Friday, June 30, 2017

poems for June 21 +

June 21:
Wade in the Water  by Tracy K. Smith (from June 5th issue-- link to hear her voice)
Interrogative  by Tracy K. Smith  

Don't You Wonder, Sometimes?   by Tracy K. Smith
for fun:

 Ivan Granger.  And then there's this moment --

Selections from "Auguries of Innocence" by William Blake + ASL link

Another Tracy Smith poem:  Watershed -- it's 4 pages long, but perhaps for discussion ane.other time.

+ June 28: discussion 
The Soul by Tracy K. Smith
I am so glad that Tracy K. Smith is our new US Poet Laureate! It is a pleasure to read her work. In an interview on she mentions that poetry is "an opportunity for the poet to grapple with things that are complicated."  She goes on to say, she feels "safest when I am furthest away from what I know."  If we look at the few poems discussed, we have four quite distinct poems.

In the first, Wade in the Water, Judith immediately thought of  Alvin Ailey:  Revelations
The Ailey performance is pegged as  "African American experience:  sorrowful/jubilant, but always hopeful expressing the  holiest of joy in the soul."

We hear the spiritual "wade in the water"  in the title, and wonder if we are in a church.    A very present "I love you" seems to be the pith of the poem: the strength of the divine in "I love you" spoken by a woman who doesn't know her, but invites her in.. and then proceeds to greet other strangers the same way.
Beware, the light is heavy...
From there to performance, where "I love you" is in every hand clap and stomp. To the I love you
in the rusted chains of slavery...
"To drag until love let them be

Unclasped and left empty
In the center of the ring."

Now "I love you" is in the water... back to the spiritual... as if to question what really happened -- 
"I love you in the water

Where they pretended to wade,
Singing that old blood-deep song
That dragged us to those banks
And cast us in. "
It ends with the breathlessness of  escaping at the end of the poem with a hint of "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen".    That whatever we now knew

We could let ourselves feel, knew
To climb. O Woods—O Dogs—                 
O Tree—O Gun—O Girl, run
O Miraculous Many Gone—
O Lord—O Lord—O Lord—
Is this love the trouble you promised?    

Read the poem, read it again.  See how she paints a picture of past and present, and yet,
the conviction that "I love you" is what you must say, no matter if you are the victim.
It is hard to keep loving... hard to believe when someone tells you.  

Interrogative, a poem in 4 parts traces her imagined beginning, the move from Massachusetts to California, to Alabama, to imagining being with her mother who passed away just as Tracy was finishing college.  Since the poem appears two years after Katrina, is she referencing that in this line:
"My heart cluttered with names that mean nothing." We noted the questions in the first two stanzas.
--"What did your hand smooth over the the casket of the belly" (her mother, with her in utero)

    --  (How could you stand me near you,/In you, jump and kick tricking/The heart, when what you prayed for/Was my father’s shadow, 
-- remember (radio, sign, bridge) as though our lives were/Engineered simply to go? 
The third stanza has no question... "I am trying to let go of something."  2 lines later: "The woods catch it and send it back." Neither does the fourth stanza have a question, but a  
person to person honesty with her mother...
We discussed  the a sense of grief…the state when one goes back and forth between past/present… 
live our lives in flux…

The third poem put us back into the interrogative mode.  A poem in three parts: first, the fantasy of a powerful male figure...with a reference to David Bowie, renaissance man... the kind of celebrity you
never think you'll meet... but... do you ever wonder ....
I love this part of stanza 2:
Time never stops, but does it end? And how many lives
Before take-off, before we find ourselves
Beyond ourselves, all glam-glow, all twinkle and gold?

The future isn’t what it used to be. 

I love the fact that our perception of what the future will be, has changed.  The slippery nature of
time and space and being.  She captures it and then, in the 3rd stanza tosses us into confident,
brave new world that escalates into these final lines:
               As if something with the power to do so
                Had looked its way and said:
                                                     Go ahead.   

skipping to 6/28 discussion of The Soul. 

The Soul by Tracy K. Smith
What is soul?   inner voice?  quiet?  silence.  The discussion spoke of the power
of being all together and not talking... the comfort of not needing to speak.
Detachment.  Form is emptiness, emptiness form, in the voice that enters us, "saying nothing 
Over and over absently to itself."
Unusual images:  Soul with heft.  A voice... tossed, chipping away at what pushes back.
silence around it  like a door punched with light... 

if all together and not talking… but everyone get along.  comforting…

Back to 6/21.
Part of the fun of Facebook poets, is "found poetry" -- or one poet posting a line,
and asking each person to add to it... I shared such a poem -- we could come up with our own:
We all cracked up when we arrived at the repeat of "And then, there is this moment..."
And then, the moment....
begins again
It's all just blah blah blah blah that never was or will be.
There is eternal day and night coming together in a never ending dusk and my heart flies away to the dawn.
dropping a feather midst flight
song in flight
...sweetness in falling...
 like a finger nail moon
+ 19  more lines…
I love the group poem we created together! Improv communal art... =  (Ivan Granger)

I shared the ASL video which signs two stanzas of Blake.  Just as music is more powerful than words typed on a page,
I feel movement also conveys more.