Saturday, November 5, 2016

O Pen -- poems for November 2

Morning by Bernard Shore
A Blessing by James Wright
As I Step Over A Puddle At The End Of Winter, I Think Of An Ancient Chinese Governor by James Wright
Testimonial by Rita Dove
Seasons v. Seconds by Steven Deridder
The Plain Sense of Things by Wallace Stevens
Owed to Pedagogy by Joshua Bennett

It is rare that one can receive a long explanation from the poet, but Bernie explained the first one and I received a long email from Steven Deridder Seasons v. Seconds. (see below).

Having two groups reading the same bunch of poems with different results testifies to the malleability of poems to resonate with circumstances. With the James Wright and Wallace Stevens poems, it would be fun to have them come and tell us just what was going through their minds. I'll save discussion here, as much has already been written about them.

Rita Dove's poem works sound, repetitions, a sense of biblical before the story started.
Joshua Bennett's poem (which appeared in the October issue of Poetry Magazine) is likewise a skillful working of line and stanza breaks. The sister's switchblade // eyes is a great example. Confusion of the voice, tension along with mathematical terms... abstractions balanced with a story of a boy, his mother, sister, in steadily flowing tercets
ending up with the unknowns.. how we deal with them.

Deridder's comments:
"It can be a love poem or not, it doesn't matter much for the meaning. Love has a funny way of finding a way into anything of compassion :).

The person who saw humans as fruit is on point with their ideas, though the fruit itself doesn't have to be human. Living things rot in time, some need a helping (or loving hand!), and they all gravitate toward perfecting their 'biologically preprogrammed' purpose (for lack of a better term).

The whole set up of the first three stanzas is a kind of an enticement + shaming of the reader to pick the speaking fruit, but in the final two stanzas, the fruit finally admits it can only wait the night.

Forth stanza is a personification of a split (of personality, of desires, of whatever buzzword). After attempting to shame / entice the reader, the fruit (human or life symbol) disassociates its own traits from its conscious self (maybe, out of self-consciousness?). Anyways, when the light of the sun goes out, it takes all forms of visual beauty. Even the fruit knows it can't be plucked, tasted, and wanted (or loved or useful, thus have a purpose) if it can't be seen. Which leads in to the last stanza: the 'good tastes' of its musical insides will become embittered by time and neglect (though in actuality, both are only vehicles for its own shallow, 'plastic' vanity, but that is the next level of subtext).

All of this is trying to imply that biology, or the nature of things, plays a role in the inner rot of the soul, as it so naturally happens to many humans, and even the domesticated animals I've seen. The first three stanzas introduce 'nature' in the general sense, show how it fattens things up just to kill them, while also building up the character of the fruit, as it is like a shaming salesman for its self, and being incredibly vain. Though in that forth stanza, it seems to have a higher level awareness of just that, then it warns the reader in the fifth that it can only wait the night. 'Bitter comes faster than anything of this Earth' = not much of a choice (at least for it, the fruit that wants to be plucked and wanted and tasty).

Oh, quick note: I think I may be using the word 'vain' in a different way than it is usually used. Basically, I mean it in that the fruit only thinks (thus cares) about how to get what it wants, only acts and speaks toward this regard, though it is being a poetic salesman and doesn't come off as feeling or sounding very vain... which was intended, but because of that, I am unsure if I should or can call it vain"

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