Thursday, August 16, 2012

poems for Aug. 20

Wondrous by Sarah Freligh
Alphabets by Seamus Heaney
Alphabet Poem Skipping Rope by y.t.
two poems for the Olympic games
The Wrestler by Kazim Ali
Lifting by Ouyang Yu

Show and tell: July/Aug. 2012 APR p. 24-28
Four Hundred Men on the Cross

The poems today gave a chance to appreciate the weave of life over time through books, past history, the nature of knowledge, memory and the magic of imagination. After the Heaney poem Kathy had mentioned reading Tranströmer’s memoirs. I was reminded me of “Preludes” where Tranströmer says, “Two truths approach each other – one from inside the other from outside and where they meet we have a chance to catch sight of ourselves.”

Today’s discussion was like that. Sarah’s poem with the layering of story, the mother, the author of the story, a sort of elegiac math with the image of loss as multiplication, “ every subtraction is exponential”, “how each grief” (followed by line/stanza break...) multiplies the one preceding it. Wondrous as a fitting title for what makes us wonder, as well as the sense of awe of that which cannot be pinned down by fact and number.

I brought up the term, Sprezzatura, translated in various ways as rehearsed spontaneity, studied carelessness, well-practiced naturalness that lies at the center of persuasive discourse of any sort. It suits this poem.

Seamus Heaney’s poem with its range of tones, and times, does feel like a memoir, not of learning letters, or history, or a parading through latinate and anglo-saxon flavors of language, but a tribute to the power of imagination as a coping skill. As Martin said, “we are not genetically built for schools”.
Maura encouraged us to go to the Eastman house to see the alphabet in pictures (Neil Winokur’s “A to Z” portfolio) part of the exhibit “Untold Stories” which is showing until Sept. 16.

The two Olympic games poems brought forth ideas about sports, Olympics, games and much more. The beauty of “wordlifting” as a concept, of being "between the thing and gravity..." as David put it, or perhaps between idea and word... which calls to mind the bicycle series where the actual bicycle has been erased digitally, leaving only a suspended rider and the shadow of the bicycle.

Wrestling, from the sheer physicality of it, could also be metaphoric wrestling,
or relating, one person to another, one person to an idea. We ended with Longenbach's Mist Valley, two angles of August – which for a teacher means the last days before resuming school -- but for all of us perhaps, that time when the alphabet is ripe and waiting for harvest before we taste the soup of sounds, sense it makes.

What a wonderful group. So grateful for all the sharing of insights.

1 comment:

Joseph Dulski said...

The letters in Longerbach's cup are 'tea.' "The same few letters making many different words" spell 'eat.' At a salt marsh at the end of August, the mind is not on a plate of poke salad, but a dish of oysters which are harvested during the months that end in 'ber,' September, October, November, December. So, the thing for an oyster to do is nothing and hide in its shell while the feast is on.