Thursday, December 21, 2006

Original Photographs + Music + Poetry

Check out this new video on Utube. The music is by Paint the World Yellow, and the photos are mine, as is the voice reading. The poem read is an excerpt of H.D.'s "Sea Garden." Enjoy!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rumi's back on my radar!


So, I find that all of my school-work these days involves writing poems, reading poems, and writing about poems. I love it. Love it. Even during finals week. My study breaks consist of reading poems that are not assigned... So, while attempting my take-home Modern Poetry exam, I set aside Frost, Stein, H.D. & Co. in favor of a little quality time with Rumi. I love his poems. I love The Essential Rumi volume that sits on my bedside table even more. The translators, Coleman Barks and John Moyne, have grouped Rumi's works into incredibly artful and inspiring "chapters," each of which begins with an "introduction" I find as ellusive and elucidating as Rumi's works themselves. Just listen to this...
On Flirtation:
The design on the curtains is not what they conceal. Artists love shapes for enclosure, the chained cup beside the waterfall as a way of tasting the waterfall and maybe even the presence of someone meditating in the cave behind it. Forms keep splitting their chrysali, but the old harper wants one more set of silk strings. Some sufis have seen the beauties of art as something that can slow down soul growth. Art gives a teasing taste of surrender without full experience. Beautiful poetry can keep one on the verge of the oceanic annihilation in God. Rumi says, we've been walking in the surf holding our robes up, when we should be diving naked under, and deeper under.

All of this introduces a section of poems that I find especially tantilizing. Here is one of my favorite excerpts from the poem, "Chinese Art and Greek Art":

In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.

You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,

but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.

Drumsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.

A voice inside the beat says,
"I know you're tired,
but come. This is the way."

Are you jealous of the ocean's generosity?
Why would you refuse to give
this joy to anyone?

Fish don't hold the sacred liquid in cups!
They swim the huge fluid freedom.

(The questions being asked here are enough for me... They are enough. Is art the illusion? Or is art the freedom? Ah, Rumi... )

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lovesick: A Sequence of Lyric Poems

This is my Poetic Sequence Final Project! I have been publishing the drafts of many of these poems to this blog over the past six months or so. While the poems are not "finished" by my (impossible) standards, they are in final forms, of a sort. Enjoy!

follow this link!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Oh, Finals Week...

I find that there are two brilliant insights I always gain during Final Exam week...
1) A device that gave you caffeine intravenously would be very well received by college kids world-wide.
2) Final Exams are not a test of knowledge or skill, but rather a sort of decathalon. In other words, its not how fast you can sprint, but whether or not you are still standing after thirty miles.

The quest for good grades generally comes down to an ability to discipline oneself, and to go without sleep, food, or normal social interactions for days or weeks on end. I have written upwards of seventy graded pages in the last two weeks, and I have yet to enter finals week itself.
I am supposed to be hammering out another ten of them tonight, about Critical Analysis of the poetry of Mary Wroth, and an explication of one of Ben Jonson's strange little poems. I had better luck making nonsensical genius out of Gertrude Stein yesterday...
My professors seem to like to give us life-lessons around this time in the semester as well. Mostly, they keep reminding those of us who are plugging away in academic buildings cracked-out on coffee all night, that only about a third of PhDs in literature receive tenure-track positions at universities in this country. For those of us who have designs on academia, this hurts. So, to give up the dream is out of the question. But, ten years from now...or more, if I have a doctorate in literature and no job, what will I have made of myself? What will it matter that Lady Mary Wroth, Ben Jonson, Gertrude Stein, and Louise Gluck every teased my brain, or made me shiver with instantaneous understanding?
I want to teach. I want the energy and creativity derived from such a place as this. So on the cusp of finals week, I am sending a cheers out to those of you who are students cramming your brains and denying your bodies...and those of you who teach us, and are buried under mountains of ungraded papers, unwritten recommendations, and an administration breathing down your neck. To you, we say: thanks for the knowledge. It does not go unheaded.

Hopefully that has warmed up my brain a little. Back to the old grind...