Saturday, August 7, 2010

Poems shared at Highlands -- July 20

The simple act of asking another human being, "What are you going through" is also a perfect starting point for appreciating poetry as a great conversation. I love listened to different responses to a poem, whether they concern analysis of pattern, admiring universal themes, or capture the magic of sound playing sense.

Thank you Claire, Anne, Gloria, Martha, David, Gerry, Pat, Evelyn, Ann D., Betty, Aline for sharing your insights and voices.

Euclid Alone: Edna St. Vincent Millay (poem from The Harp Weaver, 1923)
Note how many times she uses the word "Beauty"; the embraced rhyme; The long second sentence ending on the 8th line. The embraced rhyme in the Octave; eff; eef; in the last six lines; the enjambments cease/to ponder on themselves
they stare/at nothing
nowhere/in shapes of shifting lineage;
let geese/gabble
seek release/from dusty bondage
how those who prate are not the Fortunate...


Can you imagine: Mary Oliver

Have you ever asked what trees do, when we're not looking?
In seventeen lines, Oliver dares us to imagine... and provides a compelling sketch of what it is to embrace acceptance.

"Surely you can't imagine/
they don't dance, from the root up wishing/
to travel a little"

What perfect balance of a double negative and line break -- a real kick to wake up our imagination, re-examine wishes, wants, (more sun, or just as avidly/more shade) and then

"surely you can't imagine they just /
stand there loving every/
minute of it"

"Just" is repeated -- with the clout of its double function -- an implied justice (trees are JUST, (adj.) and are not complicated: they just stand, want just as avidly -- with adverbial emphasis -- the paradoxical desire for shade and sun.

Used colloquially, "just" is either unnecessarily redundant, or adds a flavor. Here, Oliver
establishes a spotlight on desire, and the motionless "being" -- a zen-like acceptance which allows love of everything (and nothing different) the birds, the emptiness, the soundless years thickening into dark rings. The patience and happiness to deal with the capricious wind.

And the reader has a chance to re-imagine himself as tree in storm, in seasons,
a Pascalian spirit of "roseau pensant" bending with the wind.


Other poems discussed:

Her Kind by Anne Sexton (self-portrait with fairy tale quality)
How it is: Maxine Kumin (elegy for Sexton)
Parents' Pantoum: Carolyn Kizer (poem for Kumin)

The inter-relatedness of poems and poets carrying the conversation.

The last poem was Dorianne Laux's "Timing", which appeared in APR, Vol. 39, No. 4

Helene Cixous provided the epigraph for a book called "Cries of the Spirit" ed. by Marilyn Sewell, 1991 which collects poems by women and organizes them into themes.

"When I write, it's everything we don't know we can be that is written out of me, without exclusions without stipulation, and everything we will be calls us to the unflagging, intoxicating, unappeasable search for love. In one nother we will never be lacking."

I think of Wilbur, "Love calls us to the things of this world".

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