Thursday, February 3, 2011

po+sp: Feb. 3

Poetry and Spirituality sounds like to long a title... Spirit-poality sounds like I'm lisping...
po+sp hopefully won't offend anyone... like poetry to be eaten with a spoon. with a big AND.
Poetry AND all that is involved with the spirit. This month's theme: passion.

What is passion? What words come to mind...
John : Spanish music;
Catherine: Life giving
Martin: intensity
Elaine : learning, opening,
Phyllis: music

And we started to nod our heads. A sense of surrender to greater life.

The poems distributed: 3 by editor of Poetry Magazine, Christian Wiman, who is battling cancer, and one by the Black poet, Paul Lawrence Dunbar who addresses the problem of the American smile... thin paste of convention that cannot approximate inner fire -- or a man, woman, white or black, but hits at the feeling of receiving a smile that won't let you in.
From a Window – Christian Wiman

The idea of tree as Jungian symbol of life is definitely working. It is also the main symbol of the inner self. (universal Cosmic goddess. Ydrassil. the magical tree produced from a branch... Cinderella) I brought up the idea of "The Triumph of Time" where the tree is referred to half blossom, half withered; one city burning, another a symbolic Babylon.

the idea of seeing something "kaleidoscopically" -- broken down into pieces, and swirled into other forms has a sense of the fractal regenerating forms.
The last line is so unexpected, one re-reads the poem. How joy is not something that comes without some sort of "breaking".
We were reminded of Anne Frank's tree... of Etty Hilvesum
Clearing – Christian Wiman

This poem's title already "clears" the way for multiple meaning of both noun and verb,
Literal and metaphorical clearing. The sounds are beautiful, meditative, the repetitions
wind beautifully through sentences looped through lines.
He does not use fancy speech, yet invents words such as " unsuffered seasons of wind", "wildflowered ground" and "word-riddled remnants"
where suffering, wildness, riddles have as much place as seasons, flowers, words; wind, ground, remnants.

The clearing and seeing through the harshness seems to allow a progression from a more Apollonian-intellectual realm to a more gut-heart instinctual Dionysian realm.
The mind-clearing cold shifts from depths of cold to mild… then the blaze

and again -- a breakthrough -- the burn and rust -- and
a man could suddenly want his life,
feel it blaze in him and mean,

how that word "mean" poised on the edge of a line-- held in place with a comma, and then
the closing lines:

as for a moment I believed,
before I walked on.

This is not a fixed place. Passion is not a fixed flame.

Reading Herodotus – Christian Wiman

Here, knowing that Herodotus wrote a history of the world, allows the reader an introduction to "world". Not an easy poem.
The word "tenderness" made me think of Galway Kinnell saying every poem should be called "Tenderness" -- I can't remember the context, but my mind gallops to the idea that such a soothing panacea is possible only by writing with great empathy. And that, like Naomi Shihab Nye explains in her poem "Kindness" cannot be understood until experience allows you many gates, lenses, trials.

The strange tree was understood to be the tree of generations
We discussed the woman "cursing her gods" -- understood this way: She gives up her religion and her discovered religion has the original language of praise. Another person put it this way:
Enormity of loss testifies to value of what had existed.
The ending strikes hard.

Each new child will learn these stories in some manner. Religion cannot mask and is a poor substitute for life. One person asked:
Are we doomed to squander our children, like cannon fodder?
Another criticized religion for pretending that life is a gift not a curse.
The Jungians softly held out both hands: one holds all perspectives to truly understand.

The Made to Order Smile – Paul Laurence Dunbar

What the speaker says, and what the poet says are not necessarily the same thing.
However, this speaker does not trust women, for whatever reason.

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