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Brain Pain Poetry > Suggestions for "Brain Pain Poetry"

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Do you have a favorite poem or poet that you'd like to discuss with this group? Or maybe, a challenging poem that's been sitting on your TBR shelf for far too long? Please share your suggestions here.

As a general guideline, suggest poems which in one way or another, present a challenge in theme and/or form and which are likely to generate interesting discussions. As always, please let us know why you're suggesting the poem and how it fits into the scheme of things here in Brain Pain.


message 2: by Karen (new)

Karen Witzler (kewitzler) Some poetry on my TBR list for this year :

Poems of Fernando Pessoa , Spring Essence by Ho Xuan Huong translated by John Balaban

I am always re-reading H.D. and particularly this year Helen in Egypt which is a dual psychoanalysis of herself and Helen by Freud.

All of these deal in duality and multiple shifting personae. (I have only recently joined your group- apologies if these suggestions are not in line with your discussion.)


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "Some poetry on my TBR list for this year :

Poems of Fernando Pessoa , Spring Essence by Ho Xuan Huong translated by John Balaban

I..."


Thanks Karen! Pessoa is an excellent suggestion. I recently read his Antinous. H.D. also looks good. The Helen in Egypt is especially interesting to me since in my recent reading of the Histories of Herodotus, he mentions the story of Paris and Helen first landing in Egypt, but they would not let him depart with Helen.

Will also check out the Ho Xuan Huong poem.


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Wallace Stevens,"Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction" but the longer poems in general.

William Butler Yeats, the later poetry. I'm particularly interested in reading "A Vision", which I haven't done, and then having it mind when approaching his late poems.

T. S. Eliot, The Four Quartets, Ash Wednesday


message 5: by Lily (last edited Dec 20, 2011 06:34AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 350 comments Those interested in exploring what has been happening in the avant-garde regions of poetry might enjoy this tome: Poems for the Millennium, Vol. 2: From Postwar to Millennium , edited by Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris. It was the poetry text for my auditing excursion into postmodern literature a few years ago.

Among the "schools" (J.R./P.J. would probably cringe at that appellation) with representation are 1) The Vienna Group, 2) The Tammuzi Poets, 3) Cobra, 4) Concrete Poetry, 5) Some "Beat" Poets, 6) Some Oral Poets, 7) Postwar Japanese Poetry -- The Arechi & After (I especially enjoyed these last two sections.), 8) Neo-Avanguardi, 9) Some "Language" Poets, 10) The Misty Poets, and 11) Toward a Cyperpoetics. (I have probably missed one or more and there are other poets not specifically categorized.)

It is a fun volume to pull and read from alone or with a few friends or to a group (have done all three). Wiki entries can be found for a number of the "schools" listed. Certainly here are multitudes of experimentation with language and form. Poetry is not an area of literature to which I am attracted, but I do enjoy an hour or two here from time to time.


message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 350 comments Bill wrote: "... Yeats, the later poetry. I'm particularly interested in reading "A Vision", which I haven't done, ..."

May be of interest: http://www.scribd.com/doc/30092661/A-...

Not very readable, from my screen, at least without some work, which I haven't tried yet. Will look for something in book form or more straightforward first.


message 7: by Bill (last edited Dec 20, 2011 07:25AM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments That link is difficult to read on a large screen. I think the scan is terrible.

Poetry is not an area of literature to which I am attracted, but I do enjoy an hour or two here from time to time.

If you think about it, almost of literature is poetry or verse drama -- and far and away the dominant form until the mid-19th century. Prose fiction is the upstart, the fad, what the kids are reading, the current fashion. We can only hope the fashion will soon change and poetry magazines will outsell People and the lines in front of movie theaters disappear. At least, a boy can dream. :-)


message 8: by Lily (last edited Dec 20, 2011 11:34AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 350 comments Bill wrote: "...If you think about it, almost of literature is poetry or verse drama -- and far and away the dominant form until the mid-19th century...."

One factor -- much easier to transmit in oral form with its inherent aids for memorization. After all, the printing press did not appear in Europe until almost the mid-1400's, less than 600 years ago.


message 9: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Yes but writing is considerably older than the printing press. Homer and the classical playwrights did not come down to us through oral tradition. When the printing press came, it put a lot of scribes out of business.


message 10: by Lily (last edited Dec 20, 2011 12:30PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 350 comments Bill wrote: "Yes but writing is considerably older than the printing press. Homer and the classical playwrights did not come down to us through oral tradition. When the printing press came, it put a lot of scri..."

True enough!

(Now what do we know about story-telling before Linear A, circa 2000BCE, just to ponder the patterns a few seconds longer?) :-D


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Hi all,

I've been thinking about how to approach poetry discussions here on BP.

First thought - alternating between contemporary poetry and older work. Let's call contemporary after 1960 for now. We're reading The Waste Land in March and early April, so looking for something newer, maybe by a living poet, for mid-April. Looking for suggestions and a volunteer to lead a discussion. Then, I'd like to go to something by Wallace Stevens after that. And so on.

Second thought - how to choose poems that are meaty enough to generate a good two week or more discussion. One possible way to do this is to choose a specific set of poems. For example, Rilke's Duino Elegies, which would give us a nice long read and plenty to discuss. I'm not actually proposing Rilke, just using him as an example.

Third thought - Is the Second thought worth thinking? What if there is a shorter poem that is really good, but might only yield a week or two of discussion? Is that an okay option?

Fourth thought - I officially recuse myself from leading any of the poetry discussions because I've never given them enough study to do a good job. Therefore, if there's a poet or poems you want to talk about, please raise your hand!

Okay, please share your ideas about how we can proceed with poetry discussions here...

PS. Would any of you be interested in Whitman's Leaves of Grass? Or in Emily Dickinson?


message 12: by Filipe (new)

Filipe Russo (russo) | 94 comments Poetry puts the translation, words usage and language understanding issues to a whole new level of difficulty. But it's easier to hand hold someone in it since its lenght is generally smaller than most novels.


message 13: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Lily wrote: "Bill wrote: "Yes but writing is considerably older than the printing press. Homer and the classical playwrights did not come down to us through oral tradition. When the printing press came, it put ..."

Ha! I don't think we know anything about story telling during the time of Linear A.


message 14: by Bill (last edited Dec 20, 2011 06:34PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire

Le bateau ivre (The Drunken Boat) by Arthur Rimbaud

Mallarmé but I'm not sure what

Rilke is an excellent idea -- Duino elegies or other

______

For more recent poetry I have the problem that what I know and like since 1950-60 isn't painful to the brain.

I for example love Kenneth Koch's "Fresh Air" but I can't imagine what would require elucidation. Or L. E. Sissman's, "A Death Place" which is one of my favorite poems, ever. But again, the chill and the wit are pretty front and center. As is the extraordinary power of the last two words.


message 15: by Will (new)

Will Mego (willmego) | 119 comments One debate possibly worth having (I'm a passionate lover of poetry) is whether or not poems must be those that are notorious for their lack of clarity. Poetry by itself can be challenging to read due to structure and hidden meaning. While with literature some very clear differences can be made between say...'less serious' novels and The Waves perhaps it can also be said that it's somewhat less clear in the case of poetry serious, yet less opaque. For example, the poetry of Ted Kooser, my personal favorite living poet is certainly accessible and understandable, but the very nature of poetry itself lends to being analyzed, discussed, and mental effort put in to understanding it's structure and meaning...and thus by choosing poetry known for it's confusion it generates in readers, something which can work quite well (at times) in literature, might be less meaningful in the selection of poems, and even cause great works to be dismissed as 'simple'. If there's anything I can help out with on this, or any subject, I'm available. And now, for no reason other than my own enjoyment:

They Had Torn Off My Face at the Office

They had torn off my face at the office.
The night that I finally noticed
that it was not growing back, I decided
to slit my wrists. Nothing ran out;
I was empty. Both of my hands fell off
shortly thereafter. Now at my job
they allow me to type with the stumps.
It pleases them to have helped me,
and I gain in speed and confidence.


Ted Kooser
Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985
University of Pittsburgh Press



message 16: by Bill (last edited Jan 13, 2012 05:09PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Well, to some extent, Will, this group was set up to tackle difficult work -- hence Brain Pain. I don't think it's a question of seriousness or beauty or aesthetic power. Actually I think poetry since mid-century tends to be obscure, something for which I believe Eliot (and some others) are currently burning in purgatory. (And I like Eliot.) But the notion that anything goes and the hell with whether anyone understands it did poetry no good at all.

Personally, I'm happy to discuss anything from Chaucer on up.


message 17: by Will (new)

Will Mego (willmego) | 119 comments yes, but my point is that much of poetry starts at 'difficult' and moves to 'impossible' already, it's the nature of the form. I'd be impossibly turned off by a poetry selection consisting of only notoriously obtuse writers and the latest obscure flavor of the month poet from the latest flavor of the month country, which is what I've found with every poetry section or group I've found yet. There's a lot of good (often living!) poets who will never fall into such categories. I'm saying the difficulty in poetry isn't found always found in opacity.

I understand there will be the inevitable rounds of Elliot, Wallace Stevens, and E.E. Cummings (yes, capitals deliberate, he did it himself) and I'm more than prepared to reread them all. But there are so many good poets without such provenances whose work has layers and complexity and lots of room for interpretation and discussion.


message 18: by Bill (last edited Jan 13, 2012 11:05PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Well, I don't agree. I think poetry since the twenties has often been that way, but I don't think it's the nature of the form.

As I've said, my interest is in Eliot, Stevens and Yeats. Yes, and down the road I wouldn't mind giving Ashbury a try.

As for contemporary poets, the ones I like -- not that I'm all that widely read in contemporary poetry these days -- tend not to begin with difficult. They're far more straight forward than that.

Who are the three poets you'd like to see discussed?

But you're arguing with the wrong person on this. I didn't start the group. My own preference is for poetry that's not obscure -- but in the case of the truly great, I'll make an exception.


message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Will wrote: "One debate possibly worth having (I'm a passionate lover of poetry) is whether or not poems must be those that are notorious for their lack of clarity. Poetry by itself can be challenging to read d..."

Regarding this debate, reading poetry is a challenge for me, and probably for other members as well. The written word is somewhat easier in prose because, in general, prose follows the basic rules of grammar, punctuation, and tends to tell a story in a structured, unified way. Poetry, when written on the page, looks and acts different than prose. You most know "How" to read poetry - syllable stress, line breaks, unconventional punctuation, and so on.

I am reading a book by Phil Roberts called How Poetry Works and already, I'm finding it easier to read poetry just from the simple technique of finding the syllable stresses. World of difference for me!

Of course, we hear poetry all the time when we listen to songs. The singer hits the stresses, the instruments support the voice and voila! Poetry is marvelous! When Jim Morrison sings "End of the Night" we're listening to William Blake interpreted in the context of 1960's psychedelic music and it works just fine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB1gtP...


But it's written poetry that many find to be a challenge. With a bit of education about "How" to read poetry, many more people would enjoy it.

All that being said, I see no reason to seek out the most difficult poetry out there, but instead, find works that are challenging in terms of making us think and ponder about the nature of existence and what not.

There are a few suggestions that interest me, one being Helen in Egypt, a book-length poem related to an alternative imagining of The Iliad (thank you Karen!)

Rachel suggested a few contemporary poets and one which caught my attention is Alice Fulton. Two possibilities are Sensual Math and Cascade Experiment: Selected Poems.

Will, please share your suggestions for contemporary poetry that might work well in terms of meaty, thought-provoking discussions.


message 20: by Will (last edited Jan 14, 2012 09:35AM) (new)

Will Mego (willmego) | 119 comments Ted Kooser Kim Addonizio Jane Kenyon but really there's dozens of very talented (and living! Kenyon died in 1995) poets. Showing my Kooser bias, his book The Poetry Home Repair Manual Practical Advice for Beginning Poets by Ted Kooser The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets is a great book that helps teach you how to write/understand poetry using almost entirely living poets in the examples. But really even your garden variety poets read in high school are ample fodder for study, like Pablo Neruda. I'd just hate to see any poetry discussion stay trapped in the cul-de-sac of the traditionally 'difficult' poets such as Elliot, Stevens, and Cummings. They're fine poets, no question. But they didn't corner the market.

I'll be annoying one more time about this, then I promise I'll shut up and keep my heretical thoughts on poetry to myself:
In the Nursing Home

She is like a horse grazing
a hill pasture that someone makes
smaller by coming every night
to pull the fences in and in.

She has stopped running wide loops,
stopped even the tight circles.
She drops her head to feed; grass
is dust, and the creekbed’s dry.

Master, come with your light
halter. Come and bring her in.


(Kenyon, Jane. New and Selected Poems. St. Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf. 1996.)


Take the last two lines, where the brake of the sentence can be taken to mean both "Master, come with your light halter", continuing the general horse theme, or "Master, come with your light" to imply the divine. Even a simple or 'accessible' poem of only a few lines can contain so much.


message 21: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I love Kenyon, but for living, challenging and wonderful, I always go to Susan Howe, especially her Articulation of Sound Forms in Time, The Birth-Mark or Nonconformist's Memorial: Poems.

From the 50s, a favorite of mine is Charles Olson's The Maximus Poems. That would be an exciting read, I think. Maybe even in combination with Moby-Dick.


message 22: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments I think for many people reading Moby-Dick would not make them enthusiastic about reading Charles Olson. I say that as a someone who is reading and loves Moby-Dick -- although I've only finished the first 115 chapters.


message 23: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I love Moby-Dick (enough to have read it twice) but I'm sure you're right. Reading Olson alone is challenging enough. At least for me.


message 24: by Bill (last edited Jan 14, 2012 04:09PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments The problem I have here is with focus. Almost all of literature before 1800 that we read is poetry -- epic, lyric, or dramatic. That's about 2500 years, give or take. Then there's the last 211 where we see a lot of prose -- although the Romantic Poets are arguably the major literary event of the 19th century, even with Dickens and Eliot(George, not Tom), Thackeray.

Then we hit the 20th century and we have Joyce and Virginia Woolf, Eliot, Stevens and Yeats. I personally think Yeats is THE major writer in the 20th century -- although Joyce is front and center. Woolf might as well be a poet.

Then suddenly we're at around 1965 and it's prose, prose, prose, prose, prose. Until the 1960s poetry also dominated what was studied in English departments. The dominant critical approach was the New Criticism with its microscopic close readings. You can write a 30 page essay on a three page poem. You can't write 16,000 pages on four novels of 400 pages each.

So the question is approach, here.

I wouldn't mind doing Helen in Egypt, since I'm reading the Iliad at the moment -- and just wrote some detailed paragraphs on Helen. :-)

I'd be happy to do Philip Larkin -- certainly one of the top ten poets of the last 50 years.

I'd love to John Berryman's The Dream Songs.

I'd be happy to do L. E. Sissman's Night Music

I'd be happy to do Elizabeth Bishop.

I'd happy to do The Maximums Poems. I'm close to finishing Moby-Dick which I love but it's too rich and complex and strange and -- I could go on. It will draw the focus. It's a glorious monster -- rather like the whale.

I'd be happy to go through Best Americans Poems 2011.

I'd be happy to do Chaucer and Paradise Lost.

I'd be happy to Elizabeth Bishop

I'd be happy Le bateau ivre

I'd be happy to do Fleurs du Mal

I'd be happy if we each collected our favorite ten poems of the past fifty years -- but we need enough people for that.

As well as all the other poets I've mentioned before both here and elsewhere. :-)

Poetry, my dear friends, is da bomb.


message 25: by Karen (new)

Karen Witzler (kewitzler) Oh, I love that Jane Kenyon selection.


message 26: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne (jeanne_voelker) I have loved poems I've read by L.E. Sissman, Anthony Hecht, Elizabeth Bishop, Edna St.Vincent Millay, and Seamus Heaney, but I don't know their wider works, and I don't feel I know any of them well enough to teach them.


message 27: by Will (new)

Will Mego (willmego) | 119 comments Focus can be solved with polls, surely? There's so many people in this group, I'm sure a nominating process and poll would solve your (Bill's) focus issue, or would it?


message 28: by Bill (last edited Jan 16, 2012 10:41AM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments I don't know. I tend not to like polls -- and particularly if we're talking about poems after 1960 -- lots of poems and poets people don't know.

Jim was talking about doing some major modernist poems -- e.g., "The Waste Land," discussion starting March -- and alternating the major poems with other more contemporary poems. And I'd throw in some older poems -- like Donne, who can be difficult -- but worth it.

OR -- what do people think of this: After "The Waste Land" we could have some of Helen in Egypt, some of Ted Kooser, some of The Maximus Poems, some L. E. Sissman's Night Songs, some of Jane Kenyon's poems.

That's five poets. If we did, say, four poems each, that's twenty poems. No onerous because these are, I think relatively short poems not necessarily obscure.

Or we could each pick a few favorite poems published after 1960 by different poets.

Whatcha think?

Just remember when it comes to poetic obscurity this extremely famous poem called, "I Know a Man" by Robert Creeley.

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, – John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ’s sake, look
out where yr going.


message 29: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne (jeanne_voelker) I loved reading John Donne in school! Wow, that was long ago. I like your list, Bill, or something similar. I like that it has a good time spread and it is,for me, a nice mix of the somewhat familiar and the unfamiliar.

I like the Robert Creely poem too. Much is implied, but I wouldn't call it obscure.


message 30: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Lewis (nancylewis) | 31 comments Thanks Jim for suggesting How Poetry Works and to Will for The Poetry Home Repair Manual. I need a lot of help in this department!

Jane Kenyon wrote:

Master, come with your light
halter. Come and bring her in.

Will wrote: Take the last two lines, where the brake of the sentence can be taken to mean both "Master, come with your light halter", continuing the general horse theme, or "Master, come with your light" to imply the divine. Even a simple or 'accessible' poem of only a few lines can contain so much.

I know this was just for fun, Will, but I'd like to take a stab here. When I read the last line, instead of halter, I read falter. Could that have been her intention?

I know that in world languages, F and H are often interchangeable. For example, fava beans are sometimes called hava beans. Ferro and hierro both refer to iron... Just thinking out loud, really.


message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
I spoke with the committee and here's their recommendation:

After The Waste Land, let's read Helen in Egypt. I recently read Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Herodotus and would very much be interested in reading this book-length poem. Herodotus tells the story that Helen never made it to Troy, and I'd like to read H.D.'s book to see what she does with that idea. Karen, since you proposed the poet, would you like to lead that discussion? Send me a message and we can discuss. Discussion could be scheduled for 4 or 5 weeks, since the book is listed as 300 pages.

After that, let's jump to the living (or nearly living). How about Jane Kenyon? Will, can you recommend a particular volume (still in print and generally available) by Kenyon? Ditto, would you be interested in leading the discussion? Again, 3 or 4 weeks, or more, depending on the length of the volume chosen.

Following that, I'd propose Wallace Stevens as he is someone I've heard much about, but not read. That would put us back in Modernist poetry for a few weeks.

Then back to contemporary, then maybe Donne, contemporary, Yeats, contemporary, The Maximus Poems, contemporary, etc...

The specific order after Wallace isn't particularly important to me, but I do think it would be a good idea to alternately look at our times and the past to keep the discussions fresh and diverse.

So, summary of the idea is:
1. Helen in Egypt
2. Jane Kenyon (or similar)
3. Wallace Stevens

Then do the back and forth between past and contemporary.

Please share your thoughts, for and against.

I usually don't support polls because it's a disappointment when your candidate doesn't win. Instead, I'd like us to discuss ideas and then maybe pass the decision stick to a member to select a volume by a given poet, then pass on the next selection to another member, and so on.


message 32: by Karen (new)

Karen Witzler (kewitzler) That sounds like a fine approach to me. I'd be happy to initiate and respond to discussion on Helen in Egypt and H.D..


message 33: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "That sounds like a fine approach to me. I'd be happy to initiate and respond to discussion on Helen in Egypt and H.D.."

Great! Let's wait to hear from a few others for concurrence, then we'll discuss via message if it's a go...


message 34: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (catjackson) Jim wrote: "I spoke with the committee and here's their recommendation:

After The Waste Land, let's read Helen in Egypt. I recently read Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Herodotus and would very much be inter..."


Jim, this sounds like a very good plan. I've not read Helen in Egypt (in fact, I hadn't even heard of Helen in Egypt!) and am looking forward to reading the poem. That's one of the reasons I really like this group; I'm being introduced to some new-to-me very interesting, very rewarding reading.


message 35: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Jeanne,

The Creeley poem is the opposite of obscure, it's a satire of obscurity. That's why I put it in.


message 36: by Will (new)

Will Mego (willmego) | 119 comments I make no claims of being expert at any of this, but I'd have to say Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon Collected Poems is probably the best/most/complete/most available.

Regarding the halter question, I'd think she intended halter, since as a fellow Midwesterner, she shares our straightforward linguistic natures. Plus, the halter draws the specific imagery of bringing the horse in from pasture, the halter being used to attach the lead rope, suggesting she's hoping God will lead her Mother away from the fading, shrinking pasture. I think the brilliance of that line break is when you mentally consider the other options. Imagine the line complete and you still get the intention, the analogy of the grazing horse, but the line break adds so much by giving us that breath point (like the point in the score where a singer knows to inhale) that forces us to consider the divine for just a beat. Blows me away.


message 37: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) If we choose a single volume of Kenyon's poems, I think The Boat of Quiet Hours is particularly lovely (and I happen to own it)


message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Ellie wrote: "If we choose a single volume of Kenyon's poems, I think The Boat of Quiet Hours is particularly lovely (and I happen to own it)"

According to the description for Kenyon's 'Collected Poems', it contains all of her published poetry, which would naturally include The Boat of Quiet Hours.

The question now is, Do we want to read her entire body of work? Or choose one volume?

Also, Will, in 'Collected Poems' are the poems organized to match the separate volumes? Or are they organized some other way?


message 39: by Bill (last edited Jan 15, 2012 04:27PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Yanno, people don't typically choose a volume of poems and read through. These aren't novels.

Poetry is more compressed and intense You read fewer words, but you reread often, and bring your intelligence and imagination and empathy to them.

I say if we're not talking a very famous author who's written difficult poems, pick 15-20 poems and let the discussion leader make the selection.

I'm happy to purchase Kenyon's Collected Poems -- and then let the narrator make a pick. I read others as I choose or not choose.

I ordered both that and Helen in Egypt.


message 40: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Bill wrote: "Yanno, people don't typically choose a volume of poems and read through. These aren't novels.

Poetry is more compressed and intense You read fewer words, but you reread often, and bring your inte..."


Oui, bien sûr!

For Kenyon, I don't know her work and so I don't know if there's any advantage to looking at poems that were originally grouped together as a single volume, of if it would be just as good to do a vertical tasting from throughout her career. TBD...

Looking forward in the schedule to Wallace Stevens, his The Collected Poems seems like a logical choice. As you suggest, we would leave it to the discussion leader to choose a set of poems to read.

Bill, I wouldn't want to impose on you a second time to lead a discussion, but if you're interested, I'll give you first dibs on Stevens. My guess is that we would get to him around July, maybe a little later.


message 41: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments Here's where I think having a moderator/discussion leader helps. I don't know Kenyon either, but we have Kenyonistas here.

I'll be happy to take Stevens. As I've said, for moment, I'm a permanent volunteer for Eliot, Stevens and Yeats. Those are the major poets of the 20th century, at least in English, and they are difficult and modernist.

For Stevens, I'd recommend The Palm at the End of the Mind -- which is a selection and includes some things the Collected Poems don't (and vice versa). But I think either would have everything we'd want to look at out.


message 42: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Bill wrote: "Here's where I think having a moderator/discussion leader helps. I don't know Kenyon either, but we have Kenyonistas here.

I'll be happy to take Stevens. As I've said, for moment, I'm a permanent..."


Thanks Bill! We'll revisit the Collected Poems vs. The Palm at the End of the Mind question in a few months time. Either is fine with me.


message 43: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 81 comments I am so, so excited about this! And...I like all the suggestions, especially the idea of alternating older and newer poets.

I'm a total sucker for the Moderns and the Language poets. I would jump at the chance to get into H.D., Yeats, Stevens, Eliot, Stein, Moore, Pound, and Williams as well as any of the current poets I brought up earlier, someplace, including Fulton, Mullen,and Philip. As Ellie mentioned, Susan Howe is fantastic, and if ever a poet fit this year's theme of literature that is challenging in its form, it is she.

I'm with Will, though: just because a poem isn't deliberately opaque does not mean that a quick read will uncover all its secrets. Interpreting poems that seem transparent at the outset can still be enriched from sharing multiple perspectives in a group discussion. So really, I'd be interested in reading any poet you guys feel fits the aims of this group.

Major cop-out alert: due to various baby-and-kid-related life complexities, I don't think I can reliably lead a discussion this year. But...bring it, 2013!!


message 44: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "Major cop-out alert: due to various baby-and-kid-related life complexities, I don't think I can reliably lead a discussion this year. But...bring it, 2013!!.."

What!!?!?? You're letting real life interfere with your reading time!?? Horrors!

Okay, Alice Fulton in '13...

New baby on the way? Don't forget the Southern writer naming idea a la Amanda's twins, Atticus and Rhett...


message 45: by Rachel (last edited Jan 16, 2012 10:31AM) (new)

Rachel | 81 comments Nope, same old baby and same old kid...they stick around for a while!


message 46: by Bill (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments I'm impressed that the baby will be grown up in 2013. :-)


message 47: by Jt (new)

Jt | 24 comments I recently read two books of Iliad-inspired (for lack of a better phrase) poetry:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12...
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18...

Both fairly accessible and readable. I'd say that both gave me a deeper emotional connection to The Iliad itself.

Reading poetry for me is an emotional experience, and a little like looking at an Impressionist painting - it's a word picture, and even if I don't understand the literal words or meanings, if I'm able to relax my brain enough to let the words flow over & through me, I'm left with an emotional response.


message 48: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Jt wrote: "I recently read two books of Iliad-inspired (for lack of a better phrase) poetry:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12...
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18...

Both fa..."


The Alice Oswald poem created a bit of a stir recently. What did you think of it?


message 49: by Bill (last edited Jan 16, 2012 12:57PM) (new)

Bill (BillGNYC) | 443 comments I'm not sure of the reason for excerpting it from the action. I was reading Book V of Lattimore's translation of The Iliad this morning and there they were in Lattimore -- obvious, poetic, and in a way stopping the action. These extended similes are hard to miss -- if you read The Iliad slowly carefully.

In a way, it attempts to turn The Iliad into a war memorial and I don't see the point.


message 50: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 81 comments Bill wrote: "I'm impressed that the baby will be grown up in 2013. :-)"

Well, maybe not quite. But at least he should be able to lead a discussion of the post-structural gender implications of "Little Miss Muffet" or something and start pulling his weight around this place!


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