Friday, October 9, 2015

Discussion October 7-8

I opened with a few reflections from BOA poet. Nickole Brown.
beauty and truth, called as unnecessary,in the same category of friendship which we know gives value to survival. When we read poems out loud, we can taste the word music... what feels like “uncanny butter on the tongue-- stains it ... / thickens the saliva. Laure Bosselaer's choices: plethora, indolence, damask, lasciviousness...
At O Pen: a few offered these words: cellar door/salubrious/marmelade...

I am so grateful for our fostering of community! the poems we carry with us...
and demand our awareness ... like a spiritual devotion to paying attention...

The poems this week except for 2 had a prose-poem look of block text. Why this choice and how does it affect the poem's working?
Flowering Olives, by James Wright
Regret for a Spider Web, by James Wright
From Blossoms by Li-Young Lee
136 Syllables at Rocky Mountain Dharma Center by Allen Ginsberg
Going Home by Maurice Kenny
Einstein's Clock (1905) by Campbell McGrath

3 of the poems came from the APR Sept/Oct. issue. How different the tone of James Wright from Campbell McGrath... how different again the use of blossoms, with Wright's olive blossom, Li-Young Lee's peach blossom, both folding layers of mindfulness into them...
How clever of Ginsberg, celebrated for his reading of "Howl" this week, to take 136 syllables in haiku technique ... and another poem from Poets Walk by Maurice Kenny who captures the heart-wrenching experience of going "home" in winter, and what "home" means when returning to an Indian reservation. We end with a prose poem that winds the energy of science in 1905 with a bit of tongue-in-cheek about just what mass and energy, and touch of hunger for a bit of sausage, rye, apples and tea.

oh... as Lee says, impossible... referring to the blossoms-- but also how the 30-odd people reading and sharing these poems each draw a different depth of meaning from them--meaning is perhaps unpinnable, but like blossoms, regenerative, as it cycles from a look at nature, being human, spiders and poets weaving webs of meaning.

The first lines of the poems are wonderful points of departure:
It is futile to pretend...
Laying the foundations of community...
From blossoms
Tail turned to red sunset
The book lay unread in my lap
Something is ticking

But I am not being fair to the poets. The first line involves deep looking; the second, the solitary labor of a spider and a humble poet observing the web she is making over him;
In the third poem an evocation of jubilance of peach, which came from a blossom.
In the fourth poem, my next to favorite line is "A dandelion seed floats above the marsh grass with the mosquitos" which resolves my favorite : Mad at Oryoki (mindfulness) in the shrine-room-- thistles blossomed late afternoon. Nothing to do with the lone magpie in the opening line. Except, the alone-ness shared by the spider.

By the time we arrive at the Native American poem, filled with adjectives like "tired" for rivers; "closed" for mills; "cold" for graves, "steaming and frozen" for horses and earth;
and the unrecognizable "home" with gossipy aunts and unknown faces, we are back in recognizable poetry territory. Lines that strike at emotion of one man's story, and a wondering about those door "my father shut" which ends the poem. A little peep into someone else's life, which makes you want to count your blessings for connections in your live.

The last one is a heaping of leaping strokes of history-- 15th century clocks along with 1905-- with a mention of Marie Curie's 1911 work; paradox of radium; David quoted Stevens' famous line about surrealism: invents without discovery. Certainly that feel of an endless wading through an encyclopedia, but not without a sense McGrath is having a lot of fun.

The more I read it, the more I can chuckle at it, but I confess, it took a while to get in the mood to appreciate such a relentless block of text. Is it a prose poem? It is more than a self-absorbed list poem... how does it grab you?

Fun discussions both days -- do read the poems and share your responses!

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