MORE FIRST ROUND NORTH ACTION: ANNE CARSON AND MOLLY BRODAK

Hearing is what we do when we read poetry.

Some people think we see poetry.  We don’t.

We are capable of seeing things in our minds, and some see certain things more clearly in their minds than others, but poetry is not what people see.

Some theorists—who talk a great deal about “image” in poems—will disagree.

This was the great error Modernism made.

These pedants can talk about “image” all they want.

Poetry is never seen.

This is why we are especially enamored of the two lines in this contest.

The first one, from Anne Carson, has a desperate urgency which affects us deeply:

don’t keep saying you don’t hear it too

By denying sight to poetry, we don’t want to seem merely contrary and dense, as if poetry were nothing more than trembling inside an ear.  Of course it is more.

Poetry—to be poetry—must possess a certain philosophical delicacy—it must make an impression on our being-within-the-world.

Does this sound too German?  Es tut mir leid.

The second line, from Molly Brodak (pictured above), is philosophical, yet without Carson’s urgency; it is lovely and languid, and we know Marla Muse will love it:

boundlessness secretly exists, I hear.

Marla Muse: Oh God. I do like it.

Marla, Marla, I hear one of these poets must win and move on.

 

 

 

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26 Comments

  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    It is interesting to discover as I have through countless essays of Thomas Graves on poetry, especially regarding the contemplation of just the one line of a poem that what comes up from that one line depends not only on the line but on the contents of the mind reading it. In the case of the subject at hand I find the line about boundlessness not a cause for joy but for further information. Is this the boundlessness of freedom untrampled on or is the more sinister sort where anyone at anytime can intrude and there is nothing to stop them. Boundlessness as a concept does not come up necessarily as a bright and hopeful thing despite the secret which gave me pause. Pushkin said something about the “secret cherishig of an inner freedom’. This comes up in my mind as a postivie and beautiful and stalward thing. The line above does not unless I can see what lies beyond it more clearly. But that is a difference in my mind . I still can admire the mind of Thomas Graves as he sorts through the lines and puts lines in juxtaposition that we would not ordinarily see. Magic can happen from that and at the very least the name of a new poet or a new poet to the person reading the essay like the discovery of a new country. A wonderful thing. Thank you.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      April 7, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      please o please correct typos. I am sorry they have crept in again cherishing and positive I have scrambled and cherishig unfortunately rhymes slightly with brilling and you know where that leaves the slithy toves.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        April 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm

        i will start using my favorite only slightly mean past supervisor’s proofreading method. You start at the last word and read aloud backwards. Sorry for all the inconvenience. I am so tired all the time from staying up late reading (but happy tired) that I look at it and it all looks perfectly fine to me reading it head on. Very sorry.

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          April 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

          also stalward which I kind of like being a breakfast blend of stalwart and forward.

      • thomasbrady said,

        April 7, 2016 at 9:13 pm

        Mary, your typos are charming!!

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          April 8, 2016 at 12:15 am

          Thanks time. Like me, they do mean well.

          • maryangeladouglas said,

            April 8, 2016 at 12:18 am

            Tom. not time. I promise I did not do that on purpose. my typing fingers have seceded from my brain and set up their own country. But they are trying to notify me only gradually being somewhat sorry for their mutiny. No Captain Queegs (spelling?) among them unless its my left thumb.

      • Andrew said,

        April 10, 2016 at 12:20 pm

        You bight be writig with a bad cold…

  2. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 7, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Regarding the premise or a premise of the essay I do both see and hear poetry when I read it because I tend to read poetry with a lot of images in it. That is one of the chief joys I get from poetry and have since childhood in addition to the happiness of the music of it which can be heard even when “silent reading’ as it was called in school when we weren’t reading aloud. Considering all the open mic events across the country with their emphasis on the in your face out loud I think silent reading is a lost art to many and the fantastic fact that you can be sitting perfectly still and have fireworks over all the worlds be going off in your head and no one has to know or notice.

  3. Andrew said,

    April 8, 2016 at 1:52 am

    …Say no more about imagery
    You’re starting to confuse
    Just make an offer of more romance
    Of course I can’t refuse;
    All I want is you.
    Ooh ooh: I’m all cracked up on you.

    lines from ‘All I Want Is You’ (1974)
    (by Tom’s favorite band ROXY MUSIC)

  4. Andrew said,

    April 8, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Although I am often contrary and dense (in a pedantic sort of way),
    I shall deny to poetry neither sight, nor music.

    ♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♪♫

    Tom forgive me for posting this but you and Marla got me thinking on this. The song is all about the fallacy of modernism in poetry:

    “Don’t want to hear
    What’s going on
    I don’t care
    What’s new…”

    is this not song ? performance ? lyrical poetry ? rhythm ? image ? rhyme ? and is it not infinitely more interesting and more truthfully poetic than a “slam” or another dull chapbook of conceptual/linguistic modernist rubbish ? (although they are not dancing at all…hmmmmmm)

  5. thomasbrady said,

    April 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Andrew, the drummer is pretty good. The whole thing seems very paint by numbers. The Doors are like a living animal. Roxy is, compared to the Doors, like a plastic model sitting in some kid’s basement. Why anyone would think Roxy is anything more than a talentless pose is completely beyond me. I can’t argue. My best argument is listen to the Doors, Beatles, and Stones. That’s all. I think bands like Roxy exist simply because there were kids who felt “oppressed” not only by their parents, but by bands who were really good.

    • Andrew said,

      April 10, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      I like the Doors, Beatles & Stones (after all – who doesn’t ?) and I agree with you that they are great bands.
      But Roxy music are as good and at certain key moments, better.
      I love their lyrics.
      Paul Thompson the drummer is more than “pretty good”, (sigh)

      Oh well. So you don’t like Roxy. I tried, I failed. You’re forgiven for your complete inability to perceive eternal rock’n’roll greatness.

  6. thomasbrady said,

    April 10, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      April 10, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      Very glad to see this reposted here. Your most eloquent music. Segued into Debussy, two impressionists. Thomas Graves and Debussy.

  7. thomasbrady said,

    April 10, 2016 at 12:54 pm

  8. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 10, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    THE ISLANDS OFF THE LOST COAST OF MONET

    [to my Grandmother, Lucy W. Young]

    in the islands off the lost coast of Monet
    I culled the water lily colors
    in the water

    cupping my hands in music curving back
    while in the air of wandering mirrors
    this residue of a gold-threaded azure

    lifted and fell…
    it’s the long-expected radiance
    you can’t explain

    emeshed in the fairytales
    as they’re told
    like hidden angels in the picture

    you don’t see at first
    that have to be pointed out to you
    before they melt again:

    sheer traceries richly borrowed
    from all that fondant light.

    in a painting by Monet
    cream yellow floats
    edged in a tanager red…

    but I am shimmering and lost
    as if in a prelude by Debussy and
    somehow in the way.

    I tripped the rose-tripped light
    of a hidden evanescence
    holding the white cathedral still

    only with my gaze
    and I wept with no sound at all
    into these plum-ransacked streams

    smudging slightly
    their taffeta waters purling –
    crooning – to each loved thing:
    “don’t disappear…”

    I’m calling your endangered colors home
    and willing the unmoored prisms not to break
    let silver trumpets sound

    your amethyst testaments
    by far

    the last of their kind-

    mary angela douglas 3-5 july 2010

    • thomasbrady said,

      April 11, 2016 at 12:40 am

      Pardon the clumsiness of the recording: it was me juggling my phone (recording device) keeping hands free to play my fearfully woeful old electric piano, and the text on my iPad. I hope it gives an idea, at least, of my appreciation for Mary’s poem.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        April 11, 2016 at 1:35 am

        Thomas Graves this is incredibly beautiful, it sounds like prisms within a Debussy kind of music (but yours) breaking apart. It is the music of exactly what I felt as I was writing, the memory of my childhood home and music continually pouring out from my Grandmother’s piano studio as she played herself, gave lessons or as we listened together or individually on her stereo to a wonderful record collection including Debussy preludes as played by Walter Giesking and Ravel by Robert Cassadesus. My grandmother had bought for us my sister and I , at one time a Reader’s Digest huge vinyl collection as well of the world’s most beautiful melodies and my favorite record from that set was a record with one side Grieg and the other Debussy. There was a beautiful lavender shaded print of Monet’s water colour series and for some reason even from the age of 7 or 8 whenever I heard Debussy music I couldn’t help but connect it with the Monet illustration on the cover as one and the same thing so that when I lived in Washington D.C. as a grown up person and went to see Monet on a regular basis at The National Gallery when I viewed the paintings I still would hear Debussy in my mind. I miss my Grandmother so much and the atmosphere of music that poured around us naturally all the time: the poem emerged from all these feelings and in your incredibly fragile, ice splintering, icicle breaking off, prism unmoored qualities of tonalities of your music you registered it all as well as the pacing and feeling of the poem as recited by you. Would you mind if on youtube itself I posted the poem to go with so that anyone viewing it there can see it? How can I say even thank you for this; it is beautiful beyond imagination or the power of words to bless, but God Bless You Thomas Graves for this beautiful composition that could not more perfectly express the poem.

        • thomasbrady said,

          April 11, 2016 at 9:54 am

          Mary, of course you may add the poem to you tube.

          Your grandmother helped make you the poet you are. God bless her. And beautiful music.

          Your poetry is of the highest quality. My imperfect recording is my way of saying thank you. An appreciation becomes a performance almost against its will. Your poems make the silences and the little bit of music more beautiful still.

          • maryangeladouglas said,

            April 11, 2016 at 2:42 pm

            Thank you so much Tom. You really captured in the crystalline aspect of your music (and I think the sound of the piano, older model though it may be is perfect) an indefinable yet clear to me in the source of the feeling behind the poem – prismatic breaking apart of long ago memories, the core of them fantastically interwoven with the sound of Debussy as it IS stored in my memory was imprinted both in the music and in your vocal interpretation of the poem in an extraordinary way. It is lovely and sheer beauty perfect even in its flaws like a diamond intensified even, by its flaws as were my memories of home…I know my Grandmother finely attuned person and pianist as she was, and guardian of all things beautiful for us would weep at the beauty of the interpretation- for happiness.

            • maryangeladouglas said,

              April 11, 2016 at 3:51 pm

              WILL THERE BE A COTTAGE THERE

              will there be a cottage there
              sweetpeas spilling over the palings,
              small pink roses

              the ruffling breeze
              through the baby’s hair
              playing in the yard

              and will there really be no wars
              these were my imaginations of Heaven
              the bluebirds always near

              even when soaring.
              honeysuckle glad, our tunes
              on eternal summer afternoons

              children on the swings, launching off
              into beautiful things,unending;
              and the small pools rainbow clad.

              and we will drop our sadness there
              as into crystal well
              said Grandmother, turning the india ink pages

              or will it be, only the wind

              and all of us
              feeling so emerald
              in the shade of immortal trees.

              mary angela douglas 11 april 2016

              • maryangeladouglas said,

                April 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm

                Oops. I conflated two things in this poem: india paper and india ink. My grandmother’s Bible had India paper like many, gilded so that it was gold and shimmery on the edges of the book and so that I always thought of God’s word as gold (even the gold of the honey the proverb spoke of fine gold and honey God’s word is) but my Grandmother somehow stressed the beauty of the india paper as she turned the pages on our mind and I thought also of King James (in his version of the Bible we were using) having beyond this, a whole castle of books printed on fine india paper. And india ink is of course a very rich, deep ink used by artists.

                It was not lost on me that when I went to college in freshmen year the Norton Anthology of English Literture was also printed on tissue fine india paper…to me, it was just as man is a little lower than the angels, so the Norton was a little lower than the King James Bible.

                Now I will go away and fix the poem. Good thing it’s not written in india ink on india paper. Spilled a bottle of it on all my new wool skirts in middle school (jr. high back then) due to my permanent nervousness at the time in art class and all Grandmother said was, couldn’t they have given you all aprons or something? She was like that. Except if she thought you were less than truthful.

                • maryangeladouglas said,

                  April 11, 2016 at 4:42 pm

                  CORRECTED POEM

                  WILL THERE BE A COTTAGE THERE

                  will there be a cottage there
                  sweetpeas spilling over the palings,
                  small pink roses

                  the ruffling breeze
                  through the baby’s hair
                  playing in the yard

                  and will there really be no wars
                  these were my imaginations of Heaven
                  the bluebirds always near

                  even when soaring.
                  honeysuckle glad, our tunes
                  on eternal summer afternoons

                  children on the swings, launching off
                  into beautiful things,unending;
                  and the small pools rainbow clad.

                  and we will drop our sadness there
                  as into crystal well
                  said Grandmother, turning the india paper

                  pages as though there were clouds
                  or will it be, only the wind

                  and all of us
                  feeling so emerald
                  in the shade of immortal trees.

                  mary angela douglas 11 april 2016

                  • maryangeladouglas said,

                    April 11, 2016 at 6:05 pm

                    THEY WANT US TO BELIEVE IN THE DARK AGES

                    they want us to believe in the Dark Ages.
                    we resist, throwing up colourful flares
                    as if they were party streamers

                    and pretend it’s a holiday

                    not an emergency that never quite goes away.
                    and they send telegrams, furiously, day and night:
                    lo, the Ship is sinking out of sight but you

                    say to yourself,
                    what ship am I on?
                    we’re landlocked here.

                    but they persist in fears
                    and long for you to do the same.
                    and dream that meteors will

                    shatter your quiet.

                    then I’ll be starlight,
                    you say to yourself.
                    then I’ll be starlight.

                    mary angela douglas 11 april 2016

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    April 11, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    COULD WE HELP IT THAT WE THOUGHT

    [to my mother, Mary Adalyn]

    could we help it that we thought
    the galaxies should be made of flowers?
    and that they should pelt down on us all hours
    when you read Rumplestiltskin to us

    as though it were fact-

    when poetry was Poetry,
    the golden intractable and snowy
    when we wished it so;

    and holly berried, making us merry

    as if we were by the fireside
    after long and drenching rains;
    and Rochester calling Jane, Jane
    beyond our suburbs.

    and now, draw by the fire again I will
    though others think it an ill thing.
    let the sleet plie on the roof tops
    when we will make a play where the Snow Queen

    turns suddenly kind; where April shines into
    oblivious glades and breaks into
    small rose afterthoughts.
    where the buttermilk churned makes it all

    turn fine again, when we go hunt in the grass
    the waxy eggs in their pastel modes
    caught by our own peach sashes on the sticker bush.
    and we, we never will grow old, we pledge.

    and the half moon smiles.

    mary angela douglas 11 april 2016


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