It was such a pleasure to see the poems you brought last time, I’d like to try another version of that this week. But instead of bringing your favorite poems, I’d like you to bring poems you have questions about, poems you can’t get in focus, poems you circle around without ever quite getting in. I can’t promise answers, but maybe seeing them from different angles will help you put the pieces together in a way that makes sense to you. I’ll start us off with a poem by Dean Young, a well-known poet I’ve always been drawn to but never read closely. I’m about to do that, so I have all kinds of questions about how to read his poems. The most helpful thing will be reading other poems of his, whole books, but I think talking with you about this one will be a good start.
If your poems lose the formatting when you post them in comments, email them to me and I’ll see if I can do it in a post. As always, I’m looking forward to discussing all of them during this week’s Fridays at 4 (eastern time).
ELEGY ON A TOY PIANO
for Kenneth Koch
You don’t need a pony
to connect you to the unseeable
or an airplane to connect you to the sky.
It has been interesting finding the right poem to submit this week–but I landed on one by Louis Zukofsky. It was published in Poetry in 1966. I find it mildly interesting sonically but am baffled as to why these “A” poems made such a splash in their day. (Note: the “Then” in the poem should be italicized) Thanks for your help!
He neigh ha lie low h’who y’he gall mood
So roar cruel hire
Lo to achieve an eye leer rot off
Mass th’lo low o loam echo
How deal me many coeval yammer
Naked on face of white rock–sea.
Then I said: Liveforever my nest
Is arable hymn
Shore she root to water
Dew anew to branch.
Thanks. This exactly the sort of thing I had in mind.
Here’s Michael Burkhard. He’s in the Zukofsky tradition. The majority of his published work done in the ’70s and ’80s. This is from Ruby for Grief. I could have chosen any of them, but I wanted something short.
When it’s Sunday I read to him. I do this every Sunday.
A ruby hangs in the middle of my room. It’s
a planetary ruby. First of all you envision
nothing but their voices, and a linear train,
looking for spiders. I’ve read to him twice:
“When was it when I first imagined the wharf, this
untouchable center.” Like an admiration: it’s a breath
and a jar. In the jar a shot to the head
is like the veil of the dead aunt. Paper,
measuring breath. I told no one of the soft kerosene
lamps on the boat when I was five. When I was.
Do you have specific questions about it?
What I really think I’d like to know is if others are getting more of this than I am. I’m sort of going with the flow until the jar. I, the pattern making human that I am, want to connect a lot of the dots–but these dots are so scattered, that I’m dubious about my understanding.
I really enjoy Eliot’s “The Waste Land” though there are parts of it that are difficult for me to fully comprehend.
Here is a link to the poem:
Another one that can be tricky for me is Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley.”
Here is the link to this poem:
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you this Friday!
Nathalie, do you want to point to a couple of specific places in either one?
Here’s another poem that baffles me. The key to entering in seems to be the title, which I’m grateful for, but still … it flits outside my ability to enter in. Thanks–Elizabeth
Wipe That Simile Off Your Aphasia
BY HARRYETTE MULLEN
as horses as for
as purple as we go
as heartbeat as if
as silverware as it were
as onion as I can
as cherries as feared
as combustion as want
as dog collar as expected
as oboes as anyone
as umbrella as catch can
as penmanship as it gets
as narcosis as could be
as hit parade as all that
as icebox as far as I know
as fax machine as one can imagine
as cyclones as hoped
as dictionary as you like
as shadow as promised
as drinking fountain as well
as grassfire as myself
as mirror as is
as never as this