Posts Tagged ‘The Waste Land

02
Nov
16

Poetry Assignments: The Book (Online): New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions

POETRY ASSIGNMENTS

Brian Warner's The Cave

“The Cave” by Brian Warner. Used with the permission of Brain Warner.

or 100 Jackhammers for the Poet with Writer’s Block;

or 100 Ways to Jumpstart the Engine;

or 100 Pencil Exercises;

or 100 Ways to Stimulate Your Next Wine, Cheese, & Poetry Night

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Table of Contents

Introduction

  1. Finding the First, Discovering the Middle, & Chasing the End
  2. Imaginary Worlds
  3. Science, the Universe, Time, & Other Evolutions
  4. Fun with Letters, Words, Language, & Languages
  5. Forms: Obscure, Updated, & Invented
  6. New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions
  7. Miscellany; Trying to Relate the Unrelated; or These Gotta Go Some Place . . . So Here
  8. Stupid Money, Dumb Politicians, & Celebrating America
  9. Responses; or Calling All Poets (Dead & Alive); or Talking to Eternity
  10. It’s All About You

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New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions

Verbal Cubism

Here’s a phrase that probably exists, & if it doesn’t, it should. I’m sure it’s from somewhere. Let me know if you know.

One of the aspects of cubism is using multi-perspectives in space & time on one canvas. Consider Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' x 7' 8". Acquired through the Lille P. Bliss Bequest. (333.1939) Image licenced to Tom Holmes HOLMES, TOM by Tom Holmes Usage : - 3000 X 3000 pixels (Letter Size, A4) © Digital Image (c) The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas, 8′ x 7′ 8″. Acquired through the Lille P. Bliss Bequest. (333.1939)
Image licenced to Tom Holmes HOLMES, TOM by Tom Holmes
Usage : – 3000 X 3000 pixels (Letter Size, A4)
© Digital Image (c) The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource
Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) © ARS NY. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on Canvas, 8’x7’8″. Acquired through the Lille P. Bliss Bequest (333.1939). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, U.S.A. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY. Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Can we do this in poetry? Consider the following Natasha Sajé poem from her book Bend (Tupelo P, 2004):

   I See 

   the cats playing with a rose fallen
   from a wreath: a stiff silvery stem 

   topped by a dark pink ball.
   How curiously they bat the rose, 

   sniffing it with glee, and that’s what
   makes me bend, and see that it’s really 

   the long dried tail and entrails of a rat.
   I laugh: If rose & rat are not so far 

   apart, then what can’t be mistaken
   for something that it’s not? 

   The turn’s a way of telling me
   to make each breath a self-revision.


   “I see” from Bend by Natasha Sajé, published by Tupelo Press. Copyright 2004 by Natasha Saje. All rights 
   reserved. Reproduced by permission of Tupelo Press.

The assignment then: Bend as many perspectives as you can into a poem – a poem to not exceed one page in length (consider it your canvas). And please, don’t rely too heavily on line breaks.

Helpful hints to achieve this assignment: pretend you are inside Picasso’s mind or Einstein’s mind.

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GemALEgedicht – The Pintist School of Poetry

Let me tell you a story of the forgotten school of poetry that Ralph Black & I (Tom Holmes) have recently discovered. This school arrived in the late nineteenth century & early twentieth century in a few dank, town pubs in Northern England, Scotland, & on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland. This poetic movement wasn’t a response to anything, it grew organically from the hops & yeast in Pints of Ale.

The Pintists, as they were called, believed in writing poetry whilst drinking pints of ale. Though they preferred to call their composing of poetry in this manner as Pinting. This school of poetry held firm in their beliefs of Pinting: everything could be explained by using only objects in the bar as a metaphor for the human condition; they believed the bartender was a high priest, or priestess; and their muse, their god, was represented in the below picture painted by Brian Warner.

Brian Warner's One More Time

The painting “One More Time” by Brain Warner is from the collection of Tim and Trinity Barnosky and is used with their permission.

Yes, the Pintists held strong til they read these lines from The Waste Land:

   HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
   HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME

These lines shook many Pintists to the core. They believed they had been stagnating by drinking only one ale. The Pintists slowly fractured. First came the experimentalist who started binging on the German Ales. Then some of them even split into a smaller group of fringe avant gardists who downed Indian Pale Ales whilst writing their poems (& they were sure to use “whilst” as often as possible in their poems because they believed “whilst” had etymological connections to “whistle”, which they thought keen because they were always wetting their whistle, which later became their underground, hip word for pencil, because the pencil, they believed, couldn’t create unless it was wet with ale. (Some deep-hearted, avant garde, IPA Pintists actually took this literally, & dipped their pencils into their pints of IPA, like a fountain pen into an inkwell, as a ritual before they wrote. A few years later, these poor soles, these writers in the primes of their youths & artistic expressions, died from lead poisoning. This sorrowed all Pintists, & they slowly vanished like the sputtering of an empty keg.)).

At the same time everyone was reading the lines “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME”, & whilst the avant garde IPA Pintists were slowly killing themselves, feminists got involved in the movement. They believed, & rightly so, that they too could drink as much & write as well as any of the male Pintists. This group of women would become known as the Ale-Wives. And whilst they believed in the Pintist school of poetry, they also believed the words “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME” was a good suggestion to all that it is time to go home. The Ale-Wives stressed the importance that there are certainly a few things outside of the pub that are important to consider. They also stressed the cyclic nature of life – all good things must come to an end, but tomorrow is just the beginning of more good things.

Around the time of the rise of the Ale-Wives, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, & Gertrude Stein were in Dublin, Ireland, trying to raise rent money for James Joyce. They met Joyce in a bar in Dublin to give him rent money so he wouldn’t be evicted & so he could concentrate on his writing. Joyce was so touched by the love & concern that he started buying drinks to celebrate this act of love. Eventually, when the rent money was almost all gone, Joyce started buying drams of ale instead of pints. He was trying to conserve what little money he had left. At which point, Ezra asked Joyce if he had heard or read anything of the Pintists. Joyce responded, “Yes, they are so dramatic & grandiose in their expositions. What they need to do is start drinking these drams, like us!” Soon the minimalist school of Pintists was born, & they called themselves the Pintalists. The Pintalists lasted the night, & the school was never heard from again. Though one poem was recently discovered by a Pintologist from Brockport, NY. This Pintologist was in SUNY Buffalo’s library of archives doing research on Ezra Pound. Whilst going through Pound’s journals, he found a cocktail napkin with a poem on it. He believes the poem was written during the night of the Pintalists. The poem reads:

   In a Tavern in Dublin, Ireland

   The apparition of these faces –
   bubbles on a dram of ale.

Ok. Your assignment is to revive the school of Pintists. You will find a bar & compose poems whilst drinking pints of ale, um, I mean, you will involve yourself in Pinting.

Go forth.

Oh, one last thing, all Pintists believed in good tipping practices. They believed it healed the soul. They believed the better they tipped their high priests & priestesses, the less hungover they would be in the morning.

Ok. Now, go forth.

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Katzenjammer Poesie, Jeg har tommermenn Poesi, Katza Poezja, Mamurluk Poezija, or Hangover Poetry

There’s a somewhat new & most unique book out: The Wrath of Grapes: A Complete Hangover Cookbook & Guide to the Art of Creative Suffering (XOXOX Press, 2004). In a smart & fun & creative manner, the author, Patrick Meanor, educates us in ways to deal with our hangovers. And it will be most useful for us poets, since this book is culturally aware & informs us through poems, poets, writers, movies, music, etc.

One of the things The Wrath of Grapes notes is that there is very little written about the hangover, creatively or medically. But it does note that Peter Fallow, the anti-hero from The Bonfire of the Vanities, is “the first official Hangover Hero in American literature.”

Your assignment is not to get drunk & hungover, but to be on the forefront of a new genre: Hangover Poetry. This will be a poetry that deals with the hangover on some level: as a starting point for a metaphor, a place to turn a metaphor towards, a launching point for something else – but it must include the hangover. We need to see what we can learn from the hangover? how can it inform us? etc. . . .

A sub-genre would be poems that were written while hungover, but this is not advised.

Here’s an excerpt from an early part of The Wrath of Grapes that suggests something you should not do when hungover:

Don’t study the physical habits of your pets, especially the dog. Cats are mercifully enigmatic and won’t evoke too much paranoid response from you, although their piercing stare could unnerve you if you observe too long. Dogs, however, especially their incredibly quick eyebrow movements, should be avoided. Their eyebrow activity may pull you into the emotions that they seem to be expressing and will exhaust your mind by trying to follow their quickly changing feelings from sadness-to-happiness-to-fear-to-illness-to-daffiness, and so on ad infinitum. This is called “dog’s eyes syndrome.” It’s the old problem of what poets call the “pathetic fallacy”; that is, projecting human emotions into simple animal actions that mean nothing – which is really pathetic. Their eyebrows are probably adjusting to light refraction since most dogs are half blind anyway and they’re simply trying to see you. But don’t think about that too much, either.

(Patrick Meanor quote from The Wrath of Grapes is used with permission of XOXOX Press. Please visit their website at www.xoxoxpress.com.)

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22
Aug
15

Quick Notes on John Berryman

These are mostly notes and observations I am writing for myself as I prepare for the Contemporary Poetry section of my comps. I will try to do this with each poet I read. Maybe the notes will be useful to others, too. Again, they are notes and observations. They are not thesis-driven arguments.

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John BerrymanJohn Berryman (1914 – 1972) was an American poet and a contemporary with Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, and Sylvia Plath, as well as Delmore Schwartz, whose death was very troubling to him as can be evidenced from the many initial poems of book VI of The Dream Songs. Loss is a main theme of The Dream Songs, the collection I will focus on. But The Dream Songs are neither dreams nor songs. The dreams are more like fantasies of what might have been, is, or could be, and many of the fantasies are dark and troubling. Despite the structure of the poems, which usually consist of three six-line stanzas that play off iambic rhythms and rhyme, the poems are too complicated to be sung. There are other complications, too, and these complications grow out of the Modernist poetry tradition.

What is often said of Modernist poetry (and maybe Modernism as a whole) is that it is difficult, complicated, and frustrating, and Berryman’s Dream Songs certainly frustrate. The syntax is complicated and jarring, there are varying speech idioms, and the speaker of the poems (Henry) will refer to himself in the first-person, often in the third-person, and sometimes even the second-person. I find these poems more challenging than Modernist poetry, even The Waste Land. There’s a lot to say about these poems, but I think the opening poem might provide a good gloss of the poems, as a whole.

     Huffy Henry hid     the day,
     unappeasable Henry sulked.
     I see his point, – a trying to put things over.
     It was the thought that they thought
     they could do it made Henry wicked & away.
     But he should have come out and talked.

     All the world like a woolen lover
     once did seem on Henry’s side.
     Then came a departure.
     Thereafter nothing fell out as it might or ought.
     I don’t see how Henry, pried
     open for all the world to see, survived.

     What he has now to say is a long
     wonder the world can bear & be.
     Once in a sycamore I was glad
     all at the top, and I sang.
     Hard on the land wears the strong sea
     and empty grows every bed.

The shift between first and third person is obvious here. There are sentences with interruptions or with delays between subject and predicate, such as in lines 7-8 with the unrestrictive clause “like a woolen love” interrupting “world” and its verb “seem.” Also notice how the tense has shifted from the end of the previous stanza. A similar interruption happens at the end of the stanza. These are just examples of some of the less difficult sentences to parse through. Not to mention the tension between line and syntax. This poem also introduces the big the themes of the book, which includes the tension between the reality he expects and the reality he lives in – or maybe between fantasy and reality. Henry thought happiness possible until “a departure.” Something significant is gone, and the “a” indicates that there were other departures, too, and/or maybe more to come. And here is where I want to make a point for Berryman as transitional figure between Modernism and what comes after Modernism.

When I think of Modernism, I don’t think of subjectivity. Many critics say the Modernist poet wears a mask or assumes a personae. The reader does not really get involved in the personal life of the poet. In fact, after The Waste Land, as Al Poulin Jr. would say, there are no bodies in the waste land until Ginsberg populates them. This is where Berryman comes in as a transitional figure. He, it seems, is trying to insert a real life person with actual feelings into the waste land. He is telling of his pain and despair in regards to his loss, “a departure.” However, he wears a modernist mask in the form of Henry. Most critics agree that Henry is Berryman, despite Berryman’s protestations. And the “departure” is really the death of Berryman’s father. Even though Berryman is considered a confessional poet, we don’t get to see Berryman as Berryman. We see Berryman as Henry. This is why I consider him a transitional figure. We don’t get the real life person that we might get with Ginsberg, Lowell, or Plath. Berryman is carefully surveying the waste land, before the later poets as people arrive and populate the waste land.

An alternate title for The Dream Songs could be Song of Myself as Henry. The poems are very personal and introspective, but, perhaps, the Henry figure makes them more universal, available, or public. Henry is the archetypal white depressed and dysfunctional male form into which Berryman pours his own pain and angst and sufferings and hopes.

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For more on John Berryman, please read what I noted a few years ago, which I may or may not still agree with: On John Berryman’s Syntax and Other Observations.

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07
Jun
14

Modernist Style, Contemporary Play, and Ecological Lament: On Betsy Andrews’ The Bottom

A version of this review (and a better edited version) may appear in a future issue of Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose. //

Betsy Andrews – The BottomBetsy AndrewsThe Bottom (42 Miles Press, forthcoming 2014), winner of the 2013 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, opens with the 48-page long poem “The Bottom,” which consists of 48 juxtaposed smaller poems varying in length from poems of 12 short lines to poems of 21 long lines. The poems feel like they arrive from a life experienced, or should I say, these ecological poems don’t seem a step removed from experience, as if written from only studying, or appropriating information from, texts about pollution, ecology, marine biology, etc. At the same time, this long opening poem, which is rooted in the Modernist tradition of long poems of disillusionment, exposes what lies behind the illusions from the denial of ecological harm or future ecological harm. And like a Modernism poem, the language is of the language spoken by everyday people (especially people from the United States), but unlike some Modernism poems, Andrews’ allusions are shared allusions of the American populace. Along the way, we encounter mermaids, Martians, and even Mr. Limpet (the Don Knotts character from Disney’s The Incredible Mr. Limpet.) With that in mind, this long poem is also very playful, which is a difficult endeavor to do in political poems without being didactic or heavy handed, but she succeeds by way of her playful allusions, irony (another Modernism device), and music – rhymes, internal rhymes, assonance, consonance, word repetition, etc. In addition, this music, unlike music in Modernism poems, feels like it is discovered or is spontaneously composed rather than imposed or purposely created to frame the mood of the poem. As a result, Andrews is able to entice the reader with the sugar of music and play and then deliver the ecological medicine. Fortunately, the medicine doesn’t arrive in one dose. Rather, it’s an accumulation of 48 little doses. And even though there are 48 different doses of poems, there is cohesiveness about them. Unlike some  long Modernism poems that often hope for a cohesiveness to be discovered, the cohesiveness is 48 different ways of looking at the harm to marine biology and ecology in ways in which a reader can experience – whether the experience comes from the real, the imagined, or the intersection of both.

If the poems are enough or aren’t enough to move the reader to an ecological empathy, The Bottom has, like The Waste Land, a notes section (which might also be a poem depending on how it is viewed) at the end titled “Tributaries.” The “Tributaries” lists the sources I assume Andrews read in composing this long poem or that were influential to her and fed into the making of this ocean of a book. “Tributaries” starts with The Oxford English Dictionary and then moves into newspapers, National Public Radio, national parks, books of myth and symbolism, books and articles about seashells, books and articles on marine biology, books about the aftermath of unrecoverable ecological harm, and then concludes with books, stories, songs, and writers that I assume are inspirational to her, such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Saxie Dowell’s “Three Little Fishies,” Anne Sexton, W. B. Yeats, and T. S. Eliot.

Betsy Andrews’ The Bottom is a short book that playfully moves in the imagined and heroically moves in the unimagined, and by the latter I mean that it moves heroically within the unimagined that is real and the “dry page of fact” and within the unimagined (or suppressed imagination) that exists because of the denials of ecological harm “when we go still and are quiet.”//

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Andrews, Betsy. The Bottom. South Bend: 42 Miles Press, 2014.




The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

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