Tuesday, January 6, 2015

poems for Dec. 29

We started with 3 of the poems slated for Dec. 15

Splitting an Order -- from Ted Kooser's ALP site
and the two from the December issue of Poetry.
The Forecast by Wendy Xu (p. 239 Poetry, Dec. 2014)
(poem appeared in Poetry, Dec. 2014)

I Wanted to Make Myself like the Ravine – by Hannah Gamble
(poem published in Poetry, December, 2014)

The Coming of Light by Mark Strand, 1934 – 2014
The Hydra by Mike Keith (August, 1998)
Winter Grace by Patricia Fargnoli

In the First poem, I asked which particular details tickle your fancy...
and if the poem contained a spirit of the Christmas season. Beyond the
Norman Rockwell feel, the one sentence poem unrolled as if a ceremonial ritual
with a rhymical solemnity, giving each thing value. Who could not love the paradox that to Split //an order... brings together...

The next poem gave us a cubist challenge with mis-use of commas, scrambled grammar...
where distrust establishes a foothold that contradicts any "I love you" or pledge.
"Not still dead" is difficult to understand.

Now comes the discussion of poetry and what we expect from it. Do we want a message, embellished by craft that leads us to wonder... or can we accept messages that startle, surprise, refuse to provide a pathway to understanding. Imagine the listeners gathered to hear Stravinsky the first time. Is this poem as gripping?

Is it like a Motherwell painting where someone unaware of his reputation would say,
give me a paintbrush and I could do that too? What do we learn about ourselves?
Forecast. What is cast -- what chaos comes before? What contradiction that we try to predict outcomes.

To give a different light on the subject:
In a 2012 interview with John Hoppenthaler, Xu stated, “I think language is always waiting patiently on us to engage it, to play with it and arrange its parts, to build something weird out of it, but the hardest time to stop and think to do this is any space outside of poems. To ‘negotiate’ with a poem is right—it says things, you say something back, you say YES! or you say OH NO, but the two of you build the complete experience together. I always like when part of a poem’s contribution to the negotiation is a pseudo-‘normal’ syntax, if it seems aware and proud of its glitch, and if it wants to subvert my normalized expectations at every turn.”

The next poet does not have as much bio to draw on, aside mention of her recognitions and success in circles frequented by Bernadette Mayer and company.
OK... Ravine, lowly, at first wonderful, but then receiving everything, closure needs a man-made well with cover to a tight conclusion. No breathing space really or invitation to wonder about being a ravine, leaving me with a sense of "so"... what?

What a contrast to read Strand's 7 lines, each one containing something surprising, yet welcome. Opening to love, to life... opening to another person...
a cyclical sense of death to birth.

The Hydra is a poem of sheer brilliance imitating Blake's tyger, using the periodic table. What happens to the progeny of Satan... more fallen angels, devils.. or hydras...Beware! Such an intact poem... meter/Blake/memory... w/ metaphor of periodic table – comprises everything.

So different from the Northern climate winter meditation... ordinary particulars to galaxies, and pay attention to the watch over the cold; your own solitude.

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