1979 

 

 

First Day came out of material developed during that Key West workshop with Jane Hirshfield I mentioned in my last post. I had never done anything like what we did at that workshop. Jane would give us a prompt to write from and we would return in half an hour or so and read our poems to the group, for me a very scary situation with all the talent that was in the room. 

 

The first day I was astounded by what people brought back, I couldn’t believe the quality of what I was hearing. I felt totally inadequate. But Jane also said that what we were producing were not supposed to be finished poems, that the hope would be some of them would eventually turn into something we liked, a hope I hung on to as everyone else’s sounded very complete already. 

 

Continue reading “First Day – Work Poems and Poetic Truth (video #11)”

In January 2015, during that time many of us here in the mid-continent first heard the term “polar vortex”, I was down in Key West for the Key West Literary Seminar, specifically for a workshop I got into at the last minute with the poet Jane Hirshfield.  The weather was warm and sultry, and I was staying in the old town area of a place soaked in the past of literary giants like Hemingway and Elizabeth Bishop. That was my first time at a US literary event and I feel like that was a good prelude to the California adventure that started later that year. 

 

I also got to attend the Literary Seminar part of the event, which meant listening to a wide variety of great writers discuss many things on that year’s theme on panels as well as readings.  Jane was great, so well prepared for every discussion and her reading was also top notch.  There was another standout, who I didn’t know before, the poet Marie Howe.  She and Jane were the ones with the best insights, always prepared and their readings also stood out. 

 

In the workshop with Jane we learned many things. One key one was, ironically, that she felt people workshopped too much, “that they sanded the finish right off their poems” often leaving dull wood.  The other was that she felt one of the best poets writing dialogue in poems was Marie Howe.  Jane noted that the book What the Living Do was a spectacular example of that, the collection Marie wrote about her brother dying of AIDS.   

 

At one of Marie’s readings I was also struck by a poem full of dialogue, After the Movie.  Afterwards I decided to use that poem as a model to try and write a poem using similar moves. The poem I wrote is meant as an homage to that poem and the choices Marie makes.  So there is some similarity in the engine of the poem.  But different topic, characters, lines etc.  

Continue reading “After The Movie – Intertextuality and Self Reflexivity”

I’m currently in a Zoom poetry study run by the poets Hoa Nguyen and Kristin Prevallet on the poetry of Bob Kaufman, the San Francisco based Beat and Black Surrealist poet. The discussion over the last two weeks has been around how Kaufman’s poetry has a spiralling quality to it.  A lot of repetitions, especially unusual phrases, in the poems we read were phrases like “blue crackling” or “ancient water” that are repeated,  and how he sometimes turns away and comes back to a subject many times. 

 

It got me thinking about about what poem to choose to do this week as well as how to construct the video.  I choose the poem “while apple picking iv”.  It is a partly manufactured poem that does spiral with plenty of repetitions, relatively few words that are repeated often and juxtaposed in different combinations while there are also moments of clear syntax.  

 

Continue reading “while apple picking iv – spiralling poetry”

 

I was reading Matthew Zapruder’s book Why Poetry and I had just finished the chapter called “Dream Meaning” where Matthew talks about the use of associative leaps in poetry and how they are fundamental to writing poetry back all the way to Aristotle’s phrase that poets have “an eye for resemblances.” Matthew observes that  associative movement is described in “different ways throughout time and across different cultures.” and he discusses this using a number of poets.  One of which is Robert Hass and in particular Hass’ “Meditation at Lagunitas“. 

 

If you you know that poem already or just clicked that link you know it is a poem with many shifting modes, that makes leaps from the philosophical to the personal to the natural world and more. In the discussion in that book those modes are discussed particularly with regard to how the mind works and the fact the title of the poem uses the word “Meditation.  So I set out to write something that attempted movements similar to that, trying to mix the personal, the natural and a bit of philosophizing through associative movements.  

 

Continue reading “At A Slough In Eugene – Associative Movement and the Surreal (poem #8)”