new sequence–Clifton and the Bible

November 3, 2010

I have posted a scanned copy of Clifton’s “island mary” sequence, of which I have spoken in class, on our Readings page.  I included one unnamed poem that immediately precedes the sequence because, as I looked at it this time, I feel like it is in conversation with the following poems.  fyi, Clifton also has a longish sequence called “some jesus” that includes poems on Biblical characters from Adam and Eve through Joseph (this latter is one of my favorites in it), as well as on events of Jesus’ life. It includes a BSE dialect at times or connects the events to African American experience.  Let me know if you’d like to see this also.

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John Pineda Manuscript Readings

October 17, 2010

I found John Pineda’s readings from the manuscript particularly fascinating. Not only was it exciting to hear new, as yet, unpublished works of an established author, but I found his new work to be an unexpected departure from his earlier poetry. The manuscript readings were also of particular interest to me for their fresh and humorous treatment of parenthood. Kudos to John for keeping the new work coming; I can’t wait to read the next volume.

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September 14, 2010

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Prof. Scanlan talked about Ginsberg’s “America” today. I was looking it up on you-tube and found this particular version. I think kinetic typography is so interesting, and it’s a great way to include emphasis from a reader, much like we did today in class, but in this form we can see it as well as hear it.

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On the Relevance of Poetry

September 1, 2010

I must admit that I am deeply moved by the arguments posited in Adrienne Rich’s What I Found There. Rich reminds us to be careful what we wish for. While many poets, today, lament the perceived impotence of poetic forms, most would probably not feel comfortable in a society where writing poetry could lead to internment in prison or a mental hospital, and even death. And yet, this is the price some have paid, for popularity among the common public, in non-democratic societies.

Dana Gioia argues in his essay, Can Poetry Matter?, that the very freedoms of which we are so proud, (Those that enable free trade and relatively free speech, without fear of reprisal) are at least partially responsible for the public’s loss of interest in poetry. He points to the political and economic climate, referring to the close involvement of academia and the rewards system that permeates the university.   He goes on to blame the close subculture of poetry, mentioning among other things, loss of the critics’ voice.

I do not, however, believe that academia is solely to blame for poetry’s downfall, but that the decline is more closely linked to Adrienne Rich’s argument. As a group, American’s are spoiled. Although, we can say what we like without fear of reprisal, we have lost sight of just how precious that right is. Likewise, as Gioia suggests, we take our poetry and our critic’s voice for granted. Rather than say and print that which is necessary we succumb to the free market pressures of our society, leaving behind a wreckage of barely recognizable self- congratulatory propaganda.

Which leads to Rich’s most important arguments, “We must use what we have to invent what we desire” (215). “A revolutionary poem will not tell you who or when to kill … It reminds you … where and when and how you are living and might live __ it is a wick of desire. .. A revolutionary poem is written out of one individual’s confrontation with her/his own longings … in the belief that its readers … deserve an art as complex, as open to contradictions as themselves” (241). This desire, then, to create a complex and contradictory art that relates common humanity is what will continue to hold poetry in a place of relevance within society and within the hearts and minds of its readers, despite any monetary value, large or small, that our free-trade economy chooses to place upon it, now or at anytime in the future.

Works Cited
Gioia, Dana. Can Poetry Matter? Essays on Poetry and American Culture. Saint Paul: Graywolf, 1992. 1-21.

Rich, Adrienne. What I found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics. NV: ww.Norton, 1993.
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Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

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Thursday Poems?

August 31, 2010

Yesterday Dr. Lorentzen was lining up readers for Thursday Poems, and I took the only open slot, October 21.  I could read alone that day, but I thought I’d see what the feeling was for CoPo doing something collaboratively– not required, but whoever wanted to–from our coursework.  Responses, suggestions?

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