Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Poems, Never Read Them. They Have No Relevance to My Life.

 I want to ask people who never read poems or think poetry is some wacky esoteric thing, what is it in your life that fills you with happiness, peace, curiosity, anger, rage, envy if only for a moment? Because in that moment there is poetry and a poem. You have to be kidding.  No, I am not. Poetry is  about  how we respond to the moments of each of our lives whether it is about our reactions to external events or our inner feelings and thoughts. Isn't poetry about things no one thinks about like the significance of flowers and daffodils? It could be but it doesn't  have to be and anyways what is so irrelevant about thinking about flowers? Remember the time you bought a bunch of flowers at the grocery store or from a  florist or you picked them outside in  a field or you planted them? Flowers are part of existence and everyone has an opinion about them if only they would stop and smell the roses.

I think people are uncomfortable with poetry because  they have to stop and be thoughtful when confronted with language that is not a sentence or in a song. Granted some poems have so many metaphors in them and the language has no obvious or any content or the sound is more important  than the content that it is a hard to grasp what the writer is saying. Even readers  who enjoy poems  just close the book or website. I mean if you need a book to decode a poem , well, I agree who needs poetry unless you  like intellectual challenges. The poetry that works for me and I think for anyone who will give it a chance expresses universal feeling, thought or experiences. These poems are like great songs that you can't stop singing and of course one song or one poem is one person's treasure and another person's huh?

I'm going to write more posts about poetry and why I believe people avoid reading it or go blank when asked about a poem they've read, deciding it is not  relevant to them.  I think it is a cultural thing and it is also the result of the educational system that does not encourage students to value the arts. By devaluating the arts we are devaluating our humanity. I am not saying everyone needs to read poems or love them. Everyone has valid priorities.  But it is like beets. When I was young I hated them. I  never tasted them. I didn't like the color. I was beet prejudice. Perhaps poetry has been cast typed like the beets. Poetry is for people who have a lot of time and beets are for people whose mothers make them eat them.  That is so far from the truth.  I love beets now that my mother stopped telling me to eat them. If you have the time to watch the  news you have the time to read a poem.. Poetry has been at heart of many cultures even our modern one. It is just that not everyone knows it.

< a href=>poemaboutdaffodils

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring is Coming

 Yesterday I  heard a cardinal singing.  What a beautiful sound.

Everyone Has An Opinion -"Richard Blanco's inaugural poem for Obama is a valiant flop | Books |"

Much of how we see the world (our reality) is subjective. That is a good thing when shared respectfully, many voices to be heard, many point of views, many possibilities for creation.  I often  marvel at how certain we are that our view is the right one. Often the only one.  There is no room for another's vision. It is like this big time  in our political climate today and also in the world of literature.

 I find myself " feeling" if a poem works for me or if it doesn't but that is my point of view based on my subjective experience of life, my preferences etc. I  think there are standards that make a poem  successful whether it resonates with a reader or not. Even if a poem doesn't resonate with me I  try to honor  the poet's craft, vision, experience.  I am not a great reviewer. I don't like to trash anyone's work.

 Richard Blanco's inaugural poem.

One Today


 Richard Blanco 

"One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 2
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello| shalom,
buon giorno |howdy |namaste |or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 3
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together"

Blanco's poem was well received and praised by people who love poetry and those who never read poems. I think the poem has lovely moments and sentiment. The one thing I didn't like was the reference  to the Connecticut school tragedy. I felt it diminished the poem by injecting what has become a political symbol of what causes violence in our society and how to resolve it. This line felt out of place to me in the poem but this is my point of view.

"or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever."

 Did this poem work for me. In some  ways it did. I will read more of Blanco's work. There is enough emotion, story, beautiful imagery and use of language and unity of thought in this poem to make me curious about his other poems. He was given a gargantuan task to write this public ceremony poem.

 Now read another person's point of view.
"The celebratory public poem is an extinct genre in our sceptical postmodern times, and probably ought to stay that way. It presents the writer with insurmountable challenges in form, tone and content. How do you praise your nation wisely – with honesty and caution? How do you root that public voice in the personal and private spaces where thoughts grow? How do you write a mass-market poem?"

 Read the rest of the article

 What do you think? 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Robert Pen Warren and W.B. Yeats Quotes on Poetry

The poem is a little myth of man's capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see --it is, rather, a light by which we may see -- and what we see is life. 
  Robert Penn Warren

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. 

 W.B. Yeats