Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Final Session February 24; More on Ellipsis

For the final meeting of the Winter Term we will look at poems by Philip Schultz and Katha Pollitt. Shultz's poems are expansive, conversational. Last year we enjoyed "The God of Loneliness," in which fathers wait in line at a toy store. Schultz's father figures in today's poem, in which seemingly casual takes on pop culture are again juxtaposed with deeper questions of identity. Pollitt writes in a more compressed fashion--"not afraid to write beautifully," as one critic observes--and the key to her reverie about a New York apartment lies in the last two lines.

We talked last week about ellipsis, both a mark of punctuation and a rhetorical and poetic device. Ellipsis in the middle of a line of text clear denotes an omission. But we sensed, correctly, I think, that an ellipsis at the end of a line suggests something else, a sudden silence to which the poet gives meaning. There's a name for this--aposiopesis (accent on the second "o")! I think, too, that the distinction we drew between a dash and three dots at the end of a line was worthwhile, although some discussion of punctuation seem to lump them together.

Another poem by Pollitt, with brief discussion by her, from her new book:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10: More on Eavan Boland


A couple of notes gleaned from further reading on Eavan Boland, which may or may not advance the understandings of "The Blossom" we arrived at this morning. First, the suggestion that Boland's mother-daughter poems (this critic was writing specifically about two collections from the 1990's) relate to "two underlying myths--the Biblical story of Eden and the Fall, as well as the classical myth of Demeter and Persephone."

In another article, I saw the suggestion that "The Blossom" has to do with picking her daughter up from a party at 7:30 a.m.

Dave Smith's work is dense with imagery, and I especially enjoyed how we were able to pool insights and arrive, I think, at his perception of fathers and sons.

We heard fine poems this morning from Dave Upstill, Jenny Angyal and Sandra Redding. We will want to talk a little more about the titles of poems next week.

I hope you will enjoy Grace Paley and Jean Valentine.