387th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 387th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Jorie Graham:


Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl   
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the   
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a   
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by   
minutest fractions the water’s downdrafts and upswirls, the   
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where   
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into   
itself (it has those layers), a real current though mostly   
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
                                    motion that forces change—
this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets   
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,   
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something   
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through   
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is   
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen   
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only   
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.   
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.   
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.

What do you think?

Mailbox Monday #363

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received from the library sale, two hardcovers for $1 each and the rest paperbacks at 50 cents.

Never by Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham’s collection of poems, Never, primarily addresses concern over our environment in crisis. One of the most challenging poets writing today, Graham is no easy read, but the rewards are well worth the effort. While thematically present, her concern is not exclusively the demise of natural resources and depletion of species, but the philosophical and perceptual difficulty in capturing and depicting a physical world that may be lost, or one that we humans have limited sight of and into. As she notes in “The Taken-Down God”: “We wish to not be erased from the / picture. We wish to picture the erasure. The human earth and its appearance. / The human and its disappearance.”

With a style that is fragmented and somewhat whirling–language dips and darts and asides are taken–Graham stays on point and presents an honest intellect at work, fumbling for an accurate understanding (or description) of the natural world, self-conscious about the limitations of language and perception.

The Best of It by Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan, named the Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry 2010, is just the latest in an amazing array of accolades for this wonderfully accessible, widely loved poet. She was appointed the Library of Congress’s sixteenth poet laureate from 2008 to 2010. Salon has compared her poems to “Fabergé eggs, tiny, ingenious devices that inevitably conceal some hidden wonder.” The two hundred poems in Ryan’s The Best of It offer a stunning retrospective of her work, as well as a swath of never-before-published poems of which are sure to appeal equally to longtime fans and general readers.

The Seven Ages by Louise Gluck

The Seven Ages was written during a ten-week period in the summer of 1999.

The fierce, austerely beautiful, and visionary voice that has become Glück’s
trademark speaks in these poems of a life lived in unflinching awareness.
Many of the poems in this collection bear the familiar features of Glück’s
earlier work, returning to themes of nature and the classical narratives
that explain the phenomena of the world around us. Like Ararat, Glück’s
fifth book, this collection explores the hazards and pleasures of the
domestic sphere and the family with an eye to the demonic. As in The Wild
Iris, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, and Vita Nova, imagination
supplants both empiricism and tradition in these poems. Unlike her past
work, many of these poems inhabit the realm of dreams, moving backward in
time to an eidetic, unrecoverable past and ahead to an as-yet unrealized
future. “Earth was given to me in a dream/ In a dream I possessed it.” In
these poems, Glück is wry, dreamlike, idiomatic, undeceived, unrelenting.

This new transparent mode, although charged by the indelible imagery and
exact phrasing her readers will recognize, represents an ecstatic departure
from her previous work.

Epic Song by Pablo Neruda

This book of epic and lyric poems is the first book that any poet — in Cuba or anywhere else — dedicated to the Cuban Revolution and the Caribbean peoples. Ardently alive today, they sing of dignity to the indignant, of hope to the hopeless, of justice in spite of the unjust, of equality in spite of the exploiters, of truth in spite of the liars and of the great, brotherhood of true fighters.

Field Work by Seamus Heaney

“Field Work,” which first appeared in 1979, is a superb collection of lyrics and narrative poems from one of the literary masters of our time. As the critic Dennis Donoghue wrote in “The New York Times Book Review”: “In 1938, not a moment too soon, W. B. Yeats admonished his colleagues: ‘Irish poets, learn your trade.’ Seamus Heaney, born the following year, has learned his trade so well that it is now a second nature wonderfully responsive to his first. And the proof is in “Field Work,” a superb book . . . [This is] a perennial poetry offered at a time when many of us have despaired of seeing such a thing.”
Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His recent translations include “Beowulf” and “Diary of One Who Vanished”; his recent poetry collections include “Opened Ground” and “Electric Light.”
“Field Work,” which first appeared in 1979, is a superb collection of lyrics and narrative poems from one of the literary masters of our time. As the critic Dennis Donoghue wrote in “The New York Times Book Review”: “In 1938, not a moment too soon, W. B. Yeats admonished his colleagues: ‘Irish poets, learn your trade.’ Seamus Heaney, born the following year, has learned his trade so well that it is now a second nature wonderfully responsive to his first. And the proof is in “Field Work,” a superb book . . . [This is] a perennial poetry offered at a time when many of us have despaired of seeing such a thing.”
“Heaney is keyed and pitched unlike any significant poet now at work in the language, anywhere.”–Harold Bloom, “The Times Literary Supplement”
“For all the qualities I list, the most important is song [and] the tune Heaney sings [is] poetry’s tune, resolutions of cherished language.”–Donald Hall, “The Nation”

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now.

Here’s my review books:

Living Like a Runaway by Lita Ford for review from Dey Street Books.

In this long-awaited, emotionally powerful memoir,  “HEAVY METAL’S LEADING FEMALE ROCKER” (Rolling Stone) opens up about the ’70s and ’80s music scene and her trailblazing life as the lead guitarist of the “pioneering band” (New York Times) the Runaways and her platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated solo career. Hailed as “the mother of all metal” (Los Angeles Times) and “one of the greatest female electric guitar players to ever pick up the instrument” (Elle), Lita Ford bares her soul in Living Like a Runaway.

Normal Norman by Tara Lazar, illustrated by S. Britt, for review from Sterling Children’s Books.

What is “normal?” That’s the question an eager young scientist, narrating her very first book, hopes to answer. Unfortunately, her exceedingly “normal” subject—an orangutan named Norman—turns out to be exceptionally strange. He speaks English, sleeps in a bed, loves his stuffed toy, goes bananas over pizza, and even deep-sea dives! Oh, no: what’s a “normal” scientist to do?

What did you receive?

Place: New Poems by Jorie Graham

Place: New Poems by Jorie Graham, who is a Pulitzer Prize winner (1996), is a collection of poems in five parts that is about not just physical places, but also the place points in our pasts and the places in our soul that can define who we are.  Her poetry is clean, clipped, and infused with nature and human perception, espousing the benefits and limitations of humanity.

In part one, the narration talks of places in the moment and in the past and how they change over time based on the perception of the future self.  There is a mother and child, an unspoiled relationship and unspoiled being hovering on the “railing” and in the moment.  Bask in today, the feeling and the being — each poem seems to say.

From "Cagnes Sur Mer 1950" (page 6-8)

How the archway and the voice and the shadow
seize the small triangle of my soul
violently, as in a silent film where the accompaniment
becomes a mad body
for the spirit's skipping images -- abandoned homeland -- miracle from which
we come back out alive.  So here from there again I, 
read it off the book of time, 
my only time, as if in there is a fatal mistake of which
I cannot find the nature -- or shape -- or origin --
From "The Bird on My Railing" (pages 16-19)

             the still wet iron of
             of fire
             escape's top
railing a truth is making this instant on our clock
             open with a taut
             unchirping un-
             breaking note -- a perfectly
             released vowel traveling
the high branches across the way, between us and the
             others, in their 

There is the moment when life begins — a place — in which at our purest form we are human and untainted.  It is from this moment we are propelled forward, and though we are moving forward in time and in maturity and growth, we also pause to look back to see where we have been.  It is about these places, these experiences of which Graham writes, focusing on observing those moments without judgment.

In the second and third sections of the collection, Graham revisits the notion that “matter is neither created nor destroyed” in that the self is neither created nor innovative because it borrows from its surroundings.  In many ways, humans are on the outside looking in and are intruders to the natural world in some moments.  There are a number of references throughout the collection to plants and generation in these sections, which act as a segue into the next section in which revision occurs and humanity interferes with the natural world.  There is even a revision of the Garden of Eden story here that uncovers the inner thoughts of one resident and the need to grow and experience more than s/he is given.

Place: New Poems by Jorie Graham touches on the inner experience and how “outside” of the world it makes the narrator feel, but it also examines the human need to touch, become, and take over — greedy for it all.  Through an examination of the human relationship to mothers and nature, Graham builds a disconnection between nurturing relationships and the desire for experience and immersion in the world around us.  Finding a place amongst family, nature, work, and the world is a journey all of us take, but not all of us complete.  In many ways, we are only shown slivers of the world outside ourselves and what it means and how it actually is, and even with this knowledge how can we apply it to our own journeys and futures?  The choice is up to us.

About the Poet:

Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor. She was raised in Rome, Italy and educated in French schools. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa.

Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Sea Change (Ecco, 2008), Never (2002), Swarm (2000), and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

You also can check out this review.

This is the 18th book for my 2012 Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #184

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Mrs. Q Book Addict.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Place: New Poems by Jorie Graham for review from HarperCollins.

What did you receive?