Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Second Session Features Pulitzer Winners

In our second session for Winter 2015 we read poems by Pulitzer Winners Rae Armantrout (2010) and Natasha Trethewey (2007). The spare lines and stanzas of "Prayers" offered many contrasts and opportunities for interpretation (we took seriously the responsibility the "Language Poets" give us to "bring meaning out of a poem"): between praying and asking, between the personal and the global, between verbal shots and real shots--"the fear/that all this/ will end./The fear/that it won't."

Trethewey's poem is based on the experience of her maternal grandmother in Mississippi in 1937. We see the details of time and place through specific choice of words (e.g., Octagon soap), but are left with a much broader theme: "dandelion spores, each one/a wish for something better."

This Thursday we will consider airports and air travel as metaphor, again with poems of descending difficulty.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter 2015 Begins with Fireflies

In our first Winter 2015 session we saw how three different poets use the image and metaphor of fireflies. Fireflies were compared by Linda Pastan and Marilyn Kallet to "constellations cut loose from the night sky," or "flashes of insight" or "the presence of ghosts." Dave Smith's narrative is more complex--"that's the trick of it all." In all three fireflies (lightning-bugs) recall past time and range from sparks and tiny headlamps to bugs at windows. In two of the three poems, it matters that the blinking light of the firefly is its mating call--a fact some of us had not known!

Next week we will read Rae Armantrout and Natasha Trethewey--thanks to Cynthia for the heads-up about Trethewey's reading at UNC-Greensboro at 5:00 p.m. next Tuesday, January 20. More info at: http://weatherspoon.uncg.edu/eventcalendar/show/?title=554-evening-of-poetry-with-natasha-trethewey

Mewling means "whimpering." As Lee mentioned, Shakespeare uses the word in the "All the world's a stage" portion of As You Like It.