We found out that Emily has her work displayed at the Brown Hound, the bistro at the MAG— if anyone likes to produce pictures of dogs, they are in the market. You can see the artwork in this link: https://www.brownhoundbistro.comI have many notes —and share this “electronic link” in the email for the Burnside poem http://bostonreview.net/poetry/john-burnside-memoriam-brigit-pegeen-kelly . More on Brigit and links to her poems. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/brigit-pegeen-kelly and https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/brigit-pegeen-kelly. The testimonies of her students are quite touching and speak to her power to not only write, but pass on the fire to others.Poetry Magazine’s editor says this about the value of contemporary poetry: “Apart from the considerable pleasure of thinking about what they’re up to, reading contemporary poems gets us to focus our attention and sharpen our critical skills, things we need more than ever in an age, like ours, of distraction.”I might carry the argument beyond “distraction” .Heads up about programs at Central Library: Wed. Nov. 1 6:30-8: “Picture This: an evening with Edward Hopper: Sarah FrelighMondays December 4 & 11: Micro-memoirs: 2-part writing workshop: Marna RossiSat. Dec. 9: 10:30 am -12: Writing Found Poems: Gail Hosking.Free — but registration required. www.libraryweg.org or contact Carol Moldt at 428-8375.**
from “Soft Targets" – by Deborah Landau
Lost in the Peaceable Kingdom by Brigit Pegeen Kelly
In Memoriam: Brigit Pegeen Kelly by John Burnside
May Perpetual Light Shine by Patricia Spears Jones
Once by Patrick Phillips
Of Age – by Amit Majmudar
Black Cat by Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 - 1926
The comments below reflect the discussions in two different groups, one of 20, the other, 7.
The first poem could be about any of the recent terrorist attacks... the fact that targets are not cities,
buildings, but people, is suggested in the title. Many thought the point of view was that of a ghost and as Elaine put it, the words give an elegant expression of sorrow... and surrender to what is... "I am I am, you are, you are..." is attached to a memory before "the funeral in everything"; the peace pipes allow us to forget the violence of powers.... and continue on with life of quotidien details... There is a sense of autumn in the word "golden" -- ripe, yet not yet confronting violation of death.
Golden, as the best we could ever be, in our innocence... The poem captures a haunted feeling... not fear or anger... but the "as if" that cannot be -- imagining you will never die.
I love the incongruous "rich" to describe failure, terror, dither,
and that the moon is "bloated" in charge of us like vapor.
Tonight, as I type, there is a full-moon, lightly veiled with clouds.
I respect this poem for the lovely personification... wouldn't it be lovely to think of night
"bringing forth a dancing plan" -- uninterrupted by men and violence? "Its damage" dangles
in space. How would you address massive powers? Oblivion is an option-- the painless,
uninvolved indifference,"sipping champagne"
The next poem invites the reader to find the multitudes of paintings of "Peaceable Kingdom".
Rather like Keats' Ode to a Grecian Urn, Brigit Pegeen Kelly brings us into a painting...The enjambments give a sense of "unfinished business" and reinforce the fact that no matter how
you try, you cannot leave. However, the stars can... "The stars...
Sing just before dawn where there is a night for them
To leave behind and the loss of it growing.
Shortly after, the tone shifts from biblical to nursery rhyme. No Solomon Grundy here... only stasis,
"arrested" -- the mind at the mercy of the wind, but with no identity, no emotion.
What did the ghost wish for, that is not as he has understood it to be? Whatever it is, the lion's heart doesn't even have desire to leave. David was reminded of Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning...
and the idea that there is "nothing else" after death... --the alternatives are to be nothing or to accept a fiction.
In Memoriam, pays tribute to Brigit Pegeen Kelly, (1951-2016). Some saw references to her poem,
others wondered if it were not reference to her ability to create images unconnected to the senses,
most probably as that cannot be "accounted for" and only known by the soul. The freight train in Autumn, with its empty boxcars is a haunting image, and yet there is a peaceful stillness in the
unseen house. Fitting for an elegy.
In the next poem, Judith was reminded of Millay's poem "My Heart Being Hungry". Again this theme of desire not having a place once dead or, simply believing whatever fiction one needs to
about "Heaven" and stars dancing. The list of musical beats, ending with cha cha cha took many of us out of the poem...
The title "May Perpetual Light Shine" is part of the Requiem mass, and yet the poem does not
feel like an elegy so much as expression of grief, hanging on to hope.
"Once" has an interesting title. It starts the poem. It took several of us several readings to understand
who is who of fathers in the first sentence that ends at the first stanza. A man, only known by another
man because of their sons, has watched his father die. Yet comes to his son's soccer game. We could all see the soccer game, the grief of the man, how hard it is to look at someone grieving. I like that the following 10 stanzas compose a second sentence, where the sound of "I" , (die, eye,) becomes
a cast of characters. Someone died; someone grieves, someone else observes him (I); the joining of "I" in the adjectival use of
go-I of him:"
Many stories came up -- Maura, whose husband died young, leaving her a widow, still went on with her kids' activities. Marcie pulled out "If you can't be a good example, you'll be a horrible warning."
as response to why we keep on going, and put on a suit of courage. The ending feels like a star
collapsing... how everything at the game veers towards the man, disappears inside him.
I like that the poem came from a collection, "Elegy for a Broken Machine.
The next poem, "Of Age" was not particularly well-received, but did spark a good discussion about immigration. At Rundel we discussed Prospero, and the reference to the Tempest, and the magical
powers of transformation... The father recognizes that much as the current state of affairs in America
contains no grace (with that marvelous image of "ancient Chevys migrate/west and plunge like maddened buffalo/ into a canyon. Where the oil-slick geese go,/no one knows...etc.
The father has a sense of regret "bequeathing" such a country to his son. Here, he uses chiasmus--
the country I bequeath to you
the country I bequeath you to.
The final line drowns any hope, sinks any idea of wanting to board a ship.
I threw in the Black Cat for halloween flavor. It's always difficult with translation...
but the image of the cat's eye, absorbing everything, mirroring it back...
a ghost, like a place your sight can knock on, echoing... yet it disappears.