Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Poems for June 4

culled from the May volume of Poetry and May-June issue of American Poetry Review.
1)[Two men seen from the back, standing on a
brick roadway beneath a bridge] – Elizabeth Robinson (APR)
2) Hendrik Goltzius’s “Icarus” (1588) by Billy Collins (APR)
3) The General Law of Oblivion, by Thomas Lux (from his book, God Particles)
4) Dream Lens... an alternative way of looking at Proust and Madeleines
5) The Horse Poisoner by Thomas Lux (from May 2015, Poetry)
6) The Coming of Good Luck by Robert Herrick (Mentioned in Revell's article; also
Among School Children by W.B. Yeats -- although there is not enough time to share it this time.
7) Japanese Mask -- a cleave poem (to contrast with the 4 line Herrick).

I enjoy the issues of APR, and Poetry, if only to see how some aspect of contemporary poetry is handled and presented. The inner pages of Poetry contain poems by poets recently deceased...
in this case, Richard O. Moore, and his 1981 poem "On Coming to Nothing, and Tomas Tranströmer's "National Insecurity". Neither poem is given its title, for a reason I ignore, but wish I knew.

I enjoy Tranströmer, but to pin him as final page in an issue which contains commentary by Cathy Park Hong, "Against Witness", Donald Revell, "Scholium" and Mike Chaser "Lullaby Logics"
seems not so much a tribute as an expedient way to fit him into the issue.
I read the 33 pages of the Bidart and wonder if this a story that can only be told in a poem? The same with the Thomas Lux poem which puzzles more than intrigues. Is poetry to ask us to imagine a man riding a tomato and insulted as idiots if we cannot? (loosely translated André Breton). Perhaps indeed, art has responsibility to record disaster at the time... and I did look up about oil sands and the catastrophe offshore from Aberdeen with 167 people dead,
but why is Solie's "Bitumen" poetry? I keep reading, but nothing stops me to say,
read again -- this is important.

It's enough to wonder if I'm in the wrong business.
What is transparent compression? What is the role of the uncanny? (to feel buried alive, to feel robbed of one's eyes). Horror, fantasy of witness and the poem fights against oblivion...
how many testimonies tweeted, video'd, eyewitnessed does it take -- or is it the surplus that forms us to feel passive?

I feel hopeful with Donald Revell's opening sentence about allegory and quoting Herrick's
"The Coming of Good Luck" -- the pageantry of allegory and fact... "ek get effect men write in place lite;/th'entente is al, and nat the lettres space. (Troilus and Criseyde, by Chaucer).
I should look up again Ashbury: Soonest Mended... Jeun de Meuns, Thoreau, a little Blake...
join in the assignment to write 500 words on Yeats' "Among School Children" and I am reminded why I love to read... for to read closely is to love more closely --

And so I keep reading... and turn to the APR whose May-June issue deals with translation, such as Mira Rosenthal's article on why poets translate. I subscribe with Merwin that translating teaches you your own language, pushes your mind and heart and "way of hearing" to perspectives and associations you might otherwise never know. Three new poems by Billy Collins, one going back to Auden's Musée des Beaux-Arts, with yet another old master painting Icarus. Six new poems by Tony Hoagland, whose "No Thank You" tickled my metaphysical bone about wisdom and why we as human beings have difficulty applying it... conversation as a "subdivision of crazy possibilities" and other misunderstandings about trying. I was reminded to look up Twenty Poems that Could Save America from which I picked a selection (see May 18 + 21 entries).
May 26, 2015
Discussion: to be posted.

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