Sunday, March 31, 2013

Analysis of "Secret of Life" by Diana Der-Hovanessian

Original poem reprinted online here: "Secret of Life" by Diana Der-Hovanessian
Originally read: January 9, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Diana Der-Hovanessian





I write, "The anaphora in this poem brings a mysterious enlightening quality to the poem because 'the secret of life' comes from a navy yard worker -- a forced perspective."  So I disagree with my past self on one really big point -- past me forgetting the really big importance of the first line, "Once during the war"

So, there's a context to this poem -- yes, there's a forced perspective filtered through the speakers (advice from the re-imaginings of a navy yard worker); however, add on top of this context a time frame -- a time of war, which means there's a sense of urgency for the advice versus "peace time" advice, or rather, in a time of war there should be a sense of urgency.

However, the advice has a sense of the surreal along with humor.  "The secret of life is money. / But only the small coins."  I only wrote "most pointed insight" here.  I don't know what past me meant.  Current me thinks that a person shouldn't save but spend while you can (which I think is bad advice in itself personally). The anaphora of "the secret of life" brings a koanic sense to each line and, basically, the speaker could get away with most things that sounds like advice.

I find this one the most eh..., "The secret of life, he said, / is love.  You become what you lose."  I do think this works and is not overly sentimental because 1) the speaker refers back to the navy yard worker (hence, its a distant forced perspective advice not internal) and 2) there isn't any follow-up, rather the advice lingers.

The end of the poem becomes more focused and kind of spooky-like.  I'm not entirely on board with the end with the whole -- if you sit down on a bus, you'll find him and he'll give you advice.  However I do like what past me wrote at the end of the poem, "Who is the secret teller?  Are we still looking for answers?"  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Analysis of "Zombie Preparedness Plan" by Mary Jo Firth Gillett

Original poem reprinted online here: "Zombie Preparedness Plan" by Mary Jo Firth Gillett
Originally read: January 8, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Mary Jo Firth Gillett





So there's always been the debate about poetry vs. prose.  The only thing I could add to that discussion is that I'd rather read this poem as a flash fiction piece than a poem.  I'm writing that it's a bad thing; rather, that there's a lot of information I would want to know about the speaker and the daughter and the poem doesn't quite encapsulate that for me. And past me agrees in the most harshest of ways, "Nothing is really added with these line breaks or description, very much like an article or a story.

Then I thought to myself (after rereading this) I wondered why.  Over the past two months I noted certain poetry literary techniques like line breaks creating distortion in tone or emotion, rhyme scheme tying in themes, how images and descriptions overtake any sense of plot or direction,  and alliteration adding or detracting from the sound of a poem.

Do I hold these techniques too high in regard?  Probably.  I'm more likely to be old-fashioned that way.  Also I don't see any of the techniques I mentioned utilized in the poem. From one read through everything is pretty clear.

Stanza 1 (exposition): Daughter talking about Zombie Preparedness Plan.
Stanza 2 (rising action): Speaker reminiscing on how he/she survived in real life.
Stanza 3 (climax): Speaker and daughters thoughts intertwine and there's a lucid description of fear.
Stanza 4 (falling action): Tying fear to the everyday for the speaker and hopefully not the daughter.
Stanza 5 (denouement): Obligatory reference to a poet it's Robert Frost this time (Basho, Frost, Bishop, Dickenson, Whitman -- any one of these will do), then the speaker going along with what the daughter believes in to keep her "innocence."

After diagramming the poem out, I then think to myself what the techniques I mentioned above would add?

The techniques might ruin the piece since it works so well being clear like this and it's a bit cute and cheeky.  Again, nothing wrong with how the poem is, it's just that there could be so much more if the piece was a flash fiction piece.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Analysis of "Myth Dispelled" by Adam Possner

Original poem reprinted online here: "Myth Dispelled" by Adam Possner
Originally read: January 8, 2013
More information about the Poet: Adam Possner


I think the poem depends on the "him/you" on being a patient...or maybe not.  For funsies, the poem could be referring to the speaker himself debating his/her scientific/spiritual self with the speaker being more cynical about the cynical at the end.  Also for funsies the speaker could use "you" as referring to the audience, but then that places the audience in the weird position: feeling superior for knowing better, feeling inferior for not knowing exactly how vaccines work and the speaker having to explain them.  However, for my reading, I'm going to be reading the poem as the speaker being personal with a patient.

The tone shifts in the poem, I feel here, are more personal quality.  In "feeder" there's a sense of extremism with the shifts (through surreal images and direct rhetoric).  Here there's a reassurance feel from the beginning, "It's a dead virus, there's / nothing alive about it. / It can't make you sick."  Even the shift in tone, "That's a myth" the tone shift not a bell drop -- loud needing to be heard, it's more of a water dropping in a pond where there's a sense of exasperation.  This sense/feeling is furthered with how the speaker describes the procedure: "an inch under the stratum / corneum, as sanctioned by / your signature."

Then there's a turn to the outlandish -- maybe even mythical with the lines after the scientific description:

     in a white coated ceremony
     presided over by
     my medical assistant
     and then mark the grave
     with a temporary
     non-stick headstone.

First, I didn't realize this my first or other reads, but right now I like the adj,/noun combination of non-stick headstone -- there's a sense of humor in it.  Also even before realizing the adj./noun combination, I felt this part had a sense of cynicism to it.  Like the "you" didn't understand the scientific and, now, explanation should work...and I get a chance it does, "of that vaccine / has a 70 to 90 percent / chance of warding off / the Evil One"  (Voila Magic!).

And I feel the cynicism comes ahead at the end, "and that's the God's honest truth."  The end is a good punctuation to the piece.  Also, the end adds a sinister quality to the title "Myth Dispelled." 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Analysis of "feeder" by Beth Bachmann

Original poem reprinted online here: "feeder" by Beth Bachmann
Originally read: January 8, 2013
 More information about the Poet: Beth Bachmann







 After re-reading this poem, I thought why did I pick it?  It's a kind of strange feeling where I didn't see what was going on (this is before reading my notes).  I think it starts with the opening line, "The mouths of the dead are always / open" in which I comment "good first line."  I actually see it as meh right now.    It's not that the sentence is bad or cliche, it's the line break that comes in heavy handed like "expect a surprise -- right now".

I do think the single line "open. Quit"  has linguistic implications.  Past me wrote, "The line by itself is interesting because it seems that the dead are saying this -- then the line break completes the line."  So I like the line for different reasons now.  I don't think the dead are saying "quit"  rather being open about the topic "quit" looking for other things in the poem.

Also the line brings on a tone shift which constantly changes throughout.  "Quit / running your trap" (aggressive  command) -- "Lean / back"  (command but I feel a shift from aggressive to cold) "symbiont: / mistletoe" (a shift of the personal to the religious [even if it is mockery]).  The tone shifts occur at line breaks which I find chaotic but interesting.

The last line of the poem has a sinister visceral tone, "Come rain.  It's the perfect / stopper"  Now the line refers to the open mouths and how the healing "water" imagery turns into a suffocation one. I wrote this down in my notes, "This last line is so visceral.  Seems like a strong end to an unapologetic 'perfect' ending."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Analysis of "Generic" by Rachel Hadas

Original poem reprinted online here: "Generic" by Rachel Hadas
Originally read: January 7, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Rachel Hadas





I can only take cute for so long and the first stanza is enough for me.  When I read cute in the first stanza or even in the title I'm either bracing myself for a) let me tell you the song of my life in the most tragic/rewarding/tragi-rewarding way possible b) me hating myself for not being "emotional" or "disciplined" enough to read all of the poem and quitting within the first line.  I'm not saying the cute style is bad.  It's just not for me.

One of the redeeming factors of the  poem is the second stanza -- it's just a list of adjectives which has no direct noun.  Sure, the adjectives  could be talking about the book, the child, the old person, but just like the title "generic" the adjectives don't stick to one, or all, or any -- just like the dialogue in line three of the poem "No, I am the prettiest!" "I am!" "I am!" -- who in the world is saying each thing?

And this is where I think the strength of the poem comes in -- in order to not be "pinned down" in subject, the poem just blurts out ideas that could or couldn't be connected.  If the adjectives are connected to something then it's up to the reader, if they are not, then it's a list of adjectives that mean something and nothing at the same time.   Although I'm not a fan of "shifty as the moon," but it works really well (age represented by the phases of the moon -- it's meh simile, and it breaks with the rhythm of the barrage of adjectives).

For me the duo adjectives describing the water, "changed, unchanging." It's clever adjectives placed side by side.  There's a sense of subtle extremities there.  I just thought it was interesting when the poem doesn't put that much judgement on age (unless the reader is supposed to take the adjective list as a judgement call).

As for the last lines -- I feel that the list of adjectives buffers against it, maybe though "the massive stones on which I love to perch / and gaze.." the qualifier for the scene brings the last lines to heavy handed emotional level of lament.  That's  what current me sees.

Past me saw something different: "Comparison to age.  There's kind of a sassiness to these lines, instead of lament due to the usage of play of words [word play] and love as a modifier instead of a symbol."

Hmm...I'm not sure of "love" being more of a qualifier than symbol.  Well, duh, the poem trains the reader to see all adjectives as qualifiers first instead of symbols.  Meh, it worked on me the first time.  The later times, I totally just skimmed that part over.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Analysis of "Handfuls" by Carl Sandburg

Original poem reprinted online here: "Handfuls" by Carl Sandburg
Originally read: January 6, 2013
More information about the Poet: Carl Sandburg






"I've seen the word 'dusk' so many times."  That's how I started off from my notes.    It's not that the image is overly used or the word itself is over-representing the image; it's just that time frame (morning -> night) and seasons (Summer -> Winter) have been big topics in poetry as symbols, as images, and  overall inspiration.

What interested me about this poem is how Sandburg uses his images.  The first line caught me off guard, "Blossoms of babies / Blinking their stories" the lines are surreal, but, sonically the lines shift from b's to s's.   Then in the following lines there's the "babies" take on the character of "gamblers."

Even now, I don't know what's going on.  Hmm, I wrote this down:

"I like this comparison.  It comes from nowhere, but after I think about it a couple of times -- it fits well with kind of tone of nature (+) vs city grime (-)"

So looking back on this comment, I don't think past me got it or saw that babies = little red gamblers, therefore their is no contrast, but a shift.  It's no the babies grow up to be gamblers, it's that they are gamblers.  That's why I circled the semi-colon in line 4 -- similar items not entirely separate (if I know my semi-color correctly).

There's definitely a shift in time in the second stanza "Summers of rain, / Winters of drift"  but "they go back"  I thought the second stanza tried to add something more to the passage of time and "Winters of drift" is a cool image, but not my favorite part of the poem.

The last stanza I wrote, "Shift of colors red to grey sort of (predictable) descent of a person (child) far away from nature and the process is (cyclical)?"

So after reading my notes and rereading this poem again, I'm thinking it's not a natural sort of cycle, rather a self imposed cycle.  Like a willed death of people unwilling to change internally, but rather externally like the seasons.  I think.  I'm trying to comprise Current me analysis and past me analysis and I think I came up with a mess.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Analysis of "Ministry Today" by Steve Davenport

Original poem reprinted online here: Analysis of "Ministry Today" by Steve Davenport
Originally read: January 5, 2013
More information about the Poet: Steve Davenport 
                                                   His Website Here



After reading this again today, I created a narrative of the speaker.  Although the poem is lyric, the tone creates character.  I've been thinking about tone, and I ask myself -- is tone like accents on the page?  It's not exactly transferable, but I'm thinking of this.  There's an image that pops up with a Southern drawl, maybe of a southern Louisiana gentlemen, and then from the accent (voice) I envision a person.

Now, in this poem, I really start to envision a person with the rhetorical question lines, "What's the value of time without end? / What's a mind to do without a body / to fail it?"  and with the introduction of "whiskey" in earlier, I envision a lapsed priest sitting at a bar maybe drunk, maybe not -- but vulnerable enough to expose his failures and philosophy.

Why?  Usually rhetorical questions work better in speeches, or in debates -- the speaker wants the audience to think; however, I've heard a lot of rhetorical questions in sermons "Why do you think Jesus died on the cross?" "Who will be the one to redeem your sins" to either a) start out the sermon or b) end the sermon.  And since the rhetorical questions are at the end of the first stanza it feels like an end of a sermon.

Note though how the rhetorical questions have an implied "audience" or a "you."  So when the speaker asks the question I wonder if he's questioning himself or the audience or god.  All of the above, probably.

So I write this down as notes:

This poem is based on call and response where there are three parts:

1) Unknown -- Why is this event happening. (At stake)
2) Coping -- how to deal with the unknown physically. (Whiskey)
3) Questioning -- how to deal with the unknown mentally. (Rhetorical question/answer)

the response to the call within the poem

1) Time
2) More Whiskey
3) "Waste of word"

I feel that this is the conclusion that the speaker goes through -- he tries to forgot his lapse in faith through time and whiskey, yet comes back to it at the end (which is either heavy handed or cleverly placed with the repetition of "end").

One last thing.  I wrote this comment about the shifts in color, "The transition of colors -- not that strong for me, I like the images as they are"  So the main reason for this, I think, is that I liked the characterization and the rhetorical questions so much that the color seemed too heavy handed for me.  This is before I looked up what they mean.

So I looked it up.  Here's the resource link

---

Blue, the color of the sky, is symbolic of heaven. It may also be used to symbolize truth. Blue is gaining acceptance as a liturgical color for Advent.

Gray is the color of ash, so is sometimes used to represent repentance and may be used during Lent.

As the color of light, yellow may be used to represent divinity. However, because yellow light is not pure white, it may also be used to symbolize corruption and degradation.

 ---

Yes, blue can also be the Blues (since the usage of the word references sound ) and, yes, yellow is not the equivalent of gold.  But the colors are used in the poem.  They are used bluntly as symbols.  It does add some to the poem, but it's not the core to the poem (lament is there, a need to repent is there -- the yellow though is interesting and probably adds the most as a symbol, but c'mon it's whisky -- not the most holiest of all alcohols).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Analysis of "My Heart is Heavy" by Sara Teasdale

Original poem reprinted online here: Analysis of "My Heart is Heavy" by Sara Teasdale
Originally read: January 5, 2013
More information about the Poet: Sara Teasdale





I'm going to do something different this time.  I've been searching for other blogs like mine.  Some are close -- putting up the poem with no analysis or putting up analysis and it's a "I like" fest.  I'm not saying my analysis is any good, but I try.  So I'm going to link to this person's blog that does some interesting analysis of poems.

---

A Poem for Every Day

And the blogger writes some interesting notes about the background of the poem or at least the blogger's interpretation:


"It seems likely that this poem was written for Vachel Lindsay, who courted Teasdale when they were      young and wrote her many love letters, yet who did not have enough money to marry her. Sara Teasdale married a wealthy business man called Filsinger instead, but the marriage was very unhappy and ended in divorce. Teasdale never dropped her friendship with Vachel Lindsay, though he also married and had children with another woman, and they both committed suicide within two years of each other.
 
When I read this poem I feel like it is full of regret and full secret love for Vachel Lindsay. The way she says 'My songs do not belong to me' evokes the idea that her heart, her body, even her soul no longer belong to her, but to her husband. She cannot write a poem for Lindsay, or a love letter, or see him because she is married. Yet I love the way she asks her loved one to take the fallen fruit — to take her song — in the evening when 'no one will know.' It is irresistibly secretive and sad."

---


So without me even knowing the past of this poem.  I write how the last two lines of the stanza work for me.  In stanza 1 "But I can never give you one -- / my songs do not belong to me."  I wrote, "who does it belong to then?  These songs...I get the feeling they are either love or lament or both."  However, there's also the idea of how art when written out for the public, doesn't belong to the writer, and is up for (mis)interpretation by the audience.

However, there is a turn at the end of the last two lines of the second stanza, "In the gray hour if the fruit has fallen, / Take it, no one will know."  I write, "The wry style at the end of the poem interests me.  I don't know if I should read this as somber or flirtatious."  The situation akin to the "forbidden fruit" (not so much in the biblical sense, but in the forbidden romance type of situation."

Although "evening" and "dusk" can be taken as "death imagery."  I feel the tone is such a hard shift which overrides preconceived connotations.  I write this at the end:

The push of the poem happens at the last two lines of each stanza.  This give and take with the reader [note:the first two lines add to the last two lines, not really shift anything -- the stanzas shift].  Emotionally speaking, I don't know where to go with this one.  I probably should go towards the lament side even though I want to read this poem as wry."

So I ask myself, can I read this as both.  Lament and wry?  That given the right opportunity, a little "taking of fruit" could occur, but can't.  The emotional complexity of lost love? 



Saturday, March 23, 2013

Analysis of "Apollo's Archaic Torso" by Leo Yankevich

Original poem reprinted online here: "Apollo's Archaic Torso" by Leo Yankevich
Originally read: January 5, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Leo Yankevich



Update 01/25/2014 -- Just realized the poem honors Rainer Maria Rilke's Poem, "Archaic Torso of Apollo"  I'm slow.  Does this change my reading of this poem.  Yes it does.  I'll get to this someday...

This Italian sonnet is awkward in an interesting sense.  There's a duality in the first part of the poem between the human body, a body sculpted, and a projected body.  I'm just going to quote the entire second stanza

    still radiant, though dimmed.  If not, his bare
    breast would not bind you in the silent turn
    of hips and thighs, a smile not flash and burn
    through groins, his genitals not ever glare.

Here in this stanza the way the images are described are surreal and my mind thinks of godly portrayals of nakedness.  And the speaker, even though not apparent in this stanza, describes the allure of a godly body "yet his torso gleams, / reflecting the candela," in where the surreal description also builds a sense of reverence.

However, there's words that pop up that bring me back to not of reverence but awkwardness -- as though to point out that the audience is a bunch of voyeurs in a gym changing room.  The detachment for me started with "pippins ripen" -- it's a weird sonic device where when I first read it, I read the two as rhyming -- and some trick as simple as that brings me out of the poem in a good way.

I have to write about "his genitals not ever glare."  Not only because it's such a strange description, but also in context to the poem -- the line references back to the torso which is so luminous that it overtakes the scene -- or rather should.  The description of the genitals takes away any "light" from the torso.

So in an Italian Sonnet, the first 8 lines should pose a sort of question that needs to be answered in the last 6 lines.  Maybe. "If not, this stone would seem deformed and small."  Yep there's a change in more of the attitude of the speaker towards the subject.  Apollo's junk.  Okay.  That's kind of harsh though, but it got me thinking of "godly" entities.

For example, if a godly body is too good or too exception or, really, against the norm, would another perspective see the overexageration as a deformity?

The end line is interesting because:

1) The reference to a "you" hasn't been done in the poem until the end -- and so the definition of "you" (audience, self, creation, there's more probably) shifts every time the poem is read.

2) The line is such a cliche, but cliches are built up out of context for example, if the last line was read in a self-help book, then yes, cliche; however, in this poem, the last line is ambiguous, so not only is the "you" ambiguous.  The tone of the last line (helpful, command, insight -- usual last line qualities) shifts.  So the poem "exposes" multiple levels of meaning over the most surreal and awkward description.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Analysis of "Book of Hours" by Kimberly Johnson

Original poem reprinted online here: "Book of Hours" by Kimberly Johnson
Originally read: January 4, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Kimberly Johnson


So I've been procrastinating all day for this poem.  Why?  Even though I read this poem quite a lot of times, I still have a hard time initiating a discussion about it.

It should be easy, right?  I have a lot of notes on the page, I have an entry way through word play or use of difficult words.  However, I really don't want to go this route, but, since I've been hesitating (and this is supposed to only take 15 minutes not the whole day) I should.

Language is a tricky subject. I don't want to write, "well this poem has difficult words in it -- it add/takes away from the poem."  If I do that the entire message, techniques, images, etc. are washed out.  I will write this though -- in any poem or writing, there has to be a draw in for the reader to read or even look into the poem.  Every poem I chose drew me in (good/bad) and I wanted to take a closer look.

But I have to be honest with myself, the language adds something to the poem that I really wanted to have a better grasp of before writing this.  The language adds the sense of a "bibliophiles" attempt to consummate a love of books, nature, and religion.  And what the language does is separates them instead.

I think the turn for me happens in this line, "No untangling of that liturgy."  And I think that the l\onger lines before the poem hint at an existential point due to lines like "Shouldn't that be enough" that subvert this sort of reverence set up in the poem through the language, through the images.

Further below the line "No untangling of that liturgy" there's another turn with a single word "yet I adored each page, and bent to stare / so low that my lips touched the serif."  The image of the poem is wonderful -- kind of a sensual physical love of the page (Here, I think the poem became more of a bibliophile).  But there's a separation (which I interpret as humorous, but maybe it's not) between the physical and the metaphorical.  Yes, there's a literal kiss of the page, but a book, a physical copy, cannot return feeling; and a book metaphorical, is just a projection of meaning and symbol brought on by a reader.  Of course, a writer does try to steer a reader into one belief or another, but when a work is out there, it's out there for multiple (and for me, audaciously wrong) interpretations.

The end (finally in a while) works for me, "Paperwhite. Paperwhite.  Incarnadine." because it can be interpreted in multiple ways; however, I'll focus on two.

1) The speaker's resolve for love of books, nature, and religion is reinforced through the repetition of color.  And with the last color being Incarnadine -- words, nature, religion is part of the speakers flesh to be seen (and judged) by everyone.

2) However, Incarnadine is the same color as flesh -- meaning that all this love and resolve can be looked over as a part, drowned out by words and love, and, unnoticed by anyone who doesn't listen closely.  The poem is too close, and too intimate to the speaker that -- even exposed, the "love" still hides.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Analysis of "In the Ear of Our Lord" by Brendan Constantine

Original poem reprinted online here: "In the Ear of Our Lord" by Brendan Constantine
Originally read: January 4, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Brendan Constantine






I had a different experience of the poem just right now.  And it's a like a "duh, I'm so stupid moment" for me.  Yeah, sure there's stuff I write about the content of the poem, you can take a look at the pic and find what I think of meaning; however, today is the first time I really sat down and read the poem out loud -- slowly.


I, somewhat knowing my hymns and verses, and knowing some biblical verses, didn't pick up the way the poem sounds like a mash of various parts of the bible.  Now I don't know everything of the bible, but I know some things.


The lines, "In the beginning was the whir / I thought you said & the whir / was good"  When I read it out loud today I saw that the lines are a riff of the first lines of Genesis (or whatever translation of Genesis -- just googled the first thing I saw).

When I read this the first time I wrote, "Whir in this poem can be read as onomatopoeia; however, I put a hard sound to it, emphasis on the [r] -- maybe it's me projecting a disdain"  Hmm...what did I mean there?

Anyway, the first part of the poem "I thought you said you love [...]you knew to love them" sonically mimics the prayer "Hail Mary" well I think.  I've been saying both the prayer and the lines over again.  I think it's pretty close. Content wise, well it's surreal -- the monk part that makes his way around the end is nice.  Also the "you" (which I'm seeing a lot in my choices  recently) represents someone specific rather than a broad audience to me since the "accusations" are too pointed, "you love / the coal train's horn" (I just realized that coal train sounds similar to Coltrane -- oh this poem still has wonders).

The latter half of the poem, after the whir part, mimics the "Our Father" Prayer.  I also have been reading this out loud over and over again.  And I think it sounds similar, or at least I'm making it sound similar.

I wrote down individual lines as good in this part "I could swear you said the time / was wow."  Just thinking about the line, I thought it was so bold (multiple interpretations of the line based on the lack of punctuation -- an interruption, wow a euphemism or dysphemism of something else.  I also liked how the music goes back especially "the harp" which, in itself has many different connotations (religious, "jazz").

So with this new interpretation of the poem, the last line (even though I liked it my first read) feels added on.  Yeah there's multiple meanings in it, but it's not necessary in the poem and I had more fun reading the poems as prayers.  The riffing comes off too strong at the end like "read me I'm important."

I want to end this post with this.  I'm not writing that my interpretations are right, and I've stated many times that I misinterpret poems.  Sometimes it takes time for me to see something so obvious (how to read the poem is in the title "In the Ear of Our Lord" I swear).  I'm just trying to read a poem and figure it out why I chose it -- what drew me to it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Analysis of "Flowers" by Linda Pastan

Original poem reprinted online here: "Flowers" by Linda Pastan
Originally read: January 4, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Linda Pastan



I write this at the end of the poem:

"I'm glad that the poem was only titled 'Flowers -- anything added would probably bring too much sentimentality or, I, at least, would've thought of this poem as cliche on first glance."

And well it can be seen as the cliche "write an observation about nature then relate it to the personal" poem -- which has been done even before from Romanticism to the Tang Dynasty Poets to the Neoromantics to poets like Mary Oliver, Gary Snyder, Maxine Kumin etc.  Nature and poetry.  Hand in hand.

The poem does so little in terms of technique which is good because the focus directly shifts after a few lines of description/observation.  There's one rhetorical question, one similes, and one offbeat adjective/noun combination that catch my eye in this poem (yes there's one more simile, and another offbeat adj/noun combination, but those flow too well with the poem -- these techniques break the observation motif the poem has).

Anyway, the first half of the poem fits the bill until we get to the rhetorical question "Is it real?"  So the question could refer to the first part, be the core of the poem until the end, and/or a question meant for the speaker to continue the flow of the poem.  It's needed at the place right there to shift the direction to, at least, keep my interest.

The simile after the rhetorical question, "unnatural / as makeup on a child"  brings in the "human" element to the poem.  Also unnatural in regards to human in a nature poem -- maybe a hint of the sublime, maybe a hint of the personal.  It's not really followed through in the poem -- the non-comparison after a simile leaves me to wonder.

I found this adjective noun combination a bit strange, "secular lilies."   I wrote this down as notes,"it's a little strange but the meaning makes up for it 1) observational 2)sterile-like 3)distant."  In regards to this poem, it is secular, sterile, and observant, but they are "engorge / with scent" so I get this weird olfactory image of smelling nothing.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Analysis of "In the Park" by Gwen Harwood

Original poem reprinted online here: Analysis of "In the Park" by Gwen Harwood
Originally read: January 3, 2013
More information about the Poet: Gwen Harwood






So I warn my students about this when creating a sonnet -- "don't rhyme -ing words -- it's too easy."  Why?  Because my teachers warned me about doing such a thing.  On one hand rhyming verbs ending in --ing is too open (basically anything works); however, on the other hand the usage verb vs gerund would  be intersting (one focusing on action vs the other appropriating the noun with action).  However, this poem doesn't do that.  The -ing here, I won't say it's easy, but brings in a certain sense of the mundane that is a theme in the poem.

On the first read, I only talk about form, "I'm not sure about the monosyllabic rhyme scheme.  A part of me thinks it's too simple, but simplicity, for the first part of the poem details the woman's life -- simply matter of fact."

I touch upon how form mimics the content.  So for an Italian sonnet I feel the volta is a bit off.  The line "They stand while in flickering light, rehearsing" just continues on with the narrative in stanza one.  However, the iambics are perfect, a little too perfect.  To transfer technique into content:  the volta (content --the epiphany realization) doesn't happen until the end; meanwhile, on the outside (construct -- a creation of sound) reflects the "happy" life the children have, not so much the mother though.

And it's easy to see how mundane her life is, "her clothes are out of date" "to feign indifference to that casual nod" "'how nice et cetera."  This outward sense of the mundane continues until the end where their is the epiphany realization "'They have eaten me alive."

I write this about the last quote, "says vs whispers voice meant to be heard by an audience but doesn't go anywhere."  Meh past me.  It's more of that "say" fits the iambic meter so conveniently.

I could see the appeal to this poem -- living a mundane life and realizing it's only going to get worse.  The poem is well constructed in form and content.  I don't know, there seems to be something missing.  Like my thoughts haven't changed at all about this poem since I first read it, then analyzed it, then looked back again now.  it's the same.  And even though this might be what the poet intended, I'm just looking for something more.I suppose.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Analysis of "O Anchor" by Matthew Nienow

Original poem reprinted online here:  "O Anchor" by Matthew Nienow
Originally read: January 2, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Matthew Nienow





So I did something that I usually don't do.  I don't bookmark the poems I read for this blog.  I read six poetry websites with daily poems, print the poems I like (or dislike extremely), then move on.  So when I googled "O Anchor" by Matthew Nienow to link to the original poem I found his website.  On his website this is the description of him I found interesting:

Matthew lives in Port Townsend, WA with his wife, Elie, and their two sons, River and Pike. When he is not writing, he works on boats and other things made of wood. 

This guy knows his boats and waterways.  Or at least has a passion for boating, and water. 

So I'm going to start off with a little tangent: is writing a job or the hobby?  How much of those two aspects of a person's life intertwine?  I don't know the answer to these, I'll just leave them here as a placeholder for the future when I come back to this.

So I find another aspect of "you" in a poem.  I think I wrote previously, referring to self, referring to audience, or you is a construct of the speaker.  I think this poem is referring more to the audience in an anthropomorphized way.

How can I make this conclusion?  So I don't know.  The use of rhetorical questions (without question marks -- I notice that now) consistently makes me think he's talking more to an audience "what type of bottom / does it drag, for what type of work, for you,"

Also it's how the "you" is used -- the anchor takes on anthropomorphized features but the "for you" at the end of stanza one is separating the anchor and the audience, and from the second stanza down the "you "audience takes on the features of the anchor reverse-anthropomorphism: "your need to stay in roughly the same place" "how well your windlass works"  (yes, I linked to the definition because I had to look it up).

So the end the audience and the image come back together with "as much the chain as the chain."  Again with the endings I've read the past couple of days -- I feel this is a bit overkill, a good image through repetition, but the tone has been set up by the rhetorical questions.   

Also the last line buffers the strength of the line before since the repetition is too close, "where the world exists as much / below you as above."  Which I think is an okay epiphany in itself (the last line comments on the epiphany with cynical reassurance? -- but the cynicism is better evoked in earlier lines -- anyway).  I just find the line garbled when I read it out loud -- the first time and just very recently.  I think it's the "you" in the line. hah.






Sunday, March 17, 2013

Analysis of "The Conductor" by Jacqueline Berger

Original poem reprinted online here:  "The Conductor" by Jacqueline Berger
Originally read: January 2, 2013
More information about the Poet:   Jacqueline Berger







Off the bat, we know what's at stake and what the core of the poem is about, "There's no mention, of course, in the program / that the conductor has Parkinson's,".  Usually,  I'm unsure about having something like disease or the death of someone or something tragic really in the beginning of any poem.  On one hand, the stake is clear and so, as a reader, I know where the narrative is going.  One the other hand, as a reader I'm forced to look at the character, poem, technique through the lens of tragedy which I either have to pity the character, poem, technique (forceful emotional blackmail) or interpret actions in the poem as relating to the disease (narrowed interpretations).

I think "putting the tragedy up front" works better as a short poem (Emily Dickenson "I Heard a Buzz Fly When I Died") or riffing on tragic elements for purposes of humor (Not the best example, but  Eugene Field "The Little Peach" edit: had to put this poem in here because a really humorous poem about death -- Thomas Hardy "Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave").  In longer poems there's a greater chance, with each word, to go either too sentimental, too emotional, too much asking for pity, being too much of a victim.

However, this poem does some techniques to stave off over-sentimentality.  In the middle there's an ambiguous circumstance one of these things is good news and the other bad, "I lived long enough to lose so much / Or maybe he's staving off our sympathy, don't clap because of this."  Whichever the reader tries to choose, the voice of the conductor doesn't want any sympathy for his loss or his ability to not be a sympathetic victim.  These lines are frank, but the poem had to address the character dealing with Parkinson's rather than the character himself.

There's places where the over-sentimentality goes a bit weird, and in being "weird" the poem doesn't push the emotional blackmail.  I'm referring to this simile, "jerky as a boy's [body]" and I write down this as my notes, "'Jerky' is a bit awkward in the poem, yet I'm 50/50 on the simile of the boy  On one hand, there's the foreshadowing of youth, on the other, the image is stark and stock at the same time.  Like it's the unsurprising way the poem should go."  And this is true.  With any "tragic" type of poem (or even story) 4/5 times there's going to be a "back to my childhood flashback."  I'm not talking about "back when I found out I had the disease" or "How I had to tell my love ones I'm dying,"  no, the speaker could be 16 and there will most likely be childhood flashback when they were 13.

So it's at the end of the poem where I felt it fell flat.  There's good lines -- the ambiguous circumstance, the flow of the poem (which makes unsurprising logical sense).  These lines bring in too much sentimentality and pity,

     What else can he do,
     while his fingers tap theft useless code
     while the audience, in rows, rise from their seats,
     still clapping, what can he do
     but show us who he is,
     a man standing too clos e to the edge,
     edge no one can call him back from.

The anaphora of "what else can he do" "edge," the audience's inability to do anything but "clap," and the last line, "edge no one can call him back from" really over-victimizes the character.  Sure there could be an argument that the speaker of the poem is projecting a victim complex someone for a certain gain -- I haven't found what the speaker would gain from it though since the speaker doesn't really come into the observation.  In the end, I write this, "The end is okay, but I feel it reiterates the feeling of vulnerability from both the speaker and the conductor.  This end feels like a summary to a narrative than lines of a narrative poem if that makes sense." Previous me is a lot nicer.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Analysis of "Ornament" by Dore Kiesselbach

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Ornament" by Dore Kiesselbach
Originally read: January 1, 2013
More information about the Poet: Dore Kiesselbach


So I wrote this at the end of the poem, "The end is meh -- the over usage of '-ed' sounds.  The intro of a non-linear image -- it's a part that highlights 'I'm an epiphany pay attention to me' when the narration felt strong."  When reading this poem over again, I stumbled over the last three words "varnished / feathers shined."  It's a part where I had to slow down and reread the part, and maybe that's what the last three words supposed to do; however, I found the narration in the poem more intriguing and the last lines just jumbled.

Fore example, I wrote about repetition, "I really like the repetition like this 'marks beside / marks' 1) It'd be too kitchy if the line ended there. 2) Since it keeps going the idea is strong but contrasts/confirms the sentiment further on of cyclical annoyance"  One thing I want to add to this is that the line  after has also the same sort of repetition "I left last year / and years before"  Through repetition, the speaker brings a tone of tiredness and humor like "I can't believe I keep doing this year after year"

Another example, near the beginning part "I sawed it / from its future in the earth / but still sips, last cells / stubborn in a local life."  So I wrote down "A mix of surrealism and science to describe decay" and on top of that the alliteration in this part "c->s" "l and l" brings a good flow to the poem -- not too fast, not too slow.

So my disappointment with the end is that it also feels forced.  To keep the humor and non-sentimentality of the poem "it brought us together / in honest wonder / on the couch."  (I wouldn't end it here, the focus should be back on the tree) the poem keeps going.  I think a stronger end would be this "To leave it upright / in a drift between / dangling suet / and the surveyed line"  The poem would end with the tree being an ornament and the alliteration here "d and s," since they are both opposite sounds would leave a bit of the humor captured in the beginning of the poem.

"I tow it through the yard  by limbs"  Yeah I know this action occurs because of the movement in the earlier poem.  Plus the action is pretty mundane based on the last actions "yank yank yank." And reading over the last line in my head again -- still doesn't fit for me.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Analysis of "My Dad, In America," by Shann Ray

Original poem reprinted online here:  "My Dad, In America," by Shann Ray
Originally read: January 1, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Shann Ray




Now the execution is important here.  The content of the poem is not directly extreme -- father goes out to get some animals for a Cheyenne old woman who gives some sage like wisdom.  Yet this poem is based on subtext upon subtext.


"The poem works as a juxtaposition of extremes: gentle.violent, air/land, blood/forgiveness, dead/new.  I question, though, how separate the images are...how intertwined the ideas are."

So I reread this poem again and I see what I meant; however, I want to focus on this line, "We need to know in America there is still blood / for forgiveness."  because the line break creates this fragmented extremes. This also occurs in the first two lines "Your hand on my jaw / but gently."  However there's a difference.

The jaw/gently line there is a conjunction there -- or rather it's telegraphed that there's going to be a change there.  Albeit that the change happens on the line break.  Yet, the "blood/forgiveness" line is not as telegraphed meaning that the line comes as a "surprise" and the brevity of the "forgiveness" line suggests that the concept of "forgiveness" is supposed to be focused on with the previous line being an additive.

The choice of animals I find interesting.  I write down, "Gopher / magpie. (Land [vermin] / air [thief]).  Sure the animals locate the poem but there's kind of a shared detest.  Volatile separation...I'm starting to hyperbolize and look into the poem too much.

Subtext does that to me as a reader.  I don't know how to describe it -- the poem makes me want to find deeper and deeper meanings within something so simple.  I don't know if that's a good thing or me analyzing why I should put a judgement call on my own interpretations.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Analysis of "To The New Year" by W.S. Merwin

Original poem reprinted online here:  "To The New Year" by W.S. Merwin
Originally read: January 1, 2013
More information about the Poet: W.S. Merwin





So here's what I wrote on my notes: "'that do not stir' is important here because the simile is not on the leaves but the ambiguous 'you' that is the representation of sunlight."  So old me, I agree that 3/4 of the first stanza describes the "you" but I'm not so sure that the "you" is the representation of sunlight.

"You" gives off "the first sunlight,"  what else gives off sunlight?  The sun (well it's in the wording sun-light)?  What am I trying to get to?  Okay.  So I think previously I wrote that "you" in a story refers to the speaker, or an audience.    There's more possible ways (I think I concluded), and here's one.  The "you" in the poem is a construct of the speaker.  The speaker first states the you then starts to define it "first sunlight" that goes and touches all of nature (first stanza).

Would this poem work without the you in the first stanza -- probably yes -- but the poem is not about the "new year,"  subtly (or obviously) the poem is about the speaker.  How the speaker sees the world.  How the poem thinks of aging.

In stanza two on this line, "we have come with our age" I wrote  down "intro to the 'we' format.  Shared 'age.'  Age brings in the positive,"  Hmm..not that descriptive past me. Anyway, the speaker compares himself/herself to the construct that he/she made. "Whether or not / anyone hears it this is / where we have come with our age".  The comparison is personal and only visible (felt, seen) to the speaker.  It doesn't matter if anyone sees how beautiful my construction of the sunlight is -- I believe in it...I think that's where the poem is getting at.

Anyway, at the bottom I wrote down different ways of writing "invisible" and thinking about connotations behind the words.


"clear, invisible = positive connotation??
unknown, other = negative connotation??
dark, shadow = psychoanalytic connotation??
Probably more situational, based on the poem"

I'm not to sure about how situational connotations can be.

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Analysis of "I'll Catch You Up" by Todd Davis

Original poem reprinted online here:  "I'll Catch You Up" by Todd Davis
Originally read: December 31, 2012
More information about the Poet:  Todd Davis











Now for this poem I wrote down this in the middle: "The speed of the generalizations offsets the images for me -- it's the ability to grasp images more readily than intangibles."


The poem itself lays out it's hand in the middle of the poem "your being / dead, me alive;"  The speaker is alive and the other person is dead -- so what's at stake will be further explained in the poem; yet, what is before the stake is the backdrop -- or rather the state of mind of the speaker.


The weird part about the beginning of the poem -- very image-centric, very much symbolic ("bits of night / into daylight") is that the poem goes back to the aesthetic of the beginning at the end of the poem with one condition.  Prepositions.


Now the crisis of styles (image to list based) adds to the speakers well unsureness -- weariness? Or how the speaker deals with the death of the other.  And when the speaker returns the usage of "that" really shows the struggle down to the end.


I write this in my notes "It's a tricky situation.  Which is the stronger metaphor?  Or rather the first prepositional phrase 'that leads towards spring' feels like a positive note [to end on], the 'that runs along the bottom / of the ridge' is a negative image'"

In theory the poem could go "that leads towards spring which runs along the bottom of the ridge"  there's a certain flow to the sentence that make logical sense.

However, the double usage of that doesn't fit quite well, and brings too much attention to itself when I read it outloud and in my head.  For me, the usage of "that" twice conflicts with each other.

I write this in my notes; "Death  <-- sweet bitter ---> bittersweet ---> sweet bitter."  I know it doesn't look like it makes sense (When do I ever?) but it's about this.  Conflict continues through the littlest detail -- a simple "that" could shift the poem -- a simple discordance definitely shifts things.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Analysis of "Designated Driver" by Daniela Olszewska

Original poem reprinted online here: "Designated Driver" by Daniela Olszewska
Originally read: December 30, 2012
More information about the Poet: Daniela Olszewska





What makes this poem is the opening line for me.  I didn't catch this in my first reading or in my notes, but the shift from "you are" to "yr".  Yes, I know that "yr" is shorthand for "your" in this poem.  But it's more like a double take line on how to receive the sound and sight of words.  For example, if I only heard this poem, then I wouldn't know the difference, but since I'm reading the poem, I can see there's a difference visually.

I also wrote down this:
"yr = yer (in the head)
yr = year (abb.)
yr = your ('what it means')"

At the time, I was trying to figure out other ways to look at the way "yr" is used because the style is so similar to the Black Mountain School and Robert Creeley (like the poem, "I Know a Man."  But I'm digressing. Each poem, at first, should be looked at individually -- perhaps.  Well that's what I have time for.

I'm going to write down what I wrote in my notes for the last part.  I preface this by writing the comment about what I wrote, "Yeah, I probably got the last part wrong"

"This and the ending is too good.  This quote is from a 'sober' gas attendant 'hetero half' sticks out but in the context of the poem it doesn't absolutely."  I don't know what I mean here.  I think when I think 'hetero' my mind goes automatically to sexuality (love with the opposite gender).  But what if 'hetero' in the poem means different, other.  The meaning of the poem changes depending on how to interpret the poem -- listening or reading.

"Hmmm. Let me try to decipher, 'does the part of you that likes the opposite have anything bit of home knowledge at all?"  So I read this way because off "tennessee left" because this implies that the speaker had some tennessee in him/her beforehand.  In a place you call home, do you live in a state of drunkenness -- a sense of numbness and shelter; yet, leaving this place, do you become sober -- and feel everything you intended to run away from.  Not the meaning of the poem, just interesting when I think about it.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Analysis of "Snow" by Frederick Seidel

Original poem reprinted online here: "Snow" by Frederick Seidel
Originally read: December 28, 2012 (I was too lazy to go back)
More information about the Poet: Frederick Seidel




So I know I'm overcomplicating this poem; however, there's a good reason why I keep doing so.  So I'm just going to write what I wrote on the page.

"By all word logic -- this poem is bad with the overusage of 'it,' but the 'it' goes along with the irreverance of the poem and also the simplicity."

"I feel this poem mocks nature poems by being so deliberate, and like a flow chart"

"Snow
1) falls
2) stays
3) goes
4) melts
5) disappears
   _
   v
We'll be like that"

"Other poets (including myself) would go on a long spree to get to the same conclusion"

"Step up your game -- either go simple for obvious meanings or don't fool yourself by going complex and wondering why people don't get 'it.' I feel this poem is saying"

Maybe it's not in the poem, but there are places and moments where I as a reader  (an as a person) try to put so much meaning into certain actions: a missed call, a simple hello, a goodbye.  I try to infer degrees of emotional or nostalgic meaning.  Sometimes, it is what it is. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Analysis of "Outside Fargo, North Dakota" by James Wright

Original poem reprinted online here: "Outside Fargo, North Dakota" by James Wright
Originally read: December 29, 2012 (Am I missing a day? Too lazy to go back now) 
More information about the Poet: James Wright


So in my notes I write that this poem works on two levels -- Internal and Meta:

"Internal:  The next lines "'onely / and sick for home.' the images above feel[s] like a representation of internal strife: white horses, going into the shadows, a sprawled body derailed."

"Meta:  The poem turns from observational to internal -- nothing too surprising.  But the line 'I nod as I write good evening' is the only physical response of the speaker to anything -- and his physical response turns inward to the poem and the speaker."

Past me, I don't think you fully describe meta that well.  So the speaker of the poem writes about the creation of a poem.  And all the symbols and images lead to how a poem is created.  And I could see it in this poem -- the match, a representation of an idea; the play of white and shadow, a Jungian aesthetic; a physical call/a written response.

However, if this poem is meant to be read as meta -- well that's another story all together.

I didn't notice this on the first read or when writing my notes, but I picked up on this when reading this again: "I strike a match slowly and lift it slowly"  Now, on one hand, "slowly" is a waste of words.  Grammatically, isn't an adverb used twice here redundant?  Yeah, I guess so.  However, the focus is on every individual action.  Not an observation per se, but one action at a time in the first stanza.

I write this because I wonder to write individual tasks through adverb without being overly redundant.  I'll still wonder.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Analysis of "A Prisoner of Things" by Alan Michael Parker

Original poem reprinted online here: "A Prisoner of Things" by Alan Michael Parker
Originally read: December 27, 2012
More information about the Poet: Alan Michael Parker






The one thing I didn't write down in my notes was "anthropomorphism." It's where things are given human attributes.  So the "things" here are given dialogue. The interesting thing about the poem is how the anthropomorphized  items have a "goal" and the speaker seems to be laying about.

For example, the opening lines, "If only this novel were trashier: / if only the hour were true"  I think to believe the colon is used as a syntactical deductive (I don't know what colons are used for off the top of my head except the obvious) where there's a logical consequence.  If the novel was trashier then the hour would be true.  There's this waiting (maybe procrastination period).

So the speaker projects goals onto things.  And with every goal there's some sort of imprint -- a reminder of something "The goal here is to burn, / says the sun / or lose your place, says the wind." "the goal here is to sit here, / says the chair."  "the goal here is to embrace / nothing, says the air."

Conversely, everything that is not a goal is more or less a question or something koanic, "Where were you? / asks the hero on every page," (I wrote down for this "I like the brashness of the[se] line[s].  It's creative and asks me as the reader to come back), "If you knew what you wanted / how would you be surprised, / says the sunset." (koanic line).

So the poem vacillates between "question" and "answer" until the poem culminates to the end "Choose me, says the wave." The funny thing about a wave it that it comes and goes -- so even choosing it has this sort of doubt connotation.

Or this poem could be a funny statement about things.  This is probably the correct way of reading this.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Analysis of "The Poplar" by Richard Aldington

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Poplar" by Richard Aldington
Originally read: December 26, 2012
More information about the Poet: Richard Aldington





Weirdly enough, after reading this again, the first thing that pops up in my head is the use of exact color.  "White" is mentioned four times in the poem referring to "stream" "wind" "lining" "mist" "road" and the image just stays as "description" well perhaps.


"between the white stream and the road"
"I know that the white wind loves you,"
"The white lining of your green petticoat"
"the white mist curling and hesitating / like a bashful lover around your knees."
"And go walking down the white road"

So I've been trying to figure out if there just description or if they add another element (that's not my interpretation to the color) to it.  And all I can think of is "white lining" is the time frame -- it's snowing and it's outlining the poplar's shape.

So, I think it's safe to assume (it's never safe to assume) that white is a positive force in the poem -- purity, kindness, good.  Then there's two mentions of rain.

"blue rain"
"grey rain"

"The sky darts through you like blue rain / and the grey rain drips on your flanks / and loves you"

The image and description is a bit surreal.

I write in my notes, "The shift to 'the physical (human)' I don't know if I find it a bit too much. Poplar = woman or what (how engrossed is he [the speaker] is with the woman though...)"  Well that doesn't fit with the color part so much.  But...[30 minutes of research goes by]


What if...what if the poem is an eckphrastic poem.  Something was a bit off with this poem in terms of construction and focus of color.  Also this line "I have watched you since I was ten" is a bit too specific.  Also, in the poem, the poplar doesn't age.  The poem is too focused as though he was looking at a painting.  (I have a weird sense of this).  Then I looked around the internets and found this:





Seascape by Gustave Courbet completed 1873.  Poplar against the waves.  What if the speaker views this poem, then projects the poplar as a woman; however, the two ideas co-mingle to the last stanza: "There are beautiful beeches / Down beyond the hill / Will you always stand there shivering?"  Then the poem has many  facets -- one, referring to the painting as still frame of time, and two, a reference to that particular woman -- will she always be enthralled with staying the same distant person (according to the speaker).

Probably I went off on a tangent too much, but I found a nice painting along the way.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Analysis of "No Art" by Ben Lerner

Original poem reprinted online here: "No Art" by Ben Lerner
Originally read: December 25, 2012






When I think of "towers" my mind automatically goes to 9/11.  It might be a habit.  Or perhaps that the image is so iconic that it might take a generation to shift the connotation.  There you go -- mind block out of the way.

So, oddly enough, I think the title is effective if you don't know or infer the allusion to "One Art."   It's difficult for me because "One Art" is one of my favorite poems of all time.  "I shan't have lied. It's evident  / the art of losing's not too hard to master / though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster."  I almost was able to quote this from memory...someday. Anyway, the struggle to get over loss happens in the poem "No Art" as well, but not clearly.

If you read a poem through images, then this poem isn't for you or maybe it is.  The strong image is "tower" and the rest of the poem is more of a rumination of "piety in despair."  I do acknowledge the fact that there's a mention of leaves, but the image is used as simile to despair.

I wrote this halfway through the poem, "I don't know about the introduction of the 2nd point of view."  Well, yeah, and no.  I think Past Me was following the thoughts behind the speaker and wasn't quite prepared to have the point of view shift; however, the line "I know that I can call on you / until you're real enough / to turn from."  There's a lot of shifts of tone in these lines wanting the sentimental to disavowing the sentimental.  Most of the time "you" is used as a more call-and-response tone or the speaker referring to him/herself. 

Yet, I feel the usage of "you" poem is a little bit of both.  In the next stanza there's more of a reference to the speaker "I think of myself as having / people, a small people / in a failed state,"  So, technically speaking, the speaker is referring the different aspects of himself as people living in a failed state -- psychologically speaking this could refer to Freudian theory: id, ego, super ego, or Jungian: shadow, animus, anima.  ( I should really study contemproary psychological case studies).

Anyway, the the change to "people" shifts to the last stanza where the speaker doesn't feel alone but, "All my people are with me now / the way the light is."  I earnestly want to believe this is a very redemptive ending, and so I shall until proven otherwise.  Please do or don't.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Analysis of "Waiting on the Corners" by Donald Hall

Original poem reprinted online here: "Waiting on the Corners" by Donald Hall
Originally read: December 25, 2012?
More information about the Poet: Donald Hall






I wrote a lot of "I like" for this poem.   Funnily enough there's a lot of grammar issues within the poem that would make English majors wince.  However, grammar is a tool to standardize communication, but in a poem, miscommunications bring a sort of insight.

For example the first line: "Glass, air, ice, light, and winter cold."  Even though I wrote that "this collection of verbs [they are nouns past me -- you dolt] are mundane."  There's a sense of  two things with the first line -- immediacy (the nouns are right in front of the) and disorder (without a complete sentence there is a lack of context.

As we get further down into the poem there's ambiguous pronouns "They" in line three could refer to the items above or a group of people -- the line has a sense of duality to it as though the scene and the people, or the scene or the people can be referred to.  The "It" is once again ambiguous, yet, refers to Christmas -- yet the tone of the poem at this poem brings an emotional impact to "it" -- a kind of desolation.

I feel that the use of this ambiguous intent (contextualized emotionally by words like "unemployed" [used as an adjective] and "exultation" this sort of wanting to be happy internally but, in reality, life is crap) has greater effectiveness when it shifts onto different and distanced images "the big, idle farms, on the hills, / forest and rivers"

But the last part "of America" loses it for me though because it goes too specific.  The poem because prophetic instead of observant -- and it's a typical twist, but I felt the observations were stronger because of the reiteration of the mundane images used in the beginning which, now, has a changed context in the poem (regardless of place).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Analysis of "Unlikely Materials" by Dean Young

Original poem reprinted online here: "Unlikely Materials" by Dean Young
Originally read: December 24, 2012
More information about the Poet: Dean Young







"I like the stream of consciousness; yet, pure academic poem -- cheeky allusions to x (Orpheus), y (Buddha), Z (teaching), tie together a sense of amusement -- do a hard the[n] soft pivot (or w/e order) in the poem, then boom, Threepenny.  Is it a good thing?  I guess, in truth, nothing in this poems surprises me except for the 'friendly arm' simile."

I know I did a Dean Young before with "Zero Hour," and I probably like his style, but  geez, past me, that's a pretty harsh critique, but rereading the poem and looking back -- it's a fun poem.  The jumps from one idea to another is quite good -- peaches -> branch -> student.  It doesn't make logical connection but there is a connection.

The images and similes are well rendered, "powerful as a baby rattlesnake,"  and "One big pearl, said the Buddha, then glanced / shyly around to make sure no one understood." They are imaginative without being sentimental.

I guess past me and current me sees this poem as -- well common.  Michael Palmer, John Ashberry, James Tate, Jorie Graham, and a whole slew of their ilk and apprentices.  That 1970's - 1980's feel:  reject sentimentality and form, yet be clever, more or less allusive, and not be sentimental and add stream of consciousness.  But I'd rather read this style than the extreme opposite.

It's not that I've seen this poem before, it's just that I've read too much of the style.  I still like it, but it gets predictable.  I don't know what to make of my thoughts about the style.  Maybe in a couple more months I'll think differently.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Analysis of "Brief reflection on killing the Christmas carp" by Miroslav Holub

Original poem reprinted online here: "Brief reflection on killing the Christmas carp" by Miroslav Holub
Originally read: December 24, 2012
More information about the Poet: Miroslav Holub



 I think the humor in this poem happens halfway through the poem.  Oh, crap, I just realized something after rereading this poem.  These lines, "I am just wondering if the carp is the right creature. / A far better creature surely would be one."

Now for my previous analysis I wrote this, "The moral law within me is cute, especially from the perspective of the dying fish."  The perspective is not of they dying fish (which, within it's own right has some symbolic resonance) rather it is discussing, "A far better creature surely would be one."   

So the carp is something that "the poor" looks forward to for Christmas.  Yet, the speaker thinks there must surely be a better, let's say, sacrifice.  For instance, would say something nice before being sacrificed like:

"These are my happiest days; these are my golden days.
Or 
The starry sky above me and the moral law within me,
or 
And yet it moves.
or at least
Hallelujah!"

And I write in the end (previous reading) "I find this funny and blasphemous :)" Yes I did write that happy face.  However, reading this with this new (probably) obvious knowledge there's a "blasphemous :(" tone within it.  Yes, the humor is still there, but there's a sting of someone better would say something, would bless something, would be there before and after death.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Analysis of "It Happens Like This" by James Tate

Original poem reprinted online here: "It Happens Like This" by James Tate
Originally read: December 23, 2012
More information about the Poet: James Tate








I chose this poem because I thought it was funny.  All over the place on the page you'll see things like "This is funny," or "I like this."  Then we get to the part with the police officer.

"This from the Police Officer -- I wonder if this...nevermind, good s***  that the police officer -- the one looking for laws and symbols -- cries when he finds a made up important goat."

After reading this poem a couple more times, I'm torn in a sense.  There's a part of me that wants to see the sociological and psychological implications of revering a symbol of some creation.  However, if I continue to think this way then writing this blog is kind of like I'm revering someone's poem and falling for the same trap.

Also, I haven't thought if I pity the police officer or I relate to him.  I know that the speaker of the poem pities him, "'and we understand why you, more than / anybody, should never touch the Prince.'"  There's a kind of superiority with the line (from the line before "We forgive you, / Officer,"). 

And at the end, once again, I project my own idea about the end, "The ending is good two [too] -- a kind of remorse for those who take the whole symbol thing too seriously -- but not really remorse more of a 'then what?'"

But reading the poem again and again, there's not really a remorse, yeah a "then what" but remorse, no.  I feel that there's a lot going on in the poem, but the further I look at it, the more the speaker of the poem would laugh at me for looking at the situation too deeply (like the citizens).

In poetry, if you're not tricking someone, you are the one usually tricked. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Analysis of "Deadbeat's Recipe for Lamb" by Jay Baron Nicorvo

Original poem reprinted online here: "Deadbeat's Recipe for Lamb" by Jay Baron Nicorvo
Originally read: December 22, 2012
More information about the Poet: Jay Baron Nicorvo



"This poem works by subtext -- what's the subtext -- I don't know, a formulaic idea of a deadbeat deconstructed through a recipe."

So after reading this again, the shifts in tone on the first read is still surprising to me.  I think it's the whole end-stopped line where I'm forced to stop and think of every image in its own personal context.  The first half of the poem has violent action (imagery): "cleave limb from limb. / Hack as if at air. / Always cut to the quick."  This is just a sample.  There's is violence, but there's a subtext of anger -- uncontrolled unknowing anger then the shift.

"soft as seaglass from the sea's forge, / strain in weak like", or "Hear the letting-go of cartilage."  Still somewhat violent, but the language has changed.  The "s" alliteration seems to add a preciseness to the poem -- there's still violence but not chaos in the lines.

However, by the end of the poem (and reading this again), the poem depends on this subtext -- an understanding of anger transitioning to the calm, however, no feeling is actualized in the poem -- only thought up by the reader (or rather me). 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Analysis of "The Love Cook" by Ron Padgett

Original poem reprinted online here: "The Love Cook" by Ron Padgett
Originally read: December 21, 2012
More information about the Poet: Ron Padgett





It's hard to read a cheeky love  poem and come back to the poem and find something differnt.  Of course, as usual, I do put my misinterpretation spin on it, but this poem plays with expectation in a sense and, depending on taste, the poem doesn't cross the line from cheeky to creepy (which love poems do sometimes).

The title set's off the fun.  "The Love Cook" is a little corny, but since the adjective noun combination isn't used too much, I found it interesting to learn more.  I think for poems that the title is a strong noun (added with an adjective sometimes) the poem sets up a definition -- who is this _______, what is this ______.

So I want to know more about this love cook.  The first two lines are disarming, then we get to the line, "in fact / the rest of your clothes" now if the poem went a little farther with this sentiment, then the poem would be more about sex; however, since the poem turns to the speaker giving "have a daquiri", I feel that there's more to the speaker then just wanting sex.

And from that point there's a sense of nuance and double entendre in the poem.  "inside and out" could be seen as a "dirty" image but it's like those 50's innuendo about sex like "We're going to rock this town turn it inside out."

So at the end, the definition of the Love Cook is the "you," "I've got the burners / lit for you, you hungry thing" and what the speaker can do for you.  It's a very subtle definition, but a very obvious want.