Tuesday, July 3, 2012

discussion of poems of July 2

I've never seen a poem like this one: corny rhymes, the repeat of laughing
each line in the first quatrain, twice in the second, once in the third; repeat of green as woods, hill, and color of laughter (joy of it, air, merry with it picked up by meadows laughing with lively green). Lovely movement, like a breeze on a balmy summer day -- a sweet insouciance of a love poem.

Ingeborg Bachmann:
"In Advertisement she blends the bland hopes of advertisers with the syntax of lives full of very real broken hopes:

But where are we going
carefree be carefree
but what happens
best of all
when dead silence
sets in

This attention to syntax prepares us for the concern with pure language systems."
For more about her:

Martin was the one who saw by taking out "carefree", the poem became clearer.
What is promised to us in shiny advertisements? The poem, Reklame, is translated by James Anderson directly from the German as Advertisement. Born in 1926, Bachmann spent the 50's writing radio plays, the third of which is called "The Good God of Manhattan" which relates to this poem. What is this business of dreams?
What is it we say, refuse to say, cannot say, hold within us, like Rumpelstilskin
delighting "that no one knows his name". What do we launder with our silence?

But where are we going
when it grows dark and when it grows cold
but with music
what should we do

in facing the end

and to where do we carry
our questions and dread of all the years
but what happens

when dead silence

sets in


Bardo, by Peter Grizzi, is one of those poems one can read again and again, where
as discussion of it unrolls, more and more layers trigger more and more layers.
This is the sort of poem, where if you don't know what Bardo is, and it's the title, it would behoove you to do some research...
St. John of the Cross, Novalis, Midi, as perhaps noon, where there is no shadow, midhaven as safe harbor.

The Tibetan word bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state", and the meditative waiting stays for a moment the incessant business we "whir". Carmen noted that Midi is also a company which produces electronic equipment, which corresponds to the mechanical whine. The stuckness of ice... and possibility of understanding flow, the repeated negatives... the long I of white, and short i's of assymetries, imagination, winter, midi, midhaven, solstice... God as the name one cannot mention...

The penultimate couplet underlines the loneliness -- "if I say the words, will someone understand them" -- what do children understand of their parents, or parents of children; what do we understand of God, what does anyone understand of anyone -- as we use the words "whirr" and "nether"... to get back to the initial "mechanical whine".

Reading the poem, it is reassuring that one is not along in asking troubling questions... "I am not OK, you are not OK, and that's OK" as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says.

The ending line:
Is there world?
Are they still calling it that?

marks this separation of speaker (in Bardo) from "other". Who’s he asking -- who is they?

It was interesting to puzzle about the couplet
my homespun vision
sponsored by the winter sky.

the warmth of spinning wool to be woven juxtaposed with the cold and distant, darkness of winter sky (and what does that mean?)

Everyone liked Black Boys Play the Classics by Toi Derricotte
this snapshot of kids playing in the train station; the white guys throwing in coins, the workers listening, the young boy enraptured -- and a statement on how we judge others: Oh. black kids can do that, huh. vs. "Beneath the surface we are one"...
judgmental vs. reflective...

Theories of Time and Space by new poet laureate Natalie Trethewey
is a wonderful invitation to think about the transitory nature of life -- how everything is constantly new -- the who we are, constantly changing with the where we're at...
Her simple phrasing: Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you’ve never been ends up here:

someone will take your picture:

the photograph – who you were –
will be waiting when you return

return where? the opening line of the poem, without a capital, "there's no going home" and return has no period.

The Kitchen Maid at Emmaus, based on a painting by Velasquez,
equates the servant with the objects she uses. We talked about how objects conjure up a presence of someone... a sort of "resurrection".

the painting by Velasquez uses strong color: Christ with orange; the very white of the cloth, the darkness of the disciples.
The last sentences:
...She is echo
of Jesus at table, framed in the scene behind her:
his white corona, her white cap. Listening, she leans
into what she knows. Light falls on half her face.

The other title of the poem is Mulata...
for Trethewey... this is her heritage -- for all of us... we are only part of
a whole -- and how beautifully put -- we "lean into what we know" -- but just like a baroque diagonal and sharp contrast of black and white... light is partial, as if divided between visible, invisible...

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