Tuesday, June 4, 2013

comments on Poems June 3

We opened the session with a quote by CD Wright about the role, importance of poetry... how reassuring that poems can ground us, uplift us, provide fodder for discussion, etc. unique to poetry. The poems for June 3 blended concepts, imagination, imagery, general craft and diction that brought out many personal stories, and as usual, the feeling that sharing poems made the poems come alive in ways we wouldn't have understood without others.

Palindrome, by Lisel Mueller, in its hourglass shape, captures the playful spirit of the math games and puzzles of Martin Gardner, author of the epigram. What IS forward? Backward? and then, how to think a life this way, which begs the question of how we remember, order, understand living. Maura reminded us of John Lennon's "life is what goes on when we are too busy making plans"... or just too busy to think...

After reading the poem forward AND backward, more questions came up -- I highly recommend it as an exercise....
and then to offer the challenge of separating "lies" from "elegy" in the Bob Hicok poem. Why the title, and why the sense of a poem filled with mourning of a relationship to the extent that the beloved's name is impossible to pronounce.
14 lines, replete with repetitions, subtle variations "pull back the hammer of the gun" ... where "bang" is both
the only sound one can hear, and the anger one wants to express. A poignant, at first seemingly tongue in cheek, but finally quite seemingly real "bang" which of course, is only a word.

After Skate by Carol Muske-Dukes (see movie Dogtown and Z boys)(Lords of Dogtown): the energy of skateboarding, the scenario of empty houses and pools, leads up to the killer last sentence: "Nobody's home to the ownerless: he turns
inside their names, never minds ghosts, nothing in his wake." Skating away... after... after what... gives a sense of desolation...

The next poem, in 6 couplets, Sometimes, When the Light by Lisel Mueller brought forth many stories of haunted houses... the question if all cultures have this Hansel and Gretel/witch in the forest/the goblins will get you if you don't watch out element. The paradox of "marvelous and dangerous" spells magic -- just like the idea of the final choice: "you would die, or be happy forever."

In Portraits in Seasons by Danielle Pafunda drew on many associations: Robert Browning, (What is Wanting -- will be discussed June 10) Mary Cassatt... book-ended between "something feral" -- with a mysterious evocation of a book -- the writing of the book, natural leaf and page...

For the last poem, we read it outloud before consulting the music and video of pictures of the children in Britton, S.D. in 1939. Conjecture of what their lives would be like -- what kind of schooling they would receive (which letters thus, would mean thus)... the contrast of reading the poem, vs. hearing the poem read with the music...
confirms the subjective baggage with which we come to greet poems... and to which the poems respond back.
Some of the comments: the perfect opposite poem for the Dr. Seuss graduation present "the places you will go...”
Irony... “Looking at Smalltown Life”... so different from Dorothea Lange's pictures of immigrants.
Other associations:
Sherman Alexie...
How to make an American Quilt
8 girls making pictures.
amazon review: This captivating novel opens in 1917 as Cymbeline Kelley surveys the charred remains of her photography (studio, destroyed in a fire started by a woman hired to help take care of the house while Cymbeline pursued her photography career. This tension— between wanting and needing to be two places at once; between domestic duty and ambition; between public and private life; between what’s seen and what’s hidden from view—echoes in the stories of the other seven women in the book.)

The power of reading aloud in a group, allows yet again, the multiple lens effect. Thank you all!

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