Hear me out

It’s not a social norm–real listening. Despite the recognition that human beings are social animals that require communication, despite the recognition that “talk therapy” (which at its foundation employs active listening) and writing therapy can heal broken psyches,  even though many studies over decades have demonstrated how relationships rely upon partners’ openness to listening–listening stays a bit unconventional.

So many people think listening is passive. No, it is an active verb. Bombarded with information from numerous sources, the processes of discerning what one should listen to get tattered and confused. Our brains want to chunk information, to ignore, to elide, to suppress and glean and separate the various threads so the mind can prioritize.

Listening is difficult.

~

solomonseal

Not asphodel but Solomon’s seal, also a greeny flower

William Carlos Williams famously claims it’s difficult to get the news from poetry–and, in the same poem, he asks us (by way of Flossie, his wife) to listen:

…Hear me out.
Do not turn away.
I have learned much in my life
from books
and out of them
about love.
Death
is not the end of it.
There is a hierarchy
which can be attained,
I think,
in its service.

the mind
that must be cured
short of death’s
intervention,
and the will becomes again
a garden. The poem
is complex and the place made
in our lives
for the poem.

[I am not html-savvy enough to code the spacing of this poem on my blog, but you can find it here (p. 20) or here; the excerpts are from “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower.”]

~

Poetry :  “A way of happening, a mouth.” It survives, says Auden, in his poem on the death of Yeats.

The mouth expresses the mind and also what we call the heart, the soul. To make a poem is an intentional act.

Is listening a subversive act? is compassion?

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Poetry on chilly days

The region in which I live has been experiencing a lengthy spate of below-freezing weather, many a chilly day. When I do not feel like concentrating too much, I browse seed catalogues. But I am also reading poetry.

Today, I’ve begun reading a 2011 collection of poems by Rachel Hadas, The Golden Road, poems that are dense and beautiful and often elegiac in tone. I took a workshop with Hadas quite a few years ago and had enjoyed her work since long before the class; it was a pleasure to have her as a reader/instructor. And it is, so far, an excellent book. I’ve been keeping her poem “The Study” in my mind for hours now.

Good news, though–I have commenced the year with new poems of my own. I have three drafts as of January 7, which is a good start.

But for today–yet another chilly day–I’m posting this little verse by William Carlos Williams.

Winter Trees

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.
                              –William Carlos Williams
~
IMG_0516
~~
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Gratitude

Friday morning, I had the opportunity to spend an hour with high school students at our college-sponsored poetry festival for teens. I also got the chance to hear visiting poet Patrick Rosal read poems, talk about poetry, and answer student questions. The young people found Rosal engaging and inspirational.

My “workshop” group talked about apologies: what the word’s etymology is, what its connotations are, whether they’d ever felt sorry and what about, blame and forgiveness, excuses and reasons. I gave them four poetry examples. They really liked what they perceived as the the “sorry/not sorry” stance in William Carlos Williams’ poem “This Is Just to Say.” That a short, century-old poem resonates with 15-year-olds pleases me immensely; and I’m glad I could introduce them to it.

I decided to write a gratitude response poem to Dr. Williams, following his style.

~

Thus, I also extend my apologies to the poet.

~

 

 

This Is Just to Say

Three plum pits
on a white
dish
testify to
that cold
juicy sweetness

Those seeds
met soil
and grew

Those plum trees
flower
even now

 

~

 

Poetry reading in Bloomsburg

This is just to say

(a little William Carlos Williams title phrase to acknowledge the natal day of a truly “American” 20th-century poet)

…that tomorrow, September 18th, I will be reading from Water-Rites, and presenting a few newer poems, at Bloomsburg Pennsylvania’s Moose Exchange. The venue is a non-profit cultural arts center in the college town of Bloomsburg PA. More on the event here.

Wednesday evening, there’ll be a full moon over the Susquehanna River, which flooded two years ago this month and stranded many college students (though they were without electricity and water, they were on the hill). The floodwaters inundated the lower part of town, including the main streets and many businesses; the damage to town and the homes of many citizens was devastating. Bloomsburg creative writing professor Jerry Wemple had invited me to read at a poetry festival that very week. The festival was, of course, canceled. Jerry was kind enough to invite me to give a CVPA reading at Moose Exchange this year. Fortunately, the weather for this week is forecast to be quite sunny.

For another WCWilliams moment, click here.

https://i1.wp.com/www.keylimepietree.com/Red_Plums_on_tree.jpg

plums (“so sweet”)

A William Carlos Williams moment in Emmaus

As the spring semester closes, I am trying to get to some housekeeping of several sorts–literal and metaphorical housekeeping. Yard work, filing, dusting, going through poems and essays and books I meant to comment upon…revisions, half-finished proposals and papers, and folders on my computer that are obscurely titled and mysteriously organized.

One thing I thought I’d do when I have a few minutes at the computer is to upload some past notes from a site I no longer use. Most of them are not worth saving, but there are a few I still like. Here’s one dated Saturday, April 18, 2009:

~

Working in the yard and garden this morning. The peas are sprouting, the asparagus are poking up. Here’s the anecdote of the day for those of you who appreciate a little poetry allusion.

My husband, preparing to move some topsoil, yells to me, “Where’s the red wheelbarrow?”

And I was able to reply, because it was literally true: “Glazed with rain water, beside the white chickens!”

white chickens

[A photo from later in the day–the rainwater glaze had evaporated.]