Thursday, December 22, 2016

December 7-8

Birdhouse by Tony Hoagland
I am In Need of Music by Elizabeth Bishop
Flock by J.R. Tappenden
Rupi Kaur -- poem with drawing
Learning to Float -- by J.R. Tappenden
Wildfire Moon (Summer, L.A. 2016) by Carol Muske-Dukes
Thinking About Basho by Bacha K. Sharp

The first poem, published in The Sun magazine, October 2016 has a range of possible tones from assertive to apologetic, mildly sarcastic yet with a delightful opening question about that 20 foot extension ladder, which transforms at the end of the poem into the measurement of time-- the 20 foot distance between this predator which we know will have the final word.
The poem could have been written as prose, however, the stanzas allow a sense of poetic carpentry, addressing a birdhouse as abode that progresses from domicile to a residence with a private entrance, a mysterious piece of "real estate" to chateau with an amusing color scheme, (painted blue with orange spots on it). This is no birdhouse, but a peek at how memory works, how we hope that something we have built in our lifetime will last and remind people of who we are.
Some thought it a love poem, others a simple parallel between a place for flying thoughts to land, (implication, become memorable) with two of the enjambed stanza breaks (made with my hands// on a specific afternoon; I took the trouble// to hang that little domicile...)matching the metaphorical third (You might say that memory itself//is a piece of real estate,).
Hoagland contrasts the relationship of outer world, the observable mother bird, the baby birds whose open mouths present "a ferocious pink bouquet" with the inner more mysterious workings of what shelters memory; the specific, individual particulars of the tree on which a birdhouse will be hung; the timing, vs. the generalized "some kind of wire strapping", if I am not here for "some" reason...
Both groups thoroughly enjoyed the romp of reading and discussing this poem.

For the Bishop Sonnet, offered by Elaine R. as one of her favorites, both groups enjoyed the alliterative sounds, the
slow rhythm... Judith remarked on the Millet and Eleanor Wylie influence. The Octet contrasts the trembling/quivering
with the yearning for the the lulling magic of melody which appears in the first line of the sestet. Something about "butter-tainted lips" I find rather off-putting, which the 3-syllable "melody" in the DEF / DEF pattern of the sestet rescues,
with the sibilance of "subaqueous stillness of the sea". Comments included: this is an Ars Poetica... asking for inspiration... devotional... otherworldly... baptism by music...

Flock is a one-sentence column of words that establishes a simile between starlings and smoke, as what allows us to distinguish currents in the air, what is/in it. What is pleasing is the shift to the abstract idea of allegiance, which smoke, unlike the
starlings, cannot hold. Comments : density of what is earth-bound; smoke is inanimate... but starlings not.
fire... of life itself...
something up in the air...
air the mind: starling smoke our thoughts...

The poem with the drawing shows a woman's back, her head, with the hair like wisps of smoke. The words:
Our Backs
tell stories
no book
has the spine
to carry

Enigmatic and pleasing... one learns a lot from a back!

We had discussed the Jen Tappenden poem, "Learning to Float" on Nov. 9, however, it fit nicely with the grouping so we discussed it again. As an aside, what I love about these library groups, is that there is never a set attendance, so the 20-odd people present allow multiple discussions to maintain a sense of freshness.

In the December discussion, we commented on the mouth sound, and how the poem's layout addresses surface... below surface...
the lines flow like water.. the image of ribbons, yarn, skeins, reeds weaving contrast with the trees and vines. The brilliant line break, "memory holds// our mentors" -- as if to point out the contrary, in the constant "re-learning", unlearning, in a shifting world.

The next poem by Carol Muske-Dukes is personal reflection on specific event: the wildfires in L.A. mirrored by blood moon, the revolving star of the red light on a police car, childlike drawings that look finger-painted. "She" as pronoun operates
for artist, first capturing what the sun sees:

The horizon brazen as
the great fool’s gold
jet landing on sparkler

wheels. She catches it.

The poem acts as a tribute to art as the way of capturing, rendering an experience as unique and unrepeatable.

The final poem, "Thinking about Basho" is exactly that. He is definitely a wonderful Haiku master to think about...
But is it enough, just because we revere Basho... to quote him to pin down wandering thoughts?
I would be curious what the APR editors thought of if.

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