Thursday, June 30, 2016
We discussed string theory last Wednesday… but this a different take. Although we are beyond spring, Sutphen’s poem goes beyond season.
I know we once discussed “Ramages” years ago — but sometimes it’s fun to discuss something we haven’t seen for a while. John suggested we discuss “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, another favorite discussed long ago. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45236
String Theory by Ronald Wallace
Some Glad Morning by Joyce Sutphen
THE SLIM FIR-SEEDS by Robert Bly + link http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2008/03/01/scripts/bly.shtml
Honeymoon by Dorianne Laux
How to Get There BY PHILIP LEVINE
The opening poem plays on the pun of "strings" -- violins and quartets, fugues and gossip... which I remember in French as "rumeur", that undercurrent and rustling in trees, running in the streets in Hugo's poem.
Many associations came up: the incident of "Live art of Ants in 1970..." how the display of patterns and structure was presented as art, but after a few days the colony died... cannot take something away from vibrations... (Lewis Thomas: Lives of a Cell...) Judith brought up that many kids these days might not understand the flowers in Disney's Fantasia... -- how our electronic age removes us from the natural world -- how many people know the shape and name of the plant "butter and eggs" ?
The real subject, David summarized, is gossip... metaphor for essential vibration.
What status does gossip have?
Don, as musician made sure we understood the difference between the party game of gossip as opposed to a few fugue. John brought up tuning... how it takes a while for a string to find its pitch...
The importance of spinning a yarn... how flying a part... could mean apart, as in break up, but also hoisting up
the part we are, realizing we are interconnected.
The Sutphen poem begins and ends with a sense of catching a moment of gladness. One COULD get techy, which I did when someone wondered about "cherry blossoms whistling down the track" and find the names of different trains in Japan -- one of which is the Cherry Blossom -- but there are other names, like the Green Leaf, which echoes in the opening stanza.( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_named_passenger_trains_of_Japan )
Or just let the cherries we the harbinger of Spring!!!!
The opening is brilliant: One day, something very old...
do you expect "happened again." ? The baseball imagery in stanza 2 left a few participants shrugging their shoulders, but the poem over all binds us in, remembering the scent of roses gone by... the gladness that recollection can seem so vivid through the power of words.
The reading, line by line of the "ramage" by Bly was delicious...
the sound works towards the meaning in subtle ways... the paradox of permanent/impermanent -- soul/body...
Kathy recalled the title of the book these are from: Turkish Pears... and the tunings of these sings...
is like that of a stringed instrument...one has to deal with it. Add the meaning after the sound...
David questioned some of the word choice, for instance, engines are not imperishable but undeterrable...
perhaps, but if the engine is the immortal element of the soul perhaps Bly's choice should stand. As Judith introduced her story, "In my even more pretentious days.." recalling a professor who could not remember the name of a world poet... that Chinese poet... Tu Fu, upon which she then wrote a paper bringing in
Tagore: "I shall die again and again knowing life is inexhaustible..."
I believe John brought up this proverb, thinking of the word "Kingdom": "When an elder dies... a library goes"
In the last two poems, I called attention to the form.
Honeymoon is one block of free verse;
How to Get there is in staggered tercets with line breaks that propel you to the next stanza in surprising ways,
like dominant 7ths asking for resolution.
I love how form influences the over all meaning. Honeymoon gives a "heartbeat in the ear" with the rhythm in the lines... -- the advantage David pointed out of Frost or Milton, where emotion is in the iambic stretch of each line propels one to the next. The poem gives a sense of a love story -- enduring affection..
The Levine poem reminded us of 9/11 and many stories came up, ranging from accounts of survivor guilt to the less- advertised fact that 25,000 people got out of the buildings...
The poem was also reminiscent of riots in 68, blackpower...
The line breaks arouse curiosity... where are we going (like title)
the larger metaphors of collection box... hush money... iou’s
badly distributed wealth in this country.