What is part one about?
- The first of the book’s three parts, grapples
- …with motherhood and her sick child.
My readings: I read the poem at least 6 x!
- Poem is just a jumble of uneven lines…I read it quickly during a coffee break
- I write the poem in my notebook and mark the punctuation with a red pen.
- Then I divide the poem in full-stop sentences which makes it easier to memorize.
- POV: who is talking to whom?
- Notice the pronouns and does the poet speak directly to the reader?
- I write down all the nouns
- ….(w/without adjectives) to get a sense of the tone.
- Next make a list of the images Ford uses:
- unbreathing scripture is her new born….
- lantern-glow is her prayer…
- 700 dimes ..is equal to the weigh of the per-mature baby….
- lightning… is death that can strike in the hall of mothers.
Opening shot: the first sentence (4 lines of poem) ‘Of a Child Early Born”
- “For the child is born an unbreathing scripture
- And the broken authors wait on one gurney together.”
- Ford uses these words an an invitation
- …just like the opening shot of a movie.
- …a passage into a deeper experience.
- Deep feeling lies at the heart of most good poems.
- Emily Dickinson:
- ” If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold
- …no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.”
- Katie Ford’s poem kept me awake at night.
- I tried to memorize this poem
- …. and my brain would just
- …not accept I was ‘missing a piece’.
- Result look at IPAD Kindle at 0345 am!
- #NowThatIsPoetry !!
- A Child is Born Early….harrowingly intimate and earnest.
- I cannot review all 40 poems
- …but I hope I’ve given you
- a look at this impressive collection.
- I’ve memorized the 1st and 2nd poems. and
- Each time I recite Ford’s poems to myself….
- …as I pour myself a cup of coffee
- I stop…put the coffee creamer down and I’m
- Katie Ford is a great poet!
- I had never heard of Patrick Kavanagh.
- He is the most important Irish poet between
- ….the death of W.B. Yeats and
- ….the rise of Seamus Heaney (review)
- I read when the Irish Times compiled a
- list of favorite Irish poems in 2000
- …10 of Kavanagh’s poems were in the top 50.
- I wanted to know why Kavanagh is so popular.
- His Wikipedia page…..gave me the basics
- He struggled in life and literature.
- An essay about Kavanagh by Seamus Heaney
- …is a good place to start my investigation!
Who was Patrick Kavanagh? (1904–1967) .
- He was born in County Monaghan
- …the son of a small farmer.
- He left school at 13 to work the land.
- He continued to educate himself, reading and writing poetry.
- In 1939 he moved to Dublin and became a freelance writer.
Essay: From Monaghan to the Grand Canal ( Dublin)
- Seamus Heaney portraits Patrick Kavanagh as a man
- who was not compensated enough for what he created.
- The first lines of the essay are a direct quote by Kavanagh:
- “I has never been much considered by the English critics’.
- Heaney admits the overall impression after reading Kavanagh’s
- Collected Poems is a man who knows he can do the real thing
- …but much of the time he is straining and failing.
Strong point: analysis of 3 poems:
- Heaney analyses the poem Inniskeen Road: July Evening.
- It is a love poem to a place written towards the end of the affair.
- Inniskeen is the poet’s birthplace and home for more than 30 years.
- Theme: Solitude: solitude of the ROAD and solitude of the POET.
- Heaney also explains one of Kavanagh’s complex poems:
- Bluebells For Love
- Kavanagh’s most celebrated poem is The Great Hunger.
- It was published in 1942 and is elegy
- a rage against the dying light of a country farmyard.
- Tone: tragic about small-farm misery
- but with a tinge of a comically serious conversation.
- I missed a clear structure in this essay.
- Heaney is a man whose every word should be appreciated
- but I felt I was skipping from poem
- …to personal background
- then to anecdotes about past poets (Brian Merriaman (1747-1805);
- William Carleton (1794-1869); Austin Clarke (1896-1974).
- Suddenly I was in Kavanagh’s autobiography The Green Fool.
- Perhaps Heaney could have reduced the scope
- ..of his essay to just a few
- of Kavanagh’s poems…..and leave it at that.
- I did learn what I was looking for….
- Why was Kavanagh so popular?
- Heaney explains that the
- …Kavanagh expresses a hard buried life that goes
- beyond the feel of the middle-class novelist or poet.
- Kavanagh’s best work rises up
- to the surface under internal pressure.
- You could compare it to a artesian well.
- The pressure from the confining layers inside Kavanagh
- forces the words and emotions upward into his poems.
- Wordsworth believed that
- …the poem is the record of a great emotion,
- later recollected in tranquility.
- After reading Inniskeen Road: July Evening and especially
- Bluebells For Love and The Bluebells have Withered
- …I can say the poems produced
- discoveries, connections and glimmers of expression
- …that I just loved.
- Probably that is what readers like about Kavanagh’s writing.
Horace, Virgil en Varius by Charles François Jalabert
- Hoace’s satires…
- These are very short poems….easy on the eye
- …and they enrich the mind!
- Horace was a Roman poet of the 1st C B.C.
- Caesar Augustus knew with only a powerful army he
- …could not hold power.
- He needed poets to
- ….win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people.
- Like Virgil, Horace proclaims the glory of Caesar Augustus.
- Horace was also a straight talking man
- …trying to teach some life lessons:
- keep your head down
- don’t think the grass is greener on the other side
- avoid stress
- the advantages of a frugal life and plain living (Satire 2.2)
- don’t dabble in politics…and become a prisoner of ambition
- nothing compares with the pleasure of friendship
- it makes no difference what kind of parent you had
- ….if only you are a gentleman (Horace was a freedman’s (slave) son)
- … when an annoying person won’t leave despite hints! (Satire 1.9…funny!)
- Horace writes many…stories about eating an drinking!
- Moral? only way to a man’s heart is thru his stomach!
- Horace was articulate and discrete.
- His strong point was knowing when ‘to shut up’!
- Satires I (pg 3-32) Satires II (pg 33-63)
- are filled with fables, anecdotes and some dicey moments.
What is Horatian satire?
- Satire uses humor, exaggeration,
- ridicule and criticism to create change in others.
- Horatian satire is less harsh and takes a
- comical view at human injustices.
- Horatian satire is not negative.
- Pride and Prejudice is an example
- …of a novel showing Horatian satire.
- Jane Austen makes fun of
- various characters in the story.
- Some characters are simply
- …interested in the marriage
- …but not the relationship.
- Here are a few notes….
Satire 1.1 – Lesson learned: No man lives satisfied with his own
- What is the point piling ($$) up more than you need?
- If you get sick…is there someone who will care for you?
- No one wishes for your recovery
- …they’re waiting for your fortune!
- So let’s put an end to the race of money.
- Greed makes no one satisfied.
- Lead a happy live and…when his time is up
- quit life like …..a guest who has dined well.
Satire 1.2 – Horace wagging finger: avoid vices…especially women!
- Keep your hands off married women
- they are more misery than any real satisfaction
- Don’t damage you reputation.
Satire 1.3 – A wise man…. does not criticize faults of others…no one is free from faults!
- Description of Sardinian Tigellius singer and friend of Julius Caesar faults.
- Description of a lover blind to his girlfriend’s unattractive defects.
- Moral: beam in one’s eye – ne should not criticize the faults of someone else before correcting the faults within oneself.
- “…examine your own faults with eyes covered in ointment
- …in the case of friends’ faults your eyesight (is) sharper than an eagle’s…”
- Moral: when dealing with a friend do not show disgust of his defects …this is tactless.
- Turn defects upside down: penny-pinching?…no just careful with money!
- This attitude binds friends together and keeps their friendship.
- “If I am telling lies may my head
- …be spattered with white crow’s droppings…” (Satire 1.8)
- This was a quick read …3 hrs.
- Horace gives us many wise lessons
- …be it at times very wordy and misogynistic!
- Core message:
- live life with integrity
- live life free from guilt
- have the love of friends.
- #MustRead Classic
Sharon Olds – poet
- She won Pulitzer Prize poetry 2013
- She Won T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry 2012 which what is considered
- to be one of the world’s most important poetry awards.
- Her prize winning collection was Stag’s Leap.
- When her husband of 30 years left her for another woman,
- Sharon Olds wrote poems as a way of coping with the heartbreak.
- Mother-of-two Sharon Olds, 70, split with her husband when she was 55.
- Miss Olds promised her children she would not publish
- …anything about the divorce for 10 years afterwards.
- She finally unveiled the collection, entitled Stag’s Leap
- after the former couple’s favourite wine – 15 years later.
- I’ve discovered several literary reviews.
- …that offer me some great reading opportunities.
- The Sewanee Review is one one them.
- It is an American literary journal established in 1892.
- It is the oldest continuously published quarterly in the United States.
- It publishes original fiction and poetry, essays, reviews, and literary criticism.
- This morning I read Sharon’s poem To Our Miscarried One, Age Fifty Now.
- Having been the long awaited baby after several miscarriages
- …I can only imagine what my mother was enduring
- …that she never expressed.
- Sharon Olds expresses the heartbreak.
- If you are not a regular reader of poetry
- …I hope this poem will convince you to read poems.
- They are the heart….speaking.
To Our Miscarried One, Age Fifty Now
Every twenty years, I turn
and address you, not knowing who you were
or what you were. You had been three months
in utero, when our friend came to visit
with her virus which I caught and you died—or it may be
your inviableness had been conceived with you—
you might have been, all along, going to
last fourteen weeks, though I had felt,
as we lay on the living-room floor, the couch
pushed in front of the door at the pure gold
hour at the core of your big sister’s
nap, that you had taken deep.
I kept my feet up on the couch an hour—there was a
recipe, for a boy, then:
abstain until the egg emerges, then
send the long-tailed whippersnapper, the
boy-making sperm, in, to get there
before the girls, who are slow but if they
get there early can wait. The boy
we conceived a month after you died
made, years later,
an ink X
on a cushion of that sofa, as if to declare
war on sisters and mothers, the oppressors
of the male. Hello, male, or female,
or both, or neither. Hi mystery,
hi matter, hi spirit moving through matter.
Twenty years ago, when your father
left me, I wanted to hold hands with you,
my friend in death, the dead one
I knew best—and not at all—
who had deserted this life or been driven from it,
I your garden, oasis, desert.
And I’d never laid down a stone for you,
you seemed like a byway on the path from your sister
to your brother. What was half-formed
in you, what was partial—how close I could have
felt to you if I had known what a hidden
story I still was to myself. Dear one,
I feel as if now you are my elder, having died—
though without having breathed—so much earlier than I.
By the time I saw you, you were in the water
already, the sacred toilet-water green
of your grave. Let me call you kin, lost one,
let me call you landsman.
- Read all about this epic poem on the Wikipedia page The Aeneid
- I am as exhausted as Aeneas in this photo above!
- ….too exhausted to ruminate further about the poem.
- It has been a long 2 months
- …no binge reading but slowly just chapter by chapter.
September 27, 2018
Shipwrecked, tired and wrapped in a cloud of mist by his mother Venus..Aeneas stumbles into Dido’s palace.
The gods above discuss the hero’s fate: this romance between two star crossed lovers…is doomed.
October 24, 2018
Never a dull moment on Sicily!
Athletic games, slithering snake over burial mound
Goddess Iris throws flaming tourch in the boats
and when we thought we’d seen enough…down comes
the god of sleep and shake dew off a bough.
Poor Palinurus falls asleep at the rudder and drowns….but nobody missed him!
October 26, 2018
Ch 6: Turning point in The Aeneid: From the underworld
Anchises (Aeneas’s father) commands Aeneas goes further and follow his destiny.
November 15, 2018
Ch 7 and 8
Modern readers enjoy ch 1-6 but for Virgil’s original readers the good part of the book begins now…war!
Who would have thought a war in this classic would start b/c somebody shot an arrow at the pet deer of Sylvia.
November 15, 2018
Ch 8 Re-read because I fell asleep with the audio book playing…missed a few things: Aeneid’s dream about a white sow and 30 piglets, Vulcan vomiting flaming fire searching for his stolen bulls and we met important character for the last chapters…Pallas the son of King Evander
#NeverDullMoment with Virgil
November 18, 2018
I’ve survived 3 generations: father (Anchieses) hero (Aeneas) child (Ascanius)
jilted lover (Dido) and whirlwind trip to see old friends in Hades
death of a pet deer….war drums…more dreams scenes than I can count!
I must finish this today!
November 19, 2018
Ch 12 grand finale!
Turnus has killed Pallas (…beloved friend of Aeneas)
Turnus is determined to fight Aeneas.
Loved by Turnus but betrothed to Aeneas, Lavina
becomes the prize for which the leaders contend in a bloody tribal war.
Aeneas leaves for the fight departs from his son
…’kisses him through his helmet’. (strange)
The fight begins.
Aeneas attacks Turnus… he is down for the count.
Aeneas hesitates for a moment but seeing the
sword belt of Pallas gleaming on Turnus’ shoulder
….he deals the final blow and kills his opponent.
End of story!
- You know how once in a while you run into a book that’s
- so good you don’t want it to end,
- so you draw read it very slowly, drawing it out?
- For me, this is one of those books.
- I just had a few pages more to read
- ….but stopped and started to end my night’s reading last night and
- ….went to bed.
- I just did not want Jimmy to leave me last night.
- James Wright is one of the best poets I’ve ever read.
- (Seamus Heaney…is the very best!)
- His poems are written in plain language that can connect with the reader.
- Too many poets are cryptic
- ….they think the purpose of poetry is to be cryptic.
- Poetry should be plain and simple
- …but that does not mean it cannot be complex.
- The book packs an emotional punch without cliche.
- Blunt succeeds in conveying a portrait of James Wright’s
- frenzied urgency, his depression, struggle with alcoholism
- …and the obsession to know what makes us tick.
James Wright (1927-1980)
- He was the poet of the downtrodden in mind and body,
- the castaways of society,
- the commonplace victims trapped in the poor streets.
- He did not walk around, observing the world and
- coining apt analogies for what appears most striking.
- He suffered to express is emotions….
- He had an appetite for new materials during sabbaticals in Europe
- …especially his beloved Verona.
- “ I’d rather be dead in Verona than immortal in Ohio.”
- He suffered from depression and his poems were
- his newly invented safe rooms.
- Places we might not have noticed until Wright showed them to us.
- A poem has physical landscapes….”my grave, my ditch of defeat.”
- Martins Ferry, Ohio was the center of James Wright’s poetic imagination
- …hardscrabble existance.
- It was a touchstone and other landscapes are tried against it.
- He gives vivid impression of grief and longing.
- …when he wrote an elegy for the scholar Philip Timberlake.
- He was one of Wright’s first mentors in 1949.
- The title is in itself a poem… What Can a Man Bear.
- It is sorrow distilled into eight lines:
All afternoon, I take my time to
I am too cold to cry against the
Of roots and stars, drifting above
Why is this poem to poignant?
- James Wright seems to….
- extend a hand to the reader and say:
- “Come here, with me and lets share
- …this experience of language.”
- Reading this book these last 5 days
- …felt like breathing pure oxygen.
- Being immersed with such a troubled and
- …brilliant poet has shaken me to the core.
- Wright’s poems contain a density of emotion that stirs the soul.
- Who did Wright emulate? Meister Eckhart.
- Wright reminds himself often of Eckahrt’s way toward an orderly life:
- “…simply to do the next thing.”
- Wright was tormented by depression and loneliness
- …not of the body, but loneliness of the soul.
- I think the title of one of his
- …most famous collections sums it up:
- “The Branch Will Not Break”
- Author: Danez Smith
- Title: Don’t Call Us Dead
- Published: 2017
- Genre: poems
- Trivia: Short list National Book Award 2017
- Trivia: Awarded Forward Prize in London 18 September 2018
- Once I figured out who ‘WE” were and
- what “HERE” meant and
- where SOMEWHERE and SOMEPLACE is…
- in the first poem ‘Summer, Somehere’
- my mind wanted to race through the entire collection immediately.
- Take the time to read each poem at least 10 x…let them sink in.
- Danez Smith has broken through the formal poetry rules and created a
- poetry that is unique …all its own.
- There is a crude but eloquent energy in every piece of writing
- Danez Smith is a meteorite of the poetry world.
“Don’t Call Us Dead,” landed on the longlist for the National Book Award 2017.
Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers)
- Don’t Call Us Dead wrestles with what it means to
- be a young black gay man in America.
- It begins with a lengthy poem — “summer, somewhere” —
- that imagines a utopic afterlife for
- victims of racism and police brutality.
- This is not language…it is music in your head!
- Here is the first stanza of the poem…..amazing!
somewhere, a sun. below, boys brown
as rye play the dozens & ball, jump
in the air & stay there. boys become new
moons, gum-dark on all sides, beg bruise
-blue water to fly, at least tide, at least
spit back a father or two. i won’t get started.
history is what it is. it knows what it did.
bad dog. bad blood. bad day to be a boy
color of a July well spent. but here, not earth
not heaven, we can’t recall our white shirts
turned ruby gowns. here, there’s no language
for officer or law, no color to call white.
if snow fell, it’d fall black. please, don’t call
us dead, call us alive someplace better.
we say our own names when we pray.
we go out for sweets & come back.