Saturday, May 31, 2014

Poems for Lunch May 29

To my Mother by Mahmoud Darwish
For Once Then Something by Robert Frost
Affirmative Action Babies by Amaud Jamaul Johnson
Map by Wislawa Szymborska
Choices by Nikki Giovanni
Twigs by Taha Muhammad Ali

Depending on which translation of the Darwish poem you use, the reference to "mother" takes on a yearning for homeland (Palestine) as opposed to the physical birth-mother.
Jim felt both poems sought approval by "the mother". The more literal translation gives a sense of great love and supplication:

Because I’ve lost my strength to stand
بدون صلاة نهارك
Without the prayer of your day
هَرِمْتُ، فردّي نجوم الطفولة
I’ve grown old… return the stars of childhood
حتى أُشارك
So I can share
صغار العصافير
with the sparrow chicks
درب الرجوع ..
The way back

I appreciate the many comments and insights of our group! Especially for the Frost poem, where logic and emotion reflect each other in the well, water. How to read,
For once (and see the divide of the 15 line poem, "Once... ) the pause after then,
something, which refers back to "a something white"... our discussion revolved around the play of time, the different ways to understand repetitions. What is the "sound of sense" in this poem -- how does it help lead the reader through ambiguity?

We didn't spend long on the Affirmative Action Babies-- picked up on the sarcastic tone,general bitterness and tried to imagine where the poem takes place -- perhaps Mexico, the south west... a metaphorical Ellis Island...

How much more refreshing to read the Szymborska, which teases us, yet giving us depth in which to consider how we trade reality for a map, given adverbs such as "kindly blue" and "great-heartedly/good-naturedly spread" a counter-world without access to"vicious truth". What do we record? remember? Maps are temporary records (I mentioned the map which clicks through 1,000 years of history and the shifting boundaries which reflect rise and fall of power) and indeed, the who we are where we are on them indicated by tiny black pinpricks, of very tiny consequence indeed.

We ended on Giovanni's poem, discussing the conscious/unconscious, and poetry as a way for us to survive, maintaining feeling... One of Maya Angelou's quotes
came to mind --
People will forget what you said/People will forget what you did/
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Thus concludes a wonderful season of sharing poetry -- to resume September 4th.

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