Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Poems for March 2-3

Gratuitous Oranges by David Shapiro (read at Pittsford, but not Rundel)
Lullaby in Fracktown by Lilace Mellin Guignard
Cloud Fishing by Phillis Levin
Imaginary Morning Glory by C. D. Wright, 1949 - 2016
For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers by Reginald Dwayne Betts
Candle Hat by Billy Collins
the Pittsford group also read the poem by Lia Purpura: Solitude

In this group of poems, we are treated to the power of form.
The first poem, with its whimsical title, takes the "unrhymable" word, "orange"
in a villanelle variation where it appears in every stanza but the penultimate one, and twice in the 2nd and final stanzas.
linge/binge/cringe (although linge, in French, will sound have the one ugly vowel sound
in the language

A little surrealism (Earth is like a blue orange); rich rhyme (orange/orange -- and aren't you (oh, aren't chu) glad I didn't say orange again?)Irish playwrights and a suspicion that orange stands for a rather narcissistic opinion of food for gods alone with some entanglement with philosophy.
Fun, but one of those poems one reads, once, laughs, returns to to chuckle, but goes in the brain with knock-knock jokes until you look up the epigram and find out more about S.Y. Agnon, the nom-de-plume of a Hebrew Nobel prizewinner.

There's more to oranges than meets the eye -- especially coupled with the adjective "gratuitous" !

This limerick added by Judith who helped edit the original by Steve Kirkpatrick
Limerick on Words

When a rhyme for orange is sought,
It’s much tougher than [when] first thought.
[If] a task’s [very] tall
We should start [rather] small
Rhyming kumquat, loquat and complot.

Judith's note: I have changed his rhyme scheme—the interpolated words are mine, to conform to the more usual limerick form. The If in the third line replaces his when, to avoid two of ‘em.

Lullaby in Fracktown is another villanelle:

The word play, alliterations, mock-advice, overtones of the song, "Hush little baby" tell the story of people who work in fracktowns -- the hope of a job -- but under the shadow of here today, gone tomorrow. Hush, like the lullaby sings, "don't say a word, Mama's going to buy you a mockingbird... and if that mocking bird don't sing, mama's going to buy you a diamond ring... and if that diamond ring turns to brass, mama's going to buy you a looking glass..." all those promises, crooned to soothe what we know is dangerous.

Cloud fishing has a marvelous hour-glass form, with the arrangement of 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 line in each stanza, with slant rhyme. sky/swimming by/refraction catching its eye.
looking down, to looking up out of the deep.

The CD Wright was difficult. The repeat 7 words; fragments, allusions and the idea of "Imagination" which we will see in the Collins' interpretation of the light around Goya's head, or the idea of the "glory" which people see in the sky -- either Godlike, or perhaps connected to that "telluric" light. Enigmatic, layered, complex.

Thank you Kathy for sharing this essay by C.D. Wright:

I highly recommend it! This passage particularly struck me, in the context of poetry embracing doubt, vs. searching for answers.
"Poetry should not be the default for every writer's mess. Otherwise, it is a poem if I say it is.
.... Poetry dissolves boundaries—it is the finite that puts us in touch with the infinite—and, as languages and species vanish every day, it is a crucial vehicle by which we apprehend the urgency and precarious splendor of existence.”

The next 19-line poem plays with words that end with "philous", but also helps the reader by providing definitions without ever seeming pedantic. The interconnectedness, the swell of Greek to a line that reads like a film of a black man. Love/that: (darkness, stories). "Love that" repeated again as first two words, on the 11th line... (corner room/whatever is not there/all the clutter you keep secret).
The clutter of words is filled with love... a complex interweaving of unlike, living near each other. It could be black/white or male/female or simply a me/you or all three.
Please listen to the recording (follow this link:
of “For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers”. It allows us to imagine more than someone in love with words— a real person, and an invitation to guess his story. How do you see the poem after being touched by the voice?

How does the edgy C.D Wright compare with Billy Collins? Did Goya have a candle hat, or is that also part of the imagination? Note verbs such as he "appears" and you can only "wonder what it would be like" and you only have to "imagine him"... and three more invitations to "imagine". The power of such a poem lies in the power of the poet's imagination to re-interpret what is seen. Whether, in this case, a painting, or possibilities -- it leads to a broader, more generous interpretation of the world.
I did find quite a few enlargement/close-ups of Goya in the portrait provided, that show, indeed, a candle hat -- but he would not have had them lit. According to his son, when Goya painted his portraits, he worked “in only one session, sometimes of ten hours, but never in the late afternoon. The last touches for a better effect of a picture he gave at night, by artificial light” or candlelight."

I missed the discussion of Solitude, the last poem, and did not read it with Rundel.
The line "what a luxury/ annoyance is" attracts me with the 3-syllable words pulling at each other. The longest line is the final six-syllable one, but so cleverly given --
the annoyance is what gives us a bite of just enough of "what I think/I want to be endless". It allows a peek at annoyance, which often counters our subjective desires.
Peace, sure, all alone, but it is not until the dog barks that the poet re-considers it.

Judith had proposed to read Bumbershoot:

Night, a gun-blue umbrella tricked with distant suns and planets
Is not to be opened indoors—more bad luck, or worse.

Hold it to the mind’s sky, finger the trigger in its handle.
A meteor bullets the firmament. The universe falls shut with a whoosh.

Shake the drops of the stars from the loose skin of the darkness.
Think of nothing for which to wish. Step into a different house.

--Howard Hendrix

Judith's note:The author was written six novels, several short story collections
and a “whole bunch of poems.” He teaches English and creative
writing “at the college level” but the blurb in the anthology
did not state where.

The Nebulas are annual awards given by members of SWFA, the professional organization of science fiction and fantasy writers. The annual poetry awards are
named for the fictional poet Rhysling, a character created by Robert Heinlein back in the forties in a story first published in, believe it or not, the Saturday
Evening Post—where I remember reading it. He wrote several stories for that mag, which probably paid a helluva lot better than the genre magazines of the time!!!
(The irony is that Rhysling’s poetry, when given by Heinlein, is Kipling-and-water and more water than Kipling. Never mind…)

And from Paul:
I ran across a quip by W.B. Yeats last night and thought it would tranquilize some misgivings that I or we ( the Group ) have about dissecting the mental states of poets , correcting what they present and straightening their scrambled thought processes.

" If a poet interprets a poem of his own he limits its suggestibility".

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