Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Poems for July 17

Could Have by Wislawa Szymborska
Psalm (1976) by Wisława Szymborska,
A Poem for S. – by Jessica Greenbaum
Tempo for a Winged Instrument -- Katharine Coles
Fireflies by Linda Pastan
Tanka – by Pamela A. Babusci
Pyrotechnics by Amy Lowell

Discussion notes:
Although there are different translations and versions of the Szymborska poems, the conceit and concept of both "Could Have" and "Psalm" have the hallmark of her genius, and her talent for endings. "There but for the grace of God, go I" comes to mind
in "Could Have"... we heard a bit of the Polish, the poem interpreted in sign language and accompanied by images and music. ). See

it could have happened... it HAD to happen... this sense of the relentless drive of fate, whether earlier, later, nearer, farther off... and our role why some are victims, others saved... and the overwhelming feeling of putting yourself in the victims shoes -- but since it's so painful, we rarely do. Szymborska takes us right to the edge --not saying there is a duty to feel -- "your heart pounding inside the other" -- but like fate, that is the nature of things. How much can we allow ourselves to feel?
I brought up Ruscha's information man -- the words and feelings and thoughts we have not said -- maybe every 18 days, 19 minutes, 3 hours, we do need to say the word "Praise", or "love".
we are just one dodge away, the reasons and their opposites are useless. -- there is no explanation -- As Americans, we have had little experience with invasion, although we have our shameful treatment of indians, negros, racism...

For Psalm, we weren't sure what 1976 had to do with it -- general upheaval in Europe that year, rising unemployment -- or maybe Psalm # 1, 9 76 -- we need that many..
The wit is amazing: adjectives such as "leaky" for boundaries for man-made states,
the "provocative" hops of mountain pebbles, "reprehensible" drifting of fog for the physical elements; "subversive" moles, and "impudent" octopus disrupting the "sacred" borders; "conspiratorial" and "indecipherable" squeaking and muttering on "obliging" airwaves... verb choices: the idea of a privet hedge "smuggling its hundred-thousandth leaf across the river"! syntax. "Need I mention every single bird that flies in the face of frontiers..." (great onomatopoeia) "among innumerable insects, I'll single out only the ant (between the border guard's left and right boots)... the incongruous details and cliches -- "Oh, to register in detail, at a glance, the chaos prevailing on every continent!"
Indeed, only what is human can truly be foreign.

The Alphabet poem for S. does not use the letter Y -- like the idea that a work of art should contain an imperfection so as not to be blasphemous by trying to be like God... and takes us through letter by letter the creation of words, sounds, recordings of human actions. "Each letter would still have your attention if not
For the responsibilities life has tightly fit, like
Gears around the cog of you, like so many petals
Hinged on a daisy." and the humor. That is why I will only use your initial...
Who is S. What is her name? We can identify with her perhaps better without precision.
The "how flaws Venerate the human being, aspirations Without spite"-- returns to the work of art (in this case, the poem) which hopes for good news... raising our Zarfs (goblets) to the names in the Book of Life, in this case, S. and her husband --
picking up on the theme of "could be us...)

The next poem made some think of a hang glider... others cliff swallows.
light of thoughtfulness as both weightless, invisible and inspiration. Thrumming
has a second meaning pertinent to weaving, although the closing sentence "Heart /of muscle, thrumming down swift" is enigmatic. The title holds it all together --
a poem all about tempo. Love the verb "uh-ohing"!

Fireflies elicited a poem Martin brought in which has the line, "I never understood any of the poems in the New Yorker" -- but Linda Pastan's Fireflies is one which captures the nature of these transitory summer luminaries with the short bursts of sound in irregular couplets.

Pamela A. Babusci's tanka fit in beautifully -- reminding Martin of the adolescent girl in the Movie Moonrise Kingdom.

Prytechnics also had a lovely 3 part "story of life" -- the intimate spark of desire,
the crowd, the larger political picture falling apart, and ending with the
infinity of stars... No one pays attention to the burnt fingers...
Carmin brought up the International Dark Sky association -- Bangor, Maine promotes the dark city -- so that we can appreciate the beauty of the night sky.

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