Today is the Day

We meet.  We discuss poetry.  We kibbutz.  I take pictures.  I post them so our far flung readers can see what a hip group of square-staters look like.  Black turtleneck sweaters and rectangular glasses are no longer de rigueur  for these events, although a beret is still considered wise.  Lets people know you’re serious.

I don’t want to give too much away because I want to write lots after the discussion but I am, as ever, in awe of good writing and how it leads us to discover new meaning in texts we’ve read a million times and every poem that is added to our conscience (well, not every poem; every good poem,) seems to deepen our understanding of even the most mundane daily activities, and fleeting emotions grow concrete and real when named so perfectly.  I am thinking of Elizabeth Bishop’s In the Waiting Room which is about waiting for an aunt to have her teeth fixed at the Dentist’s office.  If you write to tell me that no, it is about death, Zen existentialism and rebirth I will agree but will also insist that it is very much also about waiting in a dentist’s office for your aunt to have her teeth fixed.

We will be reading the Bishop poem with the Addonizio poem, Salmon.  In this way we can establish our high minded literary credentials before we go crashing headlong into all of the explicit sex, drinking and carousing of her other poems.  If you write to tell me that sex, drinking and carousing are base and have no business in poetry I will remind you that they are metaphors for death, Zen existentialism and rebirth.

Oh! Don’t I sound serious?  “I will remind you”?  Well, being defensive on behalf of poetry is probably the least of my sins and since we know that no less a figure than Stephen Dedalus  gets the snot beat out of him for defending that decedent atheist, Lord Byron, in A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, we are in good company.

Hope to see lots of you this afternoon.  Hope to read lots of your brilliant comments later. Click below for a link to In the Waiting Room.

In the Waiting Room 

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Published in: on March 3, 2007 at 5:33 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. I think Robert Frost said that a poem was a momentary stay against confusion. I think its also a way of going way out to the boundaries of self where it spills out into other and other spills in, what Bishop calls falling, and then coming back safely. I have to wonder whether falling can be a pleasant sensation at the time, or only in recollection, or whether it is something to be avoided at all costs. Should we celebrate when we succeed in dwelling in the pain and confusion of lost identity, in the violation of pure categories, or only when we rescue the confusion from oblivion, and give it a place in the cosmos? I would like to keep falling until it is no longer horrifying, keep gazing at those horrifying breasts until they are somehow, no longer horrible, I would like to drink from, to be sustained by, those awful hanging breasts. I wish we didn’t need these momentary stays against confusion, but could dwell in the confusion itself. Well, I guess thats what Bishop does in a sense…is open the window and let the outer chaos blow in. A momentary stay is not a way to shut the door against assaults to identity, but a way of dealing with their occurance in a productive way. It’s all we have as humans– we can only fall so far.


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