Wednesday, January 25, 2012

O pen January 25: judgments: embarrassment; what touches us

Poems for January 23 (meaning the week of Jan. 23 -- apologies). We met 1/25 !

From Sue Ann Simar, Editor of 10 x 3
The Vigilante
Be up at sunrise, a look of determination in your eye./ Seize your weapon and follow my tracks./ Black on white, a savage fate...the striking arms of the reader.
Flyleaf by Michael Gessner
Trees Again by Francis Santaquilani
About Face by Alice Fulton
St. Roach by Muriel Ruykeyser

Perhaps a theme of the poems this week revolves around judgment and what touches us.
What makes us squirm, reject others, shirk from touching the unfamiliar? Perhaps it is an innate, protective mechanism for our survival, but when it has to do with judgment about another person, we tread on grey areas.

The comment by Sue Ann Simar is on the latest edition of the ezine 10X3: the idea is either to choose 3 poets w/ 10 poems, or 3 poems by 10 poets — flyleaf was taken from a previous issue of it.

In the first poem, Flyleaf, the sweep of sounds makes rounds through four stanzas which some bumps of mixed metaphors, such as the rough spot of a “fist” which doesn’t quite work for the idea of an onion-skin flyleaf that could flutter along with “a feathery crowd/of angels jostling in awe”. Perhaps he could have used soapbubbles for a metaphor for the fragility of creation, wonder and its collapse. Marcie came up with this comparison: you ask a question, and someone answers by singing a tune which does not correspond. Why the improper use so easily...than this instead of as this with the slant rhyme of fist/this ?

We enjoyed the second poem, "Trees Again" even more than "We are Tiger" by the same poet (discussed last week). Joyce brought in research on kudzu and we spent a few minutes listening to James Wright read his poem, "Kudzu" outloud. The juxtaposition between the angry frost and suffocating blanket of kudzu gives an ominous upper hand to the frost. The shrill EE sound in 6 mentions of tree, three, leaves, weeks, week-end, the trees still not tree, until the wind bites into the kudzu, and tree becomes tree again, works to support the metaphor. The G's on the penultimate line, contrast with the trees, happy to seen for what they are, (not gaudy,(nor part of a medieval knight and dragon story), or gaping ghosts). The "or" hanging as the last word enjambs to the surprise of the father's stern, pointed face.

A good example of a poem which in just a few words creates a powerful image, captures a scene and describes the struggle of speaker with his father without telling us about it.

About Face: The recognition of embarassment as key ingredient of our authenticity, vulnerability— and how beautifully title and final sentence work.

Last week, we saw Levin’s comment about “premeditated” poems and the importance of imagination. I felt with the first poem, the poet was close to being surprised at what he didn’t quite expect. And yet, compared to Santaquilani’s ending line, which comes as a real surprise to the reader, the difference lies perhaps in being close to the truth of the emotion expressed. In Fulton’s poem, she captures the teen-age tone of what is hip and what so, like, totally, embarassing. It is clever, and captures us in the mirror, reminding us to face up to things. The last stanza pens the uncontrollable result of embarrassment
one never wants to pretend. A mirror we almost appreciate. and then her brilliant
“I almost admire it. I almost wrote despise.” Which brings us full circle to the title, About Face. About losing face; about how our face betrays us. About saving face,
and this “it” of coming dangerously close to authentic. She didn’t write, I almost wrote despise IT. She almost wrote despise – that general landscape of facing something unpleasant in ourselves.

Wouldn't you want every school child to read St. Roach and then discuss racism? Whether street, saint or S.T. Roach*, black coach who was noted for his active role in integrating sports, civic affairs, this is a multi-layered poem by activist poet, Rukeyser, who died on Lincoln's birthday in 1980. The violence and injustice she saw, in the United States and abroad, led her poetry to function as a mode of social protest. She felt a deep responsibility to comment on human issues and was particularly concerned with inequalities of sex, race and class.
St. as Saint, or Street, or S.T. followed by roach.
Carmine was reminded of Hebrews 13:2
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

The biblical tone “for that” (six times in the past tense) followed by “and that” (four times in the present tense) and “but that” (twice, present progressive accusation followed by present tense answer that shows it is not based on reason), weaves the importance of the roots of our language, the cultural connotations of songs, food in order to know someone else. The verb touch (close to the sound of teach) is used twice; past tense in 2nd line and first line 2nd stanza and present tense on the final line of the poem.

The cause and effect of “they” on “I”, is powerful, swallowing up the “I could not tell you apart one from another” repeated again as for that I could not tell one from another.
Roaches as metaphor for despicable, are yet, fast, slender, and according to the poet, witty replete with a culture of their own and if given a chance, lovely to the touch.

for more poems by her: (Book of the Dead)

*If it is S.T. Roach,

From David Sanders: (who will speak on his new book on Frost at W&B 2/2)
Frost's "Figure a Poem Makes," is one of the few prose statements he actually prepared for the press. It's a brilliant knotty essay he composed as preface to his 1939 Collected Poems and used in all subsequent editions. In it he says that the poem "has an outcome that though unforeseen was predestined from the first image of the original mood--and indeed from the very mood. It is but a trick poem and no poem at all if the best of it was thought of first and saved for last." He concludes the whole piece by saying, "Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. A poem may be worked over once it is in being, but may not be worried into being. Its most precious quality will remain in having run itself and carried away the poet with it. Read it a hundred times; it will forever keep its freshness as a metal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded in surprise as it went."

From Kathy: oscar award nominee: 15 min film:

From Joyce: Wright reading Kudzu:

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