Friday, November 7, 2014

Poems for October 20

Still Life -- by W.S. Merwin
Two – by Ted Kooser
Testimony -- by Joseph Fasano
Curio a prose poem by Meghan Privitello
The Hill by Mark Strand
Very Far After e e cummings
American Gothic by John Stone

This morning, seeing the announcement of yet another writer passing, and then looking at my selection of poems, thinking of older poets Merwin and Strand, I’m reminded by the celebration of Cummings’ birthday on Writer’s Almanac 10/14, there is no better place than poetry to embrace the living/dying cycle. I’m hoping the Jon Stone response to American Gothic (same poet who wrote “3 for the Mona Lisa”*** we discussed last week) will help us at the end… With great affection to you all for all the wonderful sharing!

Still Life:
How do you read the title? As words imitating a painting... or Still (as in ongoing) Life, which the present participles seem to elaborate upon. Or the sense of "It's life, even with this going on".
Merlin's lines allow for simultaneously different meanings to work all at once.
Comments from the group: How little we know of nature, color spectrum of sun, accessible, but not always visible.
last line: unexpected... powerful... everything goes on... memory
old person/child..
present participles..
present tense claim of person...
we live in the now we cannot grasp gone before it (arrives)
continuum of time.
child... no demarcation

Two: beautifully crafted to demonstrate the value of "a bonded two-ness"-- how two men separate, then come back, but we learn they are a father/son only in the middle of the poem. The only 4-syllable word: interwoven. The only metaphor: their hands making a gate and yet the poem breathes, each sentence a frame.

images: moon /lantern...
enjambments (and separated piece...)
being along w/ oneself... seems to echo Merwin's poem.
Knowledge not given easily...after all is said and done, you have yourself...
pain of change...

The poet says he was thinking of Galway Kinnell’s reunion with the ‘wild darkness,’ and of Mark Strand’s wish to ‘lie down under the small fire / of winter stars.’ So I did. And the stillness that I heard there became this poem. Of course we’ve all tried to return somewhere and found it impossible, but sometimes that very impossibility can become its own song.”

She’s having fun...but are we? is it cute... or annoying? Is there a worthwhile sentiment?

The Hill: Strand creates mystery...what do we, have we missed... yet reassures... "echoes this is the way I do it" as if to accept life as it is... (and sure, and if life isn't a terrible place, God Bless it...)
hill: aloneness of effort... life difficult... (he's missed lots of different transpiration -- but hasn't "missed the boat" one person joked). We loved the "So what" about the leaves rattling.
poetic feet...match how he steps along.

Judith snuck in the next one -- in the style of Cummings, but it is hers!

And since we enjoyed John Stone's "3 for the Mona Lisa" I had picked "American Gothic".
We could feel the personality of the couple... If you know where the poem will end up, it is a trick poem, but this isn't. Who would have thought she wondered about turning off the stove while posing -- and what a wonderful element to add to the tone... It took us back to Frost and the process of discovery--
one finds the image... like an ice cube on the stove riding on itself.
Auden: how can I know what I think until I see what I say...

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