Wednesday, October 3, 2012

poems for Oct. 8

We will start out discussion with Big Game -- by Brenda Shaughnessy
—after Richard Brautigan's "A Candlelion Poem" ( I copy it below)
(Turn a candle inside out
and you’ve got the smallest
portion of a lion standing
there at the edge of the

1. Cid Corman: 5 short poems (about a minute in length TOTAL! )
We aren’t even lost
The Coming of Age
It isn’t for want : Look for the titles under A separate set features six more of Corman's poems:

2. Lorine Niedecker: Grandfather advised me
3. Dog by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
4. Gray Room by Wallace Stevens
5. Young Woman at a Window, William Carlos Williams

A look at imagism, thanks to Al Filreis' course on Modern Contemporary Poetry.

What imagist principles do these poems share? Listening to Cid Corman, you can HEAR the importance of the voice choosing how to accent words, but in general, sonics are not the concern of the Imagists. Rather, the structure of the form mirrors the ideas in the imagist manifesto: exact words, not decorative; new cadences; emphasis on particulars, and hard, clean vocabulary and condensation, freedom for choice of subject...

Cid Corman: Small poems = lengthy conversations! We wondered if the five poems (we listened to Enuresis as well) were not rather one poem, each one continuing a snapshot thought. Eunuresis: John had the idea of parents as "twin towers" provoking a terrorist reaction... or perhaps the image of the Tower of Babel -- something we seek to build to reach beyond our selves... which could fit a responses of wondering what parts we show. What is puzzling is the opening statement, "we aren't even lost" juxtaposed with the impossibility of being found. Carmin commented that "found/ down" stabilizes idea that tree is calm, but we aren’t.. Where are we? Who are we compared to visible trees rooted in one place? From there, we sprang into a discussion including the idea of humans as souls, lost sheep, and Auden's view that a poem is not about ending on one resulting meaning.

Not having seen the poems, the line breaks on all of them could be after 5 syllables.
In the case of the first one, it would be 5 lines of 5. The next one, "turn the page" picks up the idea of "retrieving the leaf". Jim helped us remember that syllable counts will be different in the South -- if you say "then" (I realized then -- line 4 of "Coming of Age" ) you have 2 + syllables in "then"... re-e-al-i-e-z'd has 6... The almost zen-like message of "be here, be in the now" is not about living in the past, winning/losing but what we stand to lose if we aren't in touch with who we ARE. "It isn't for want" addresses both desire, or need, as well as addressing the words we say, the important words, the words WE think are important for the OTHER, expressed by "You" (and who is you?), and the poem hinges on the BUT.
What is this relationship we want to hang on to -- and what is the difference between stressing YOU vs. ARE... the more you think about it, the richer it gets, and the harder it is to find the words to express it. For Cid, the urgency is not about the form or the content, or self-expression. What’s important is connection and response back "I can only be here, if you are here.

Niedecker on the other hand makes her point -- the looping endlessness of form, to talk about her work of condensing. Grandfather's regularity in 3 syllable lines; the response "I learned" in 2 syllables, implying a larger complement of what "it" is; the missing article in "to sit at desk". Mention was made how in British English one can say "in hospital"... many of us enjoyed her humor-- for instance -- for the trade she’s learning – no lay off.

Dog, by Ferlinghetti is a delightful demonstration of how a poem can start off in a regular pace with a lined up starting place each line, like a dog on a leash, which eventually disintegrates into fragmented lines describing the "real live / barking / democratic dog!
A connection with Bob Dylan in 1970, perhaps?; if you don't understand me, am I talking to myself? and how bees depend on each other as a social unit to survive.

The Gray Room is a Stevens gem with a killer last lines, whose telling line is not characteristic of him. The poem works like an elegant still life and the power of stillness; one imagines an oriental fan, and John brought up Yasunari Kawagata, the Japanese 1968 Nobel Prize writer.

We will start next week with the Shaughnessy as not everyone had the copy with them.

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