Thursday, February 28, 2013

Analysis of "Thanks for Remembering Us" by Dana Gioia

Original poem reprinted online here: "Thanks for Remembering Us" by Dana Gioia
Originally read: December 20, 2012 (so it says)
More information about the Poet: Dana Gioia







So the real meat of the poem happens at the end of the first stanza "Is one of us having an affair? / At first we laugh, and then we wonder."  I wrote down in a past analysis that this is a "hard turn."  Yet looking back this comment, I feel that the idea of a possible affair was foreshadowed or at least a turmoil in the marriage.

Then in the second stanza I can't help but see the images of symbols in the relationship.  The slow decay of flowers with the more "sickly sweet" (which I call cliche in my original marks, but I think it still holds) changing into a smell like a funeral home.

Now this is the point where I wrote this:

"This is really good -- the lead up to the simile is lackluster description [looking back, visually the descriptions are a bit well not as great 'the ferns are turning dry', but olfactory, which is harder to do, is really well rendered]  but the deeper turn changes the context of the poem smoothly"

And I think the poem could've ending with "accusing us of some small crime"  and in some way it'd make perfect sense form wise.  Two eight line stanzas.  The last simile in the end though, which adds two more lines, I don't know if I think it's really good or too much.

It's really good because the last line of the poem, "throw out a gift we've never owned" is really heartbreaking if the allegory parallels the the marriage; however, I think that the title "Thanks for Remembering Us" does the job of being heartbreaking quite nicely with a wisp of lament.  It's like stating "thanks for remembering 'us'" a couple defined as a couple.

I also think the simile at the end buffers to hard against the smell simile.  In this poem, the smell simile hit me hard because of a change of focus, image, thought.  The second simile is more like reminding the audience "yes this poem is about a love lost" which, for me, I didn't really need because the flow of images, sense of irony, and small details that stand out do that for me; yet, I understand why that line is there because the speaker specifically wants the reader to go there and no where else.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Analysis of "Albert the Pig Speaks" by Adam Day

Original poem reprinted online here: "Albert the Pig Speaks" by Adam Day
Originally read: December 21, 2012
More information about the Poet: Adam Day





 On my copy, I write down that the author is "Albert Day."  I am wrong, again.  Anyway on to the poem.

I admit that this is weird poem for me to read, and there's a part in the poem with this adjective/noun combination "pedrastic turtledoves" which makes sense on a logical level.  Okay no it doesn't, it's just a weird combination.

Also I wrote this about the beginning, "This description is too good.  It's awkward but not so much that it's out of place"  and it's true.  The title of the poem is "Albert the Pig Speaks"  from the title I'm not looking at realism, I'm looking for a sense of surrealism and how it's worded.

The play of language and colors is what I like about this color.  The word play  like "Stomach, flac soled, dropsical"  -- the transition from st-sd-ds is really interesting here.  Plus how the image of stomach is portrayed is like something being digested if that makes sense.

Also the color: red, to gray, to pink to correlate to the body parts (blood, stomach, heart [pun]) and also a sense of emotional disconnect is well rendered.

I write this at the end "Plus the tone of the speaker is like an intellectual dunce -- which I find funny."  Funny thing, I don't know what that means now in context to this poem.  This happens a lot.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Analysis of "Story from Another Inquisition" by Rachel Mennies

Original poem reprinted online here: "Story from Another Inquisition" by Rachel Mennies
Originally read: December 20, 2012
More information about the Poet: Rachel Mennies





 "The end is good; however, I feel this poem is a bit cliche kind of like 'she's torturing herself with secrets' feel"  The poem itself isn't cliche, and has two interesting narrative depiction -- one of Deborah (current) and the one of the relative in Argentina.

I'm more inclined to think the Deborah part of the poem is a bit more cliche especially from the transition between 1st and 2nd stanza "but harkens to a parted sea, / a mat of smoke and ocean / on the tongue."  Looking back, it's more of that the Deborah part is more general (images, ideas, generalization) while the Argentine relative has more specific detail (speaks Spanish to mailman, speaks polish to wife).

Maybe it's the volta in the poem -- the transition back to Deborah where I feel the poem becomes a little cliche, "Maybe Deorah's always been good / at keeping her own secrets -- the clarinet / that makes her weep."  It's not the content, it's more of the execution.  The volta reads as though from the back of the book blurbs that try to hook you in, "maybe..."

However, the "maybe" in this story adds to Deborah's own indecisiveness about herself.  I mean it's there, but there's other ways to do that in a poem -- I guess (see now I'm doing it).

For me, I hung onto the strongest part of the poem until the end where religious doubt comes in.  

Also, it feels like I've seen this technique before: present, flashback, present, epiphany ending.  I can't pinpoint where though.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Analysis of "Glass Corona" by Brian Henry

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Glass Corona" by Brian Henry
Originally read: December 19, 2012
More information about the Poet: Brian Henry

"The ending  denies [?] a certain coldness to the poem -- but there's [sic] a little hiccups of motion here and there but it's hidden within the language."

I think this thought (if I remember old me) from this line "as if angle could produce / what sight announces as visitor,"  I think that's what I look for in a poem that reads like a flow chart (read: poem).  I look for a sense of emotional standpoint.  Not the whole "weep for me because..." blah blah blag (I will weep for you unknown bad poem, I will) rather how the speaker feels about the subject.

The way the speaker sees his subject is different than the previous poems I covered. The closest I believe is "Panoramic View" by Shanna Compton (looking back at my first analysis -- yeah still in that 15 minute mark) where the subject is more technical with the subject and there's little or no connotation in the words that lead to an emotional point.

Yet that line break (which goes with the rhyme scheme as well -- it's terza rima which is impressive) makes me believe there's emotional weight in this poem.  I don't know how else to explain this poem -- I wrote down previously that it has great adjective noun combinations "malleable light" "gravity-infected flash."  I guess my final thought has the important insight:

"The adj/noun construction goes along with the poem -- like separate voiecs the adj/n constructs, the duality works so well.  The rhyme scheme.  Really good technique, form, and texture"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Analysis of "Coal" by Audre Lorde

Original poem reprinted online here: Analysis of "Coal" by Audre Lorde
Originally read: December 18, 2012
More information about the Poet: Audre Lorde


I read this poem again out loud and I wrote this on stanza two my first read:

"I could see the attraction of the extended metaphor -- this is more of a performance through sound and    loose image; yet, all phantoms -- dead metaphors stacked on dead metaphors doesn't create life -- only a reminder of the dead"

Yeah, I don't know what was going through my mind that day.  Today though I liked the play of simile,  I don't know why.  Each simile describes how the speaker views words to say "diamonds" "adders" and "gypsies over my tongue to explode through my lips."  Okay so the exploding gypsies one doesn't work for me -- there's surreal and there's just silly.

Anyway, I wrote this at the end of the poem, "the construction of this...I tknow why it'll work because the build up 'meaning' behind words, but meh,"  and "forced ending -- meh.  The reader has to take what the speaker says."

I can see what I mean in the past perspective (if that makes sense).  The poem goes through the definition of words through "dead metaphors" and "play"; however, the end of the poem has to mean something, and, of course, why not love?  Ending a poem with "love" well, isn't that new and exciting for me.

Also the last two lines, "I am black because I come from the earth's inside / Take my word for jewel in your open light" feel kind of forced as though it has to reference back to the beginning of the poem or rather the speaker has to define him/herself in the end after the ambiguous definition of words through offbeat similes.


But is this style too predictable, well, I guess so.  It's hard to construct a definition poem (which I think this is) without some sort of exclamation within the poem.  I think I'm writing that the exclamation in this poem ruins the play of words in the middle.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Analysis of "Mercury Dressing" by J.D. McClatchy

Original poem reprinted online here: "Mercury Dressing" by J.D. McClatchy
Originally read: December 18, 2012
More information about the Poet: J.D. McClatchy



So after reading this poem a couple more times, I still don't completely understand it -- "until I feel him deep inside" is that metaphorical?  "His hooded sex its counterpart"  -- the line sounds nice but logically what is the counterpart for hooded sex...unhooded sex?

Also, does it matter if I understand everything in this poem?  The poem is structured like an italian sonnet, but it's in octameter instead of pentameter.  The "question" posed in the octave is whether the speaker is able to keep this "Mercury" or actually touch it.  The "answer" in the sestet is the speaker can't but he feels his Mercury "deep inside," -- a feeling that never leaves.

Why do I get a sense that this poem is "coded" for an encounter?  Why do I get this sense that there's a double entendre in the construction ("nerves electrifies" and "hooded sex")?  I feel there's a lot more to this poem historically or personally than it lets on on the page.

Now, the question is do I feel cheated by not knowing a hundred percent.  Sort of.  A part of me wants to know the background behind this, but another part of me feels that the poem is done as is.  The encounter is ambiguous (sexually it's there but in what context -- a dream, a one night stand, maybe both) and how the speaker feels is concrete ("the emptiness, preoccupied." but for how long).  Maybe, once again, I'm trying to look for something more than the immediate.  Meh.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Analysis of "The End of The World" by Archibald MacLeish

Original poem reprinted online here: "The End of The World" by Archibald MacLeish
Originally read: December 17, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Archibald MacLeish




I think previously, or many times before, I write about the adjective noun combination.  In creative writing classes told me to be careful of adjectives or adverbs.  And I followed those directions.  In my work for the past couple of years, you won't read adjectives or adverbs at all in my work and probably this blog post.  Yeah, I kind of take things too literally.


It hasn't been until recently that I started to analyze why.  On a personal level, why I listened to them without thought.  On a "poetry" (how hoity) level, I grew bored with how predictable my style is (image based narratives with an epiphanic ending that's still "mysterious" and up to the reader -- a little bit too formulaic).  

So I'm starting to notice how poems work on a construction level -- and the first thing I see in a poem is the adjective noun combinations.  Yesterday, I noted how phrases can create surrealistic images.


In "The End of the World" the are several that I think are interesting:


1) "Armless ambidextrian" -- the assonance brings a humorous quality to the poem (the first half of the sonnet is the "comedy" of a side show environment), furthermore, visually, it's like capable incompatibilities -- I feel like I'm there in this surreal world of the poem and the scene with this description.


2) "Waltz-time swinging Jocko" -- reading the sentence a couple of times, I'm not sure if this phrase is correct, but I like it.  There's a double sonic quality to this description.  First, the z sound meshing with the s sound, and then the idea of waltz and swing -- combination of two forms of visual dance -- but sonically I'm in a time frame -- like 1920's - 30's big band mix.


3)  Now after the turn of the poem (a literal death at the carnival) there's the phrase, "vast wings across the cancelled skies."  Now, I feel nothing can save the "vast wings" adjective noun combination.  I can't see anything more than just the literal because the metaphorical idea behind "vast wings" is rather boring to me (security or loss of security, flight or no flight) it's kind of like me reading "pregnant clouds" smh.


Anyway, "cancelled skies" is probably my favorite adjective noun combination in the poem because it's two different concept that work well in multiple meanings.  "Cancelled" having many connotations within the poem (end of the carnival, end of the world, end of the play, end of the <insert time here>."  And to pair up that notion with skies which has an exapansive uncontrollable quality to it -- then the concept of the unknown comes to a visual form.


It's something to think about.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Analysis of "1914" by Wilfred Owen

Original poem reprinted online here: "1914" by Wilfred Owen
Originally read: December 16, 2012
More information about the Poet: Wilfred Owen


So this poem is a timepiece which depicts the feeling/mood/era of World War I.  War poems are tricky things.  There's always the outsider looking in perspective -- the ones who judge the war, and there's always the insider trying to make sense of it all for the outside.  I'll admit, that I don't have a sense for war even though America has, technically, been at war for over ten years at this point.  It's really kind of odd when I think about it.

Anyway, this is not a politics blog (oh those will come eventually, or actually I have done those in the past).  And the strongest feature in the poem are the phrases in the poem.  I note several in my written notes: "sails of progress", "verse wails", "human Autumn rots", "blood for seed".  It's not like these words create strong realistic images -- but there's a surreal aspect with  the descriptions.

And even though those phrases aren't tied down to "real images" they work for me in two ways.

1) As a person who never has been to war and only understands such things through movies, articles, etc.  I feel the phrases agree with my thoughts about war.

however

2) Looking at the phrases -- they might come as euphemisms for real life actions -- a rotting body, the artist torn asunder.  It's the only way that I, or the speaker, can comprehend war.  But we are distanced from the "real" thing.

I guess I come away with this question after rereading this poem.  Is the surreal easier to relate to since, theoretically, no one can experience a surreal image, or is it just, for me, difficult to conceive and/or emote with concrete images if I haven't directly experienced them before.  I'm not too sure anymore.  As always.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Analysis of "Against Epiphany" by Fred Marchant

Original poem reprinted online here: "Against Epiphany" by Fred Marchant 
Originally read: December 15, 2012
More information about the Poet: Fred Marchant


 So I lack a sense of humor when it comes to poetry.  I think I wrote these lines before many times.  And in my analysis previously I wrote things like, "words of detachment, detrimental, down trodden" commenting on the simile of "poplars bent like / the fingers of an old man clutching / what he loved about the sun?"  In stanza two I wrote, "couples? partners?" when the pronoun of "our" is introduced.  And in the last stanza I wrote down, "the end is great."  My analysis doesn't account for humor, rather I try to break down what "works" in the poem, and what doesn't.

But a funny thing happened when I got to the end of this poem -- I chuckled.  Not because I saw that the lines was humorous or that I tried to configure humor into the lines.  This was going through my mind when I finished the poem again.

"The speaker in this poem gives no f**** at all."

Now, it's not apathy.  The speaker just doesn't give a f**** what anyone thinks or does.  I get from the poem the speaker living his/her life, then partying.  I don't even think the speaker is a douche;  I think the speaker wants to have a good time in a Dystopian future whether god exists or not.  And if god did exist and created this Dystopia, then why should god be trusted to have a good time along with the survivors.

It's a funny poem that has more to it than it's humor (or rather, I found something more in something that I find humorous).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Analysis of "Last Night As I Was Sleeping" by Antonio Machado

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Last Night As I Was Sleeping" by Antonio Machado
Originally read: December 14, 2012
More information about the Poet: Antonio Machado



On my notes, I note a lot of places where I see cliches: in the first stanza, the discussion of water as a symbol for new life, cleansing, healing etc, and in the third stanza, the sun as being a life comforting force.  These images are not only cliche but a little bit sentimental with "brought tears to my eyes."

Yet in the last stanza I note this about these lines:

     Last night as I slept,
     I dreamt--marvelous error!--
     that it was God I had
     here inside my heart.

"I feel this is subverted; however, it can be taken literally -- so it's up to the writer reader to figure out how to figure out how to interpret the text."

I like how I crossed out writer in my own notes.  I don't know anything about Antonio Machado or his religious leanings.  However, I do feel a struggle in this poem after reading the last stanza again and again.

The anaphora in this poem is kind of a dual edged sword.  Lines repeat so the lines can be remembered; however, the poem doesn't state why the reader or writer is remembering them.  In my mind there's a subversion because of the odd connotation with "marvelous error" -- something great, but it's a mistake.

I wonder that, in this poem, does the cliche images turn into something more.  In the first stanza there's the line: "Oh water, are you coming to me, / water of a new life / that I have never drunk?"  Which can be seen as anticipation or lament for something not attained -- maybe both.

And in the third stanza, "and sun because it gave light / and brought tears to my eyes."  I'm not sure what the tears are for after reading the last stanza, a new hope, or a blind sort want.  The strength of this poem is that there's assumed emotion with action (crying for happiness, anticipation for new life), but even after reading this poem a couple more times, I see this poem as a subversion to the overly zealous -- and I'm pretty sure I'm wrong with my analysis.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Analysis of "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens
Originally read: December 13, 2012
More information about the Poet: Wallace Stevens






I was particularly harsh with this poem when I first read it.  Well actually when I read this poem on the 13th, I probably read this poem a couple times because I think I received a Christmas Card with this poem on it.  I never looked in depth in it thought because I thought, "okay winter poem."


And on first written analysis, I took the poem as a nature poem trying to have something hidden beneath it and I wrote comments like, "Bland and a bit cliche," or "There's something hidden here but somethings not fitting"  because the description of nature isn't that surprising or the technique in the poem to transfer the season to the mind has been done many times before.


However, when I read the poem out loud this morning, I found that I really like this poem based on sound.  Everything flowed well together.  The repetition of "sound," and then "same" and then "nothing" fits sonically and when I think of the flow of emotion -- misery to nothing and how repetition is meant to remember something -- then I feel the progress of a season in a different way.  Not visually, not image wise, rather, I feel winter in the mind in the last half of the poem.


Duh, right?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Analysis of "Transgressing the Real (Passages 27)" by Robert Duncan

Original poem reprinted online here: "Transgressing the Real (Passages 27)" by Robert Duncan
Originally read: December 12, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Robert Duncan






Poet as prophet. I think I took a class that analyzed the idea as the Poet as prophet.  I say "I think" because it was one of those classes where we read a lot of poetry that had to deal prophetic writers like Robert Duncan, William Blake,Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whtiman but not necessarily prophetic speakers in the poem.  I think the assumption was that the poet and the speaker were one in the same.

At least, this line of thought would make sense with this poem.  I didn't write too much on this poem on the first go through.-- some comments like "Nice kind of pun flowing through[:] a person who studies -- the eye of an individual" ... what does this mean past me?

Oh I'm missing a punctuation here -- posthumously added a semi-colon.  If I remember how the poet/prophet works is by taking the grandiose (war for example) and addressing the audience -- assuming that there's an audience for poetry -- (hahaha) with the poet/prophet thoughts (not images, not perceptions, not description) of the grandiose.

Usually speeches have a prophetic overtone; however, in this poem -- I feel there's a clear separation between the speech rehetoric and the musings of a prophet.  Speeches are meant to persuade.  Poetry is meant to lament, overthink, reimagine, maybe with a bias, but not say "think my own way." 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Analysis of "Anarchy" by John McCrae

Original poem reprinted online here: "Anarchy" by John McCrae
Originally read: December 11, 2012
More information about the Poet: John McCrae


The description in the second line got me  interested in the poem, "Where men, like wolves, slunk through the grim half-light" and I know this is a John McCrae poem (well time frame wise) is slightly behind the (like around 15 years or so) Modernist era.

But I wonder how poems are looked at after a time.  For example this poem is probably a century old (maybe a little less or more).  And I'm sure that McCrae didn't want me to read the second line as a noir-ish poem where I envision the speaker walking the streets with two types of lights -- candle lit street posts and red lamps for any comer.

Then running into a drunk who states in stanza 3 "'Speak not of God! In centuries that word / Hath not been uttered!  Our own king are we.'"

Then I hear laughter -- maybe from the guy who said this or maybe from the God who, "stretched forth his hand as he heard / and o'er it cast a thousand leagues of sea.'" (the line is reminiscent of the flood to destroy the sins of humanity or, perhaps, a god in search of followers instead of the reverse).

And in this world in the poem (which is also build-up or pre WWI), the observer, the speaker isn't laughing -- is appalled by the whole idea of what really -- a godless society, or a society that god left?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Analysis of "Zero Hour" by Dean Young

Original poem reprinted online here: "Zero Hour" by Dean Young
Originally read: December 10, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Dean Young





"It's like the poem is written by a sociopath who loves Opera."

Well not exactly, the speaker does point out the fallacy and absurdity in life.  The first line of this poem just grabbed my attention "Like when you realize sunsets are / out to kill you,"  And, on one level, yes age is out to kill you -- kill you until you die which the poem (humorously) gestures to age with the lines, "[...] it's better the libretto's / in a language you don't understand until / you're older and damaged."

So once the poem sets up the premise that the speaker brings intersting insight but isn't totally connected (or there) the poem can go wherever it wants, but it doesn't -- well mostly.

In the latter part of the pom, there's a focus on fire imagery "warm" "fire" "glowing" which correlates back to "Zero Hour" and to sunsets but focuses to a more visceral war which is never stated in the poem -- explosions.

The last line of the poem brings in a personal flair "Or wouldn't again."  If nothing else, time has passed after the fire -- after sunsets.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Analysis of "'To be with a koan'" by Dick Allen

Original poem reprinted online here: "'To be with a koan'" by Dick Allen
Originally read: December 9, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Dick Allen





"At first I found the humor odd, but I understand this point.  It's used to break away the stereotypical  Zen Master (which [in italics] is Zen"

I'll admit it, when I first think of Zen Master, I think of an old bald Asian guy giving advice in riddles or a koan.  Then if I delve further to popular media portrayals and then I think of David Carradine -- that portrayal of the monk who is silent, travels, well-learned.  But the poem doesn't reinforce the stereotype.  The mention of Hamlet, to me is more cursory than allusion even though it goes into details.

Yet look at the details pointed out by the Zen Master about Hamlet, "small pigs," "tiny villages," "bee and bee keepers."  There's no mention of Yorick, or murders, or play within a play -- no, it's tiny details.  Something not thought about.

So the ending metaphor about the lemonade powder stirring really is not conventional, and doesn't feel like a koan -- or how I perceive a koan (I don't study koans).  The last lines combines image and philosophy really well with something so mundane as lemonade powder.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Analysis of "Life in a Love" by Robert Browning

Original poem reprinted online here: "Life in a Love" by Robert Browning
Originally read: December 8, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Robert Browning


I'm not one for love poems, however, I wanted to reread this one (look at my notes) to figure out something.  The end is vastly different from the beginning in terms of tone.  In the beginning, I note the sequence as, "a brief sussinct [sic] conversation -- or monologue -- which kind of disavows argument.  Partly romantic...partly stalkerism [sic]"?

That last word, hmm nah.  Anyways, that's how I read love poems mostly -- kind of romantic, kind of stalkerish.  It's not that the love poem is bad or anything like that -- but the poem (usually) is confined to one perspective, which usually, pines, laments, honors, worships, wants, desires.  I'm cool with reading something like that once in a while, but poems that are too lost in the moment are lost within themselves -- there's no room for a reader's insight there.

Anyway, this poem is not a love poem in that sense;  The last lines going from:

           While, look but once from your farthest bound
          At me so deep in the dust and dark,
          No sooner the old hope goes to ground
          Than a new on, straight to the self-same makr,
          I shape me--
          Ever
          Removed

change the poem.  "Self-same mark" interests me because, "in reference to falling for the same love, the same tricks again.  And telling yourself (hopelessly) that you won't."  Of course there are poems that deal with the loss of love, but I get the sense, from this poem, there isn't a sense of bitterness.  Loneliness, of course, but it's not stated, maybe hyperbolized with the dark references -- but not outright stated.  It's a light lonliness poem or a dark love poem...maybe both.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Analysis of "Chinese Quatrains (The Woman in Tomb 44)" by Marilyn Chin

Original poem reprinted online here: "Chinese Quatrains (The Woman in Tomb 44)" by Marilyn Chin
Originally read: December 7, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Marilyn Chin



So, I thought about this poem the night before.  I remembered feeling discomfort about reading this poem the first time.  "My father escorts my mother / from girlhood to unhappiness"  from these lines -- there's no good coming from it.  However, this poem, describes the life of this woman not as a historical piece and not as a pity poem -- rather through a series of unconnected, surreal yet influential images.

Or at least that's what I read the second time.  The first time I read this I was wondering how the images connect -- why the images aren't connecting -- of course there's the worm of course, but still.


For me, I'm trained to follow the image or rather that images introduced in the beginning will always come around in the end as a great symbol to follow.


But how about this, life doesn't work like an image in a poem.  That sometimes they don't connect.  Or how about this, if someone likes me keeps to an image too long, the only thing I can see and focus on is the manufactured image of the past.  What future?  What context? What history?  No, it's easier to fall in love with an image of petals than to look at them decay.


And at the end of this poem, I "justify" each stanza, "The description of jewels on the body is interesting, yet since -- I feel -- that the stanzas are self-enclosed, the lines are overreaching to mean something." Or maybe I'm just overreaching for the poem to mean something.  Which I'm pretty sure is the case.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Analysis of "The Mysteries Remain" by H.D

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Mysteries Remain" by H.D
Originally read: December 6, 2012
More information about the Poet: H.D

I'm not a fan of sing-songy rhyme or allusion for that matter.  In my last post, I wondered about the use of allusion and context in a poem.  How much does a person need to know to feel the poem is effective?  What if the technique of the poem stands out more than the experience in the poem.

This poem is no exception, I suppose.  The rhyme scheme is really irritating to me in the beginning: remain, same rain, "These rhymes are irritating and redundant. sing-songy." I wrote.

Yet this line, "Demeter in the grass" really got to me, "This image struck me the most out [of all the choices that day] and made me choose it [this poem to look at again].  I just had this image of Demeter in the grass."

So this is where allusion, at least for me, kicks in hard.  Demeter lost her daughter Persephone to the god Hades.  Hades "married" Persephone and forced her to eat a pomegranate.  Persephone is cursed to stay in hell for 6 months out of the year.

I learned about Persephone in the 6th grade.  I made a diorama of Zeus and the greek gods -- it probably got a C or a D because that's the only grades I remember receiving.  This poem made me think about the mother's perspective.

I imagined the world closing up on the mother before seeing her daughter being taken away.  She's pounding on the grass, then starts trying to rip them away -- something, as a god, she's sworn to protect she's destroying to get to her daughter, but all for naught.

I'm getting away of the intention of the line which is, I feel, focuses on the joy Demeter feels when her daughter comes back to her.

I just see something different I suppose.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Analysis of "Remembered Light" by Clark Ashton Smith

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Remembered Light" by Clark Ashton Smith
Originally read: December 5, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Clark Ashton Smith







"Ah, how reminiscent of the Romantics, the 'I' being smaller than the scene.  Memory, bigger than the self."

Some days, I wonder about my education affects my worldview.  I'm pretty sure that someone who doesn't know about the Romantics and how Clark Ashton Smith, a modernist West Coast Romantic, was thoroughly influenced by Wordsworth and Coleridge.

However, the poem is not an homage to the Romantics rather feeling the impact of loss and years going by in a natural setting.  The "I" can only exist for so long before "I beheld that larger world."

So here's the quandary I have, and I guess some regrets as a reader of poetry.  If you look at my analysis on this poem -- it's very, Academic: "extension of metaphor", "sonically", "singular and personal [representation", "Ending on a simle; mpreso, a simile referencing  something Greek (not ambrosia but)."

Looking at my analysis, I can simply say that I relate more to the poetic technique in the poem than anything else in the poem.  How should I feel when the loneliness, despair, forgetfulness, decay doesn't hit me?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Analysis of "Gremlin" by Karl Kirchwey

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Gremlin" by Karl Kirchwey
Originally read: December 4, 2012
More information about the Poet: Karl Kirchwey


At the very beginning of the poem there is a slight epigraph, "(The Twilight Zone reruns)"  and I wrote down "I wonder why the author specified here and not in the poem."

The poem itself follows a pretty simple arc -- from a focus of the show, then to the personal, then to the show, then to the personal.  The shifts create a buffer and/or enhancement to the poignancy of either aspect (personal/show).

The epigraph in the beginning is such a small part, yet, again my focus is mostly towards how the show impacts the speaker's life rather than any other mode like the the speaker's life, the history behind the show, etc.

I follow the idea of the epigraph to the end, where incidentally enough the poem ends with a observation of the actual gremlin (show, man, myth, symbol).  Is it bad for me to write that this poem is based on pity -- that in the end, I feel like I should sympathize with all the characters introduced in the poem, including William Shatner? And, still, I don't know if I'm there yet.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Analysis of "A Servant, A Hanging, A Paper House" by Lucy Anderton

Original poem reprinted online here:  "A Servant, A Hanging, A Paper House" by Lucy Anderton
Originally read: December 3, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Lucy Anderton





 "It's the construction of the sentences, the flow of strangeness (in language, image, syntax, speed, and sounds) that attract me here."

That's a lot to cover, but I'm thinking of the idea of adjectives in poetry.  I've been taught to be weary of adjectives and adverbs in poetry.  An image that might sound refreshing or has potential in a poem like "a bird waits" but can turn boring and cliche fast with the wrong adjective "a singing bird waits."  Not saying that "singing bird" is boring...yes, it is. Note: please don't use these adj./noun combination in a poem "blossoming heart," "joyous earth", "delicious morsel", "broken heart" -- these combinations are cliche.

So here's some interesting adj./noun combo in the poem: "ghost leavings", "apple biter", "Jack hammer wrists", scarlet seminary ribbons", "pregnant wing", "glittering scream".

I also write down a comment that I feel is how I feel about the whole poem and the usage of adj./nouns.  At first, the comment refers to the line "Wisps / of chambermaids blinking / through my lips" though. "This is an interesting sentence -- there's something phantomesque/haunted about this poem (duh) but the language adds to the strangeness"

"Glittering scream" is particularly interesting -- the adjective brings a visual aspect to an auditory image.  One of the benefits of adj./noun combinations.   

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Analysis of "Possible Elegy" by José María Hinojosa

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Possible Elegy" by José María Hinojosa
Originally read: December 2, 2012
More information about the Poet: José María Hinojosa





So one (of my many) weakness I have as a writer/reader and as a human being is to over complicate things. That's why I try to stick to 15 minutes when I write something down.  The longer I take, the more I doubt what I write --- it's too easy to understand or I should refine my word choices, and then, after many hours, my mind (and real life) becomes a drama fest filled with tears, existentialist depression, and wanderings. [yes I did edit this again after posting it -- it's not perfect!]

I want to focus on the last comment I wrote:

"Yet this line somewhat bothers me 'No one knows why' What does the 'why' refer to?  The speaker started, what waters you'll drown, what land you'll fall -- If I read this line as an existential statement, then the next line, 'but, I, yes I, know!' has a sense of a tragic bravado.  He has to know (with such exclamation).  If he didn't then his journey is meaningless, his existence meaningless"

I told a student the other day to not dismiss the complexity of the simple.  I'm telling myself now -- why complicate meaning if it's just so simple?  It goes back to the beginning comment (I'll just summarize) where I really thought this poem was boring.  The rhetorical questions that answers itself (you'll land on something -- you'll be at your destination).  What's at stake in the poem is dealt with easily (so what if the no one knows? Life's journey only matters to one living it [omg -- yolo]).

So I was trying to find something more in it -- and I did.  I probably continue to over complicate my analysis and life.  There's nothing else after after this point.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Analysis of "Advent" by Rae Armantrout

Original poem reprinted online here:  Advent by Rae Armantrout
Originally read: December 1, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Rae Armantrout


So the last comment I wrote cut off at the end, "This poem packs a lot of 'choose your own' dichotomey [sic] choice meanings in such a short poem and yet is really clever."  I don't know what this sentence means either.

Anyway, the usage of sequence is interesting in this poem -- most of my notes try to figure out how sequence works effectively in the poem.  First, the idea of Advent, being a religious season of waiting for Jesus to arrive, starts off the poem.  Then the continuous images of threes (which is parallel to the holy trinity [or that's where my mind goes because of religious reasons]).

Stanza One: mother, baby, sheep
Stanza Two: sky, god, girl
Stanza Three: thing (close to nothing), fatherless (not really a noun, but stands alone for attention), everything

So this poem hinges on the direct statement in stanza two, "Pick out the one / that doesn't belong".  The statement is so bold that I go back to this poem and try to figure out what doesn't belong.

At the end of the poem, I'm trying to figure out which one doesn't belong, and when I read the poem in the beginning, I'm thinking what doesn't belong here too. 

And when I choose one, the meaning of the poem changes -- kind of like a choose your own adventure book.  For example mother, god, nothing don't fit, so the focus is on the other two options: sheep, baby, girl, sky, fatherless, everything create a whole new experience for me.

This is not to say that if you choose one the "meaning" or "conclusion" of the poem changes; rather, the change of perspective, focus, and stake constantly shifts and changes based on single words, single choices.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Analysis of "Everything that Acts Is Actual" by Denise Levertov

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Everything that Acts is Actual"
Originally read: November 30, 2012
More information about the Poet: Denise Levertov




"The ending -- the idea of only seeing 'grasp alone; not the actual poem, idea, concept -- only the reader, the observers own need to understand is really strong because the end works well if a reading  [sic should be reader] wants to read the poem as a Nature poem or a Prophetic poem, or a 'personal poem,' or a combination of different ideas.  The writer/speaker let go of this poem.  The reader/interpreter/scholar/searcher has not"

I don't know what I'm talking about here.

I've reread the poem and my notes several times this morning, and I don't see how I got to that conclusion.  The introduction of the ambiguous "you" (a much favored technique by many) in stanza one is well done.

Although the "you" used in stanza one borders on being a command or a simple addressing problem if the line is read by itself, the speaker dismisses the you with a time frame "into December" so I focus back and think the moon refers to the moon.

Then in stanza three and four, there's a conflict between image, perspective, and personal because the thoughts or intent behind them are so disjointed yet each inter play with each other so that if a readers focus is on the personal -- the reader will see (or is forced to see )  the image and perspective as a backdrop to support the personal (same goes if the focus is image or perspective).

And as such, the poem can be read as a prophetic poem (the usage of you), or exercise in image (the repetition of moon and how it's percieved), or a personal poem (the reference to the "I" at the end of the stanzas.

For me, I'm having a hard time connecting all three together because I have contrasting readings if I read it a certain way.  All powerful, but different.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Analysis of "The Iron Gate" by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Original poem reprinted online here:  "The Iron Gate" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Originally read: December 1, 2012
More information about the Poet: Oliver Wendell Holmes







There's a lot going on in this poem: form, rhyme scheme, tone changes, perspective changes, irony, etc which are really well rendered and all lead to the same conclusion of death, or Death.  However, when I was reading this over again I was thinking of "quote worthy lines."

Maybe I was thinking this because it's too early in the morning for me to do an 15 minute analysis on a single aspect on a poem that has a lot going on, but the idea of epigraphs came to me when reading the poem again.

Epigraphs are quotes from another source in the beginning of poems, stories, whatev. The epigraph in the beginning serves several purposes like a) contextualizing the piece, b) the piece is responding to the quote, c) focuses the reader on looking for the same aspect the quote brings (i.e. if the quote is about computer love, then, as a reader, I'd look for computer love in a piece).

Even though this poem doesn't use an epigraph, this line stood out to me the most from the poem, "Youth longs and manhood strives, but age remembers,"  In my notes I wrote, "This is probably 'quote worthy' sentence, summing up how lament works -- is described beautifully through images."

Geez past me, why grammar errors, why bad analysis. The line I pointed to doesn't use images but uses generalizations.  Second, "lament" only can be extracted by the usage of "but setting up the negative age remembers" which contrasts the progressive movements in the "Youth longs" and "manhood strives".

If I did quote this line for a piece, then the piece would either be about: death, age, youth, manhood, lament, regret.  Since the line ends with a negative then my piece will focus on something that ends negatively to parallel the statement.  Could I do the opposite?  Probably, but there's the risk of losing the reader or having the reader feel tricked "Hey I was expecting computer love, and I got Dante instead."

Yes, a writer can't control how a reader reacts to a piece; however, adding things like an exposition, an epigraph, over elaboration through images, adjectives, and adverbs, (there'll probably be more) -- really does focus the reader to a conclusion...death, or to add more gravitas, Death.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Analysis of "Two Plays" by Lloyd Schwartz

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Two Plays" by Lloyd Schwartz
Originally read: November 30, 2012 (I don't know)
More information about the Poet:  Lloyd Schwartz







I want to focus on the last comment I wrote which was:

The ending is clever -- it's one of those expected endings.  I guess that's why I am dissapointed [sic]  a bit.  The narrator foreshadows the poem pitch perfect, yet after the second or third read the foreshadowing doesn't keep me interested.

Besides the atrocious spelling and grammar errors, I wonder why I thought the way I did when I read it.  So I reread the poem again and the problem for me consisted of two things.

1) Part I was heavy on the exposition.  Exposition is not a bad thing.  Of course I want background on things in writing and in real life.  Example:

"Hey did you hear that <insert person here> is in jail for life?"
"Oh really, what happened"
"Well <insert exposition here about like traffic tickets or jaywalking or murder or drug offense or writing a poetry blog that states negative things about poem here>"

Exposition, in short, contextualizes drama; however, when drama is contextualized, especially if it's from one source, a bias and risk is more apparent the longer the exposition piece goes on.  The longer the exposition goes, there is a risk of: a) overshadowing too much, and/or  b) exposition taking over the main point.  I think the problem for me was a) the overshadowing.

Yes, from Part I -- I know the response in Part II will be about a scam, a woman, and there will either be a shaming or a praise for the woman figure based on the issues brought up in Part I.  Nothing too surprising.

2)  This line in part II, "She's not a joke.  She isn't a play" is perfect..a bit too on the nose perfect.  If I take into account the knowledge I had in Part I into Part II, then there's too much of a focus in the call and response. I can see the intrigue after a first read.  But after many reads (this being my fifth or sixth I think) the poem reads to me like this:

Part I: "Psst, you want to know more about the story refer to Part II."
Part II: "Psst, you want to know more about the story refer to Part I."

It's not a bad thing and the poem isn't about exposition/foreshadowing, but it's the aspect sticks out the most to me. Meh.
 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Analysis of "Dear Reader" by Rita Mae Reese

Original poem reprinted online here: "Dear Reader" by Rita Mae Reese
Originally Read: November 29, 2012 (Maybe)
More information about the Poet:  Rita Mae Reese


When reading this over again I was thinking about the comments I made about the the tone.  I think the tone is really well done here.  

First, the speaker is the nurse taking care of an elderly person who forgets.  I thought the elderly person was a man throughout the poem, but it can be an elderly woman because I don't see any indication of gender, and the same could be said about the nurse (I think it's a woman, but there's no specific gender in the poem).  I won't get into that.  Sexist reinforcing gender tropes.  Let's just move on, shall we?

Anyway, the tone, dispassionate, morbidly humorous tone in the second stanza spoken from the outsider -- the nurse -- offsets the "sentimentality" in stanza three, "she is / eveything--you gave / me a shake--everything / to me."

The line breaks emphasize (maybe overemphasizes) a sense of desperation and want to have someone mean something to the elderly person.  The niece means everything.

However, I felt the usage of "she is / everything" works here because the phrase is an observation made by the nurse (the speaker), who, by the end of the poem, returns to a more observational, cold tone.   This poem is not a lament over not having someone or a pity party of why the elderly person is lonely.  

The poem is about a nurse who cannot change point of views in a morbid environment, gone is the cynical humor in stanza two and the more personal tone in stanza three is no more. In the last stanza, the tone goes back to an observational tone set up in stanza one. and ends just the same -- to a list that should mean something, but really means nothing (it's just a list to the nurse, everything to the elderly person [tropes reinforced]).

 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Analysis of "Panoramic View" by Shanna Compton

Original poem reprinted online here:: "Panoramic View" by Shanna Compton
Originally Read: November 28, 2012 (I think)
More information about the Poet: Shanna Compton






Hopefully you can click on the picture and it expands to something viewable, but not legible (it's already too late for that.)

After reading this over again -- notes and poem.  I still like how the extended metaphor works as a dampening (not distancing) device for emotional sentimentality. How can one feel anything if it's like"this" and then this "this" is like "that"?

I wrote on the bottom, "The poem hinges on sentimentality near the end, then you (as the reader) realize what is there to be sentimental about" there are never really any clear and focused details -- like viewing a panoramic picture for the first time (you see what I did there -- not good).

And see, less than 15 minutes, League is still down though.  Next poem tomorrow I suppose.

Might as Well Do Something

This blog has been up for over two years, and I haven't updated it in a year. Why? Life happens after the MFA. I'm not writing about literary accomplishments or (the multitude) of literary failures. Rather life -- you know the things you experience in person than in a book so that you can write a book about your experiences you had in person. This is not an "I'm living my life" blog -- this blog is meant to set up something that I want to do.

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So after I "celebrated" my 30th birthday, I decided to read some poetry everyday for various reasons:

1) I wrote and read a little bit here and there the past couple of months leading up to my birthday -- mostly during the Summer. I didn't want to be distracted by video games while applying for jobs, and I didn't want to focus on how many employers ignored my resume -- so I turned to poetry. To be honest, I don't know why.

2) Retail places didn't hire me unfortunately, but I finally found a job for an after school programs/charter school. Even though the pay and the hours are not stable, a job is a job. Furthermore, my bosses trust me to set my own syllabus and material. I studied poetry for too long to really know and teach anything else.

3) After a few months of exposing 10-13 year olds to poetry with mixed results (who would've thought they wouldn't like the poem "Daddy" (I did), this thought occurred to me on my 30th birthday, "I have nothing to lose if I read poetry and send my work out."

Actually, scratch that -- I'll lose a lot of money if I send my work out to contests, but sending work online to literary magazines -- why not? Normally, I would be using that time to play video games or sleep. And although sleeping or playing video games are not a waste of time, I spent too much time, money, and focus on writing (like around 5 years+) to not give me a shot. And What's two hours spent on sending out work and reading poetry on a free day? It's the same amount of time to do the following: watch as sports game? Level up to 81 on Skyrim (which only takes two hours)? Cook lunch for people? Grade papers thoroughly? Those things can wait and/or are not necessary.

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So since November 28, I've been reading (a minimum) a poem a day. First it started out with one site, then another, and now I read "daily poems" from six different sites:

Poets.org
Poetry Daily
Verse Daily
Poetry Foundation
Poem Hunter
Writer's Almanac

They all post different poems of style, time frame, and author. It's a good mix.


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I decided to print out the poems I read that I found interesting -- ones I questioned why I liked it or hated it, ones that made me feel something. I write my thoughts on them -- what I learned, what I think is a good technique, what I think is a bad technique, etc. Why? Force of habit, Stockholm syndrome -- might as well give in to mental conditioning.

Now, I have a hefty collection of poems and I think it'd be a waste of time not saving it somewhere for future reference (I don't want to read and analyze a the same poem twice unknowingly), and since paper is not as durable as internet storage, I thought I might as scan the poems with my notes and post them online. Why not? it's just an added 15 minutes to the 2 hours.

So this is where the blog is going -- analyzing poetry. I found out interesting things about myself and about poetry since starting this. Also, currently, League of Legends is down, I might as well do something while I wait until the servers are back online.