Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 20

Paper Nautilus, by Marianne Moore
The Dance, by William Carlos Williams
With My Fish Drum, Yusef Komunakaa
Alexander Fu Musing, by Stanley Moss
Heaven by George Herbert
Hell by Stanley Moss

Some old, some new -- looking at the Poetic Analysis of Bishop's villanelle,
and her admiration for her mentor, Marianne Moore... the inspiration of Herbert's Heaven echoing on "Hell" by Stanley Moss, and in between, the "round" inspired by Breughel, and contemporary voice adopting the sounds of "shish & tap
of fish skin on waters of a lost road."

Writing up the discussion almost a week later, I know the brief snippets below cannot begin to recreate the fun we had reading aloud such diverse poems enjoying how title, form, sound, suggestion provided a feast of details to share.

We started off the discussion with "One Art"by Elizabeth Bishop -- the rich rhyming, the repetitions of losing, lose, lost, and how the graph captures the relationship of things lost with the difficulty... But more interesting in this Villanelle is the tone, both for the two exclamation points, but also for the words in parentheses.

comparing the use of form with Marianne Moore's Paper Nautilus, which has a floating sea-pull to it. The sounds, the odd line breaks (scarcely // eats... bitten// by a crab.... close-///laid Ionic chiton*-folds)the quiet way in which the 2nd and 5th line share end rhyme. The opening (incomplete) questions bring us to wonder about the Nautilus -- part of the family of Chitons*, which also happens to be one of the choices for feminine apparel* The delicacy of diction, intricacy of repetitions, (ram's horn-cradled; wasp-nest flaws... ) Hopes in the first stanza (authorities of the outside world) contrast with "perishable/souvenir of hope" of the natural world-- the wonder described only to end up with an image of love as small arms around folds/lines in the shell -- akin to the wonder of trust.

The ekphrastic poem, "The Dance", is somewhat like the imagist Wheelbarrow poem, but here Williams creates a marvelous symphony of sound to complete the image of a festival and dancing, rounds of sound...

Back to tercets with Kommunakaa, the oriental look of ampersands,(see
for more on the name and formation of Roman ET). A dream-like feeling -- a sense of displaced persons combined with caravans of old... a blend of Africa, Persia, caravans of history caught in an on-going dance, passed culture to culture.
(I write the line "shish & tap/of fish skin on waters of a lost road" again, so drawn am I to its exotic sounds, as if listening to Scheherezade).

Stanley Moss, also taken from the American Poetry Review March/April issue, has an amusing little poem referencing Alexander Fu, the Martial Arts Film star of the 70's... but who is "you-know-who"... and will it ever be possible for him to create his own lines-- and how do we relate to that?

The fun of contrasting Heaven by George Herbert (with Echo) and Hell (inspired by it) by Stanley Moss provided a discussion of idealization, and cynicism. We felt the Moss poem less successful with the echo, as repeat does not allow dialogue/development, but rather a mocking. Herbert brings back Light, Joy, Leisure.

It reminds me of Wendell Berry's quote: "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts."

*(Structurally, the most elemental dress type is the chiton, which is constructed in several ways. The most commonly represented is accomplished by stitching two rectangular pieces of fabric together along either sideseam, from top to bottom, forming a cylinder with its top edge and hem unstitched. The top edges are then sewn, pinned, or buttoned together at two or more points to form shoulder seams, with reserve openings for the head and arms.

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