Boss Cupid—Thom Gunn

This collection was published in 2000 and I have had it on my shelf for a while and I’m completely guilty of not having gotten to it. I so very often do this, and I am sure many other book lovers do the same—


 The back cover says that the poems are “…of fluent grace, as formal as they are relaxed.” This is a true thing.

The poem I enjoyed most was Arethusa Saved for this bit:

But Artemis opened

                                   many earth-entrances,

cracks underneath her

                                    hair-thin but deep. 

Down them the girl slips

                                    soaking out of sight

And I found the entire poem incredibly vivid but the line Down them the girl slips really got my heart beating. I’ve always had—and continue to have—a peculiar love of unusual syntax. Also S sounds.

Here is the poem in its entirety, however, keep in mind that the online version is not the format of the print version; every second line is tabbed, as you can see by looking at the section I quoted.

I am also quite fond of the poems Hi and Rapallo.

I found the cover quite interesting in the context of not only the poet, his life and experiences, and the fact that it was painted by Lucian Freud—Interior with Hand Mirror.

It’s pretty intricate, the type of looking-in that poets need to do. It is a good choice of a cover. The poet obviously has a clear look at life, and writes about it through that filter in a matter-of-fact way but at the same time, is delicate when necessary. I can’t tell you that he is a confessional poet but I read that he acknowledges many of his poems are about his life. As always, more research is required.

Happy reading—

AF

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Smart—Bruce Bennett

I first read this poem in my copy of Writing Poems, page 92, but after Googling it, I was able to find it here:

http://poemhunter.blogspot.ca/2007/04/smart.html

Thanks Google and Poemhunter!

I love this poem. Writing Poems was part of a poetry class curriculum (as you might already be privy to from past blog posts) and the poem has stayed with me all these years. I can’t help think about the fact that foxes might do what the poem describes. Most humans are not as smart as that fox. I was struck by this poem when I read it the first time and I wrote “Wow, wow, wow! Is it true?” in black ink right below it. (Yes I am guilty of writing in my books).

When I went back to read it again, I liked it less for the short-short lines that sort of break everything up, but I have to think about the weighing out of breaths, which is important too. I might study it a little more and scan it to dissect it a bit better. Personally, I don’t write in either very short or very long lines and I might like to try. I seem to have medium length lines, and I want to break away from that. I’ll try some super short (Abecedarians are good practice!) and maybe some long Alexandrine lines or something.

I still don’t know if foxes really get rid of their fleas in this way. It makes total sense to me but. You know. I’m a person.

It drives me crazy how people have this notion that animals are lesser beings because they are not as smart or have no feelings. I am pretty sure that anyone who has ever had a pet can say that they are intelligent and have feelings. My cats have feelings for sure, and are smart enough to get extra food from me pretty much every day. I used to have a dog and she was mostly always intelligent. So. Animals are amazing and this poem proves it. If I ever have a debate with someone about the subject, I’ll show this poem in the hopes that it will gain some favour.

Also, crows use tools. Google it.

The End

Have a happy day reading poems!

Advice for a Stegosaurus—Jessica Goodheart

Oh internet.

You’ll never know where you will end up. Sometimes I want to do a bit of research and I wind up watching videos of baby sloths hanging onto boxes, or dogs talking, or kittens chasing laser pointer dots. I get so mad at myself that I turn off my WIFI—and then I turn it back on a minute later because I remembered what I wanted to look up in the first place. Vicious. Circle.

So—on one of my internet escapades, I found this poem at:

http://poemhunter.blogspot.ca/search/label/Jessica%20Goodheart

The poem is four verses of three lines, and the concept is really peculiar but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Writing a poem of advice for a dinosaur? The title hooked me and I had to read it.

I like the second line: “the hot throat of the volcano,” as well as the second to last: “and armored eye-lids.” I am not usually a fan of short lines as I may have mentioned but there is such musicality and the images are fabulous. You can really get the rhythm of that dinosaur. But does the dinosaur need advice? Why not. We could all use a bit of advice now and again, even if you are and extinct and have no hope of ever receiving said advice. Unless you have a Tardis. And a really big leash.

And then there’s the likelihood of allegory, but you can discover that for yourself! Read the poem and enjoy!

 

The Kingfisher—Mark Tredinnick

From the Global Poetry Anthology 2011, page 40. This poet won a 50,000$ prize! Amazing!

This is a ten-line poem which has been turned sideways on the page to accommodate the long lines and indents. I appreciate it because of the way I have to change the orientation of the book to read it. I have to change to read it. Actually, it might be my first time seeing it in a poetry compilation. I’ve seen it in art+poetry books but rarely in books with only poetry. It’s different and refreshing.

To speak of the poem itself, it is captivating. I like how the process of flying is like a self-projection, as if the bird imagines where it wants to be and just flies there. I love how it is described as “a dark electricity”. The poem is so compressed and well crafted and it kindly describes my own thoughts feelings about birds. I love poems that tell me something that I have not thought of!

I adore the last two lines of the poem. I don’t get to say this often, but I admire the poet’s use of that evanescent moment when one sees something as simple as a bird flying—but that the moment is grand and awe-inspiring. The awe definitely shows through here, without sounding too floaty, hifalutin, or—I’m sorry to say this—like a stoned hippy. It has great balance and images. The poet is Australian and from what I have read in articles, he writes about about nature and the natural world. I don’t know if that makes him a nature poet. I’ll have to investigate.

I have a little problem with “a plump/trim elegance of intent” because I feel like plump and trim together make one big-tiny oxymoron. BUT, in defence of that, I can see why a kingfisher with its bowed belly would be plump, and I definitely see and like the trim elegance of intent. So I’m just not sure about that little gray area. I’m sure my poems are 100% gray areas but. You know.

Happy reading!

AF

Cut—Sylvia Plath

I decided to write about a poem I have mixed feelings for. It is called Cut.

I like a lot of things about the poem. The comparisons that are being made are wonderful: the cut as a hinge, the Indian/pilgrim, turkey wattle, the homunculus, and the blood as soldiers where the speaker calls them ”red coats” on line 20. (Shall I say Plath instead of the speaker since she is considered a confessional poet?) These are all great images, so vivid. I am a fan of imagistic poems, I guess that is obvious.

I don’t know if I have just made it up from my reading experience, but I call this sort of poem “domestic confessionalism” since it has to do with the home/the place where Plath was cutting an onion. Regular confessional poetry I feel is maybe more internal? I could be totally off my rocker, but the sub-classes are different in my mind. I should really do more research on that. Always more research.

http://www.internal.org/Sylvia_Plath/Cut

Above is a link to the poem, which is ten verses of four lines so short that sometimes they’re only one word. Sometimes poems with short lines like that get choppy and interrupt the reading (for effect or not!) but I have to say that this one reads well. I can hear a sarcastic female voice reading the poem. Oh wait. That’s me.

Moving on to the things that I don’t like about the poem.

Verse 4—The bottle of pink fizz. I am assuming this is some sort of medication or seltzer to fight nausea from that time. It just catches me up because I don’t know what it is. The next thing is the thing that really makes my skin crawl, the rhymes ill, pill, kill in the sixth verse. ::writhing:: But then it is all made better when I read the line “The balled | Pulp of your heart”. That’s a beaut.

Last thing—the second to last line of the poem ”Dirty girl”. I get the gist of what it means I just don’t like it.

So there you have it!

Next month I will be writing about animal poems! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Actually none of those animals :3 but come and check it out anyway!

Best,

AF

In Plaster—Sylvia Plath

This poem is from my pink Everyman Plath book, page 110. Such an intense poem, and truly one of my favourite poems of all time. This poem describes a relationship between the speaker/patient and the personified & female cast. What an imagination. Seriously. One of the things I loved about visiting Edinburgh is that no matter what bookstore I went into, there were a f*ton of Sylvia Plath books, not like in Montreal where there is MAYBE a copy of Ariel, and not even the restored edition. I had to special order that one. Blackwell’s totally had ALL OF THE SP THINGS including a book of her drawings which I did not buy because my suitcase was already full of books (very literally) before I even got a quarter of the way through my trip. But now I know that drawing book exists, and I did spend some time flipping through it. She was good at drawing random plant pods. And I love the one she did of Ted. OKAY–so to return: I found a link to the poem online.

http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/sylviaplath/1401

There are eight seven-line stanzas and some one of my favourite lines is: “She lay in bed with me like a dead body” from the first verse. It is creepy and vivid. I also love “I gave her a soul, I bloomed out of her as a rose | Blooms out of a vase of not very valuable porcelain” from the third verse. The two images juxtaposed are perfection and I love how it is specified that the vase is made from not very valuable porcelain.

I suppose it is time to tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with Sylvia Plath. I adore some of her poems but there are others that I don’t get. Maybe it is because I am not nearly as sophisticated as she was, and maybe it’s because, I don’t know. I don’t know why, but maybe time and place have removed the meaning in certain cases. And it is not for lack of trying. I have done research! But maybe some poems have just sprung for writing exercises like: write a poem in the perspective of a bee talking to a flower, and I read it and I have no idea what is going on, and then one day when the Poetry Fairy comes along and puts a lightbulb over my head, it will click and I will rave angrily at myself for not seeing it sooner. So. That’s a thing. Great—so—take a look at this poem—it’s a good one—if a little bit morbid.

Ta for now, AF

Daddy—Sylvia Plath

This is from a pink well-worn Everyman compilation, page 191.

The poem is 16 five-line verses.

The first verse! This is one of my favourite Sylvia Plath poems and I love it. Well—most of it. I like many verses for their musicality and very intense moments but had too look up things like Nauset, and Taroc. Nevertheless, she’s brilliant—almost always. I feel like at the time that she was writing she could get away some of the rhymes, like root and through, that I don’t feel anyone could get away with today, unless they were well hidden and kept well away of the end stop. Camouflaged.

I am attracted to the five line stanza though sometimes when reading it aloud you want to keep running and ignoring the stanzas, which I think she does so herself, if I am not mistaken. There is a YouTube audio/video of it, of course it is just someone making an image montage with her voice thrumming the poetry. I say thrumming because I have a recording (which I pulled of a cassette (yes, a cassette!) recording dug out of the Concordia library, which I digitized) and she is a really sad reader, and I am sad to say, droning. But she was depressed, her death was a testament to that—

I am not going to say too much more because all you really need to do is Google the poem and you can get a dozen readings of it.

As a side note, twice I have tried to get through Sylvia’s journals, and twice I have failed. The first time I got so depressed that I walked to a second hand book store and sold my copy, just to get it off my hands. I am a bit nuts like that, I insist on reading things from cover to cover. It really made me feel what she must have been feeling all the time. I recovered, and a few years later, bought another copy hoping I was mistaken about its impact on me and assumed that with age I have had to become less empathetic, but no. I quickly became depressed and now the journals are haunting me from the Plath section—behind the glass door of my bookcase. Sigh!

Second side note—Frieda Hughes, her daughter, is an excellent poet. I just bought a book of hers not too long ago and I like what I have read to far. Very intense, but good.