Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Poems for Feb. 15-16

Resignation by Nikki Giovanni (read with everyone saying "I love you" as chorus -- there are 12 such
This Morning I Pray for My Enemies by Joy Harjo (read line by line. no enjambments.)
Red Brocade by Naomi Shihab Nye (read sentence by sentence.
Bugs in a Bowl by David Budbill(stanzas. I love how "Or." is one stanza!)
DetoNation by Ocean Vuong (played the poet reading his own work.)

It often comes up that those who like to know something about the author, feel background knowledge enhances the pleasure of reading the poem. It does make a difference for instance to know that Nikki Giovanni is a fab Black poet born in 1943, that Joy Harjo is American Indian, that Naomi is part Palestinian, the David Budbill is Buddhist and Ocean Vuong's real name was not Ocean, but one his mother gave him as they left the Philippines.

I feel really blessed that in our weekly group, we can share so many different points of view, some based on research, previous knowledge, some conjecture based on experience. It makes such a human tapestry — and I love how one poem can trigger such an outpouring of humanity!

Rae Armantrout has this to say about poetry:
“clarity need not be equivalent to readability. How readable is the world? There is another kind of clarity that doesn’t have to do with control but with attention, one in which the sensorium of the world can enter as it presents itself.”

In the first poem, "Resignation" the anaphor "I love you" pins down "because", compares itself,
considers alternatives, forays into a song by the Dells (Love is so simple) only to end up
with the indubitable power of love, the draws you to another and demands that you "should"
and "would" and how one person changes a whole life to love that other person... and just in case you don't get it... "and decided that I would,
love you
I love you I love you I love you."
She starts big... I love you because the Earth turns round the sun...
and we remarked the capital letters, "North wind" Pope is Catholic, most Rabbis Jewish.
Black (but after coffee, so expanded meaning) and that one Friday.

When is the last time you prayed for your enemies? I love that the first question is:
and whom do I call my enemy? Harjo addresses the question of "enemy", or heart/mind, the problem of indifference... of knowing. And that delightful twist -- an enemy who RISKS the danger of becoming a friend!
It goes back to the wisdom of holding what looks to be opposites together. (The heart... hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.) The mind has a hard time doing this but the heart is able to open the door in ways the mind cannot.

Stories shared about the KKK white supremacist who left the clan and befriended Blacks. Questions:Who do you want to call a respectful enemy? Comments: It’s a love poem...
enmity/hatred *consumes... vs. forgiveness..
to read: Notes of a native son – James Baldwin... Civil Conversation Project: Krista Tippett
The people who are the troublemakers – what they bring for us...
sand in the oyster that makes the pearl.

We had discussed Red Brocade I am sure, but it is a wonderful poem to read again and again.
Middle Eastern culture is different than ours. Imagine if we said, and truly meant it,
"No, I was not busy when you came!"... Imagine if we did not need the armor of business!
Ah... I feel with this poem a powerful sermon reminding me of my preoccupation with business.
How in High School, I would say how I had to practice piano, had to... had to... but the fact was,
that busy compulsion was just to pretend I had reason to live, unable as I was to help the mother
I loved unable to offer me a simple pleasure of snipping fresh mint into tea to share together.
Did I give my children that message too?
For the form: It is interesting to note the blend of end-stopped, comma-stopped sentences and
general flow -- as if the words stitch a comfortable pillow on which to rest.
3 sentences in first stanza of 11 lines;
5 sentences, two of which are fragments of questions in 5 lines;
3 sentences in stanza three, of 5 lines with a preponderance of initial "p;s" First sentence/line ends with an exclamation! Second sentence/line a period.
Final stanza: 3 sentences. 2 end-stopped. I love how p is repeated in "plate" and "snip".

Bugs in a Bowl gives a gentle poke at our human nature with humor. We do have choices...
Ask yourself every once in a while. Or.

Be the change... You don't like Sisyphus... be a bug in a bowl, look around. Hey, nice rock.
How's the push going?
Some were reminded of H. M. Woggle-Bug, T.E. (Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated)!

The final poem was quite enigmatic... the title combining the sense of detonation of a Nation.
How both father and bomb are repeated. Play of dark and light...
How does a bomb tell you: "here is your father" -- one imagines a dead man in pieces.
one's father in the very air you breath... and to write father has the effect of "carving a portion of the day our of a bomb-bright page." The father returns as italics, perhaps a ghost... don't cry
// anymore. The haunting image of a boy, his shadow growing toward his father...
One needs light to cast a shadow...

Apparently in an interview, Ocean said that it is a mistake to think that the poem is about
the poet's father. However, one does learn that the father left... and the war metaphor is apt
to capture loss.

As ever, the discussion allowed multiple angles and discoveries.

Thank you one and all.

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