Friday, May 19, 2017

poems for May 9-10

Still Lifes and Landscapes by Emily Wolahan (for O Pen)
On the Fifth Day -- Jane Hirschfield

Scale – for Heather McHugh    by Stephen Dobyns
Permanently by Kenneth Koch
The One Thing that Can Save America by John Ashbery
Swan and Shadow by John Hollander
New Strategy by Tony Hoagland

We did discuss Still Lifes and Landscapes briefly...  Part of what interests me, is how poems are selected by various magazines, and why this one,  winner of Georgia Review Loraine Williams 4th annual poetry prize announced March 2017 chosen.
A few comments:  beautiful images but depressing...
Reminiscent of Shelley:  stripping the veil of familiarity... "un" human is not "inhuman" but rather allows the idea of undoing what is not touched by humans... Bewildering... why would the heart grow brutal with things disguised as themselves?   Often, poetry, is memorable when it bewilders, and invites us to listen to something more carefully to something difficult to know.   Intriguing... Space for possible peace, then, peace of mind... what makes "it" more deadly -- and have I understood what "it" is?  Poems are as much about what they aren't saying as about what they say.

On the Fifth Day is a brilliant poem,  echoing Genesis... not about Fish of the water and birds of the air... but some un-named source forbidding study, sharing of findings, and even facts told not to speak.
I love that the facts "were surprised" to be taken... disheartened that they too silent...
I love the power of imagining "unpausing factual buds" -- the insistence of life to continue.
Granted, we may be trashing our planet, and only have 100 years, according to Stephen Hawkins,
to do something, or find a new planet on which to live...
I love the hope of this poem -- where at the end, the silence becomes the subject --
without pounding us on the head on the importance of communicating... we must speak about
why we are not speaking... and what we are not addressing...

Scale:  Dobyns for Heather McHugh -- we're not sure why, except the tone of the opening sounds like her.  Such a quirky way of looking at what is in a house... "In the stratification of domestic perception," -- and then that hierarchy  is undone...  in a description of a heart attack...The humor of the "thump" as the first stanza ends is wonderful! Death, the great equalizer, and who is, by the way, superior...  in the great chain of being... (18th century)?
Perhaps the last line could be both ironic and tender... "... Why, look, it’s his own

dear fingerprint.  First there forever, and then not.  "

The Kenneth Koch poem is also  a delightful surprise.  What is permanent?  What could happen
and leave a trace "permanently"?   With a title like this, do you expect the love poem?
What do adjectives do?  What happens in their absence?  How are they "lost" in a sentence?
How does "pure  and sweet" modify "expression on her face"?   until the day I perish from the

   green, effective earth."
"In the springtime the Sentences and the Nouns lay silently on the grass.
A lonely Conjunction here and there would call, "And! But!"
But the Adjective did not emerge."
So what is the role of adjectives?  It helps you think about language, about what is lost,
and for some, a  memory of enchantment...  And adjectives have a way of calling attention,
to slow down...

The One Thing that Can Save America by John Ashbery
if only... Perhaps one could start each day thinking about what could "save" a country... and what exactly that "country" is.  Further, what is worth saving and how can a country ensure ensure
that it be saved?  These are important questions and Ashbery  asks "what is central"... gives examples only to say "These are connected to my version of America
But the juice is elsewhere.
What is that juice?
Voltaire had his version of "cultivate your own garden" and perhaps Ashbery gives his with a sense of futility... 

The calligramme of The Swan (and its reflection) is magnificent.  Let it speak for itself.
Swam and shadow rest on the line "even after this bird this hour they both drift by atop the perfect and instant now.

Tony Hoagland: "New Strategies":  more Candide.  Enjoyable poem.  view of how things could, should be, but aren't.  Comments included

Michael Chebon.  
Climate Change summit.  What if it’s all a hoax and for nothing...
playful, unrealistic... 
money spent on war... vs. for
I. Berlin... the crooked timber of humanity...
futility of utopia...
rock and roll?   broadway...
Silverstein... I will not play at tug of wzr...
Procol Harem = no Western Education...
Brave New World... self-indulgent... 

Rondel looked at two poems: On an Archaic Torso of Apollo (Rilke) and On an Archaic Torso of Apollo (after Rilke) by William Heyen .
What is gained by re-wording?  


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