Saturday, May 12, 2012

Something I liked: LONGING:

a term for radical unwinding of the heart, e.g.
an angel
calling his dog, a cardinal
whistling in the poplars plucks a dangling
heartstring in his beak and
flies off somewhere, carelessly
                                    in Welsh
                                           across the clothesline

                                                 bleeding into the trees

by Don McKay
I picked up his "Strike/Slip" from the library a couple of weeks ago, and today I borrowed "Camber: Selected Poems." (Where this poem is found.) I first mistook him for another Canadian poet, Don something or another poet entirely something McKay. But I fell in love with his poems. They are very musical, and can be playful or solemn in turns, and are grounded in a lot of nature imagery. He also writes beautifully about movement. Another poem I liked is UTTER.

I wonder

can an image fall
like star-scatter                   shot
from its place
by some       mysterious force

without looping back to itself?

can rhyme break its edge off
and be sharp enough to cut?

can words float on the page
like   motes     of     dust
    yet    still   retain
a sense of narrative flow?

can people really tell
which poems stand like monuments

and which poems crumble like sand?
(full of holes
    for crabs
         to crawl through)

can a poem be written without words?

can one utterance reach
deep into a person's soul
where it clenches like a fist
                within him?

can poems move through difference
like a   skipping     stone?

can the page contain a song?
can the song contain an experience?

can poetry really ripple out
from this one unending line?

Christine Fojas
some questions...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bystander, Verona

So what you want to know
is who struck the first blow?
It's the Capulet, he's to blame
I don't even know his name.
Mercutio's dying words
were to curse them both, I heard.
His friend Romeo got in the game
After that it was much the same.
The prince was quite unkind
but wait, let's rewind.

I didn't even tell you the best part:
Juliet and Romeo were sweethearts.
They fell in love as soon as they met
but some guy was to marry Juliet.
Romeo took poison, they said,
while she used a knife. Both dead.
And then the prince gave a pretty speech
but let's not overestimate his reach.
Mark my words, the Montagues and Capulets
will fight to death without regrets.

Christine Fojas

Notes: second draft; wrote this after my sister helped a friend write a sonnet about the fight scene in R&J in a bystander's POV. I think I had more fun with mine. It reminds me of a Patricia McKillip short story of the aftermath of R&J, where a detective was trying to piece together what happened. It's called "Star-Crossed" and it's in her collection Harrowing the Dragon.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Women of Afghanistan, Hand in Hand, Singing

when singing is the same as breathing and loving
when we cannot sing without covering our faces
and the last free act left is hurting ourselves
and only fire can douse the pain of living in cages
what does poetry mean? how can it quicken in a breast
and transmute a spirit? call on the wild howling wind
to come and scour us bare, turn our songs to stone
to throw at the enemies within and without, to blind
us to the sheer drop as we walk on this ledge every day,
knees trembling, backs straight as we can stand.
and you know, we can only stand so much, before even
our voices choke on songs, fall to silence. we go hand
in hand and keep trying, and singing, and struggling to move
and maybe we can do it if we are allowed each other's love.

note: inspired by the article "Why Afghani Women Risk Death to Write Poetry" in the New York Times. I don't think much of this. Maybe I'll try it again in free verse someday. I just found the article really powerful and sad. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Something I liked: METAMORPHOSIS

a stranger is taking off your clothes layer by layer,
           seating you in front of the mirror and tempting you
           to ask, “whose body am I wearing right now?”
a stranger is quietly writing down your life story, reflecting
           on your birthdate, making up the story of the reason
           of your death –
a stranger is quietly turning into yourself
by Indonesian poet Sapardi Dyoko Damono; original can be found on Poetry International.
I've been reading his poems and they contain this sense of self and not-self, and masks, and the mind's ability to inhabit different places, and yet also to lose ourselves in the process. I also like his IMAGINE IF and QUATRAINS.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Come Again

The sudden gush--
And the slow trickle
Of this seasonal river
Flow. Women

Live with the color red
Loud within and without--
A war cry; sometimes
Just a cry.

This flesh betrays itself
Once more, composed
Of contradictory pulses
And impulses.

Yet now we have
Permission to rage
Or merely surge against
The walls

That hem us in
For once uncaring
As we batter it down.

After the storm
Has passed,
We will be meek again.
We will choke

On our words
And revoke our access
To this secret place
Within and without

Until we bleed again.

Christine Fojas
note: an answer to the question, what topic will I never write a poem about? because of course, never say never...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Some Advice

(initial notes from "The Verse Book of Interviews: 27 Poets on Language, Craft & Culture," ed. by Brian Henry & Andrew Zawacki)

August Kleinzahler 

"You can encourage them in habits of mind, methods of execution. You can give them exercises to familiarize them with different ways of writing so that they have those arrows in their quiver. You can even suggest techniques whereby they can learn to edit themselves... I do try to suggest that poetry has its resistances, as any other medium does. And they have to learn about the form by reading and practicing and... sailing on open water."

"It would be useful to have MFA students discuss contemporary authors and write critical essays about them, poring over their work, making arguments, and considering different models and standards."

"If I want more flow or a sense of indeterminacy, I suppose, or to enhance the possibility of relationships between a word at the end of one line and the words that begin the next--if punctuation will impede some of those possibilities, I'll omit it. If the nature of the poem involves very clear stage instructions for how it should be read, I'll punctuate it."

Christine Hume

"I try to keep the sound going, to see how many sounds can keep it going and opening up to the possibilities beyond my first impulses. Into the alchemy of slippage, cryptography, transumption, metalepsis, rhyme, echo--incarnational phrases that bring together sounds (and their ideas) that have been loning to be together. And resonate mistake. When you draw energy from error, mistakes become revitalizing."

"Because there's no tabula rasa in language--every word has a past, it has many faces, and traces and futures--I tend to delight (perhaps too much) in its resonances."

"Reading that expects a high level of readerly interaction and a trust in the process of reading, a willingness to listen to the way language sounds without 'irritable reaching after' meaning and an openness to discovering dimensions beyond conventional boundaries, this kind of reading requires an active patience and curiosity that our culture discourages."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A poet's work is never done

So. April's finally over. And now I feel a little relieved, and at the same time completely rudderless without a daily prompt to work with. Like I'm on my own again. I can't promise I will write everyday or post them here, but I definitely will try to work it into my routine.

This month really made me feel like a poet--even though some of the things I wrote are not necessarily poems--because we are what we do, day in, day out.