Thursday, February 5, 2015

Poems discussed Jan. 29

Blessing of the Boats at St. Mary's by Lucille Clifton
Brahma by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Perhaps the World Ends Here – Joy Harjo
Sestina d'Inverno by Anthony Hecht
The Angels of Radiators by Al Poulin
Boarding a Bus, by Steven Huff
Flip Book, by Tony Leuzzi
Late Fall, by Eleanor McQuilkin see Discussion Jan. 26
Communion by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

We whizzed through 8 poems... only making slight reference to Anthony Hecht's "sestina".

the first two also discussed at Pittsford on Feb. 3:

Clifton's poem, with the action and setting announced in the title, allows for both the particular and universal in the sense of "our" -- perhaps a community of Fishermen off the coast of Ireland, or perhaps all of us, alive,
in our little boats, sailing through life. I am reminded of Joseph Bruchac's response to the Winslow Homer painting, "Paddling at Dusk" this way:
Have you ever noticed
how many of those
in Homer's paintings
are turned away,
their backs as eloquent
as any face as they move
into the landscape...

Like the artist himself,
their eyes are their own.
The anaphor, "May the... may you... repeated again in three different positions
please correct the line break:

certain that it will
love your back may you

Personnification: lips, face, kiss, back, eyes, and the marvelous water waving where it is both wave, and like a person's hand saying hello, goodbye...
The lines cannot be said quickly, but "bob" as if on the open sea...
What are the forces that carry us beyond fear? why we are so careful... and how do we allow

Brahma is not an easy poem. Whether "red" in the first line is Native American or Indian Indian warrior referring to blood underscores Emerson's persona as Brahma, container of opposites. Note how the rhymed poem in predictable meter leads up to address the reader in the final two lines. One part of the discussion was to address the difference between things that are "joined as opposite" vs. things are are the same... Shame and fame, is a different coupling than doubter and doubt...

The Harjo --
Not, the world ends here... but Perhaps the World Ends Here...
The world begins at a kitchen table... gifts of the Earth... vs. gifts on the Altar
From Babies teething, children playing, receiving instruction on what/it means to be human.

Our Dreams drink coffee is such a delicious phrase—and how clever to have them “put their arms/around our children” and how reassuring to keep a steady keel by having them “laugh with us at our poor/falling-down selves as we put ourselves back/together
(note how the line break emphasizes the unput-back togetherness).

It is a celebratory poem, unlike Emerson’s more philosophical “Brahma” which has the Indian God pronounce the indisputable oneness we see broken into opposites.
Kitchen table as altar, is an accessible, familiar place at which to consider life.
The discussion of the poem allowed people to remember how it was a center of the family, whether a place to play cards, do homework, and bear the marks of living.

Al Poulin’s “The Angels of Radiators” takes a cold night, where the speaker is awake with a sense of aloneness but turns the ordinary to heavenly. The stanzas increase in length as the radiators come to life once the furnace “rumbles with resurrection”.
The poem tile is “dancing wild allelujas” – and the resurrection indeed, “warm as spring”.
Skillful, truly a poem that begins in delight and ends in Wisdom, as Frost would have it.

Boarding a Bus is similar. If you only read the ending line, you would want to know what story it is that you are reading and how it compares with your life. It starts with an overheard conversation, then rolls like the bus by a lonely gas station, the changing of a flat tire. And that too, is like our lives.

So too, Tony Leuzzi’s flip book – I contrasted it with Norman Rockwell – although indeed, the “Soldier on Leave” is probably at the end of the war... relaxed legs,
and one suspects, he’s home with his honey... there is the strange angle... life could serve a curve ball... and the intensity of the little girl watching the young couple underscores such a feeling. Backwards—bare tree (winter) to kiss to spring... Spring to retract back to winter. kiss. Over. Either way the end is white... our page, blank. Uncanny, unsettling – can you pin this poem down ? The sense is, not quite– no matter how many times you slip the pages.

Late fall and Communion – see Open discussion.

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