Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Virtual Anthology Installment- Sixteen

Dylan Thomas "A Process in Weather of the Heart"

Dylan Thomas "In My Craft or Sullen Art"

Dylan Thomas "The Hand that Signed the Paper"

 Ezra Pound,  from The Cantos: Notes for CXVII ET SEQ.
(see below)

Djuana Barnes  "Transfiguration"
(see below)


Notes for CXVII ET SEQ.

M’amour, m’amour
                 what do I love  and
                           where are you?
That I lost my center
                        fighting the world.
The dreams clash
                         and are shattered—
and that I tried to make a paradiso

I have tried to write paradise

Do not move
      Let the wind speak
                  that is paradise.

Let the Gods forgive what I
                      have made
Let those I love try to forgive
                   what I have made.

-Ezra Pound



The prophet digs with iron hands
Into the shifting desert sands.

The insect back to larva goes;
Stuck to the seed the climbing rose.

To Moses’ empty gorge, like smoke
Rush inward all the words he spoke.

The knife of Cain lifts from the thrust;
Abel rises from the dust.

Pilate cannot find his tongue;
Bare the tree where Judas hung.

Lucifer roars up from earth;
Down falls Christ into his death.

To Adam back the rib is plied,
A creature weeps within his side.

Eden’s reach is thick and green;
The forest blows, no beast is seen.

The unchained sun, in raging thirst,
Feeds the last day to the first.

-Djuna Barnes

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Virtual Anthonlogy Installment- Thirteen

William Butler Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium"

John Donne, "A Valediction of Weeping" 

John Donne, "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning"

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 94 "They that have power to hurt and will do none"

William Shakespeare, Sonnet130 "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun"

On Criticism: The Seal Mother Effect

At first this title may seem playfully engaging, hopefully by the end of this essay you will come to realise the onerous connotation and find its utterance as scabrous as any slew of vulgarities.

“The Seal Mother Effect” is among the most pernicious and damaging tactics in crippling the art of criticism. It begins by way of the poet’s explanation of their poem before it is read. The incident, I am bout to recount, actually occurred in one of those disastrous workshops offered on the graduate level for thriving would-be poets and barely surviving actual poets. One goes around the table and before the poem is read we are given the kernel of impetus to the attempted piece we are about to hear: “This is about my dead Mother.”. The poem goes on to speak of some bizarre fable which our would-be poet stretches to parallel to the loss of his mother to a mother’s seal’s plight (a sad occasion, I am certain, I think, though I am stifling bits of laughter at what seems to be a mockery of memoriam). At the end of the poem, the class the would-poets and poets alike are granted the floor to criticize a poem regarding someone’s dead mother. There are very few of us, if any, who take sport in openly mocking someone’s loss over a parent. Even the most hard-hearted check their tongues, waiting for a moment away from the crowd to indulge in skewering a horribly heartfelt remembrance of someone’s mother with a pantomime of beating seal pups upon the adjacent hallway’s floor. When you “seal mother” a poem you have guaranteed that any public criticism of that poem is crippled by social mores that supercede taste. This does not protect it, one must remember, from those whose courtesy extends to just out of  sight.

Currently, the most public “seal mothering” we in the poetry world have been privy to is by the newly anointed poet laureate of the United States, Natasha Trethewey. I would like to call attention to her acts of ‘seal mothering’:

In regards to her book, “The Native Guard”: “And so, for me, this was a way of trying to tell another history, a lost or a forgotten or a little-known history about these black soldiers who played an important part in American history."
Anyone willing to run roughshod over a series of poems that seek to address a grievous social injustice? No?

In regards to her book “Beyond Katrina”: "Oddly, not until after Katrina did I come to see that the history of one storm, Camille -- and the ever-present possibility of others -- helped to define my relationship to the place from which I come," Anyone willing to wade into the natural horrors of  Katrina to pick at moments of trivialization? No, well there’s more.

In regards to her writing: “I started writing poems as a response to that great loss, much the way that people responded, for example, after 9/11,” Anyone, feel comfortable co-opting a National tragedy?

She seal mothers herself in the broadest terms, defying criticism by boldly aligning herself with topics that are much too sensitive to impugn.

To me seal mothering is a cowardly approach to art and a pessimistic view of art’s consumers. It should be avoided at all costs. Furthermore, my arms are tired from flogging a metaphorical seal.

-d w Stojek

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Panjandrum Poetry Series: Father


Not even a prayer in this wind of hollow and change,
Will down my Father's house or bring stillness to the trees,
The hands that held my hands will not build my church,
Or parish the sun in a gold gibbous case.

That heart outside my heart--a tried, winded, simple space
Where love lived low and galed inside black irises.
Stern, taciturn, and taller than pines; I stood
at one knee and waited for the oak to bend.

Unable to stand through the long blue day,
kneeling in wrested piety, I see the ignoble weep,
And learning that men are not as tall as these,
Whispering to the wind, I bring stillness to the trees.

                                       ~Marylou Canevari