Poems:“STOP! AN IMAGINED LETTER FROM COVID-19 TO HUMANS by Kristin Flyntz
On Doubt and Bad Reviews by Naomi Shihab Nye
“In the Evening We Shall Be Examined on Love” by Thomas Centolella
The question came up of what made "On Doubt and Bad Reviews" poetic... a good question to ask any poem. David H. came up with the analogy of "Jazz Police" who determine what is "good" or "bad" jazz... if the music or poem moves you, well... does it matter what "poetic" means?
Each of us with our moods and dispositions may be looking for different things.
What is beautiful about 15 people discussing the same poems, is to see the marvelous weaving in
of each person's understanding.
Shihab Nye: Why did she put doubt and bad reviews in the same poem? Her note suggests they "both are shadows hovering over us... from a distance they can feel funny." But does she mean good funny, laughing funny, weird, strange, not quite comfortable? Just like wondering what reporting was in that newspaper ... and how indeed, do you interpret a whistle?
On second take, it is rather confusing to wonder who the "I" is in the two pieces of information
about Frieda: 1) that she was asked if "I was serious"-- is I Naomi or Frieda? and 2) "she whistled."
How do we interpret anything? What context do we have about Frieda, the whistle? The ending question asking where she is, increases the mystery. Indeed, doubt, especially personified, looks
easy by comparison! We need doubt, but no longer than the length of a dinner or stay of an overnight guest. It's good advice not to let it carry off your notebook when it leaves.
Here, funny, is just funny. I found the bad review stanza just as funny, but in a different way. No credence even if you can give a character a name. How do we know the weight of words thrown in two pieces of anecdotal evidence? What's important?
We did enjoy discussing the reference to "kid"... the adult dismissal, and yet, the source of innocent truth in the Emperor's New Clothes...
Centolella: The poem comes from f . 1995 He quotes St. John of the Cross in the title. I wish I knew more about why he chose it, what this quote means to him. For an idea of what complex love can be and how the church guides us through it : https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/offices/ministry/pdf/CURA/CLC%20prayer%20book%2017-18%20REVISED.pdf
Lovely fun of the metaphor of 20th-21st century testing. What good is a multiple choice test?
a wandering essay that loses its thread?
Why is fear such an impulse we try to address love?
Who is the we? a couple? a universal we? each one of us? It changes slightly depending on your pick. Here you are, in the evening, and the day has refused to testify.
The examination subject? Love. Everyone loved the poem... we all know love is one of the most difficult subjects... difficult to define... and in the end, at the end of our lives... how can we answer
if we have loved sufficiently?
We all have dreams of being in a course we didn't sign up for... or having to teach one, and not knowing where the classroom is...
The hopefulness of this poem, the utter belief that no matter our story, no matter how we loved, we will not have failed, is a wonderful balm.
Hoagland: How to be 3-D -- not just a pictorial presence in 2-D. What gives us depth? Is it our hidden dimension? How do we hide? play act? deceive? make up stories? Invent ourselves?
With his characteristic humor and tongue-in-cheekness, Hoagland explores our desire as humans to be visible -- and also, to protect our vulnerability...
Yes... we are interesting when we make up facts, act like Odysseus with a bottomless bag of tricks... but yes, we doubt it is always a good thing to deceive, to hide, hold back.
In the end aren't we all skating along on our instincts... keeping the most precious things out of reach (in case others don't think they are valuable? to save it for us, as shopkeepers, because we never want to sell them?) or trying to avoid being seen. On one hand the merchant... on the other, the thief..
Many found links to the Centolella. How will we be known by our story?
Bernie pointed out the title of the book from which the poem comes; 'PRIEST TURNED THERAPIST TREATS FEAR OF GOD"...
Although we didn't discuss the Gevorg Emin poem, Jan brought up that he is Armenian.
I mentioned I had found it in a book that was "retired" from the library and about to be discarded.
This Same Sky: A collection of poems from around the World selected by Naomi Shihab Nye.
How wonderful to see the bent shape of question mark as open acceptance, allowing the world in.
Elaine read us the Ross Gay: wonderful inspiration! Imagine chronicling joy! from his book, High Fives from Strangers… https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/podcasts/item/ross_gay
It's all up to us.. how we welcome doubt, question both reviews and ourselves on how well we love... how much we pretend and avoid or invent our "third dimensions".
to quote Ross Gay