Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Poetry in the Garden -- May 10

Poetry in the Garden – May 10 – Rochester Public Library

“Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, from
Leaves of Grass

What was the first favorite poem (or who was the first favorite poet) you remember?
In Poetry in the Garden day, bring your lunch and come to enjoy a range of poetry.

The original word for garden, spread into Persian literature as pairadaeza (walled-around) to other cultures: paradeisos in Ancient Greek; paradisus in Latin, and onto variations on paradise. Come enjoy the magic of the “walls enclosing spiritual and leisurely meetings with others in the lovely garden accessible through the Bausch and Lomb Library across the Street from Rundel.

p. 137 Untitled –Ibn al-Utri
Just Like A Departer by Mustafa Köz
Rumi: 2219 Man gholam-e qamaram
Market Forces Runon by Tony Krantz
p. 248 Verses for Everyday Use -- Fadhil al-Azzawi
Silence by Billy Collins
Jane Hirshfield, "For What Binds Us"
For Once Then Something by Robert Frost
To My Mother By Mahmoud Darwish
Selections from "The Essential Rumi"
Affirmative Action Babies by Amaud Jamaul Johnson
In Just Spring -- E E Cummings
Maps-- Wislawa Szymborska
Wondrous -- by Sarah Freligh
Hafiz: It Felt Love
Choices by Nikki Giovanni

The Diwan of Abu Tayyib Ahmad Ibn Al-Husayn al-Mutanabbi (B. 915, died 965. in Kufa, Iraq) 892.71 M992d translated and introduction by Arthur Wormhoudt
Diwan means “book” or book of poetry and was spread by Bedouins: Form: last word of second half of the couplet maintains a rhyming sound throughout the poem (which could be 40 or more couplets). The two halves of the couplet appeared as two colums parallel to each other to suggest the duality of reader and writer, listener and speaker or other forms of dialogue.

It was a perfect May day -- with a Dachschund parade in Washington Park, Lilac Festival,
and the day before Mother's Day -- azaleas in bloom, the honeyed scent of the yellow blooms on the holly, buds swelling to attest to SPRING!

The idea was to bridge Western and Eastern thought with a quote from Whitman and one from Rumi -- what does "self" mean to both these giants-- both within their time period but also, how do we interpret their words today? Of course, we do not speak Persian, Arabic -- but neither do we speak the English Whitman would have used.

Failing to fetch me... keep encouraged --
to whom is Whitman speaking here?
Rumi speaks by analogy of human being as reed, cutting openings to make it a flute,
"wailing a tender agony of parting" from the Beloved.

How is praise important -- how do we praise and what, and for what reason?
The first poem by Milosz takes us back to Art and Dutch Masters.
the first word of the poem "we" moves through a judgement about our current art,
which shuns realism for abstraction to Line 15, where the speaker moves to I... Details, experience.

"All this is here eternally, just because, once it was.

We read the few poems from Al-Mutanabbi St. listed above in full from the anthology compiled by Beau Beausoleil;

For the Mustafa Köz:
What strikes me about a difficult-to-understand poem in translation, is to reflect on the nature of our English language which relies on prepositions and positions in the syntax. The poem "Just Like a Departer" by a Turkish poet who questions the "me" and "I" hinges on a word we don't have.

I asked my Turkish friend about it. She sees "departer" as leaving one mortal form, like a closed shell- but also leaving all else inside the shell where there are many ideas hidden.. like doom, death, you cannot fight with what is written "on your forehead"- as well as his intended wordplay of the going/ coming dichotomy as related to "birth and death" but still as a broader idea..

She reads this repetitive phrase as a sign of Mustafa Köz asking for a world of people who are more open and sincere, just like himself. He's saying something like come on! We will all die. I am one of the candidates. I will also depart. Just like you will.. What's this nonsense?
So to understand "departer" and "break away from the blockhouses" we need a little Sufi insight.

She found a different translation of the last stanza whose second line changes from
" cut the ribbon of my heart for you”
"who could name any poem that begins with 'going is good'.

So no "cut the ribbon of my hard" in terms of sacrifice, and Sufi practice does not use confession. She says this: "The mood of the poem is "come and take me, I am ready to die now"... The "you" is ambiguous. Who is you? Love is dense but simple-looking stuff with ambiguities. "The public rejoice" sounds to me like two things: one, the surface qualities of the worldy pleasures. second, the happiness that comes from rejoicing with the idea of "deriving happiness from fearlessness".. What is the root of all fears? Death.. So if you don't fear from anything, you don't fear death. you accept it. What better reason not to rejoice?

Last Stanza:
Me who thinks he is the poet called Mustafa Köz
Who could name any poem that begins with 'going is good'
public rejoices and sparklers
I came amongst you, just like a departer

Complex and rich… and shows the need to understand the background of the poet…

We did not read ALL the poems, but touched on Muslim/sufi advice "say nothing" to Buddhist perspective of how we are bound to earth, to each other, to all that surrounds us, by love. We ended with Billy Collins'meditation on silence,
and how words cannot match the presence it embraces; Cornelius Eady's poem, "Gratitude"; chuckled at Alison Deming's witty "Mosquitos". The last poem, by Dick Allen left us pondering his question of how to keep together child wonder/adult skills. We left,having unlocked doors, ready to "swing on their hinges..."

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