Thursday, March 26, 2015

poems for March 23

Aasifa* by Andy Young
Dedication by Czeslaw Milosz
My Father as a Guitar by Martin Espada
The Goddamned Crucifix --by Martin Espada
She Said by Ditta Baron Hoeber

I love how poems grow upon reading them multiple times and multiple ways.
The first poem, taken from Verse Daily, uses a 5 line stanza, where lines 2 and 3 are indented, and line 5 is offset starting often flush with the last word or phrase of line 4. Line by line, stanza by stanza-- or in our case, imagining the lines which have to do with Hurricane Katrina, set in opposition to the lines which have to do with living in a desert part of the Arabic world -- two weather occurrences: one an unplanned accident, the other a predictable, named and put-on-the-calendar as both natural and expected. The two worlds mesh,
but not predictably. I asked Kathy to summarize and she puts it this way:
A poem of journey meandering back and forth from present to past story and from windstorm in Egypt to hurricane Katrina. There is ambiguity in the poem as to where these elements of time and place shift. Also the use of Biblical references added to the directions the poem took us. As to form, it was the indented line breaks rather than stanza breaks which were helpful. The turn in the poem was
"we didn't know

yet what we would
speak of later".
Fran was intrigued by the "you" and the "we", the self-referential you, but yet, there's a sense of an understood "you", that edges to invite the reader in. Can you substitute the "you" with "I" and vice-versa?

We also noted the festivities going to Sudan, the sound of the Arabic for storm, (Aasifa, the nuance of Biblical references (fleeing Egypt, walking on water, etc.). Just confusing enough, but as Kim Addonizio says, you don't have to understand something to be affected by it.

Milosz' poem -- remember we are in Warsaw, in 1945. Martin Espada quotes Milosz’ poem explaining his subject: justice.
In the Republic of Poetry,/the guard at the airport/will not allow you to leave the country/until you declaim a poem for her/and she says, “Ah! Beautiful”.
I would love to know Polish to hear and understand the strength of the words.
"The connivance political lies/of A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,/ Readings for sophomore girls.
That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,
That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,
In this and only this I find salvation.

The ending image is haunting -- perhaps that words can be the memorial, to put the rest the hungry ghosts.

The two Espada poems were selected thanks to a special interview with Chard DeNiord and Martin Espada in the Mar-Apr issue of APR. "In this new collection of poems, Martín Espada crosses the borderlands of epiphany and blasphemy: from a pilgrimage to the tomb of Frederick Douglass to an encounter with the swimming pool at a center of torture and execution in Chile, from the adolescent discovery of poet Omar Khayyám to the death of an "illegal" Mexican immigrant."

My Father as a guitar...ends with his father being that instrument, he
is a guitar-- p. 23, "CD: There is a sense of transmission there, as if he is passing his mantle, which is his heart, onto you.//Espada: It’s more a sense of helplessness. There’s a hole in his heart and I’m trying to put my hand over it. There’s music, but I can’t cover that hole.

The command of the father to remove the Crucifix, pulls at the commandment to honor one's father and gives us a portrait of a powerful man, who does and knows things...
I quoted the story about the father attending a baseball game when he was 11, asking his father where the black players were. The new collection is called "The Trouble Ball" – the metaphor that addresses the answer and the only thing his father remembers of the game...

The final poem had the breathlessness of traveling as if "several miles from the next semi-colon." Of course, there are no semi-colons, and only two periods, but with implied sentences which heightens the ambiguity of who is saying what about the past. The play on he said/she said a gives a theatrical version of the difficulty both to say words... and address what has happened.

No comments: