Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Poems for Lunch March 27

Wondrous by Sarah Freligh (see comments from March 10)
Searching by Billy Collins
Cities in the Sky -- by Mary Jo Salter
Monody to the Sound of Zithers by Kay Boyle
Trying to Name What Doesn't Change by Naomi Shihab Nye

Looking beyond tercets... quatrains, cinquains...
I won't be there to moderate but put some notes in the margin for Carol...
books, memory, to thought clouds, fear of loss, and an elegy which speaks of desire.
Knowing the group, good connections will be made. I’ve made a few notes in the margin to spark a few comments (or not).
For reading — it might be interesting for people to contrast the first two poems in tercets, the Kay Boyle poem in quatrains…
What keys us to “turning pages” — what kind of pages — what do we seek, and how do we deal with loss?
The Mary Jo Salter poem with clouds taking shape, to thought clouds has a very different affect than the more formal “monody” which technically is an elegy, and yet if you didn’t know, might not guess. How do both poems surprise ?

For discussion: I put this footnote under Wondrous:
This poem appeared in August 2012 issue of The Sun Magazine
The poem acts not only as elegy, but a reminder of the interconnectedness of memory. Why would E.B. White cry as he tried to record the words “she died alone”? Who can forget the selfless bravery of Charlotte, or this poem which so beautifully “does the math” of grief. Note the enjambed stanzas, the repetitions both of words and sounds which help tighten the emotion. Note how “ridiculous” with its patter of 4 syllables contrasts with the title, repeated twice, for both Charlotte “spun out of the silk thread of invention” and the mother.

Compare tercets in Wondrous and Searching: how does the form help each poem?
What makes both of the poems "accessible" -- which one moves you more?
compare tercets in Wondrous and Searching:how does the form help each poem?

How does the Anna K reference work, as opposed to the children’s story read by the mother (for the 5th time.) Both poems embrace life/death/transformation:
Anna K becomes “her” – becomes Snowflake and the poem ends addressing “you” – -- a different sort of metamorphosis than the life cycle of a spider, preparing her egg sack. Wondrous as title, weaves into the poem as opposed to the title, "Searching" which ends with the speaker turning pages looking for a "you" who may be as fictitious as Anna K, as ephemeral as a snowflake in Spring. What is it we look for when we read? How does that affect the reading?

With the Cities of Clouds, a different weaving and transforming occurs. One point of interest to me for a longer poem is how length can be dismissed if one feels engaged with the poem. How does Salter keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat? Where do you see these lines repeated but with specifics?
somewhere changing to something.”
The weaving of "clouds" and "thoughts" (French, "Chateaux en Espagne" or castles in the air) goes along seamlessly until the wham on the final stanza.
Did the final stanza catch you off guard? Who is the house guest? Why ask such a question “idly”. How does that contrast with the real here and now: don’t die. The irony of “only 8:00am” as if that would mean business as usual. Where and when do we attach “business as usual” to circumstances? What other fallacies do we have in our “thought clouds” and actual thinking.

I picked Kay Boyle's 1922 poem, to contrast with the more free-form of both the Salter and Naomi Shihab-Nye poems.

In poetry, the term monody has become specialized to refer to a poem in which one person laments another's death. (In the context of ancient Greek literature, monody, μονῳδία could simply refer to lyric poetry sung by a single performer, rather than by a chorus.)
In music, monody has two meanings: 1) it is sometimes used as a synonym for monophony, a single solo line, in opposition to homophony and polyphony; and 2) in music history, it is a solo vocal style distinguished by having a single melodic line and instrumental accompaniment.

Boyle is clear about what she wants, but perhaps the form distracts us from the bluntness of "don't die, it's only 8 o'clock."

I love the masterful way that Nye can juxtapose the concrete detail with a sweepingly large universal: e.g. "Every Tuesday on Morales Street"; with "stars explode"

How does she develop her title? Lead us to explore it with her? What is it that cannot be named?

No comments: