Wednesday, July 30, 2008

River Junction Poets 2007 Spring Performance

These videos were obtained from a recording made in May of 2007. The recording was made using equipment from Midland Community Television which is a public-access television station.







"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Jane Beal at The Poetry Place


The following was written by Jane Beal:

Poetry is passed from one generation to the next because it is taught.

In general, teaching gets a bad rap because it can be done and sadly, is often done in a way that sucks all life out of the subject. Hence the adage, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” and Walt Whitman’s poem, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”:


“When I heard the learn’d astronomer
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,


How soon I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.”


Yes, I must agree with Whitman: many times, seeing the stars with my own eyes is a much more beautiful and agreeable experience than listening to someone else drone on about them. But good teaching is not about lecturing, however much teachers or students may think we learn from lectures. Good teaching invites listeners to experience, for themselves, whatever is being taught. The teaching of poetry needs to be like that if it is to be real to the souls of young poets and lovers of poetry.


Simply put, people encounter poetry through teaching. Sometimes the teachers are professors or parents, books or songs. The world is full of poetry teachers! And people encounter poetry–they hear it, they read it–sometimes like a comforting grandparent or an old friend, sometimes like an new lover (so exciting!) who becomes a dear, familiar love with the passing of years, sometimes like a stranger passing by in the street. But poetry, unlike most strangers on city streets in America, actually wants to be known. Therefore, it must be shared. The good teaching of poetry is a way of sharing poetry that is deeply meaningful.


In the pages offered here, there are some invitations to poetry through teaching. Use them as you wish!


Excerpted from The Poetry Place accessed 7/30/08.


Here's hoping you will embrace poetry and make it part of your life.


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement




Saturday, July 26, 2008

Matthew Zapruder

The following interview is from the Chicago Postmodern Poetry website as seen on July 26, 2008. Here we have Matthew Zapruder talking about life, poetry and the pursuit of happiness.

General Questions

1) Where did you grow up? Was poetry and writing part of that mix?

I grew up outside of Washington D.C., with no poetry anywhere near me. I never really knew what a poem was, or thought about making them, until I had written a few without any idea what I was doing. It was a long process for me to shed the received idea that politics and business are what's really "important," and that art is primarily for decoration or entertainment or some kind of vague edification. It took me well into my 20's to even start thinking of myself as a poet, and not until I was in my 30's did I finally stop feeling as if I really should be doing something else. Now I can't imagine my life without poetry, making it and reading it: it seems like the one constant uncorruptible grace among many many of the world's failures.

2) Who are your poetic influences, favorite poets, writers, artwork, other things that inform your work?

I've always loved music, especially rock and roll: I can't help but think that the spirit and structure of The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Pavement, The Beatles, Guided By Voices, R.E.M., The Pixies, Neil Young, Public Enemy, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, The Jam, Leonard Cohen, Will Oldham, Nick Drake, Nirvana, and all the other ways that I first and most often experienced the arrangement of words into something more than useful communication packages has influenced me more than anything else. Lately I listen to a ton of Wilco, Guided by Voices, Nina Nastasia, Vic Chesnutt, and Built to Spill, just to name a few. I think that the more confident I get as a poet, the more I'm able to incorporate the spirit of the music I love in an organic way into my poems, as opposed to just indie rock name dropping.
I've also been a musician for a long time -- I play lead guitar in a couple of bands, and love to contribute directly and without much conversation to the songs of writers I really respect (specifically Thane Thomsen of The Figments and Mark Mulcahy, formerly of Miracle Legion, now solo). When playing music, I think a lot about restraint, the primacy of the song, the relationship of the texture of the sounds coming out of the guitar to the notes I'm playing and the song in which they are appearing, and so on. I have no idea what that has to do with poetry, perhaps something.


Painting is another obsession, though I'm no expert. Right now I'm reading the journals of Eugene Delacroix. I'm particularly fascinated with artists like Cezanne, Kandinsky, and Van Gogh who operated on the borders between abstraction and representation. This seems profoundly related to poetry, which is a discipline that can never descend fully into abstraction or gesture, because words always (thankfully) mean something. I love to read what painters have to say about their work, as much as I like to look at their paintings (terrible, I know). I think that Van Gogh's letters are among the greatest works of literature ever written, and essential for artists, not to mention human beings.

3) When did you 'become' a poet, when did poet become part of your everyday life?
As I said, not until late. I began writing sporadically in my 20's, when I went to UC Berkeley to get a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures. I left after passing my exams and getting my Masters, in order to get an MFA in poetry at UMass Amherst. I suppose it was sometime during those years that I began to incorporate poetry into my everyday life, truly: the example of the poets James Tate and Dara Wier, who live poetry and let poetry live in them, was something it took me years to aspire to. Now I do the best I can.


I think when my first book came out, when I was 33, was when I finally felt comfortable calling myself a professional poet. Now I am revealed as the horrible bourgeois that I am.
4) How does your work with VERSE and your editing work effect your poetry?
I get to read a lot of amazing stuff, and also am exposed to a ton of crap. I think that I have learned the most from the relationships that I've developed with authors that we've published: some of them have become my best friends, and my everyday life as a poet is intimately intertwined with theirs. Often I think that's the biggest blessing that has come from starting Verse Press. Also, there is a terrific community of poets in Western Massachusetts (where the office of the press is: everyday operations are run by the poet Lori Shine, Managing Editor of the press), many of whom volunteer their time and energy without any compensation other than the occasional free book or pizza. I feel optimistic and happy when I'm around those folks, and see how much they care about poetry and the press: it makes me feel like we all have the ability to cultivate a little garden somewhere, and that not everything is tracts of fucked up commerce and bullshit.



5) What is your favorite food?
As a child I used to ask my mother to make meatloaf for me on my birthday every year, whether out of love for it or spite for my siblings I cannot say.

6) Sports Team? or Activity?
The Boston Red Sox, the San Francisco Baseball Giants, the Washington Redskins. Sports talk radio. Playing guitar. Reading graphic novels. Listening to a baseball game on the radio. Driving by myself.

7) Vacation spot?
I love going to Ljubljana (Slovenia) to visit my poet friends, I feel so marvelously central European and hopeful to drink tea and beer by the canals in a country where their main central square is dominated by a statue of a poet, Preserin.

8) Curse word?
Bitchcakes, as in "You really went bitchcakes on that poor guy, didn't you?"


Craft Questions
1) How do you form a poem? Is poetry and organic or synthetic process for you?
In some ways in my mind those two terms mean something opposite: that is, organic being natural, synthetic being artificial. In which case I would say both, that is I often put things together in a deliberately artificial way (through collage, out of found materials and from my own journals and thoughts), until it starts to feel organic. I guess I feel like a poem should feel organic, with all the energy and destabilization of something that is clearly synthetic.

On the other hand I also think of the two terms as being sort of the same: that is, they both are terms that are talking about the quality of how things are constructed, or have come to be. A poem is something that's of primary interest because it's a made object: someone made it, yet it feels like a part of everything that has always existed. So both again. Hmmm.

2) Where do you write? Is Ambiance important? Do you have rituals or habits when you write?
Sometimes I write in public places, like a cafe where there is talking and music, or someplace where there's a lot of movement. Other times I like to bang away on my manual typewriter (a Royal portable that belonged to my grandfather), because I love it as an object, in the same way that I love my guitars. So yes ambiance, rituals and habits are extremely important, mostly in terms of sound and texture, not visually: but I have a lot of them and am reasonably flexible about which ones I submit myself to, probably out of necessity, because I have an exceptionally peripatetic lifestyle.

3) In the balance between found language and created language where does your work fall?
Hopefully, in some graceful region. Some of my poems are composed entirely of found language (for instance, my new book The Pajamaist has a lot of correctly and incorrectly attributed song lyrics, phrases heard in conversation or on the radio, and even an entire poem made of lines and phrases from two horoscopes of a particular day from a Chicago newspaper). Others are constructed of language that I find from various writings that I've done over days, months, hours. I think of myself more and more as a collagist (is that a word?), and make very little distinction among the materials I feel like I need to use at any given moment. Mainly I'm just grateful for whatever gives me that electric feeling of hey, all right, now here's something that has poetry in it, now let's get to work.

Learn more about Matthew Zapruder. Learn more about Wave Poetry which is the press that sprung from Verse Press.



"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Friday, July 25, 2008

Brian Spears on Zukofsky Bio

While I was browsing through poetry blogs I found this entry by Brian Spears. It was entered in his blog on Tuesday, July 22, 2008. I like that it is affable, honest, intelligent and informative.

Brian Spears:
Back in March [2008], I mentioned that I was reading Mark Scroggins's new biography of Louis Zukofsky, The Poem of a Life. Mark and his family came over to our home for a dinner party a couple of months ago and he saw that I'd only gotten a couple hundred pages in. He said "that's a respectable effort," which of course meant that I had to finish the thing. And I'm really glad I did.

Some personal background on my own poetic knowledge first, though. I came to poetry in a serious way when I was an undergrad, but for me that meant in my late 20s. I went to an undergraduate university where creative writing was barely a blip on the map--there was one poet, and he taught technical writing as often as he taught poetry workshop. Good guy, good poet, but very traditional, as was the entire faculty. Criticism wasn't big in the curriculum, but what we got was basically New Criticism. And when I went to Arkansas for my MFA, that really didn't change. My reading lists didn't even include Ginsburg, much less Oppen or Niedecker or Zukofsky. The whole tradition (and I think it's fair to call it a tradition now) of Objectivist and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry didn't even really exist as far as my education was concerned. I picked up a little in passing in my workshops with W.S. DiPiero when I was at Stanford, but that's it.

So I came to Mark's book fairly ignorant of this history and of the movement and poetry that Zukofsky helped build and create, and I not only found the book informative, I found it fascinating. I took a long time to read it because I was constantly having to digest new material and fit it in with what I didn't know about 20th century poetry. It's not only a fantastic biography, it's a terrific history book in general, even if I don't share the aesthetic of the subject of the book.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the book to me was the lengthy discussion of Zukofsky's formal considerations in his work. I'm not a formalist in the Tim Steele/Dana Gioia sense of the term, but I do tend to write in traditional meter and form, so I found it heartening to see that Zukofsky had that in mind when composing his poems, especially since he often made the forms he was working in more intricate, rather than finding ways to cheat. It has caused me to find ways to discipline my own writing in the weeks since I completed reading (this review has been in the works for a while now).

Which is not to say that I plan on following the poetic road Zukofsky blazed. It's just not my thing. My preference, both in reading and writing poetry, is to avoid the hermetic image. I want a poem to communicate something more than music or a frame for an idea to me. I want an emotional connection with the meaning in the poem, and I didn't find that in the selections that Mark quoted in this text. It's just a matter of personal taste. There were lots of times when Mark was explaining what was going on in a particular section of "A" and I just didn't see it, wasn't moved by the language.

That's not to say that I don't think Zukofsky did great work--this biography convinces me that he did, and anyone who can influence the path of poetry for a generation certainly had something major going on. It's just not my kind of poetry. Think of it as the clash between people who liked Swing and those who liked Be-bop. I appreciate both, but I prefer the latter. I appreciate Charles Olson, but I prefer James Merrill. The world of poetics is wide enough for all of us, I think.


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Collaboration in Poetry

Often poetry is regarded as an individual effort, and even as one that benefits from solitude, for both the reader and for the writer. Obvious exceptions to this include Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Dante's Divine Comedy. We do, however, have examples of poets collaborating with each other in writing poems. Marvin Bell and William Stafford alternated with each other in sending poems to each other in the mail, one poem at a time. Each poet responded to the poem received by writing a new poem of his own which was then sent in the mail to continue the collaboration. They agreed on a time limit for each composition and stuck to it. In 1983 these poems were published in Boston by Godine under the title Segues.

More recently, Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton have written "Exquisite Corpse sonnets, sestinas, pantoums and villanelles" together. They have collaborated so much in writing together that they have articulated "ten commandments" for collaboration. Here they are:

1. Thou shalt trust thy collaborator's art with thy whole heart.
2. Thou shalt trust thy collaborator's judgment with thy whole mind.
3. Thou shalt trust thy collaborator's integrity with thy whole spirit.
4. Honor thy own voice.
5. Honor thy collaborator's spouse.
6. Thou shalt not be an egotistical asshole.
7. Thou shalt not covet all the glory.
8. Thou shalt love the same foods as your collaborator.
9. Thou shalt eat and tire at the same time.
10. Above all, honor the muse.

These commandments are excerpted from an article which originally appeared in American Poet, the biannual journal of the Academy of American Poets. Copyright © 2006 by The Academy of American Poets. All rights reserved. To subscribe to American Poet, become a member online. The full article is available at Poets dot org (accessed 7/24/08).


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nothing to Say & Saying It: Why Poetry Matters


The following excerpts were selected by John Gallaher. With his permission, I've posted his post here. To see the original post at his blog, click on the title of this post.

Gallaher writes:
Thanks to Charles Jensen, I found an article, written by Jay Parini, titled “Why Poetry Matters.” I’ve excerpted the bits below that I liked.

What this essay reminds me of, is the general tendency of poetry that unifies the gesture, not the specific gestures that divide us. The specific gestures that divide us are important to note, and to argue over, because we really are all trying toward a unification with reality in our poems, and so noting where we think others are missing this union becomes a necessity. That said, a weak poem does much less damage to the world than a weak law. Just saying.

Anyway, the article doesn’t say anything that you haven’t heard before, I’m sure, but it’s good to be continually reminded, so here are some excerpts:

*

One tends to forget that poetry is wisdom. I was in Morocco recently, and a devout Muslim mentioned to me that the Prophet Muhammad, in his book of sayings, the Hadith, had said as much. But the Koran also teaches, I was told, that poets are dangerous, and that decent people should avoid them. That reminded me of Plato, who wished to ban all poets from his ideal republic because he thought they were liars. Reality, for Plato, was an intense, perfect world of ideas. The material world represents reflections of that ideal, always imperfect. Artistic representations of nature were thus at several removes from the ideal, hence suspicious.

But Plato also had other worries about poets. In the Republic, he complained that they tend to whip up the emotions of readers in unhelpful ways. They stir feelings of “lust and anger and all the other affections, of desire and pain and pleasure.” Poetry “feeds and waters the passions instead of drying them up,” he said, while only the “hymns of the gods and praises of famous men” are worthy of readers. The law and reason are far better.

*

In “Education by Poetry” . . . Frost argued that an understanding of how poetry works is essential to the developing intellect. He went so far as to suggest that unless you are at home in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere. Because you are not at ease with figurative values, “you don’t know how far you may expect to ride it and when it may break down with you.”

*

Poets . . . make large claims, and they are usually a bit exaggerated. In his “Defense of Poetry,” Shelley famously wrote: “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” I prefer the twist on that offered by a later poet, George Oppen, who wrote: “Poets are the legislators of the unacknowledged world.”

The world of the poet is largely an interior world of the intellect and the emotions — where we mostly live, in fact. And poetry bolsters that interior realm. In a talk at Princeton University in 1942, when the world was aflame, Stevens reflected on the fact that the 20th century had become “so violent,” both physically and spiritually. He succinctly defined poetry as “a violence from within that protects us from a violence without. It is the imagination pushing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation; and that, no doubt, is why the expression of poetry, the sound of its words, helps us to live our lives.”

*

Auden noted when he wrote in his elegy for Yeats that “poetry makes nothing happen.” That is, it doesn’t shift the stock market or persuade dictators to stand down. It doesn’t usually send masses into the streets to protest a war or petition for economic justice. It works in quieter ways, shaping the interior space of readers, adding a range of subtlety to their thoughts, complicating the world for them.

[JG: I will jump in to interject here, the more interesting reading of “poetry makes nothing happen,” where the nothing is the nothing that is there, as Stevens writes, and as Kay Ryan plays with in “Nothing Ventured.”]

Emerson argues that the sheer physicality of words points us in directions that might be called “spiritual.” He puts forward three principles worth considering:

“Words are signs of natural facts.”

“Particular natural facts are symbols of particular spiritual facts.”

“Nature is the symbol of the spirit.”


http://chronicle.com/
Section: The Chronicle Review
Volume 54, Issue 42, Page B16


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Nick Carbo AKA Secret Asian Man


Nick Carbo wrote this essay on Filipino poetry; the essay was published in the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia:

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF PHILIPPINE POETRY


The history of Philippine poetry can be described in four major literary periods: Pre-Colonial (before 1521), Spanish Colonial (1521-1898), American Colonial (1898-1946), and Contemporary (1946-present). A strong indigenous oral tradition is interwoven with the Spanish and American colonial influences of culture and language. Poetry has been written in Tagalog (the national language) and in the 87 different regional dialects, as well as in the Castillian Spanish of Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega, and the American English of Walt Whitman and Mark Twain.

PRE-COLONIAL

An indigenous oral tradition of bugtong (riddles) and sawikain (proverbs) played a central part of community life in villages and settlements of pre-colonial Philippines. Short four line poems called tanaga evolved from these oral traditions. Each line contained seven or eight syllables and at the heart of the poem was a cryptic metaphor called a talinghaga. Popular folk musical verse was divided into several categories: the diona, talindao and auit (songs sung at home); indolanin and dolayanin (street songs); hila, soliranin and manigpasin (rowing songs); holohorlo and oyayi (cradle songs); ombayi (songs of sadness); omiguing (songs of tenderness); tagumpay (triumphant songs); dopayanin (boat songs); hiliriao (drinking songs); and diona (wedding songs). Through these verses the local history, politics, and culture was passed on from generation to generation. The most skilled poets would memorize epic cycles which took two to four days to recite during all night dramatic performances. Two examples of pre-colonial epics which survive today are Biag ni Lam-ang in Ilocano (a northern Luzon dialect) and Ibalon in Bicol (a southern Luzon dialect).

SPANISH COLONIAL

With arrival of the Spanish colonizers Ferdinand Magellan (1521) and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (1571) came priests and their tradition of European Catholicism. Satanas (Satan) first appeared in Tagalog poetry and the Christian themes of sin, guilt, and retribution became central concerns of the native population. In 1610 Tomas PINPIN, a Filipino poet working for the Dominican printing press in Bataan, (a town outside Manila) wrote a book called Librong Pagaaralan nang manga Tagalog nang Uicang Castila (A Book in Which Tagalogs May Study the Spanish Language). In this book Pinpin inserted six auit (songs) which had alternating Spanish and Tagalog lines. This type of bilingual poetry was written by a group called the Ladino Poets. Metrical romances called awit or korido were also popular with the literary crowds. The most influential Tagalog romance of the period was the politically cryptic Florante at Laura (1838) written by Francisco BALTAZAR, also known as BALAGTAS (1788-1862). The first book of poetry written in Spanish by a Filipino was Pedro PATERNO’s (1858-1911) Sampaguitas y Poesias Varias (1880) which was printed in Spain. Paterno, along with Marcelo H. DEL PILAR (1850-1896), Jose RIZAL (1861-1896), and Isabelo DE LOS REYES (1864-1918) were literary and political figures living in Madrid called Ilustrados (enlightened ones) working to attain political freedoms for the natives back in the Philippines. The first Filipino female poet to attain outside recognition was Leona FLORENTINO (1849-1884) whose poems were exhibited in the Exposition Filipina in 1887 in Madrid and in the 1889 Exposition Internationale in Paris.

AMERICAN COLONIAL

In 1898 the American President William McKinley announced to the public that it was America’s moral duty to take possession of the Philippine Islands because the Filipinos had to be civilized, educated, and Christianized. After American soldiers “pacified” the native population during the Philippine American War (1899-1902), thousands of American teachers were sent throughout the archipelago to teach the Filipinos the English language. In just a few years English became the privileged form of expression for poets, prose writers, and dramatists. The earliest Filipino poems written in English were published in 1905 in Berkeley, CA in The Filipino Students’ Magazine which was edited by Pensionados (Philippine American government scholars). The first book of poetry written in English Azucena (1925) by Marcelo DE GRACIA CONCEPCION (1895-1954) was published in the U.S. by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, The Knickerbocker Press. The most influential Filipino poet Jose GARCIA VILLA (1908-1997) lived most of his adult life in New York City. His books are Have Come, Am Here (Viking Press, 1942), Volume Two (New Directions, 1949), Selected Poems and New (McDowell, Obolensky, 1958). Another early immigrant Filipino poet is Carlos BULOSAN (1911-1956) who published political poems in American magazines like The New Yorker, Poetry (edited by Harriet Monroe), and Saturday Evening Post. In Manila in 1940, the Commonwealth Literary Prize in English poetry was given to Rafael ZULUETA DA COSTA’s (1915-1990) Like the Molave and Other Poems. Native themes were well represented by local poets like Fernando Ma. GUERRERO (1873-1929), Lope K. SANTOS (1879-1965), Jose CORAZON DE JESUS (1896-1932), Amado V. HERNANDEZ 1903-1970), Alejandro G. ABADILLA (1904-1969), Angela MANALANG GLORIA (1907-1999), and Trinidad TARROSA SUBIDO (1912-1993).

CONTEMPORARY

The declaration of formal independence from America on 4 July1946 brought a sense of a new beginning to the people and poets of the Philippines. A generation of poets who studied in the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop in the University of Iowa in the 1950s— Bienvenido N. SANTOS (1911-1996), Ricaredo DEMETILLO (1920-1998), Dominador I. ILIO (1913-), and Edith TIEMPO (1919-)—came back to the Philippines with the literary ideals of the American New Criticism. The 1970s and 1980s proved to be a politically aware era for Filipino poets who were writing under the censorship of the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986). As a reaction to the 1983 assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr., a leading anti-Marcos politician, several poets formed a literary organization called PLAC (Philippine Literary Arts Council) to protest the abuses of the government. One of its leading founders was Alfred A. YUSON (1945-) whose neo-realist books of poems are Dream of Knives (1986) and Trading in Mermaids (1993). Current trends in Philippine poetry are best exemplified by the pyrotechnic imagination of Eileen R. TABIOS (1960-) whose book of poetry Beyond Life Sentences (1998) won the National Book award given by the Manila Book Critics Circle. Her poems incorporate the American precision of Marianne Moore, the experimental joie de vivre of Paul Valery, and the imagistic intensity of Pablo Neruda.

Nick Carbó

BIBLIOGRAPHY
ABAD, H. Gemino. (1999) A Habit of Shores: Filipino Poetry and Verse from English, 60’s to the 90’s. Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippines Press.
ABAD, H Gemino, and Edna Z. Manlapaz, eds (1989). Man of Earth: An Anthology of Filipino Poetry and Verse from English 1905 to the Mid-50’s. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
CARBÓ, Nick, and Eileen Tabios, eds. (2000) Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.
CARBÓ, Nick. (1996) Returning a Borrowed Tongue: An Anthology of Filipino and Filipino American Poetry. Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press.

from Nick Carbo's blog accessed 7/21/08

"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kay Ryan Poet Laureate


Kay Ryan is being selected as the next Poet Laureate. Read about it here in the New York Times.







"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement



Thistles

Thistles

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Every one a revengeful burst
Of resurrection, a grasped fistful
Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up

From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutterals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.


Then they grow grey like men.
Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear
Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.


"Thistles" by Ted Hughes from Collected Poems.© Faber & Faber. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

from The Writer's Almanac accessed 7/20/08


Learn more about Ted Hughes and get a second opinion at Ted Hughes.


This poem caught me immediately this morning. I'd never read Hughes' poem before, but years ago I wrote a poem that included thistles in a similie. I don't have the full poem, but the part with the thistles was as follows:

Let's visit again the nation of heroes

along the flooded Yangtze

where thistles thrive like prayers in noble hearts

acknowledging enough, enough and too much ...


I like the similie, but instead of 'noble' a word like 'stoic,' 'trusting' or 'naive' would be better. Maybe even 'innocent.' It's hard to put an adjective in there without implying some sort of judgment of the people there. But then, the 'nation of heroes' phrase has really already done that, hasn't it. Clearly this is the work of an inexperienced poet.


But back to Hughes' poem. Apparently thistles are regarded in the UK much as they are in the US. That is, they are weed-like nuisances that are better left marginalized at the sides of railroad tracks, highways and other places that don't get landscaped. And thistles are reputed to be rough to the touch, and their flowers are not as lovely as for instance roses, chrysanthemums, fleur-de-lys, etc. But they are hardy and, as Hughes points out, they keep coming back, much like weeds, despite our efforts to remove them from our landscapes. It is this 'background knowledge' of thistles that enables the success of this poem. Someone who doesn't know anything about thistles might wonder at the violence Hughes associates with the plant in this poem. What, for instance, is 'blue-black pressure,' and do the plants really 'crackle'? I like the notion of the cow eating the thistle. The mammal, a species much different than the plant, casually destroying the 'revengeful burst/Of resurrection', the 'grasped fistful/Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up' as it inexorably grazes its way through lunch - this could be elaborated on in a number of directions.


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Swami Vivekananda

TO THE EARLY VIOLET


What though thy bed be frozen earth,
Thy cloak the chilling blast;
What though no mate to clear thy path,
Thy sky with gloom o'ercast --
What though of love itself doth fail,
Thy fragrance strewed in vain;
What though if bad o'er good prevail,
And vice o'er virtue reign --
Change not thy nature, gentle bloom,
Thou violet, sweet and pure,
But ever pour thy sweet perfume
Unasked, unstinted, sure !



Learn more about Swami Vivekananda.


To all you early violets out there, keep on keeping on! You may one day be a butterfly, who knows. Remember always do your best. No one can expect anything more and no one should expect anything less. I am grateful for this poem and picture; for them I have my friend Abhaa to thank.

"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Party Planning Ideas

A) Plan a Birthday Reading for your favorite poet. Find a venue and invite your friends. Announce the event to the general public. Have a discussion or plan ahead to have specific readers and poems with minimal comments. Have a great time!

1) Get ideas for your occasion at http://www.careeroverview.com/blog/2008/100-web-tools-to-plan-the-party-of-the-year-from-your-cube/

1A) See examples of excerpts and poems gathered for each occasion for the purpose of getting discussion started by clicking on the "Blasts from the Past" feature to the right of the screen. Feel free to use these at your own celebrations!

2) If you are a teacher, refer to the Lesson Plan for a Poetry Calendar at the website of the National Education Association (NEA).

B) Host an ongoing series of your own Poets Birthday Readings. For this, you'll want to have one or two other people who, like yourself, are not only interested in poetry but who are willing to make time for it. If you're not willing to host events once or twice a month, this isn't going to work well for you. How much time is needed? We tend to go for an hour and a half, and sometimes longer. Prep time will vary according to your interest and your desire to do your best. No one can ask for more than that, and no one will expect anything less. Specifically, what you'll want to do is:
  • Decide where you will to meet. We like Barnes & Noble because they stay open til 10 o'clock. We tend to linger and shmooze a bit after we finish reading, and sometimes we don't begin until 7:15 or later because people are still trickling in and because we like to say hello and catch up a bit before getting started. Another reason we like to meet at Barnes & Noble is the management there has welcomed us with open arms. They set up chairs for our group, they put up a little sign that says 'Reserved for the River Junction Poets at 7pm,' the store fliers they print up monthly always mention our events, and sometimes they print up stand-alone poster-sized announcements just for our events. They even sometimes turn the store music down for us (which we like best). I like to think they're responding to our enthusiasm, but I may be reading into things a bit much there. They have also occasionally brought samples of Frappuccinos to our group.
  • Have one person in your group act as the contact with the manager of the place where you will be meeting. The contact person in your group exchanges phone numbers and e-mail addresses with that manager.
  • Invite your local paper's Arts Editor to your event. If the Editor can't make it to the first one, invite them to the second and third and fourth until they come. Make it clear that everyone is welcome.

Once you have a few people to meet with and a place and time to meet, you're ready to go.

Prepare for your meeting.

  • Bring a short biographical sketch of the poet.
  • Read a few poems ahead of time.
  • Bring a book of poems with you.
  • Bring as many books as you can. Share them.
  • Have a few poems bookmarked and be ready to read them.
During your event:
  • Share your love of poetry. Enthusiasm is contagious.
  • If you know what you like about a particular poem, say so. Be specific about what you like. Point out what you think has been done well in the poem.
  • If someone in your group says what they like about a particular poem, respect that.
  • Accept what is said and engage in dialogue. If you want to disagree with what was said, find a gracious way to do so. You don't want to send people away feeling hurt. You want them to come back another night, preferably with a friend.

What we have found from our experience with these events is that we enjoy

  • learning of the poet's life and looking to see what, if anything, we can find of their biography in their poems.
  • discussing what makes a difficult poet difficult. We didn't read many poems by John Ashberry when we met on his birthday but we did enjoy a memorable discussion of why his poems were so difficult for us to understand. His poems after 1980 or so we found to be much more difficult to interpret than his earlier poems.
  • 'accessible' poetry by, for instance, Mary Oliver, David Budbill, Linda Pastan and Wendell Berry.
  • finding poets who are new to us, recommended by others within our own group.
  • meeting people who show up just because they happen to like that particular poet.
  • signing and sending birthday cards along with the store Newsletter that mentions our event to the living poets whose poems we read at our events.
  • receiving responses from the poets we celebrate at our events and then send a birthday card to. For example, we've heard from Rita Dove, Linda Pastan, Maxine Kumin, David Budbill, Kay Ryan, Tess Gallagher, Wendell Berry, Lisel Mueller and Richard Wilbur, among others.
  • believing that poetry matters to everyone.


  • Creative Commons License
    This work by Andrew Christ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
    Based on a work at birthdaysofpoets.blogspot.com.


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued." River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Robert Peake


The following blog entry was written by Robert Peake and originally appeared in his blog earlier this year (June 23).

What Yoda Means To Me

After hearing Marvin Bell read last night, I realize my assertion that he could levitate a space ship with his mind was somewhat understated. In fact, some might be downright confused by me comparing him to Yoda: is he green? does he have pointy ears? Not to my knowledge. He does invert syntax to bring pressure and rhythm to language — but, unlike Yoda, in doing so, Marvin remains grammatically correct.

There really are two aspects of Yoda that remind me of Bell. First, Yoda is a master teacher of an unteachable magic called the force. Second, and most importantly, in Episode II (the fifth film ever made) George Lucas gave every Star Wars junkie what they had long craved: the opportunity to see Yoda wield a light saber himself. With blinding alacrity and consummate skill, Yoda shows himself not only as a master teacher, but master practitioner. After Marvin’s poetry reading last night, a fellow student leaned over to me in the darkened theater and whispered, “he’s a genius.” Having spent last semester studying with him, I wanted to whisper back, “well, duh.”

Learn more about Marvin Bell.
Read Robert's Blog.


-- "It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rumi

This introduction to Rumi was put together by River Junction Poet member Sue Nearing. :^)


RUMI'S MYSTICAL POETRY



Rumi was a Sufi which is a form of Islamic mysticism named from the coarse wool garments its adherents wore. The Sufi's wanted God to be center stage in their lives. Those who tried to gain the knowledge to do this were shaikhs or masters and formed Sufi Orders.

Rumi's father was a shaikh in Turkey and when he died, his son succeeded him. With Rumi's creativity the Mevlevi Order evolved. It became famous for its sacred dances that were a central practice. Rumi liked to circle a pillar in his mosque with one hand around a pillar which supposedly symbolized planets circling the sun. The movements elevated him and caused poetry to pour from his lips in ecstatic torrents. The Mevlevis came to be known as the Whirling Dervishes. Dervish was a Persian work for “poor” and took on the connotation of “poor in spirit” or “humility.”

The dance required months of practice and the novice wedged a large exposed floor nail between his big and his second toe of the left foot. Then, they pivoted around this with both arms extended. Several would whirl at the same time sometimes. The first part of the dance reportedly symbolized Creation and started out clockwise. When the shaikh entered, night changed to dawn and the sun rose metaphorically. The dancers reverse and return to the starting point which was God.

Union with God in this life is the goal of mysticism. There were three forms. The Ecstatic Union elevated one to a state so completely occupied with God that no room remained for him to be aware of who he is. The second mode of Union was the Noetic from the Greek word for intellectual. This is seeking to know God through factual knowledge and was more like seeing than thinking. The third variety is Love Union. This dwelled on longing as love is never more evident than when the object is absent (in this case God). Rumi's flute was described as a lament; hollow, empty, and torn symbolizing the soul's severance from the Divine.

Rumi was born Sept. 30, 1207 in Afghanistan. The name Rumi means “from Roman Anatolia.” His family, fleeing the invading Mongols, moved to Turkey between 1215 and 1220. His father was a theologian and a jurist.

As a religious scholar, Rumi as an adult, taught, meditated, and helped the poor until 1244. At that time, he was questioned by a wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz. Shams' questions made Rumi faint due to their depth. Shams and Rumi became inseparable, but soon Rumi's students felt neglected. Shams sensed the trouble and disappeared. Rumi then transformed into a mystical poet and began to listen to music, sing, and whirl. He sent his son to bring Shams back again and Shams and Rumi again fell into an intense relationship. Jealousies grew and it was thought that Shams was murdered.

Rumi set out searching for Shams and journeyed to Damascus. He decided that Shams and he were one and called his odes and quatrains “The Works of Shams of Tabriz.”

Rumi then had an intense relationship with Saladin Zarkub, a goldsmith and began addressing his poems to Saladin. When Saladin died, his scribe and favorite student, Hasam Chelebei became the object of his writing.

Rumi died 12-17-1273.



BURNT KABOB



Last year, I admired wines. This,

I'm wandering inside the red world.


Last year, I gazed at the fire.

This year I'm burnt kabob.


Thirst drove me to the water

where I drank the moon's reflection.


Now I am a lion staring up totally

lost in love with the thing itself.


Don't ask questions about longing.

Look at my face.


Soul drunk, body ruined, these two

sit helpless in a wrecked wagon.

Neither knows how to fix it.

And my heart, I'd say was more

like a donkey sunk in a mud hole,

struggling and miring deeper.


But listen to me: for one moment,

quit being sad. Hear blessings

dropping their blossoms

around you, God.




THE REED FLUTE'S SONG


Listen to the story told by the reed,

of being separated.


“Since I was cut from reed bed,

I have made this crying sound.


Anyone apart from someone he loves

understands what I say.


Anyone pulled from a source

longs to go back.


At any gathering I am there,

mingling in the laughing and the grieving,


a friend to each, but few

will hear the secrets hidden


within the notes. No ears for that.

Body flowing out of spirit.

spirit up from body: no concealing

that mixing. But its not given us


to see the soul. The reed flute

is fire, not wind. Be that empty.”


Hear the love fire tangled

in the reed notes, as bewilderment

melts into wine. The reed is a friend

to all who want the fabric torn.


and drawn away. The reed is hurt

and salve combining. Intimacy


and longing for intimacy, one

song. A disastrous surrender.


And a fine love, together. The one

who secretly hears this is senseless.


A tongue has one customer, the ear.

A sugarcane flute has such effect.


Because it was able to make sugar

in the reed bed. The sound it makes


is for everyone. Days of wanting

let them go by without worrying


that they do. Stay where you are

inside such a pure, hollow note.


Every thirst gets satisfied except

that of these fish, the mystics,


who swim a vast ocean of grace

still somehow longing for it!


No one lives in that without

being nourished every day.


But if someone doesn't want to hear

the song of the reed flute,


it's best to cut conversation

short, say good-bye, and leave.





This information and poetry came from The Essential Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks.



-- "It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 - 1889)

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the three or four greatest poets of the Victorian era. He is regarded by different readers as the greatest Victorian poet of religion, of nature, or of melancholy. However, because his style was so radically different from that of his contemporaries, his best poems were not accepted for publication during his lifetime, and his achievement was not fully recognized until after World War I.

Hopkins's idiosyncratic creativity was the result of interactions with others, beginning with the members of his family. Hopkins's extended family constituted a social environment that made the commitment of an eldest son to religion, language, and art not only possible but also highly probable. His mother, Kate Smith Hopkins (1821-1900), was a devout High Church Anglican who brought up her children to be religious. Hopkins read from the New Testament daily at school to fulfill a promise he made to her. The daughter of a London physician, she was better educated than most Victorian women and particularly fond of music and of reading, especially German philosophy and literature, the novels of Dickens, and eventually her eldest son's poetry.

Manley Hopkins was the founder of a marine insurance firm. It is no accident that shipwreck, one of the firm's primary concerns, was the subject of Hopkins's most ambitious poem,
The Wreck of the Deutschland (1875). Nor can the emphasis on religion in that poem be attributed solely to the mother's influence. Manley Hopkins was a devout High Church Anglican who taught Sunday School at St. John's in Hampstead, where he was churchwarden. He loved music and literature, passing on his fondness for puns and wordplay to his sons Gerard and Lionel and his love for poetry to Gerard especially. His publications include A Philosopher's Stone and Other Poems (1843), Pietas Metrica (1849), and Spicelegium Poeticum, A Gathering of Verses by Manley Hopkins (1892). He also reviewed poetry for the London Times and wrote one novel and an essay on Longfellow, which were never published.

Competition and collaboration between father and son continued even long after Hopkins left home to take his place in the world... Competition with his father was an important creative stimulus.

The most joyous synchronic reading of the Bible and the Book of Nature was the hymn of creation, a traditional genre inspired by Psalm 148 to which such poems of Gerard's as "God's Grandeur" (1877), "Pied Beauty" (1877), "Hurrahing in Harvest," and "Easter" (1866) belong. A line such as "Flowers do ope their heavenward eyes" in Hopkins's "Easter," for instance, would normally be ascribed to the influence of George Herbert, but the representation of a flower "breathing up to heaven/The incense of her prayer" like a "natural altar" in "The Fraxinella" in
Pietas Metrica reveals that it is just as appropriate to look to contemporary poetry for a context for Hopkins's poems as it is to look back to Metaphysical poets such as Herbert. Indeed, in some cases it may be more appropriate to seek contemporary models. Though Herbert's "The Flower" is a famous example of a flower straining toward heaven, he employs no satellite imagery of opening eyes; indeed he only twice uses the word ope in all of his poems, neither time referring to flowers, and he never uses the adjective heavenward.

Gerard also wrote a poem about an alchemist, "The Alchemist in the City," but the poem of his which captures this didactic tone best is perhaps
The Wreck of the Deutschland, especially the eleventh stanza:

                 `Some find me a sword; some                  The flange and the rail; flame,          Fang, or flood' goes Death on drum,                  And storms bugle his fame. But we dream we are rooted in earth--Dust! Flesh falls within sight of us, we, though our flower the same,          Wave with the meadow, forget that there must The sour scythe cringe, and the blear share come.

Hopkins's Ruskinese sketches are significant because although Hopkins is remembered as a poet, he wanted to be a painter, deciding against it finally because he thought it was too "passionate" an exercise for one with a religious vocation. Nevertheless, even after he became a Jesuit he continued to cultivate an acquaintance with the visual arts through drawing and attendance at exhibitions, and this lifelong attraction to the visual arts affected the verbal art for which he is remembered. In his early poetry and in his journals wordpainting is pervasive, and there is a recurrent Keatsian straining after the stasis of the plastic arts.

...what Hopkins said about Keats applies as well to his own early poems: "even when he is misconstructing one can remark certain instinctive turns of construction in his style, shewing his latent power." The most significant "instinctive turn" in Hopkins's early poetry occurs in "Il Mystico" (1862), in which older, more traditional religious ideals replace his Keatsian dream visions. "Il Mystico" anticipates that general move that Hopkins, like Tennyson, made from the imitation of Keats to a more explicitly Christian Romanticism, a conversion which enabled him to fulfill his own prophecy for Keats: "what he did not want to live by would have asserted itself presently and perhaps have been as much more powerful than that of his contemporaries as his sensibility or impressionableness, by which he did not want to live, was keener and richer than theirs."

Hopkins eventually began to be critical of mere love of detail, however--"that kind of thought which runs upon the concrete and the particular, which disintegrates and drops toward atomism in some shape or other," he wrote in his journal--and he became increasingly aware of the importance of religion as the ultimate source of unity.

His religious consciousness increased dramatically when he entered Oxford, the city of spires. From April of 1863, when he first arrived with some of his journals, drawings, and early Keatsian poems in hand, until June of 1867 when he graduated, Hopkins felt the charm of Oxford, "steeped in sentiment as she lies," as Matthew Arnold had said, "spreading her gardens to the moonlight and whispering from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Ages." Here he became more fully aware of the religious implications of the medievalism of Ruskin, Dixon, and the Pre-Raphaelites. Inspired also by Christina Rossetti, the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist, and by the Victorian preoccupation with the fifteenth-century Italian religious reformer Girolamo Savonarola, he soon embraced Ruskin's definition of "Medievalism" as a "confession of Christ" opposed to both "Classicalism" ("Pagan Faith") and "Modernism" (the "denial of Christ").

Among the Pre-Raphaelites the most important figure for Hopkins was Christina Rossetti. She benefited from the emphasis on the feminine in the Pre-Raphaelite focus on Marian figures such as Dante's Beatrice. When Hopkins met her in 1864 he met an icon, the model for the Virgin in the paintings of her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti. She influenced Hopkins more than any other contemporary at this point in his career and was particularly important in Hopkins's replacement of Keats with Dante as the dominant paradigm in his poetic imagination.

Christina Rossetti became for Hopkins the embodiment of the medievalism of the Pre-Raphaelites, the Oxford Movement, and Victorian religious poetry generally. In the 1860s Hopkins was profoundly influenced by her example and succeeded, unbeknownst to her and to the critics of his time, in becoming a rival far greater than any of her contemporaries.

Both Hopkins and Christina Rossetti believed that religion was more important than art. The outline of Hopkins's career follows that of Christina Rossetti's: an outwardly drab, plodding life of submission quietly bursting into splendor in holiness and poetry. Both felt that religious inspiration was more important than artistic inspiration. Whenever religious renunciation and self-expression were felt to be at odds, as they often were, self-expression had to be sacrificed. Poetry had to be subordinated to religion.

The attitudes of Christina Rossetti and Hopkins toward art and religion have destined them to share much the same fate at the hands of twentieth-century readers: criticism for deliberately narrowing their subjects to a range too limited for modern palates, for expressing religious convictions with which it is now difficult to sympathize, for allowing religion to take precedence over poetry, or for actually impairing the creative gift itself. On the other hand, both are often praised by twentieth-century readers for the same feature: the expression of counterpoised forces generating dramatic tensions.

The sequence of events is clear. On 18 January 1866 Hopkins composed his most ascetic poem, "The Habit of Perfection." On 23 January he included poetry in the list of things to be given up for Lent. In July he decided to become a Catholic, and he traveled to Birmingham in September to consult the leader of the Oxford converts, John Henry Newman. Newman received him into the Church in October. On 5 May 1868 Hopkins firmly "resolved to be a religious." Less than a week later, apparently still inspired by Savonarola, he made a bonfire of his poems and gave up poetry almost entirely for seven years. Finally, in the fall of 1868 Hopkins joined a "serged fellowship" like Savonarola's and like the one he admired in "Eastern Communion" (1865), a commitment foreshadowed by the emphasis on vows of silence and poverty in "The Habit of Perfection."

Thus it is important to realize that he converted to Catholicism not to be more ascetic, for asceticism was as Protestant as it was Catholic, but to be able to embrace the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence.

The next month Hopkins wrote to Baillie, "I have written three religious poems which however you would not at all enter into, they being of a very Catholic character." The first of these poems was apparently "Barnfloor and Winepress," published the next year in the
Union Review. This poem adumbrates the poetic as well as religious importance of Hopkins's belief in the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist, the "Half-Way House" of God in this world as Hopkins called the sacrament in a poem of that name in 1864. "Barnfloor and Winepress" in some respects foreshadows the poetry of nature Hopkins was to compose in the late 1870s.

Though primarily a celebration of the Real Presence, this poem reveals how Hopkins could in his imagination extend the idea of the mystical Body of Christ in the communion bread and wine to the rest of nature. In this poem the wheat and grapes are not mere raw materials for Transubstantiation but are represented metaphorically as if they were already participating in the Being of God. One of the attractions of the doctrine of the Real Presence for Hopkins was that it was, as depicted in "Barnfloor and Winepress," the central instance of a metaphor participating in the reality it represents, an archetype for a sacramental poetry of nature.

This potential for a new sacramental poetry was first realized by Hopkins in
The Wreck of the Deutschland. Hopkins recalled that when he read about the wreck of the German ship Deutschland off the coast of England it "made a deep impression on me, more than any other wreck or accident I ever read of," a statement made all the more impressive when we consider the number of shipwrecks he must have discussed with his father. Hopkins wrote about this particular disaster at the suggestion of Fr. James Jones, Rector of St. Beuno's College, where Hopkins studied theology from 1874 to 1877. Hopkins recalled that "What I had written I burnt before I became a Jesuit and resolved to write no more, as not belonging to my profession, unless it were by the wish of my superiors; so for seven years I wrote nothing but two or three little presentation pieces which occasion called for [presumably `Rosa Mystica' and `Ad Mariam']. But when in the winter of '75 the Deutschland was wrecked in the mouth of the Thames and five Franciscan nuns, exiles from Germany by the Falck Laws, aboard of her were drowned I was affected by the account and happening to say so to my rector he said that he wished someone would write a poem on the subject. On this hint I set to work and, though my hand was out at first, produced one. I had long had haunting my ear the echo of a new rhythm which now I realized on paper."

The result is an ode of thirty-five eight-line stanzas, divided into two parts. The first part, consisting of ten stanzas, is autobiographical, recalling how God touched the speaker in his own life. The second begins with seven stanzas dramatizing newspaper accounts of the wreck. Then fourteen stanzas narrow the focus to a single passenger, the tallest of the five nuns who drowned. She was heard to call on Christ before her death. The last four stanzas address God directly and culminate in a call for the conversion of England.

The Wreck of the Deutschland became the occasion for Hopkins's incarnation as a poet in his own right. He broke with the Keatsian wordpainting style with which he began, replacing his initial prolixity, stasis, and lack of construction with a concise, dramatic unity.

Excerpted from 17-page article at The Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poet.html?id=81375 accessed 6/30/08.

Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things--    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;        For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;    Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;        And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.  All things counter, original, spare, strange;    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)       With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:                                      Praise Him.

God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed.  Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.  And for all this, nature is never spent;    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-- Because the Holy Ghost over the bent    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Spring and Fall: To a young child by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Margaret, are you grieving Over Goldengrove unleaving? Leaves, like the things of man, you With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? Ah! as the heart grows older It will come to such sights colder By and by, nor spare a sigh Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; And yet you will weep and know why. Now no matter, child, the name: Sorrow's springs are the same. Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed What heart heard of, ghost guessed: It is the blight man was born for, It is Margaret you mourn for.

Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

by Gerard Manley Hopkins


Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamen
justa loquar ad te: quare via impiorum prosperatur? &c.
(Jerem. xii 1.)

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend

With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.

Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must

Disappointment all I endeavour end?

Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,

How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost

Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust

Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,


Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes

Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again

With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes

Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,

Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.

Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

Binsey Poplars

by Gerard Manley Hopkins


felled /79

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled ,

Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,

Áll félled, félled, are áll félled;

Of a fresh & following folded rank

Not spared, not one

That dandled a sandalled

Shadow that swam or sank

On meadow & river & wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

O if we but knew what we do

When we delve or hew —

Hack & rack the growing green!

Since country is so tender

To tóuch, her béing só slénder,

That, like this sleek & seeing ball

But a prick will make no eye at all,

Where we, even where we mean

To mend her we end her,

When we hew or delve:

After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.

Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve

Strokes of havoc unselve

The sweet especial scene,

Rural scene, a rural scene,

Sweet especial rural scene.

Poems from www.poetryfoundation.org and from www.poets.org accessed 6/30/08.


-- "It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement