Thursday, April 19, 2012

discussion of O PEN April 18

We spoke a bit of Garcia Lorca and Hart Crane -- of Levine's wry humor, which allows us to access imagination both for grief and for "myths we live by". The parallel of having a headache by jumping back and forth from one language to another, then jumps to vision -- which instead of being a moment's relief as announced, shakes your head back at the image of a horrible accident or death. Just as Levine does not use "The Fall of Icarus" directly to make his point of an indifferent world,
"The Merciless God" is nonetheless set up to think of it, like neoclassical paintings using Renaissance religious settings for 19th century historical work, just as one thinks both of work accidents, hard luck of 1929, and Hart Crane's suicide off Brooklyn Bridge. Levine reminds us not to be frivolous -- he is talking about two men, and imagination shared in a way "that even ants in your own house won't forget" -- not imagination elevated to be some divine inspiration, but the very real,
important imagination we need for every day life.

The three poems from the April issue of Poetry Magazine prompted an equal amount of discussion:
Barot’s poem brought up the idea of what we bring to a poem in terms of what attitudes are shaping our reading. For instance, having just read the book “Talking to Trees” which is filled with “definitions” such as this: Faith: one part belief, two parts courage,
I found the opening line more “telling” which detracts from a poem’s power. And yet, yet saying what image is, then questioning it, coming to the conclusion that the speaker doesn’t know, is a fine example of how we explore what we hold in our mind, what we want to believe. What the poem doing is more important than what the poem is “teaching”. Death, from the title, to the image of the horse, and practices of the Shoshone which are not familiar to us, threads to the very last line, where the clock stops. The finality of a coffin changes once we start to call it “wooden overcoat” which image changes the detail of funerary box for the deceased to something protective, warm. A detail names... or does it? as the poem ends on “details.”
It reminds me of Robert Creeley’s “Patterns”
"The Pattern," (Creeley, Collected Poems, 294)

As soon as
I speak, I
speaks. It

it wants to
be free
but impassive lies

in the direction
of its
words. Let

x equal x. x
also equals x

speak to hear
myself speak?

had not
thought that some-
thing had such

undone. It

was an idea

of mine.

Jason Guriel’s poem explains “a magnetic personality” creating a verb out of Marc-Anthony, referring to Picasso and Gertrude Stein, with a delightful use of language play.

Michael Collier’s poem also pays tribute not only to Louise Bogan, her contribution to poetry, her difficult life, but imbeds loving to beloved, taming to tamed, cupping wildness lost along with the beloved, into parentheses as if to protect it. One of those short poems worthy of memorizing, to be able to think about.

The two Louise Bogan poems, also are worthy of memorizing. The 9 lines of tears in sleep combines familiar associations (Peter and the the Garden of Gethsemene but not 3 times the cock crew – all night long) and Clement Moore’s “Night Before Christmas”
(the moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave a luster to midnight); what is real and what false, what is joy and sorrow, how do we speak in tears? Although this is in the cage of sleep, the poem challenges us to think of the cages we enter during wakefulness.

As for the dragonfly — a more exquisite picture could not be drawn of its ephemeral beauty. We listened to her say it — she pronounces "predator" as PRE – DATE – OR which invites the imagination to break down the image into the double-life of butterflies.

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