#amreading: More Poetry

Vona Groarke, from her poem Maize, in the Annaghmakerrig book:

(Self will copy this poem into her journal, so that a year or five years or 10 years from now, she will remember she read it today, Friday, the 28th of April 2017):

The Faber Castells ripen in your hand.
You’ve been drawing since breakfast:
sky after sky, face after face, but something
in yours says they’re not quite right.

DSCN1292

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Paraphrasing From Mark Doty

Landscape, With Sudden Rain, Wet Blooms, and a Van Eyck Painting (an excerpt)

— by Luisa A. Igloria

Who else loves his own decorum as I do? The names
of trees are lovely in Latinate. I can’t recite those,

can only name their changing colors: flush
and canary, stripped and rose; or moan like the voice

of a cello in the leaves, imitating human speech.

That artful bit of landscape description we encountered in the first couplet? Now we can understand that was an act of avoidance, of self-distraction. I can name the colors, the speaker tells us, or I can merely moan. Naming “the changing colors” becomes a means both of revealing pain and containing it, just as these decorous couplets provide kind of orderly structure in which to organize this poem’s song of lament. There is the lovely paradox: the poem is a moan, but it is a song too.

To paraphrase: the written piece is a moan, but it is a song too.

Music is not an outcry, or an only one.

A piece of writing is not an outcry, or an only one; it is a made thing that testifies to our persistence, and to a faith in the power and necessity of art. Which sometimes does nothing but make an outcry bearable — but that gesture, in itself, can be quite enough.

— Mark Doty, from the Foreword to Luisa A. Igloria’s collection, Ode to the Heart Small as a Pencil Eraser (Winner of the 2014 May Swenson Award)

Translation: Domenico Adriano, transl. by Barbara Carle

Perhaps because within myself
I had already chosen your portrait
here they are in fields of thought
one thousand and a thousand more red poppies

— Domenico Adriano, excerpt from Da Papaveri Perversi, translated from the Italian by Barbara Carle

Surprise! It’s Spring

Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!

— Wallace Stevens, quoted in The Daily Post

Yesterday was self’s first walk to the lake in over a month. It’s but a five or 10-minute walk at the most. But self has been busy, and the weather’s been unpredictable.

Yesterday, Esther came to change the sheets. So self took advantage of the break to go out of her cottage. And the first thing she noticed was: close by the cottages, there were suddenly so many flowers! (Has it really been that long since she took a walk? Apparently, it has! Surprise!)

Self had a lovely walk. Spring has truly arrived!

Here are some other beautiful spring shots:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreadingpoetry: Liu Xia

Before you go into the grave
Don’t forget to write to me with your ashes
Don’t forget to leave your underworld address

quoted by Liao Yiwu in his introduction to Liu Xia’s collection Empty Chairs, the bilingual edition (Graywolf Press)

#amreadingpoetry: Michael Graves in J Journal

Cain’s Father

by Michael Graves

Cain, I ate of it
Long before your mother did,
And not because some tempter spoke.

I feasted underneath the limbs
Of God’s forbidden tree,
And then I slept
Between two thick and twisting roots.

(posted by kind permission of the author)

All my reading, throughout this current residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, has been about ancient Rome. I started with Mary Beard’s SPQR and now I’m reading Tom Holland’s Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic. I’m very struck by the theme of “double-ness” which recurs again and again, from the founding of ancient Rome (Mythic: Romulus and Remus, twins raised by a she-wolf, but all kinds of doubles appear in other world literature too).

And of course, just in the middle of my residency, comes this new issue of J Journal (New Writing About Social Justice, from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City).

J Journal has always had a special place in my heart. You know it. Because it blends the fields of law, social justice, and creative writing.

I kept sending them stuff, because social justice is a theme that reverberates with all Filipinos. They published Magellan’s Mirror, a story that’s a magical/realist re-telling of Magellan’s first encounter with Filipinos (They’re giants). You can read part of the story on their site, here.

A few days ago, the editors (Adam Berlin and Jeffrey Heiman) sent an announcement/preview of their forthcoming latest issue (April 2017). It included the Cain poems of Michael Graves, which were the “very first pages in the very first issue” of J Journal. I wrote to the editors to ask if I could feature one of the poems on my blog, they contacted Graves, and he gave his permission.

So here it is, one of Michael Graves’. It is powerful as all get-out.

Thank you, Michael Graves and J Journal, for letting me share this!

Stay tuned.

#amreadingpoetry: Justin Quinn

Flood-Plains

There are rushes and loess
round trees in all the boskets
worked into large brown baskets
with care and quick finesse

by the swirling grand excess
that charged down from the Beskyds.
The baked mud breaks like biscuits
beneath the emptiness.

I’ll marry thee
with a rush ring then
and faithfull be

till that moist sliver
rises agayne
to a raging river.

— Justin Quinn, from his collection Waves and Trees (The Gallery Press, Ireland)

Book # 7: Unit # 1, Tyrone Guthrie Centre

A hard-bound book titled, simply, Annaghmakerrig. It has excerpts from work by past residents:

DSCN1283

Photograph of Pat Donlon at Work in the Main House

The poem:

Black is the raven
Black is the rook
But, blacker the child
Who steals this book.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreadingpoetry: James Merrill

Fed
Up so long and variously by
Our age’s fancy narrative concoctions,
I yearned for the kind of unseasoned telling found
In legends, fairy tales, a tone licked clean
Over the centuries by mild old tongues,
Grandam to cub, serene, anonymous.
. . . So my narrative
Wanted to be limpid, unfragmented;
My characters, conventional stock figures
Afflicted to a minimal degree
With personality and past experience —
A witch, a hermit, innocent young lovers,
The kinds of being we recall from Grimm,
Jung, Verdi, and the commedia dell’arte.

— James Merrill, excerpt from the long poem The Changing Light at Sandover

It IS Easy Being Green! The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 22 March 2017

This week is all about color. For extra challenge, create a gallery.

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

  1. Justin Quinn’s poetry collection was published by Gallery Press (www.gallerypress.com)
  2. The sign was in the front window of Dog-Eared Books, Castro Street, San Francisco.
  3. The box was provided to me by Irish Express Moving Company, San Francisco. I used it to ship books I needed to Annaghmakerrig.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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