Posts Tagged ‘if you need me i’ll be out by the trees doubting all. You. Or a violet.’

Contradicting contradictions

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

No one was more shocked than I was when Garrett opened his mouth for the second time all semester and dropped a bomb on the class, but I think before we all point fingers at him for being so closed minded we should try to consider this from another perspective. From what I’ve gathered, Garrett doesn’t seem to care for spoken word/slam poetry in general. His comment was not unique to Staceyann Chin. I believe he thinks that all spoken word/slam poetry has the tendency to become tantrum-like, so I think it is unfair to make accusations about his response being directly influenced by the speaker’s race and gender. Though these things should not be ignored, I don’t want to put words into anyone’s mouth either. I saw that Julia mentioned that Staceyann Chin is purposefully acting as the “angry black woman” caricature and if that’s the case, shouldn’t we think she is abrasive? Wouldn’t she want us to? Personally, I believe Staceyann Chin gave us a very raw and honest performance and I think that is why it was so shocking when Garrett outright dismissed it. However, no one had a problem with me nearly ripping my hair out when Amiri Baraka hoo-ed like an owl with the most unfortunate saxophone player alive. In the same vein, both poets were trying to get under the listeners skin, to aggravate them, to put them on edge. The saxophone was over the top and so were Staceyann Chin’s high knees.

That’s a Wrap

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Some notes for the final stretch:

  • I will hold regular office hours this Thursday, 11-12.  On Friday, my office hour will be moved from late afternoon to 10-11 because of Kemp Symposium.
  • This blog will CLOSE for graded business on Saturday, April 27, at midnight.
  • You should check the blog before our final exam slot (Wednesday, May 1, 12-2:30) in case there are any announcements.
  • The final recitations/celebrations will be held in the Parlor of the Mansion.  Yummies are welcome.
  • Apparently the syllabus says that at the final exam you must recite a poem from the Norton anthology that is not on our syllabus.  ACK.  I blew that.  You may recite at least 14 contiguous lines from any poem of our primary authors or from the anthology.

For Monday

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

New Walcott  readings, replacing White Egrets:

The Sea is History

A Far Cry from Africa

Sea Grapes (or listen to DW read)

Dark August

 

Midsummer, Tobago

The Schooner Flight

Shadows & Ghosts

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Alright, Komunyakaa loves talking about shadows & ghosts (& he really loves ampersands- by the way).

“Gray-blue shadows lift/ shadows onto an oxcart.” (Starlight Scope Myopia 1-2)
“unaware our shadows have untied/ from us, wandered off/ & gotten lost.” (A Greenness Taller Than God 20-23)
“We’re men ready to be fused/ with gost pictures, trying” (Seeing in the Dark 14-15)
“with a platoon of shadows” (The Edge 7) also, not techinically a shadow/ghost, but still: “to the charred air, silhouettes of jets” (27)
“Ghosts share us with the past & future” (Jungle Surrender 1)
“Sometimes I wrestled their ghosts” (Short-timer’s Calendar 14)

& the list goes on…

I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make, but I guess I’m just wondering what you make of this repetition. Obviously, I can understand why ghosts & shadows would appear in a collection of poems about war, but I feel like Komunyakaa has to be more brilliant than this. Beyond lost souls what do you think these figures represent?

another burning question…

Garrett mentioned to me the other day that Vollmer used the ampersand exclusively and that he had meant to ask her about why she made this choice. Now, I can’t help but notice that Komunyakaa also uses the ampersand exclusively. I really want to know whether this was an editor’s choice or if this was the poet’s preference and their reasoning. What do you think?

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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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.

Q: What do Babies, Fungus, Oppressed Women & The Cold War have in common?

Monday, March 25th, 2013

A: Sylvia Plath’s 1959 Poem “Mushrooms” has been speculated to be written about each.

When I first read this poem (on page 139 of our Collected), I was struck by how simple, hopeful and almost childlike it was (at least in comparison to the other works we had assigned last week). Of course, my initial reading was a literal one,  encouraged by the objectist voice Plath uses. For 11 stanzas, she speaks from the mushroom’s perspective…

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.

Consider some of the following interpretations as you reread. What’s your take?

  • Women seen as purely domestic objects by men:  ‘We are shelves, we are Tables..”
  • “Overnight very whitely, discreetly, very quietly”: is this a description of conception?
  • Similar description of birth: “Perfectly voiceless, Widen the crannies, Shoulder through holes”
  • “Diet on Water, On crumbs of shadow, bland-mannered, asking little or nothing. So many of us! So many of us”: description of lower class struggle, buttressed by last line “our foot’s in the door.”

Who’s foot? WHO’S FOOT?!

Ariel: Sylvia-Ted Smackdown

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Poems that are RED were not in Plath’s original manuscript, but were added by Ted Hughes for the 1965 edition of Ariel.

  1. Morning Song
  2. The Couriers
  3. Sheep in Fog 
  4. The Applicant
  5. Lady Lazarus
  6. Tulips
  7. Cut
  8. Elm
  9. The Night Dances
  10. Poppies in October
  11. Berck-Plage
  12. Ariel
  13. Death & Co.
  14. Lesbos – (This poem is censored in some conservative publications)
  15. Nick and the Candlestick
  16. Gulliver
  17. Getting There
  18. Medusa
  19. The Moon and the Yew Tree
  20. A Birthday Present
  21. Mary’s Song  (only in US version)
  22. Letter in November
  23. The Rival
  24. Daddy
  25. You’re
  26. Fever 103°
  27. The Bee Meeting
  28. The Arrival of the Bee Box
  29. Stings
  30. The Swarm  (only in US version)
  31. Wintering
  32. The Hanging Man
  33. Little Fugue
  34. Years
  35. The Munich Mannequins
  36. Totem
  37. Paralytic
  38. Balloons
  39. Poppies in July
  40. Kindness
  41. Contusion
  42. Edge
  43. Words

Plath’s version (on your syllabus).  Poems in BLUE are not in the Hughes version:

1. “Morning Song”

2.“The Couriers”

3. “The Rabbit Catcher” 

4. “Thalidomide” 

5. “The Applicant”

6. “Barren Woman”

7. “Lady Lazarus”

8. “Tulips”

9. “A Secret”

10. “The Jailor” 

11.  “Cut”

12. “Elm”

13. “The Night Dances”

14. “The Detective”

15. “Ariel”

16. “Death & Co.”

17. “Magi” 

18. “Lesbos”

19. “The Other”

20. “Stopped Dead” 

21. “Poppies in October”

22. “The Courage of Shutting-Up” 

23.“Nick and the Candlestick”

24. “Berck-Plage”

25. “Gulliver”

26. “Getting There”

27. “Medusa”

28. “Purdah” 

29. “The Moon and the Yew Tree”

30. “A Birthday Present”

31. “Letter in November”

32. “Amnesiac”

33. “The Rival”

34. “Daddy”

35. “You’re”

36. “Fever 103°”

37. “The Bee Meeting”

38. “The Arrival of the Bee Box”

39. “Stings”

40. “Wintering”

 

I’m obsessed with her. Whatever.

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

post on Plath from the Houghton Library blog

Response to “It Is Not Necessary”

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

I enjoyed reading “It Is Not Necessary” because I’m positive loneliness is universal. The first line is a great lead in because making your own music is necessary to keep in rhythm with the world when you are wandering about.  I love when the first stanza establishes the poem as if it’s a movie or something it’s a nice segue/Segway we can ride into the poem. Being in a crowd and still being alone is what I consider the limit of our lives as human beings. “Public Pedro” and “adequate Bernice” really brings the temporaryness(<—not a word) of the moment Pablo is discussing almost as if we are used by society for a little while and then thrown out of the moving car. Pablo answers much confusion within the poem. He refers to a crowd as a “wide sky” and revisits it or answers it when he says, “Eyes don’t close only in order to sleep,/but so as not to see the same sky.” I always worry about repeating words in a poem but if you are doing it so the critics will get off your back, it’s tactful.

 

In the third stanza we see how the form and the content of this poem correlate. During the second stanza the “Hidden flower” was truly hidden but by adressing the “hidden flower” in second stanza he brings it into view and now it is only “half-hidden.” “There we suddenly are”, is what i meant when I suggested that we are thrown out of a moving car or moving Czar. I have a hunch that the speaker of the poem, who is Pablo, is single. The best line in the poem, in my opinion is, “Within the four walls of our singular skin”, because Emerson suggests the body as being not “us” but just a vehicle of our “true being.”

 

I’ll end with one of my soul mate’s quotes Ralph “Where’s Waldo” Emerson:

 

“Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul.  Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the NOT ME, that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, NATURE.”

Brooks essay

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Prompt posted.  Due date moved back to March 15.