Thursday, September 29, 2011

O pen September 19 and 26 : images and sound

September 26: Ö – by Rita Dove
A few samples ofLorine Niedecker
Saving Just the Real – by Clarence Major
The Mind of Oatmeal – by Joanne Clarkson
Little Porch at Night – by Gibbons Ruark
Ö – by Rita Dove (2nd poem on podcast – also she says it in German: :

Rita Dove, first black woman, and youngest woman to be nominated as National Poet Laureate is known for her work with Black Identity. I love that she speaks fluent German and the Swedish umlauted "O" takes us to homonymic associations -- whether see/sea with the glass forehead; the rich overlay of present as time and gift;
Rather like a Chinese landscape with many foci, many centers, this first poem starts with human lips, forming sound -- the perimeter of an island -- and are we not islands? One word... changes the landscape, the neighborhood, the possibilities.

The clever line-endings, "we don't need much more to keep // things going.
you start out with one thing, end // up with another and nothing's / like it used to be, not even the future.

For Niedecker, both objectivist, but also soundscape artist, I am reminded of Milosz explaining "Epiphaneia" in his "Book of Luminous Things". It is that privileged moment when we intuitively grasp a deeper more esential reality.
The examples of economy, fragile formalities that do more with less, make reading her work an exercise in paying extreme attention. "Sound allows imagination to flower in ways logic would deny as irrational."
"I was the solitary plover
a pencil
for a wing-bone

addresses the process of writing -- but is so much more --
Friends of Niedecker created a website called "Solitary Plover".

Saving Just the Real perhaps reminds us of the 19th century, "Make it real" vs. the 20th century injunction, "make is new" -- although Major explores the new and liberty to explore the fragmenting of self... This short 14 line poem in two sentences mystified us. I offered that reading a poem one doesn't understand is an invitation to examine it more closely -- perhaps like St. Augustine -- "if no one asks me, I know. If I want to explain it to a person who asks, I do not know anymore..."

Everyone loved "The Mind of Oatmeal" -- one of the best demonstrations of alzheimers...

and the lovely villanelle by Gibbons Ruark ...
although he orders us around -- "summon the fireflies" -- but who cannot love the image "matches struck and gone" or "Morse code of the stars who've lost their places."

Apparently Sept. 19 everyone loved Stephen Dunn's Grudges and the two odes.
The group was puzzled about exactly what was going on in "Afterwords" for
example---two sisters, a couple with a sister having an affair with one
of them? etc. I find the beauty is the layering of nature -- the passing of summers from many viewpoints -- before the speaker was born, the various people who might have had a picnic in the spot... the play on afterwards and after word -- a sort of postscript for a story which is not told. Something is missing from the start, and the "you" which never bears a face, contradicts with a presence that must be released.

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