Tuesday, February 14, 2006

katy's list

3 favorite poets

Matthew Rohrer [i didn't even need to think about this one, the man is my guiding light when it comes to poetic style and i've read all three of his collections numerous times over]

Frank O'Hara [you could have predicted this one, i'm sure]

Mina Loy [didn't i already call her the Queen of poetry? well, she is. even if the only poem she'd ever written was Songs to Joannes, i would still choose her as one of my favorite poets for her person and her prowess]

3 favorite poems

this list was a lot harder than i thought. like i said before, i have omitted song lyrics and the three poets in my list above and Leonard Cohen (his work qualifies as song as far as this list is concerned). i am, therefore, left with one definite pick and an uncountable many others vying for the remaining 2 places on the list. so here it goes:

Poem for Beverly by d.a. levy
http://www.clevelandmemory.org/levy/images/beverly/bev.pdf [i first read this poem in The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, but this internet copy is a scan of the original print, which makes me love this poem even more. there was no doubt in my mind the moment i read "3 favorite poems" that this would be one of them. even though i don't read it very often, i am always reminded of it, i hope you can see why.]

Revelation by Robert Frost

We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout,
But oh, the agitated heart
Till someone find us really out.

'Tis pity if the case require
(Or so we say) that in the end
We speak the literal to inspire
The understanding of a friend.

But so with all, from babes that play
At hide-and-seek to God afar,
So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.

[this poem appears on the internet a kabillion times, but i felt it safer to type it from my text exactly (most copies online omit the indented line, which is part of the poem's charm). i copied it from the New England Anthology of Robert Frost's Poems. the reason i chose this poem is because it was one of the very first i read and enjoyed, and i have loved it ever since. at one point i did have it memorized, too, but not so much any more.]

Rock and Hawk by Robinson Jeffers

Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.

This gray rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,

Earthquake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.

I think, here is your emblem
TO hand in the future sky,
Not the cross, not the hive,

But this; bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness joined with final

Life with calm death; the falcon's
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive

Mysticism of stone,
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud.

[one of the most inspirational poets for me is jeffers, and this poem is brilliant, why else would i have coppied it?]

a: I think I will reserve comment until I know them better. I think I was asking the question in the first place so I can learn more (and boy do I have tons to learn still!). But I was surprised Zukofsky wasn't there (I guess it was only three after all, and it is so difficult to chose...). As for the poems, and I am saying this not casually, but I do prefer your writing. Like I told you, I was surprised to see Frost there. I have to admit, from the very little I know about poetry, I know Frost primarily from the now cliched "Road not Taken" (I am ashamed to say). I, of course, had my crush on him as a teenager when I discovered that in some sitcom, nonetheless, thinking that I found something nobody else knows of. Unfortunately, I didn't venture much beyond that. So, it was nice to read something else by him, something that seems to aspire to be just as prophetic in tone. But I guess it isn't that that puts me off as much as the rhyme and meter... I am afraid I am negatively biased against them. I find them to be constraining and unnecessary. I believe in rhythm and sound, but not in this rigid sense. I find it handicapping, and I am mot impressed. I can't help always wondering, "What would he have said had he not had that constraint?" For both of those reasons (the prophetic all-knowing tone, and rhyme and meter) he reminds me a bit too much of Shakespeare, whom I abhor. (My unkind take on Mr. Shakes is that he is Hallmark greetings for the pretentious, and hence the most over-rated writer in history.) Now, I realize I am being harsh here, but I don't think you'd want anything less than brutally honest (I have a feeling you'd be able to see right through it anyway), or do you? I don't know why I react so strongly against the "cannon". Maybe it's because I am an "other" in so many different ways, that I attempt constantly to debunk the established and champion the underdog.

As for Mr. Jeffers, as well written as it was, I just couldn't find the human in the poem! That why I like your riff of it better; it is more human. As for "Beverly", that is one poem that even I can't dislike. It is so delicate, so fragile, so understated... that I was wishing that it was a bit less so. I hope I am not offending you, but I do mean it when I say, I think you're better. Now, then again, who am I? What qualifications do I have to say any of this? Well, with whatever credo I have, I am saying it. Now, I realize that I probably haven't only offended you, but that I am making you squirm as well (which is not my objective), so I'll stop...

k:thank you for emailing me, again and again and agian, thank you.

i was not offended by anything you said, don't worry. i am especially aware of mr frost's reputation as a poet and as a man hugely disliked, even loathed, by highschool students around the world. i hated him too. for a bit. but then i found that poem, and despite the form (i too tend to veer away from metric rhythms and rhyming) i love that poem. i also justify my adoration of that poem by aknowledging the fact that i found and fell for it some 7 or 8 years ago, and it lingers like my old teddy bear, a piece of my childhood that i cannot and will not let slip away.

i can't justify the jeffers poem. (if i'd remembered about my dear anna akhmatova, then he wouldn't have made the list, to be honest.) i continue to sit and read and reread jeffers' collected poems. perhaps something about the book itself? but to me it's like watching a fairytale world unfold before my eyes. i was especailly drawn in by Rock and Hawk, and the more and more i read it, the more and more i study it, the more and more it grew on me.

i'm so pleased that you liked a poem for beverly. i remember reading that and instantly wanting to be beverly and to be levy all at once, to be that moment. i love it. having found that pdf of the original print, i love it even more. i would probably foolishly pay far too much money to possess one of those 300 copies. i doubt anyone's selling at the moment though.

my offer to type you some rohrer poems still stands, if you want to get to know him better.

i love zukofsky, i really do. i also love marriane moore, george oppen, albert mobilio, john ashbury, berrnadette mayer, louise erdrich... the list goes on and on. but i couldn't choose them all could i? so i chose the ones who's poems i like most right now. i will always go on about zukofsky. he's an admirable and lovely man who deserves so much more attention in higher education for his poetry and for his poetics (luckily Ruth Jennison is already pulling the campaign together at Umass, i love ruth, it's a shame she doesn't write poetry).

i'm flattered that you think i'm better than some of my favorite poets, at least favorite poems (as i wouldn't classify frost as a favorite poet so much). though, while i'm flattered, it's so hard for me to accept it. i just can't...

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