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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Poems for July 20

I Am Waiting BY LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI
Experience by Carl Sandburg, 1878 - 1967
BLEECKER STREET By Philip Schultz
A Script BY ULADZIMIR NIAKLIAEU
TRANSLATED BY VALZHYNA MORT


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.
https://thesunmagazine.org/issues/486/the_skeleton_gets_up_and_walks

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.
http://youtu.be/iab4PwyYIeQ

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: http://english.emory.edu/classes/paintings&poems/auden.html

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.)

Good Bones BY MAGGIE SMITH

**
Discussion:
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?


poems for July 6


I don’t know if any of you struggle with long poems that go on for pages and pages, but the newest issue of the American Poetry Review is full of them.
The last poem by Gregory Orr has 17 parts, and goes on for 2 pages of the Review. I only include part I.
One idea I had was to read this long poem out loud, passing the APR in which it appears from person to person and see how it works. Otherwise,
I would have to type it all up, to share via email, so perhaps you can let me know if you feel it is worth it.
What advantages like in the length of a poem? I have included a few short ones. I look forward to your comments as we share them!
I have gathered poems for the next two weeks… maybe they’ll even take us to three weeks… It starts with a tribute to July 4th…

As ever thank you all for the fun, the wit and savvy in the sharing.

POEMS
América by Richard Blanco (John proposes this link: http://youtu.be/iab4PwyYIeQ
he reads the poem starting at 6:06, but the introduction is worthwhile.)

The World Has Need of You by Ellen Bass
Prairie Dawn by Willa Cather
Like Any Good American Brynn Saito
Roadside Attractions with the Dogs of America by Ada Limón,
Poem to my Litter by Max Ritvo


Although I was not there, I believe the following report sums up the session July 6:
It was, as usual, a fun time and the depth and breadth of insights and understanding sometimes dazzling. I am sending you my take on the proceedings as in a view by an outside observer. There will be no William Blake visions, just a few lines that I have not touched up to further clarify the short tale, or, in this case, tail.
The scene is a nearly stagnant pond ringed in algae. There are 17 old rowboats, some sunken, all abandoned, each attached to a long, narrow , protruding dock.
A sudden wind from my left stirred both the water and the boats enough so that many pulled loose from their rotting ropes and they began to drift to the east, some continuing to settle lower in the brackish water. Three bullfrogs were bellowing and even lesser croaks came up sharp , carrying raspy tones like personal jibes.
Most of the scows drifted on to the dam above the falls: a few now gave only their upturned sterns to view.
It was sights and sounds to bring forth thoughts of poems in free verse, the reading of which muddied further the nearly opaque water of the shallow Lethe Pond.
It was a hot and sunny day , an atmosphere unlike the usual, different from any I can remember. It was, in the mind of a quiet little field mouse, something merveilleux.
Yours, in mousy, quiet, un-assumption,

Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 29


We discussed string theory last Wednesday… but this a different take. Although we are beyond spring, Sutphen’s poem goes beyond season.
I know we once discussed “Ramages” years ago — but sometimes it’s fun to discuss something we haven’t seen for a while. John suggested we discuss “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, another favorite discussed long ago. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45236

String Theory by Ronald Wallace
Some Glad Morning by Joyce Sutphen
THE SLIM FIR-SEEDS by Robert Bly + link http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2008/03/01/scripts/bly.shtml
Honeymoon by Dorianne Laux
How to Get There BY PHILIP LEVINE


The opening poem plays on the pun of "strings" -- violins and quartets, fugues and gossip... which I remember in French as "rumeur", that undercurrent and rustling in trees, running in the streets in Hugo's poem.
Many associations came up: the incident of "Live art of Ants in 1970..." how the display of patterns and structure was presented as art, but after a few days the colony died... cannot take something away from vibrations... (Lewis Thomas: Lives of a Cell...) Judith brought up that many kids these days might not understand the flowers in Disney's Fantasia... -- how our electronic age removes us from the natural world -- how many people know the shape and name of the plant "butter and eggs" ?

The real subject, David summarized, is gossip... metaphor for essential vibration.
What status does gossip have?

Don, as musician made sure we understood the difference between the party game of gossip as opposed to a few fugue. John brought up tuning... how it takes a while for a string to find its pitch...

The importance of spinning a yarn... how flying a part... could mean apart, as in break up, but also hoisting up
the part we are, realizing we are interconnected.

The Sutphen poem begins and ends with a sense of catching a moment of gladness. One COULD get techy, which I did when someone wondered about "cherry blossoms whistling down the track" and find the names of different trains in Japan -- one of which is the Cherry Blossom -- but there are other names, like the Green Leaf, which echoes in the opening stanza.( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_named_passenger_trains_of_Japan )
Or just let the cherries we the harbinger of Spring!!!!

The opening is brilliant: One day, something very old...
do you expect "happened again." ? The baseball imagery in stanza 2 left a few participants shrugging their shoulders, but the poem over all binds us in, remembering the scent of roses gone by... the gladness that recollection can seem so vivid through the power of words.

The reading, line by line of the "ramage" by Bly was delicious...
the sound works towards the meaning in subtle ways... the paradox of permanent/impermanent -- soul/body...
Kathy recalled the title of the book these are from: Turkish Pears... and the tunings of these sings...
is like that of a stringed instrument...one has to deal with it. Add the meaning after the sound...
David questioned some of the word choice, for instance, engines are not imperishable but undeterrable...
perhaps, but if the engine is the immortal element of the soul perhaps Bly's choice should stand. As Judith introduced her story, "In my even more pretentious days.." recalling a professor who could not remember the name of a world poet... that Chinese poet... Tu Fu, upon which she then wrote a paper bringing in
Tagore: "I shall die again and again knowing life is inexhaustible..."

I believe John brought up this proverb, thinking of the word "Kingdom": "When an elder dies... a library goes"

In the last two poems, I called attention to the form.
Honeymoon is one block of free verse;
How to Get there is in staggered tercets with line breaks that propel you to the next stanza in surprising ways,
like dominant 7ths asking for resolution.

I love how form influences the over all meaning. Honeymoon gives a "heartbeat in the ear" with the rhythm in the lines... -- the advantage David pointed out of Frost or Milton, where emotion is in the iambic stretch of each line propels one to the next. The poem gives a sense of a love story -- enduring affection..

The Levine poem reminded us of 9/11 and many stories came up, ranging from accounts of survivor guilt to the less- advertised fact that 25,000 people got out of the buildings...
The poem was also reminiscent of riots in 68, blackpower...

The line breaks arouse curiosity... where are we going (like title)
the larger metaphors of collection box... hush money... iou’s
badly distributed wealth in this country.













Poems for June 22


Lines After Orlando by Jeff Oaks
The crowd at the ball game by William Carlos Williams

INVISIBLE – by Ann Giard-Chase
(winner of the April Ekphrastic challenge responding to “Into the Mystic” by Robert Dash.)
Comment from the artist, Robert Dash, on his selection: “After reading all of the wonderful poems over several times, and letting them sift through my days, I’ve chosen the poem ‘Invisible’ by Ann Giard-Chase. ‘Invisible’ because it has a sense of eternity, of blending with the Great Mystery. The centerpiece—’Listen! Can you hear the stars?/ They speak of a light you cannot see,/ waves that won’t lie still/ but swirl and flail like fish/ in a net, like wings or sails/ caught in an invisible rolling sea’—is a joyous celebration of the wild miracle that is existence. The poet welcomes grief into her lines, but I feel her fierce love for life, and all these elements echo what my photograph means to me. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this inspiring process, and thank you to all of the poets who sent their fascinating work!”

http://www.rattle.com/ekphrastic/

Darkness of the Subjunctive BY PAUL HOOVER
Walking Around - by Pablo Neruda Translated by Robert Bly
MEMORY of MY FATHER.................. by .Patrick Kavanagh, Collected Poems.


**
Happy Father's day to all fathers... This group of poems wasn't particularly geared for "role of fathers" or celebration or memories of fathers growing up, but each week, no matter what the poem, whatever is happening in the world has a way of sliding in gently.

The first poem on first read, could feel like one person is being talked about... but on second read, each line could be a different person... who was killed in Orlando -- and who was the father of the killer and how are we all at risk both for striking out, not knowing how things build up in us until released like a time bomb, as one person put it. We don't understand much about insanity, the difference between "anger and anguish"... and yet the poem goes on further to suggest a strange American dream, "people/ you were allowed to imagine were beautiful". It is a haunting poem where lines point at more than the recent incident in Orlando.

The second poem takes as setting the metaphor of baseball, as American as apple pie... to look at how a crowd functions at the game. Comments included:
baseball as one of the more intellectual games --and how the couplets in the poem unfolded in a similar mathematical detail the uselessness of the crowd, the venom, the beauty in detail, and the ending couplets leave you wondering -- how do you "laugh in detail"...


"Williams fears and loves the convergence of unity and diversity in baseball. Their apparent classlessness makes the crowd far more progressive than the game itself, thus justifying a poem about baseball that only glancingly mentions what happens on the field. 'Spring and All' generally promulgates aspects of democratic culture apt for the modernist keen to observe fragmentation, cultural breakdown, disarray, and the reversal of traditional subject-object relations (observing the seers seeing rather than simply reporting the seen). The modernist's fan-centered game bore out Jane Addams' more overtly political question: Did not baseball belong to "the undoubted power of public recreation to bring together all classes of a community in the modern city unhappily so full of devices for keeping men apart?"
https://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/poetry/crossroads/spotlight_on_a_poem/al_filreis_on_william_carlos_wil/

Our group went on to address the power of the crowd in the awakening of fascism... 1909-1939 and
social tensions in baseball, exclusions of Jews, blacks, racism baseball as the national agora.

The third poem (see last week, the choice by the poet running the ekphrastic challenge -- "Here, Said the Ocean..." -- the lovely call and response action.) gives a sense of Buddhist thinking... how can you hear the stars (or one hand clapping) understand energetics of what we cannot rationally see? The group felt the poem bordered sentimentalizing here: a sorrow without a name/
streaking through the cosmos...but on the whole enjoyed the poem... the sense of mindfulness as energy.
The artist who chose the poem says this: "I’ve chosen the poem ‘Invisible’ by Ann Giard-Chase. ‘Invisible’ because it has a sense of eternity, of blending with the Great Mystery. The centerpiece—’Listen! Can you hear the stars?/ They speak of a light you cannot see,/ waves that won’t lie still/ but swirl and flail like fish/ in a net, like wings or sails/ caught in an invisible rolling sea’—is a joyous celebration of the wild miracle that is existence. The poet welcomes grief into her lines, but I feel her fierce love for life, and all these elements echo what my photograph means to me. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this inspiring process, and thank you to all of the poets who sent their fascinating work!”

http://www.rattle.com/ekphrastic/


Darkness of the Subjunctive BY PAUL HOOVER, led us to discuss the grammar of the subjunctive... "if" clauses, conditionals. The epigraph is this:
If it hadn’t rained, we would’ve gone to the beach.
— Phuc Tran

The story of chaos being given sense organs, and going mad because of it came up as well as
Plato’s cave where only shadows can be perceived... The dark, invisible reflecting in "mood" not tense of a verb... the shading that adds a feeling, wish, desire, not the actual "thing" is indeed mysterious.
How do you understand this part: "If we had been born, lived our lives, and died,/
we might have existed"??? The old saw, "A poem should not mean, but be." came up, as
meaning reduces possibilities... for infinite possibility cannot mean. I don't know if I would agree with Richard Eberhart who said, "If I could only live at the pitch of madness..."

Love the sense of humor in the story (told two ways by two different people):
two Boston Ladies on hearing the answer to "Where can I get scrod." reply,
"I never heard that in the pluperfect subjunctive... "
See Chaos machine: Columbus, Indiana... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdN6cv9bSnI

The Neruda poem, translated by Bly captures the ravages of man, nature, a bit of the political climate in which Neruda lives, and yet, harkens to universals, and such stories as Ulysses, the strange surrealism of Bosch, Eliot's tubers underground (I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,)
I love the opening:
"It so happens I am sick of being a man."
It is repeated again third stanza:

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

The juxtapositions of the repulsive with the beautiful -- the underneath with the mask with undertones of Zorba the Greek... lead to this line near the end: "there are mirrors that ought to have wept from shame and terror,"
I am reminded of the Polidori photographs of Cuba in the ending:
courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow dirty tears are falling.

Yes, we experience "the whole catastrophe" ...

Paul read aloud for us the Kavanagh poem. We discussed at length the last line:
"I was once your father."

It seems to point to the inching away forced by age -- and yet there's a tenderness in the word which keeps a father alive. One definition of old: "it’s all buttoning and unbuttoning."













Thursday, June 16, 2016

June 15

Ode to Things by Pablo Neruda
ODE TO BROKEN THINGS by Pablo Neruda
Ode to bread by Pablo Neruda
Epistle to Neruda by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
First Breath by Adam Lawrence Dyer from his his book, “Love Beyond God suggested by Emily:
inspired by the last lines of [HERE, SAID THE OCEAN] by Rodrigo Dela Pena, Jr. discussed last week.


June 8th, we heard with Neruda's Ode to Common Things, set to music by Cary Ratcliff. We could spend days discussing whether it detracted from the poem, as David put it, 'a tribute, but not a complement...".
Perhaps the same is true for translation which provides an echo to the original.
(It’s good to read him with a side-by-side translation. For instance, Ode to Common Things does not quite do justice to the Spanish, "Odas Elementales". What is elemental, essential? What is the difference between "fundamental" and useful? Neruda says his poetry "became clear and happy when it branche off toward humbler subjects and things." He invented a new form of a brief, sinuous line that leaves more white space than print

These questions aside (or as David is fond of saying, "Be that as it may"... what does the last line mean about the things that touch us, or that our hand touches? "they were so close that they were a part of my being, they were so alive with me that they lived half my life and will die half my death."

I sent this link provided by John https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm#S4 and suggests, since Neruda was communist, that he would have known about
The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof — As we become attached to things, are we at risk for being less invested to attachment to others, our society?
What is the role of politics? How do we tell and re-tell something important to us?
As the craftsman becomes replaced by the worker in a factory, the idea of the hand as maker turns into the hand as non-invested...
Connection through things, remembered as part and parcel of a life, one energy transferred to another to allow them to continue allows a beauty of life force. "The planet is sublime".

The discussion continued about collecting things, relationship to things, similarities between Blake and early Marx.

The next Ode, to broken things, had a sense of the story of creation and destruction-- beyond label of natural or unnatural forces-- I wonder if the original is reflected in the translation of "invisible, deliberate smasher" and "alarming breaker" (which in English serves as giant wave and destroyer as well as electric current interruptor)... the contradictions and paradox are strong:
clock-- with delicate blue guts
vibrated
among the broken glass
its wide heart
unsprung.
"dangerous fragility"
the flower pots tired of the violets...
broken memory /shining dust.

Even the useless things, the ones not used, everything subject to being broken...


Paul suggested the poem Epistle to Neruda by Yevgeny Yevtushenko — and so, of course, since he mentions Bread, I included the Ode to bread. Joyce brought a bilingual version of the odes, and loosely translated a quite different version than the one distributed. Judith brought in a delicious loaf of rye bread made with Guiness stout. The discussion went into bread, its making, the changing of its composition... bread as staff of life, symbol of communion, losing that power if not given freely.


Much different style than the Yevgeny Yevtushenko, which starts out with a portrait about Neruda... and gives us the delicious word "politutes' and attributes this to his confrere:

And Neruda comments, with a hint of slyness:
"A poet is
beyond the rise and fall of values.
It's not hard to remove us from the center,
but the spot where they set us down
becomes the center!"

And of course, "becomes the center, is off-center.

** How much and how long does a political poem last? Is poetry's key to longevity really about "being with the people to the bitter end?"
There was some joking about statues of famous people now in disfavor
moved from public eye.

The final poem, to quote David again, had a sense of the second chapter in Genesis... not the cerebral and more priestly first chapter, but mythic. Jan mentioned the poem celebrated for her the recent birth of her first grandson...
chpt. 2 of genesis... (mythic) not “word, let there be...

We ended speaking about Obama's speech about Orlando and Paul read a lovely Father's Day poem by Patrick Kavanagh:


MEMORY of MY FATHER.................. by .Patrick Kavanagh, Collected Poems.

Every old man I see
Reminds me of my father
When he had fallen in love with death
One time when sheaves were gathered.

That man I saw in Gardner Street
Stumble on the kerb was one,
He stared at me half eyed,
I might have been his son.

And I remember the musician
Faltering over his fiddle
In Bayswater, London,
He too set me the riddle.

Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me:
"I was once your father."





Poems for June 8

Poems given on June 8th:
[HERE, SAID THE OCEAN] by Rodrigo Dela Pena, Jr.

CASABIANCA by Elizabeth Bishop

Interpretation of a Poem by Frost by Thylias Moss
Grass by Carl Sandburg
The Speaker by Louis Jenkins
Blue by Carl Phillips


**
[HERE, SAID THE OCEAN] by Rodrigo Dela Pena, Jr.
Timothy Green, on his selection: “I’m always looking for the poem that works—but works like no other. With its concise and confident voice, Rodrigo Dela Pena, Jr., created the most unique artistic object to pair with this photograph. There’s beauty to the lines, but it’s also the kind of poem where imagination transcends intention, that pushes the boundaries of what can be articulated until it becomes something truly new.

This is an ekphrastic response to a surrealistic painting of ship on an ocean entitled, "Into the Mystic" by artist, Robert Dash, (Rattle challenge). The artist's choice of poem will be discussed June 22. The title is in brackets... as if also contained in a picture frame. Each element invites the others... ocean to ship...sails to wind, body to music, lyre to bones of ear,
except for the penultimate line of breath and heart... joining the last line, blank face of paper to the ink...
Some thought it reminiscent of Wordsworth, "The world is too much with us"... and Yeats,"Among School Children-- indeed the ship has a phantom feel which for me resonates in the lines
"Plato thought nature but a spume that plays
Upon a ghostly paradigm of things"

and the interconnectedness...

"how can one tell the dancer from the dance".
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?


The question came up, if the poem could stand by itself without the painting.
This is a recurring question about any ekphrastic response -- along with how one art embellishes, or perhaps changes not necessarily to the good, an understanding of the expression of another.


I chose CASABIANCA by Elizabeth Bishop because of the reference in the poem ( ) by Brenda Hillman discussed June 1-- passage below)

...Our mother tells a story of
going back to Brazil in the 1940s for a visit, after
she is engaged to be married to our father. In
my mind she stands on the deck of a ship with
several languages in her brain, holding her
notebooks. As the sea knows time, her words
know air.

"Love's the boy on the burning ship" comes from the early 19th c.
best-selling Liverpudlian poet Felicia Dorothy Hemans. She was an ambitious, prolific writer, and produced larger-scale works than "Casabianca" (1826).

The double-twist of Bishop's "Casabianca" turns melodrama into allegory: "Love's the boy stood on the burning deck,/ trying to recite "the boy stood on the/ burning deck". Somehow the figure in Bishop's poem, "stammering elocution" while the burning ship goes down, has more human pathos than the real child in the Hemans' poem. Casabianca was the captain...the father of the boy who told his son to remain with the ship. He didn’t answer him, because he was already dead... What is understood about love as loyalty if the boy is obstinate and burning... ?

Recited after the first poem, the idea of multiple facets of one thing interconnects: Love's the obstinate boy, the ship, even the swimming sailors... (who would like a stage on which to recite...) the burning boy.


The Thylias Moss poem is a deft "interpretation" using a young black woman's perspective recalling history. Unlike the emotional magic in Frost's poem, hers is personal and intellectual.
The quaint New England winter scene of "Stopping by Woods" is transformed We discussed the reference of Jim Crow, but what interested the group was curiosity about the poet -- and how to put ourselves in her place.
Perhaps Frost knew discrimination, understood how difficult it is to belong, but this poem seems not to address any issues Frost has, but rather subverts his poem to speak of the issues of emptiness, boundaries, "fast-to-melt idealism". Snow could be reference to cocaine, and horse as heroin. Her promise? That she bear Jim no bastards -- repeated twice. Are there two Jims? In that case does she sleep with both? Doubly important promise, since black and white is all nature reveals in winter.

It was enough to read the eloquently powerful Sandburg poem, penned in 1918.

A little comic relief delivered with a grim punch with the Louis Jenkins -- what does a speaker speak about? And what is your experience of life? The sermon-like message reminding us life is like a dream, drifts into the inspiration songs, words of which forgotten.

Carl Philips opens his poem with splayed fish, thighs... What does it mean to look for the stuff of dreams?
What throbs blue in the veins of his black daddy's knuckles. Images of black and blue give a bruised picture, paint the ache of the sorrow of blues, no wild blue yonder.