Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 11

Martin Espada : Litany at the Tomb of Frederick Douglass
Mary Oliver: The Poet with his Face in His Hands (The New Yorker, 4/4/2005)
: Spring Azures
We Wear the Mask -- Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872–1906
There Is No Word by Tony Hoagland
Where by Taha Muhamad Ali

Imagination threads all the poems discussed today. To see, envision, understand with insight...
paradox, the obscure, becomes possible.

I didn't plan the Espada poem, written on the occasion of visiting Rochester, Frederick Douglass' tomb, interview with Bill Moyers on Obama's 2nd inauguration, to prepare us for Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday 2/12, Lincoln's Birthday.
The world is as we see it, and always will be. (from interview w/ Martin Espada w/ Bill Moyers on Obama’s 2nd inauguration.

But there is something about the foresight of strong leaders, courageous men that allow us to enter the language of "the impossible".
In our discussion, Martin reminded us to pay attention to the difference between "illusion" and "hope".
Hope is OK. Susan B. Anthony saying, "Failure is impossible" had the grit of hard work in it.

That Espada used the "omphalos" or epicenter, the O in Douglass' name, the shape of a button, in a litany -- not an elegy, gives a sacred feel to a prayer, filled with hope.
This is... repeated 8 times; semi-colons and colons marking relationships, clear images of past to present tense cuts out the social importance.

The two Oliver poems struck me as containing a new tone. More realistic. Worthy of the "stone-hard beauty" as well as the playful. By using the second person, she could be talking to herself, to the reader, or universal "us". Does she say to go it alone with complaint, or rather -- take some time with it until you do what you have to do to transform it?

The same with Spring Azures -- whatever the circumstance of Blake, butterfly, or reader, what turns the poem from tra-la-la lyric is the story of Blake, how his imagination freed him, just like the butterfly wings,
the spring return of azures, sharing that hope with us, the reader.

The Dunbar poem gives a clear portrait of the black man. David pointed out the break in the regular rhyme,
Rich pointed out specifically the hemiola (O Great Christ) in between the two iambs of the final stanza.
Subtle ties indeed.

Hoagland's layered sensibility from white milk in wrapped plastic to the stretching of language, relationship is a tour de force which resonates beyond the "how witty, I'm so glad I read that".

Taha Muhamad Ali brings our imagination home, to the reminder of looking for the pencil.

No comments: