Archive for March, 2013

Dying/in love with Komunyakaa

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Okay, so if there is one thing to always remember about me, it is that Eliot and Ginsberg are in an eternal war over my poem-lovin’ heart… only they’re both dead and neither one of them will ever know it. Which is why I don’t feel so bad about cheating on them with Komunyakaa… because I’m definitely falling in love with his poetry, too.

I’m actually embarrassingly emotional about this right now, so I won’t go into too much detail about it, except to say that piece after piece, I keep noticing his line breaks more than anything else… in a very good way! I think “Jasmine” in particular provides an excellent example of this: if you get a chance, go back and check out the line breaks of “I thought my body had forgotten the Deep/South…” (4-5); “My mind is lost among November/cotton flowers…” (12-13); and “The trumpet’s almost kissed/by enough pain…” (23-24). They’re really exceptional, in my humble opinion.

While you’re still messing with “Jasmine,” by the way, you should totally check out “Duke” and “Basie,” a.k.a. the famous jazzers Komunyakaa is referencing in this particular piece. Duke Ellington and Count Basie were two super-influential jazz pianists, and if you don’t know what they sound like, you should seriously look ’em up. ūüôā Additionally, “Clifford’s/shadow” refers to Clifford Brown (I’m guessing), who was a brilliant up-and-coming jazz trumpeter who died way too early as a passenger in a car accident, shocking and devastating the jazz world. He was incredible, too, and would have definitely had a stunning career if not for his death, hence the “shadow” and “ghosts” in the poem. Just fun jazz facts for your musical edification. ūüôā

Also, “Returning the Borrowed Road” totally killed me, if not for the sole reason that my dad is spending a lot of time in Missoula, Montana, nowadays. It just really hit home.

I can’t WAIT to talk about him/all of this tomorrow.


Sunday, March 31st, 2013


Or copy and paste the URL below:

So far, we have 12 of you (including myself) interested in reading. Regardless of what you decide to read for Thursday Poems, please make sure you do not go above 2:30. It will not be fair to the rest of the participants. If you have any questions, please let me know or post ’em onto the Google doc!

Thank you


MORE Judith Vollmer

Sunday, March 31st, 2013


I was very impressed with Vollmer…so naturally I did a little stalking after class on Friday. If you didn’t get to ask all the questions you wanted to, then check out this interview! I found it on

Vollmer essay prompt is posted

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

From “Memories and Thoughts on Adrienne Rich”

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Did you know Adrienne Rich passed away last week on the 27th in California? I did not. Writer Cathy Park Hong wrote one of the most beautiful memoriam pieces I have read yet for Poetry Foundation this past weekend.

While Hong discusses her own personal meeting with Rich filled with warmth and compelling conversation, she tackles the same question that Rich and even we grapple with as readers of poetry: “is poetry political?” Poetry may seem “flimsy” when discussing “war, class, sexism, racism, terror” and all the other social intersections that surround society. What Rich and Hong communicate, and what we saw Brooks trump, is that whether or not poetry seems useless, there is an “ethical responsibility” to be engage in a “historically charged moment to write it.” There is an “urgency” that writers and readers both usurp to resolve any uncertainty. The first step that seems to be taken is to read or write these poems.

Hong then discusses a “courage,” both public and private, that poets take when writing. Rich did examine this courage and use it if not to catalyze, then identify a revolution:

Then I turn to Adrienne Rich and her essays, her poems, become a call-to-arms, a reawakening of my fatigued consciousness: ‚ÄúWe may feel bitterly how little our poems can do in the face of seemingly out of control technological power and seemingly limitless corporate greed, yet it has always been true that poetry can break isolation, show us to ourselves when we are outlawed or made invisible, remind us of beauty where no beauty seems possible, remind us kinship where all is represented as separation.‚ÄĚ

A nice companion blog post to this would be Abbie‘s “Where’s the poetry in today’s Climate Movement?” from February. Here’s to you, Rich.

Vollmer Quotables, The Newest Greeting Card Sensation:

Sunday, March 31st, 2013


“I’m always trying to push the narrative line to it’s greatest intensity.”

“Spring cleaning was a military operation in our house. My grandmother rolled up her pant legs then took her teeth out.”

“It’s OK to have a mundane life, you just have to do the work; make the effort to see things differently.”

“I come from the school of¬†get drunk: on wine, on poetry, on the world–be altered.”

Skyline & Sky

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

In Vollmer’s poem “Skyline & Sky” she writes in reference to the wet pots that they “will patina / offering new maps to think about” (l. 3-4). This made me think about a pretty cool post I saw on Reddit a bit ago in which someone had a similar idea. I just thought it was an interesting coincidence and I hope you guys will too!

Icky Muse Vollmer Playlist

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

01 Mr. Wiggles

08 Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof O

Vollmer’s consistent refrences¬†to Water¬†

Specific Poems to draw your attention:

“Camping on the Hudson”, “The Water Carriers”, “The Gem Cutter”, “The Silver Tray”, “In an Ancient Garden”, ” Camping on Youghiogheny”

The sounds of Parliament-Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove and one of the baddest bass players in the land: William Earl “Bootsy” Collins.

06 Liquid Sunshine

03 P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)

11 Body Slam

01 Flashlight

02 Bop Gun (Endangered Species) – “Camping on Youghiogheny”

04 Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobe


I’ll probably keep adding songs to this list and being to lazy to put them down here.

Contradiction is Juicy

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

I tried to read it with music                               playing

But they had other sayings of the same thing

In different form I turned down and off

The music with words and moved toward      a!

More instrumental mental state where no

Humans spoke      prunes that help these

Bowels to flow more smoothly                       I wanted

To ride the wave                                               the Vollmer vomit

Spat on the page peaceful rage                      and

Timeless age


I tried to read it near a window

With the sun shining in but                        the words

Shine their own light                                   and the reflections

Too bright contradicting redundant

Contrast                                                        I had to pull

Blind and lose sight of                               the land and

Dry slander a salamander                         step into her waters

One foot washed by the bubble bath

then came waves on waves

Having fun being tossed and turned

By no punctual punctuation

Colored People Time


I tried to read it with a dictionary near

But I’d have to slow myself and get

Back on the shelf with my binding against

The wall looking down afraid to fall

In  Be lost  tossed once again

A gain from no strain to understand it

All good in the hooded Trayvon walks

Innocence meets darkness on occasion

To lighten it with the

Tastes of the rainbow.


I’m a line! I’ll do WHATEVER I wanna do!!

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Lines do what they want to do?

  • Focus of process and form
  • Not on depth
  • Form grows out of the content

Do you agree or disagree?