Friday, January 28, 2011
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHEPHERD'S CENTER POETRY GROUP, CHECK UNDER "WELCOME' POSTING FOR 2009
The Winter 2001 session is under way for the Shepherd's Center Poetry Group, with 23 participants. Thus far we have looked at work by Frank Bidart and Phillip Levine (on war); this past week we looked at a spare and affecting poem by Linda Pastan on "The Burglary" and Brenda Hillman's "Phone Booth," about which more could perhaps be said.
"Rimbaud's vowels" is a reference to a specific poem ("Vowels" or "Voyelles") by the French poet considered to be a precursor of free verse, in which he assigns a color to each vowel.
The first part of Hillman's poem deals with the past, down to "onto the glass door while talking". The central idea of this section seems to me tied up in "While we gathered our actions/wits For magic and pain/The destiny twins." Then she shifts to the present--to cell phones--and reintroduces the idea of nouns--for things sublime ("the clotting of numbers in the sky") as well as the current and mundane: "a word for backing away/ from those who shout to their strings."
I like the ending, which trails off in a "whorl," following the image of the "perfume in the mouthpiece" (and what is a "Grecian sash"?) and just before it the sombre message: "We are solitudes aided by awe."
Would this poem be better served with stanza breaks and punctuation? What are we supposed to think of the narrator?
Brenda Hillman is married to Robert Hass, a past U.S. Poet Laureate, and is interested in Gnosticism. More information about her at www.memorious.org/?id+284