Friday, April 27, 2012

O Pen -- May 2

2 “favorite” poems offered by UR Alums on “Poem in your pocket day:
-- One Winter Afternoon, by ee cummings. offered by Lori Walter, UR Alum
-- Things to Think—by Robert Bly (offered by Betz (Marini) Petersen '98)
3 poems read at the “The Superior Donuts Poetry Jam” at GeVa, 4/21:
-- The Thirty-Eighth Year by Lucille Clifton
-- Consider Me – by Langston Hughes
-- Be Nobody’s Darling – by Alice Walker
Diary [Surface] --by Rachel Zucker
I prefer the imaginative approach of ee cummings and Robert Bly, (the first two poems we discussed today.) For Cummings, one UR alum said, "His poems always make me feel like I am in on some cosmic joke with the universe.” At least then, complexity is not so terrifying, but rather, something to play with... the sheer joy of being alive, as if a clown, entering a parentheses to explore that magical moment (when is becomes if), and time expands into possibilities, not predictions. Tell me which are your favorite lines in this poem! For me (and others) it is that opening parenthesis --
We discussed the complexity of this:
he was
whatever(first and last)
mostpeople fear most:
a mystery for which i’ve
no word except alive
which Cummings goes on to explain is completely (and miraculously) whole. But he’s not finished – but uses a semi-colon twice more, first with a negative restriction, an adverb/adjective oxymoron which has both “fun” and “really” in it, (funereally), to lead up to another adverb which looks like a combination of “ether” and “rally”, but not ethereal, (the adjectives being hilarious and serious) with yet another colon,
leading up to the fact of what kind of clown he is, another semi-colon, followed by one more contradiction of his silence singing like a bird. What fun writing!

We discussed Langston Hughes, "Consider Me", and how the first 6 lines are a beautifully succinct poem in and of themselves. Actually, Lucille Clifton's poem also works beautifully in a shortened version, as well as Cummings' poem, -- I don't think he needs the political ending -- although it was fun to have Mary recall how protests involved putting daisies in the nozzles of guns...

No one really understood Zucker's poem -- even diving under the surface to discover all sorts of incoherent sorts of things... We are honed to liking precision, as a group,
with a good dose of mystery -- but the craft and/or message needs to support whatever "the stakes" are at hand.

It is fine, as in Bly's case, to speak of something unnameably large -- his last stanza however feels authentic and personal -- and makes just enough universal fun of the fact, that if we are writing, we are not about to die... and perhaps, just perhaps it really is not necessary to work all the time, or worry about being forgiven.

Clifton's elegiac tone set the discussion about mothers/daughters, identity, and how it is at age 38, one would write something quite different than another time... and what does it mean "ordinary" -- not, unimportant, not someone to be ignored -- but rather,
a host of celebrations of "ordinary" ...

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