Tuesday, May 26, 2015

poems for May 18

“20 poems That Could Save America”,(mentioned in the credits after his 6 fine new poems in the APR.
I picked 7 of the poems from the 20: To wit:
“Song of Speaks-Fluently”;
The Geraniums by Genevieve Taggard;
American Poetry by Louis Simpson;

Parsnips by Eleanor Stanford
For You -- by Maureen N. McLane (New Yorker, April 27, p. 48)
Once Later by W.S. Merwin (NYRB)
No Thank You - Tony Hoagland (APR, April –May 2015)

What makes a poem memorable? Is a poem like "Parsnips" also a poem that could "save America"?
How does a poem save -- and what does "save America" mean?
Poetry, in my book is beyond nationality, but rather observes human nature in a culture in a way that will serve the general public. For Parsnips, the "O" sounds have a peaceful, sonorous quality: sown, grow, narrow, know... to thread a narrative of life, a reminder that Light, whether metaphorical love, or sun, the parsimony of "little" which is enough, to pass on to the next generation.

Song of Speaks-Fluently, is a wonderful title. Is Speaks-Fluently a person, an idea of a thought? The song is an oral tradition, a passing on of givens: to carry, follow, hunt...
The "talk" which God has sent us - not the word, but the oral give and take...

I had this note next to the poem: “Here is the news, says the poem sympathetically: You too shall labor, and on Tuesday your enterprise shall not succeed, and on Wednesday you shall bend again to the labor before you. Now, this is a message well worth inclusion in the speech of any high school valedictorian in America. Instead of demanding favors of the universe, Speaks-Fluently tells us, we must cultivate the wisdom of the shrug and exercise the muscle of persistence. “You have to carry your own corn far. You have to hunt without profit.”
With its images of ancient farming and hunting, “Song of Speaks-Fluently” carries another quiet implication — that we readers, whatever our work, are connected to the oldest rhythms of human effort and human survival. The necessities and hazards of our lives have changed in appearance, but not in essence.”
from Tony Hoagland,

For Hoagland's comments about the Geraniums, I had this note:
Taggard’s poem, delivered in a reflective, tender, meditative voice, is about aesthetics. It asks an interesting question: Can a thing be simultaneously false and beautiful? Is the modern world, with its manifold illusions, nonetheless an environment in which the soul can find nourishment? What do we see and what do we habitually ignore? Can we train ourselves to appreciate any environment? Consider the loveliness of the humble fake flowers! To cultivate an ear for tone is, oddly enough, to cultivate one’s own perceptual alertness. In “The Geraniums,” irony and wonder (the “semi-clean” cafe and the “wonderful joy, really” of red) collaborate intricately in the speaker’s casually unfolding voice. To develop an ear for such delicate modulations is in fact a survival skill that can aid one for a lifetime. – from Tony Hoagland.

I thoroughly enjoyed Hoagland's "No Thank You"...
How to be human, how to be in a world...whether now, or in the 14th century... if wisdom is not scarce, what is it that keeps us from accessing it? and how to own up that searching is not an excuse. But what tone is the title? gentle rebuttal? sarcastic? turn the back absolutely?
The end is brilliant.

saying, Please preserve me
at least from the pretense
that I am searching.

I am lost by choice
and all the evidence suggests
I relish it.

I hope I will hear more about the discussion, as I was not there.

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