Friday, October 7, 2016

poems for October 5 (Rundel will be Oct. 13)

the poet Galway Kinnell liked to use words that he said had “mouth feel.”
How does this line-up "taste" to you?

Blackberry Eating -- by Galway Kinnel
Persimmons – by Li-Young Lee
Ice Cream Stop by Shel Silverstein
Blueberries by Robert Frost

What makes a fine poem, a funny poem, an illuminating poem?
What poems do you recall as “glittering gems” filled with surprise and delight?
It's funny how the selection this week reminded so many of the fun of children's poetry...
The sounds and rhymes of Dr. Seuss, for instance, "And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street",
the anapestic tetrameter of "Blueberries" the only poem in "North of Boston" that Frost didn't write in blank verse (think "Night before Christmas" and the galloping of the midnight ride of Paul Revere)...

Such a fun time with these 4 poems! It brought Judith to recite her poem about butter,
and "How the helpmate of Bluebeard Made free with a door"
John shared Dr. Seuss, "And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street" which we read at the end.

But to discuss:
Billy Collins criticized the use of adjectives, and if Galway Kinnel had listened to him,
Blackberry Eating would be a poem without juice... these are "the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries", the stalks are "prickly" and black returns again as "black art" and "black language"
which is also "icy" -- sharp, perhaps clear, perhaps slippery as
ripe turns to "ripest" and squinched expands to a "many-lettered, one-syllabled" verb of "squinch"
as the last word is "late September" which was pegging the season in the first line. The one "s" adjective commonly attributed to fruit that is missing, is "sweet". No Hallmark sugar in this poem!

Indeed, mouth feel is operative... and so many blackberry memories came up, I would say, even if
one didn't have the experience of eating and picking them, the experience was offered to us,
as one of the "musts" of living...

Persimmons is quite a different poem, but the "Chinese Apple" of this fruit, works as thread,
where between the pauses, he is discovering things. And yet, even though there is a risk of diminished "continuity" on the second read, there is a narrative we discover of the speaker of the poem,
his childhood, maturity, reflections on aging of his father; how the initial confusion of "persimmon" and "precision" is echoed by the confusion of "fight" and "fright" and opposition of his mother's view of the fruit (sensual) and that of the teacher's (unripe and authoritarian with no knowledge of the inner possibility to come). How when we arrive at the old age of the blind father, it is persimmons, the ones the mother describes as containing suns, representing the old Chinese culture,
where brushes are made of wolf-tail, and the practice of painting can be done without need of physical sight, the importance of the fruit become the " song, a ghost" the father yearns for, given by his son,
"swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love."
The poem continues, as time goes on, and the son realizes the importance -- even though words may have been forgotten, his father's eyesight gone, language a slippage linking two cultures, "Some things never leave a person". Read the poem, you will find more layers.
Comments from the group: comparing Persimmon/precision to the one ball and cue ball in pool;
the poem as silent and beautiful as a foreign film where images create the story with few words....the words are the sand which makes the pearl... melting together... how memory is often like that, our memories melded with feelings...

Shel Silverstein's poem brought up the element of fun... and that poetry for children doesn't need to exclude humor, or adults!

For the Robert Frost, for a poem that looked like it would last for pages, it literally galloped by, filled with anecdotal portraiture with an overshadowing of haves vs. have-nots and juxtaposition of pleasure
of berry picking with survival.
Other comments: Frost believed the "village gossip mill... the perfect way to get a slice of people’s feelings... get to know the community" as gossip is a way of trading values...
New England rural speak... pacing.

Chewink, by the way, bird species also known as the rufous-sided towhee. See towhee. Eastern, or rufous-sided, towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). Frost compares the Lorens to birds, which allows yet more connotations...

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