Thursday, March 9, 2017
Pittsford discussion March 8; Rundel, March 23 (snow day 3/16)
poems below discussed at Pittsford on March 8
Rondel was going to discuss them March 16, cancelled because of snow. the notes in parentheses were for the Rundel group:
Dear March - Come in - (#1320) Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886
(What is the effect of the m-dashes. Where does she leave them out?)
The earth is a living thing Lucille Clifton, 1936 - 2010
(note how the title carries into the poem... 2 tercets, a couplet
and then six lines, each one starts with “is a black” except for the couplet, “is a fish black blind in the belly...” with its heavy alliteration of b’s in both lines. Note as well how “discarded” in the second tercet could be an enjambment to include the fish with a reversal of verb-subject... How does the final stanza contrast with that?)
What It Feels Like to Feel Like Me by Selima Hill
Cow by Selima Hill
note the title of the source of “The Cow” – real poems for unreal times.
(Why would this be a good poem to include in such an anthology?)
My Generation Reading the Newspapers by Kenneth Patchen
(Discuss “loss” and the multiple layers of “these”—
how both reading and recording are addressed – is the advice as pertinent now as almost 90 years ago?)
A Small- Sized Mystery by Jane Hirschfield
(What tone does Hirschfield create? Does her parable touch you ? How or how not.)A sense of quiet reassurance.
This poem brought up a lot of associations -- a Turkish film at the Little; the association of e=MC2 as smooth energy,possessed by a cat... First, one invites the cat, who needs no excuse, does not have to explain, or pretend. The cat knows how big it is,
and how to fill it. The enigmatic end... we have much to learn from this cat...
The Idea of Living by Joyce Sutphen : the poem begs the question, how are you living? Are you in a visual abstraction,
or in touch with your body?
What is it about March, and its hinges of Spring, with wild winds and contrary temperament, that Dickinson would want to dwell with it, and shut the door on April? Perhaps the last vestiges of winter in March, allow the kind of meditative reflection we associate with winter, and the wildness of March provides us with a marvelous energy to prepare us for rebirth...
Rundel: March as lover... rhymes : grew/Hue/you... why no m-dashes "He (April?) stayed away a Year to call...
but trifles look so trivial/as soon as you have come-- and to end on this confusion of blame/praise, where the triffle is blame...
and the flip side, Praise, as a novel way to forgive?
The repetition of "black", the alliterative B's (repeating blind) the repetition of circling... the shambling, ruffling, circling, gives a view of Earth alive, through animals, but also child, giving equal weight to being
black as a race... the language is filled with a sensuous a bigness that spans air, sea, and a sense of a planet spinning in space. The brilliance of the poem is how black changes.
Rundel: sense of wildness, and heavy-voiced B's -- black to back, burying, bones, blind, belly, (repeated)and ending
with "brushing it clean"...
We read the 4 lines of "What it feels like to feel like me" then, "the cow" to get a sense of the voice of this delightfully eccentric poet.
We then re-read the 4 lines. One interpretation is to think of the author who does not want to be domesticated... some sort of quilt, decorated with appliqués-- an idea of a field... and yet... inferring
the possibility of being something expansive and nurturing...
Do listen to the poet reading her poem "Cow" -- her sense of humor is clear, and will dislodge any idea
that she is complaining about her lot in life preferring the large, fertile and female-nurturing image of cow.
"Cow" comes from: Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times. Both poems point to survival techniques.
Rundel: First 4 line poem: "felt ears" -- overtones of whimsy and domestic detail taken out of proportion -- how can soft felt "trample"? What kind of field -- one thinks of sowing, ploughing--- an outer world of possibility.
The second one, gives a feel of comfort in this large, dozy creature that is counted by the cowman, and loved on this farm.
To whom is she speaking? Wanting here, invites the poetry to act as poultice.
I am not sure when this poem was written, however, the date might be important...
The opening line, "We must be slow and delicate" is repeated, "hard it is to be slow and delicate in this,"
where "this" is the framing of words... a sense of regret, countered by a sense of being in the moment;
One person thought it might be a eulogy, or an obituary, referring to Patchen's little sister hit by an
automobile and killed. : Thinks of Hitler... Mussolini... the repetition of "slow and delicate" -- first "we must be this way..." and the repeat, "funny how/hard it is to be slow and delicate in this..."-- he is speaking of grave matters,the result of wars where
"casualties" are unwarranted loss of lives.
Maura (Pittsford group) read her letter she wrote in the voice of the grandfather she never knew at this point.
In the Hirschfield poem, quite a discussion of cats ensued with examples of those cats who if not
saying “Excuse me" seem to say, "I'm sorry". The poem is not really about mercy, nor the pondering of the universe with an Einsteinian mind... but rather points to the fact that we are alive, on an earth where all is living... with a bit of an implication about our need for connection, engagement...and small-sized mysteries...
The cats are really just an excuse to talk about being human...
Sutphen: Back to "this earth" -- the grounded and sensuous details, contrast with the "hammered gold" -- Donne's image in his poem, "Valediction" where he explains to his wife their love will not be severed by his going off on a voyage. The poems is an exercise in understatement...
Is it about living... contrasted with the idea of living or simply an exercise in mindfulness?