Thursday, June 25, 2015

poems for June 22 -- special visitor... Dane Gordon

It is one thing to read words, but so different to hear them read by the person who wrote them. Not all poets are masters of elocution, but Dane is. In his quiet philosopher's voice, he engages those around him with important questions. What makes a poet? Perhaps the depth of his reflections on the nature of existence. How in the beginning, life started as one cell and its connections, then self-replicated. His poems explore relationships; the material for them is always there, but the poet's role is to be alert to the flow of activity.

On the cover of his book, "The Logic of Death" is the replication of the memorial plaque in St. Petersburg to Serge Esenin, who was so distressed by the savage way the soviets were treating his village, that he committed suicide. The cover of The Wound of Faith comes in two versions, one the original woodcut print and one the regular print of two columns, the connections to a larger vault on the left-hand side only suggested, and an incomplete wooden vault springing
towards the right, under which the title lies in red letters.

Can peace absolve death? Can a relationship broken from the start be repaired? Can our sorrows, wounds, quieten enough to hear voices we could not have heard earlier? (addressed in the title poem of his book, "The Wound of Faith.) The person who has wound or flaw is what attracts us as if to gives us faith, possibility. Perhaps time repairs, and you can use the example of what we remember. How many of us agonize over the 30 years’ war? How many of us will agonize the way those who survived the Great War did, understand what it meant for the 20th century, centuries from now?

He did read for us:
The Logic of Death – Dane Gordon + Night Before the Battle discussed 1/19

The book is organized by wars, beginning with "the war to end all wars" progressing to World War II, the Vietnam War, and the title poem comes from a section on the Bosnian war.
Here Dane mentioned Sarejevo where he taught. The city lies as if in the center of a saucer, surrounded by hills. His philosophy classes continued – but at night, as during the day the men would fight. He told the story of the photographer dedicating his work to those who died in the Bosnian war ( poem "Aux Mort de la guerre en Bosnie p. 66) and the poem "The Contradiction" on page 67-8. To quote the poem: . "Is human community a deep current and animosity the turbulence of the surface?" Can we remember what we once thought of people when they were our enemies, but now whom we treat as friends? What is the contradiction of spirit against spirit – one heart beating against itself. "Is there a greater spirit... who could take the contradictions in his hands and like a Potter can mold the separate pieces into one?"

Can a poet have any influence? Perhaps the world falls into 2 types of people... those who react to the flow... and those who try to take a lead. (see his poem Birds and Saints.)
In the introduction to "The Wound of Faith"(A Feeling Intellect and a Thinking Heart p. 8-9, Two Visitors) Dane explains "In the area of religion the responsibility of philosophy is not simply to be critical or dismissive, but to respect opinions when they are sincerely held, no matter how strange; to try to understand them, to try to stand on their side, and then, to be critical.

discussed 2/26/15: A Furnace Door. Reading it for us 6/22, Dane referred to a course on Ethics, where Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire was used. Dane was surprised the students did not understand how cruel it is to destroy someone's self-illusions,as in the case of Blanche and how necessary it is to sympathize, empathize with them first.

also, from his new book the Wound of Faith
the title poem p. 45
37-8 – Three Truths : Epicurus: and the physical;
a question that rides/... above/ all explanations; (it has not been answered, but "continues to be / asked.
For what provides/ our life with meaning/ is not in the physical,/yet seems to hold /the otherwise meaningless /elements of the physical/universe together.

87 Not that at all.
final judgement. " we’ll reach into the tangled mess of our lives... and draw from it one thing... one untarnishable good and will hold it ... do you recognize? and we will recognize and weep regenerative tears."

He ended by reading "Forgiveness: a dialogue" the final pages of the book "The Logic of Death".
Here the intricacy of forgiveness, revenge, the problem of needing death to understand; that forgiveness... the pale sister of hate... does not want, the only member of the family of life that can hold it together.
and on goes the dialogue...
without forgiveness, no hope, no bearable life, we of all people are most miserable.
what did you learn? that forgiveness is beyond our reach, unless you reach beyond it.

There is something healing to take the step of saying, “I forgive.”
if you think your hate will change our love for humanity, you’re wrong.
carrying a grudge – like taking poison and hoping the other person will die.

And we ended on the metaphor of currents and waves... the process...
"Is human community a deep current and animosity the turbulence of the surface?"
"The surface rages and/destroys most of us/who try to sail there./Can we believe/that deep currents flow? And the questions continue.


I had distributed these, but he did not read them
p. 15 I Suppose
p. 25 Apart from Vision
P. 72 Grief is a Dark
Also these titles which I find intriguing in these poems.
A feeling intellect and a thinking heart— prayer to no one (bleak landscape of our choice… ) vs. p. 22 (Prayer) p. 27 (The Lord Tarries all the time.)
34—If the Universe were a person

41 April (with acknowledgements to Geoffrey Chaucer
As in God, all die — p. 66 – (p. 65 As in Adam.... )

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