April 27-8 + Poetry Month

What should poets and poetry readers be thinking about or doing in these thirty days? Enclosed is a link to The American Academy of Poets with suggestions for activities, including a list of poems for “Poem in your pocket day, April 21. In it is also compiled a list from their poster (to be completed with lines and links) of their “Floregium of Poems”.

For April 27-8
For the poem, "There is no name yet" by Dorothy Lasky, I am reminded of Wordsworth's "Ode --
It is very long… so I attach as a link for your personal reflections…
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

You might enjoy this interview with Rios : : It is rather long, but he goes into how words resonate— how each line should be “the best line”and — his idea of “cleramancy” — how with few words, one can cast a spell…"We take a few words from the dictionary… and it’s like looking at the stars, except they are words”. . At the end, I include 3 of his “short poems”. His poem we discussed,
“ When Giving is all we have" he calls a poem of “ public purpose” and he relies on the epigraph to condense the poem into a few words. Rios, river, and his gifting to his son, a sensibility… an understanding about something which has no word, but the words help us get there. I loved the analogy about color — one has yellow, one has blue — green cannot happen without the two together. Thank you all!

Our Library has this saying on the front façade.
"The Shadows are behind you when you walk into the light"

One poet friend brought up the question of "authenticity or façade" in poetry...
This interview by Alberto Rios, reminded me of "mondegreens", the fun of singing Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods" to Fernando's Hideaway... and poems of public purpose, and calling on the cleramancy when words resonate to create what gets us to feel what has no word...

Looking over possibilities... Jo Carson... Robert Hayden (transformative qualities in literature); T.S. Eliot, The Comet, the Owl and the Galaxy... thanks to Astronomical picture a day...
Michael Cunningham, whose work,"The Hours" is translated, "ils vecurent heureux"


American Poets : April-Summer 2016
Role of poet... to explore language, reflect cultural music back to itself, to keep the unusual though alive... (Brenda Hillman) We will discuss her poem, "Species prepare to exist after money" in May/

I borrowed the word "cerements" from the interview with Rosanna Warren... "read poems as poems, not as cerements of Robert Penn.
Citing Catullus's translation of Sappho, "poetry finally is a family matter involving the strains of birth, love, power, death and inheritance."

Music as landscape : organizing principle, threaded with biography.

Marvelous article about Wallace Stevens and his legacy.. "Contemporary American Poetry and the Echo of Stevens"... The poem as costume, as disguise, dialogue... enactment.

The Man on the Dump...
The Glass of Water

"We cannot love the world as it is,
because the world, as it is, is impossible to love.

We have only to lust for it --
to lust for each other in it --

and somehow to make that suffice."

Terrance Hayes: Snow for Wallace Stevens... + references..

"Poetry is a response to the daily necessity of getting the world right."

"The way up and the way down are one." Heraclitus...

National Poetry Month

As you might know, April is "National Poetry Month…" What should poets and poetry readers be thinking about or doing in these thirty days? Enclosed is a link to The American Academy of Poets with suggestions for activities, including a list of poems for “Poem in your pocket day, April 21. In it is also compiled a list from their poster (to be completed with lines and links) of their “Floregium of Poems”.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

poems for April 13-14

Robert Graves is said to have remarked that there are only three themes for poetry—love, death, and the changing of the seasons...

(link to an article of Spring Poetry, from Poetry Magazine March 29, 2016)

Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Stricken by Jan Beatty
The Poem You Asked For by Larry Patrick Levis
Lost in the Milky Way by Linda Hogan
Daylight Saving Time Flies Like an Instagram of a Weasel Riding a Woodpecker & You Feel Everything Will Be Alright by Regie Cabico
Route Six by Stanley Kunitz
A Winter Morning by Edward Hirsch

Two poems by Ted Kooser: Weather Central; How to Foretell a Change in the Weather

We had a wonderful romp — starting with Hopkins Sprung rhythm; reading “Stricken” like a play, with one voice for the italics; chuckling at the Levis — both a clever “Ars Poetica” but a way of looking at process and how we live life; the American Indian “in-tuneness with nature” of Linda Hogan; the quality of Ginsberg’s “Howl” in the openly gay Filipino, Regie Cabico, the killer last line of the Kunitz and moving into “weather” with the two Koosers. The second one only has 2 sentences, and the feeling is, no matter how hard you try to explain and predict weather, even when you think you’ve covered every base… it’s no guarantee…

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Poems for April 6- 7

The Singing by CK Williams
Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry by Howard Nemerov
They shut me up in Prose – (445) by by Emily Dickinson
The visible and the in- by Marge Piercy
The Florist Wears Knee-Breeches by Wallace Stevens
Chaïm Soutine: The Errant Road, 1939 by Cole Swensen

The poem by CK Williams was selected from the article about him by Mihaela Moscaliuc in the last issue of the American Poetry Review speaking of “contact zone”, i.e. of the need and willingness to meet, engage and be moved by the “other”. “You must suspend judgment, without assumptions, be willing to reconstitute and reconstitue your private truths,resist the temptation of constructing the other in your own image, embrace incertitude as you attempt to inhabit another’s way of being in the world.”

What do we recognize; how do words invite our thinking; what is mirrored back to us?

We spent a long time on the CK Williams — reading it both stanza by stanza and line by line, which brings out a lurching rhythm that corresponds with the feel of the story… One person thought it would be interesting to give the poem to a rap singer…
Add some feeling to the words, which by themselves point to a lack of connection… The longer lines feel like narration, the shorter ones like small notes… David put forth his theory that really, any poem is about the difficulty of writing poetry… and as Frost specialist, compared how “the road not taken” is like this poem — what “conventions” and the whole deal of “rectify, redo, remake” as revision.
A crucial part of the poem comes towards the end… 3rd stanza before: “No one saw / no one heard /all the unasked and// unanswered questions//were left where they were.
The fact that there is no punctuation makes the “meaning” difficult… just as he points out. All the unasked questions are both object of “no one saw/heard” and subject (left where they were), mirroring the two people — one “singing” the other “observing the song”.
One person described the long discussion as a Rorsach test, revealing everyone’s personality and how we respond to race, to what is in control or not.

The Nemerov is an example of all poetry can provide… the sound of zzzz starts with “sparrows”, moving to the weather (freezing and drizzle) preparing us for the silver “aslant” in “invisible”. What is the line? If it had been prose, the last word would not be fell, nor the rhymed couplet at the end.
For Emily, the unrhymed quatrains except for the last two lines, juxtapose a “they” which seems quite conventional, as opposed to poetry. If you pronounce capitivity, as “captivi -tie...” it will rhyme with “I”. The question came up of who “Himself” is – the bird, or God.

Marge Piercy is clever with her title that implies an “invisible” as the inner part, or part in which one enters. The anaphor, “some people”, repeated three times, “some” repeated twice, completes a catalogue of people, as well as how we notice the “other” or not.

Again, the responses of the group, revealed the variety of attitudes possible both towards the poem, but also the way we wear our visible selves, and to what extend reveal what is let in.

Wallace Stevens plays with a title that throws us into the 18th century, a world of dreams, and a question of what is real in our subjective way of understanding.

Rae Armantrout, a language poet, captures a similar idea... how we think we recognize something, re-cognizing it in multiple ways. The possibilities, discoveries, the unasked,
unanswered questions... the way language creates meanings. Associations...
Comments ranged from “A well-loved child has many names” to Plato’s opinions on poets, satisfaction of music, repetition...
paradox ... thinking we’re seeing the same person...
periclitus... Voorhees... Funestes Memorius...

The group agreed that the Chaim Soutine painting is more powerful than Swenson’s interpretation of it... what do we recognize in image? How is that different than from just words along?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

March 30-31

How We Made a New Art on Old Ground by Eaven Boland
Poem by Thomas McGrath
Long Night Full Moon by D.A. Powell
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
Blue Dementia by Yusef Komunyakaa, 1947
The Gardenia by Cornelius Eady, 1954

Again and again, I pinch myself-- how is it we gather each week and again and again, find such sustenance from poems? Given two groups reading the same sets of poems, I find it interesting how differently the discussions go. Whereas on Wednesday, there was an engaged discussion about "new art on old ground" and the mix of history/nature poem and how to separate them, Thursday's group was less interested in the conceit. I find it always mysterious that a well-crafted poem leaves so many paths to follow.

To start with Eaven Boland, the first glance reveals quatrains, staggered as if a dialogue: justified lines: history;
indented lines: nature.
Rhyme of Estuary and history... truth and turn... rust, (metal) and how blood, oaths, armor "are unwritten." It's wonderful to have an Irishman who tells about the "whin bushes" whose color does indeed change from electric yellow, depending on the weather. Also, filled us in on the Battle that took place on the Boyne in 1690 -- one that determined which king, which religion would dominate...
Lucky to have an English professor who reminds us that the nature poem until the romantic revolution was a celebration of historical interest...
Sweet corrosion as oxymoron,
a sort of "digestive process", with a lingering loveliness? Shadows, shallow ford, bushes, the hush of silence in the sounds of the poem.

What ground (in art) is ever new, entirely? We build on what we know, on what has been, and also, no matter the changes of landscape, weather, we build on recognizing repetitions. Words help us sort it all out. We see what the poems says... until a change of weather...

McGrath provides a foil for this poem -- I love the opening line -- "I don't belong in this century"
and indeed, if we do not belong to our land, its history... how do we belong? I love the tone he establishes in the 2nd stanza, "I don't mean"... ending with a one line word. "Lost". The intimate "thou" gives it a sense of love poem, in spite of the bitterness about false values, twice-mentioned emptiness, like "stability" our modern fallacy...
People brought up McGrath's background as a dock worker, people whom Martin referred to as "smart ass guys". Smart, down to earth, which reinforces the contrast with the more poetic "gold wheel, silver, sun, moon", the more intimate and sacred overtones of the ending line, "Be Tou these things."

The next four poems are powerful examples of words well-chosen and placed to tell a story that elicits shock, horror, empathy. The title, "Long Night Full Moon", although in the reader's mind, broken into "long night" and "full moon", combines struggle with lunar madness, and light. However, the light,in three sources (fire, full moon, and the implied television sets on which one sees the news) does not illuminate the fact of a murder. "You only watch the news to find out..." sets a possible recriminatory statement about how we respond to media, what touches us or not. The tone of "station identification -- "Forecast ahead, but first" but it is not a word from our sponsor.

The author-poet explains:
“This poem was inspired by the death of Michael Brown, particularly the way in which Brown’s death and the ensuing protests were covered (or, in many cases, not covered) on mainstream media. Social media and the #BlackLivesMatter movement kept this story from being buried or ignored. This poem is about witness, the most powerful tool we have against injustice and state-sponsored violence, terror, discrimination, and murder. The poem is not an elegy. It is a report on America.”
—D. A. Powell

The next poem, "The Tradition", 14 lines with a rhyming couplet, matches trios that start with flowers and end with three names of those killed What we do to flowers... what happens to murderers, how complicated the world is, how police are doing a job no one wants... how truth and violence, and definitions get skewered in circumstance...

Komunyakaa's poem also brought a different flavor from each person. How do we hear a story, understand a life, read poetry of Witness... ? In the days... repeated, three times, and then today, and three men... How does one walk out of one's self/dreaming; lose oneself
all up inside love? The blues, the saxophones, or notes traded with ghosts.

We ended with Cornelius Eady's portrait of Billy Holiday. As Judith quoted Kipling, "If the daemon comes upon you, drift and obey" and extended the metaphor calling on an old fashioned water tap... to describe the quality of poem taking over.. Gardenia...the title, ends with the grit of her life, like a fist -- if a fist could sing -- a haunting image to consider.

I hope these few jagged notes will leave you wanting to read the poems again, and see where the "ponderings" take you.. I

Friday, March 18, 2016

Poems for March 23

The Fiddler of Dooney by W.B. Yeats
The Host of the Air by William Butler Yeats
Girlhood by Jonathan Galassi
Ithaca by C.P. Cavity (Emily brought up)
Two Husbands Meet in Heaven by Susan Dworski Nusbaum

The last two poems are grouped this way in Eureka Street: "Mortality made articulate : Two Comments"
Following me, old footprints by Chris Wallace-Crabbe
A deceptive calm by Chris Wallace-Crabbe

A father's tenderness, seeing what's ahead for his girl, the taste of"the color of crushed time"; the multiplicity of "Ithaca" which gives you reason for the marvelous journey; the fun of imagining 2 husbands, with a snapshot of their wife (and
I trust the group will enjoy Nusbaum's volume "What we Take with Us".).

I chose the Galassi is because Katha Pollitt used an epigram he provides in her poem Archeology we discussed 3/9
"Our real poems are already in us, and all we can do is dig.”
-Jonathan Galassi :

I will not be there except in spirit...

A note about Yeats from Elizabeth Bodien: “The Host of the Air,”
the host of the air are the Sluagh Gaoith (versus the host of Sidhe).
And the host of the air that lived in clouds and mist were the worst,
apparently said to steal brides.
Yes, notes indicate that the story is based on an old Gaelic ballad
from a woman in Balissodare in County Sligo
but it also may be that the host of the air may be interpreted more generally to refer to the
shared heritage that floats in the air of Ireland, the heritage that Yeats was so eager to breathe.

Summary by Kathy:
Paul gave us a lovely reading/recitation of the 2 Yeats poems. He also played a recording of Yeats himself reading his work. The group was split about discussion of Ithaka as some remembered reading it before. Bernie provided a solution - we listened to Sean Connery reading Ithaka on YouTube We spent the most time on Galassi's Girlhood and thought it a poem worthy of more attention. Lastly, we enjoyed ending the session with the humor of Two Husbands.