Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Poems discussed 6/7: Maxine Kumin, Surprises; Sharon Olds, The Talk;

What is the poem stewing in? How is the reader engaged?
So started our discussion -- and we admired the deft workmanship of Kumin, preparing us for "surprise" and the delight that the surprise could not be guessed! Now, THAT makes poetry fun!

if a line ends with 100...
the reader is given a chance to think of all the 100 things -- in this case, covered with dew that the morning sun licks off...

After 15 summers....
and the reader has not only a line break, but a stanza break, and the next words fall weightily, on what in French is called "le rejet" of the enjambment, "of failure", and the "f" of fifteen
slides into the "f" of suffer" sucked into the dark vowel sound of "u" ... glut, success, clustered, and a delightful pull of su/ccess and su/ffer --

and we can laugh with the flip tone, "doubtless this means..." but that stanza ends with "beauty" enjambed to "albeit trampled..."

So a poem is set up, we are engaged, and then we have the comparison of Mother's roses... and a small portrait of mother... we can see the little girl observing her mother...
and see the older woman this little girl now is, and value her look, "backward longer than forward, nothing/ too small to remember, nothing to slight/ to stand in awe of, / her every washday (back to the opening stanza's dew)

Monday baked stuffed peppers (as in the ones that after 15 years are successful!)
full of the leftovers she called surprises.

Without telling us, we understand.


A very different telling with Sharon Olds, from an anthology called "Poetry Speaks Who I am".
Perhaps that is the only story (according to Northrup Frye)...

The identity of an eight year old as a sibling... and what lies behind the cry
"I hate being a person" -- and that pain of diving into the mother --
and she cannot swim, the child cannot swim." Because the poem is told in third person,
the she gathers power as both mother and daughter.

No comments: