Wednesday, May 30, 2012

poems for June 6

Pasture by Ben Clark
Cello's Teardrop Melody by Paul Gillie
to be sent separately: My New American Lawn, Alan Michael Parker (APR, 2012)
My Son, Under the Waterfall by Alan Michael Parker (Writer’s Almanac, 2009)
Lives – by Rimbaud

Where to begin? Perhaps the best place is the atmosphere 14 people generate,
reading aloud two poems that chose couplets, one poem with a preambling epigram about wood for a cello, and looking at two versions of translation of a poem from over 140 years ago...

"Pasture" is a complex poem, juxtaposing opposites like prayer and stalking with a bat; murder of lightening bugs and "visioning" angels; how to understand the sacred verb "anointing" with war paint, and then, without saying the word dead, the mother is pronounced into a clearing,
the adjective "thin" linking mother/son with her nightgown/his sweaty chest. We all sensed the rage...

The title of Cello's Teardrop Melody might trigger the imagination... but brought forth associations with nature -- where the wood comes from, the sounds of birds in the very spruce which provides a cello's form -- first the hand holds the bow... then drags the bow.. a synaesthesia of movement and sound and shape... Marcie asked if one didn't like nature, would one still like the poem -- Larry confirmed. A beautiful poem of connection/separation, the sense of a life cycle of trees and an entire year of school curriculum to think about --
ecology, music, words, geography -- from forests of England to Brazil and Pernambucco.

My Son, Under the Waterfall by Alan Michael Parker (who also wrote "My New American Lawn")
is a delightful snapshot of what a 13 year old can be and also the joy of waiting a turn
on "sliding rock" or under a waterfall... perhaps the tone is adolescent -- and yet, it is all of us, "everything seems/ not to have happened, life itself, and yet be/
dumped upon you". How do you hold the voice of a girl? the continuations and turns are delightful, the girl, being the one who calls on a Friday to ask about homework (hmmmmm) and feelings any adult can relate to "keep hold

of these feelings, of each single feeling
no matter the future, to stay true to what you feel"
only to get back to 13 year old reality next stanza:

"and not to give the next kid a turn"

Marcie asked another good question. Did anyone not like this poem? No. We loved it.
childhood memories revived and a comforting sense of recognition, yet beyond those adolescent years.

We ended with "Lives" -- pointing out the differences from the translations.. Ashbery captures "Amazement and strength that dazzles" -- the artist stance that requires an outrageous announcement of "this is what I do." Marcie was reminded of the music man...

and the whole sessions ended too soon.

No comments: