Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Poems for Sept. 21

Love poem with ecological concerns -- Bob Hicok
Briefly Accept Events as They Occur by Sharon Dolin
-- Epictetus

Pay No Attention to Things That Don’t Concern You by Sharon Dolin
-- Epictetus

Times the Whole World By Zero by Ben Purkert
sweeping psalm by Christopher Janke
Blink by Sid Miller

The poems this week take a peek at some of the contemporary poetry selected from Summer/Fall 2014 Poetry Northwest and one poem from the Boston Review.
In 1969, John Ashbury's "Soonest Mended" starts this way:
“Barely tolerated, living on the margin
In our technological society, we were always having to be rescued
On the brink of destruction, like heroines in Orlando Furioso
Before it was time to start all over again.”

45 years later, we read efforts such as Mathias Svalina: Dream Delivery Service: “I will write the dreams without consultation with the dreamer,& deliver them daily.”
What has changed in our poetry regarding our attitudes towards technology?
What makes us glad to read a poem as vehicle for ruminations and musings on the nature of being human?
Comments from Summer/Fall 2014 Poetry Northwest articles by Zach Savich and Wendy Willis:
“In social media, a work often seems inseparable from how we talk about it... Champions of social mediated poetics say, “we’ve all been flattened to virtual handles and data... so literature should be similarly flattened.”

“the poem as selfie is the aesthetic criterion of contemporary verse”. Geoffrey Hill

Does anyone have a memorized copy of Ashbery’s “Soonest Mended”?

The internet is the island of the lotus eaters, it is the house of mirrors, it is brothel and donut shop wrapped into one.

Poet as disruptor, world-creator and conjurer, guardian and spokesperson for the unconcious. As Wallace Stevens spells out in the Man with the Blue Guitar:

“The Man with the Blue Guitar” (excerpts.) by Wallace Stevens:

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."

The Man with the Blue guitar...
and suddenly, we think Green Eggs and Ham... and Sam I am, and Picasso and the sounds – two syllables for the instrument, one for the plural 2nd person of the verb to be,
searching for the key “A tune beyond us, yet ourselves”.
Carmin shared a quote from Miles Davis: Sometimes it takes a long time for you to sound like yourself. David brought up the theatrical set up that asks “who is talking” – on the stage of a world where each player is filled with his/her inevitable subjectivity.
We noted the complaint of color, the insistence that the player get out of the way—and the insistence that there is one way the is real, and Martin offered the idea that reality really only exists in relationship. Perception, measurement, scientists imply are a probability...

Bob Hicok; I also read from the Summer issue of Poetry Northwest his other two poems:
Amen; Oops which capture life in a digital world. What intrigued me about the poem
Love poem with ecological concerns was what kind of expectations we have of a love poem – and how ecological concerns enter in. We read it twice, first sentence by sentence, then line by line, which allowed for a rich layering. ex.
along the course of time to an end
that is really an entering
of forgetting? While those
are three thousand pound questions
I can’t answer, I can change
my ring tone to the dying words ...

so, intimation of death, preceded by a sense of kinship...

And how do I take my skin off
to show the river I know we are family
and in this struggle to have form
together, have duration and wear a name

Emily felt he captured an E.E. Cummings spirit, exploring evanescence and miracle of being alive...even though of limited duration... the “you” at the end of the poem is mysterious – this “you” who would call... hear the ring tone of the dying river... reminded by it that this “you” whose inner water, like the speaker’s inner water, is not here to stay.

The next two poems reflected stoic philosophy – the second one in particular, don’t
pay attention to things that don’t concern you” left a disjointed feel –which Paul compared to reading the dictionary – rarely end up with the word you were looking for.
We also discussed the word “slurring” – whether slurring only to drop to the next line to land on pain, or to take a Stoic view of pain... dismissing it without acknowledging its qualities... which led into a discussion about pain.

The next two poems left us hanging – and we tried to piece together some sense, but abandoned them in hopes maybe someone next week might have an idea.
The final poem “blink” opened up many directions of perception—remembering the “staring game” where the one who blinks first loses; the psychology of blinking to throw someone off; the idiomatic use of things happening “in a blink”. Paul suggested that the speaker of the poem is using the metaphor for whatever small gesture (encompassed by a blink) on which love hinges. Whether we blink because we can’t take in anymore; or in order to take in more... everything has the ability to speed by in blinks whether you count them or not.

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