Here’s a poem by Carl Phillips, one that I’ve especially admired, from his book The Rest of Love.
There is a difference it used to make,
seeing three swans in this versus four in that
quadrant of sky. I am not imagining. It was very large, as its
effects were. Declarations of war, the timing fixed upon for a sea-departure; or,
about love, a sudden decision not to, to pretend instead to a kind
of choice. It was dramatic, as it should be. Without drama,
what is ritual? I look for omens everywhere, because they are everywhere
to be found. They come to me like strays, like the damaged,
something that could know better, and should, therefore–but does not:
a form of faith, you’ve said. I call it sacrifice–an instinct for it, or a habit at first, that
becomes required, the way art can become, eventually, all we have
of what was true. You shouldn’t look at me like that. Like one of those saints
on whom the birds once settled freely.
Just back from a tremendous week in the Caribbean. By way of a Poetry Post, here’s a review of a new book on T. S. Eliot that seems relevant and interesting. The idea of “the buried life” seems central to Eliot–perhaps, in some ways, to all of us in the Hollow Men. –Shotts
Books of The Times
A Devoted Tour Guide to a Desert of a Soul
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Published: January 16, 2007
T. S. ELIOT
By Craig Raine
202 pages. Oxford University Press. $21.
In a culture that now seems long ago and far, far away, T. S. Eliot was a rock star. The poet made the cover of Time magazine in 1950, and several years later, 14,000 people turned out in Minneapolis to listen to him talk about â€œThe Frontiers of Criticism.â€ Modernism was the ruling aesthetic inside and outside academe, Eliot was one of its high priests, and his most famous poem, â€œThe Waste Land,â€ was hailed not only for its groundbreaking technique and glittering shards of language, but also for its difficulty â€” its density, its allusiveness, its recondite knowledge.
The last couple of days, I’ve been repairing a hole in our dining room ceiling, sanding, priming, and painting. Meanwhile, I’ve had on Minnesota Public Radio and occasionally CNN. Everything is abuzz with list of “The Top _________ of 2006” (fill in the blank with “celebrities,” “movies,” “songs,” “albums,” “newsmakers,” and so on). Most of these, I have taken some issue with–either because I find the selections mundane or because I realize I haven’t digested enough of the music, film, and general culture of the year.
But, this leads me to ask: any “tops” of 2006 you’d like to share and comment on here?
Here are a few, from me:
Top novel:Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (actually out in the U.S. from Graywolf Press in 2007).
And now, looking ahead, it must be asked: what do you foresee in 2007? This can either be predictions of important events or people, or it could take the form of personal New Years resolutions. It’s always such a reflective time. I’m reminded that the month of January comes from Janus, the Roman god of endings and beginnings, with a face looking backward and a face looking forward.
So, looking ahead now, here are a few thoughts and resolutions from me.
In 2007, I expect:
to see Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Rudy Guliani in the spotlight for the Presidential elections of 2008, as they all announce their candidacies. (I’m already surprised to see John Edwards announce his candidacy, and so early.)
a withdrawl plan from Iraq.
peacekeeping efforts deployed to Darfur, through a renewed United Nations.
the biggest seller in books, by far, to be the new and final Harry Potter.
the biggest movie, in terms of blockbuster status, to be the new Harry Potter movie.
to be exhausted by Harry Potter by this time next year.
additional evidence for global warming.
one of us to announce a child on the way.
Some of my personal resolutions include:
to eat vegetarian as much as possible, with only occasional fish when eating out.
to eat less, eat more healthy foods, drink less alcohol, and drink more water daily.
to exercise at the Y at least 12 times each month.
to post and comment regularly on the Hollow Men site, including a weekly literary/poetry feature.
Last night, Steph and I went to one of her friends’ birthday parties.Â She was turning 50 and wanted it to be a memorable occasion â€” it definitely was.Â She had the Marching Cobras come in and perform.Â They’re spectacular.Â At one point in the evening, the members ran up and grabbed everyone and had us dance with them.Â Invigorating and delightful.Â At the end, the girl who tugged us into the dancing beat hugged Steph and I and said “thank you so much.”Â If you ever get the chance to see them, do.Â
I had this funny feeling of coordinated choas while watching them.Â Take a look at the video below and you can see for yourself.Â Everyone is sort of doing their own thing, but together it is tighly coordinated.Â Hard to explain….Â If you watched one person doing it, it wouldn’t necessarily be very impressive.Â Together, it’s amazing.Â
The African-American marching band is fairly famous…it’s made up of young and old, thin and heavyset, and men, women and children.Â Â It was like watching something happen that is simultaneously old and tribalÂ and yet novel and urban.Â Did I mention it was spectacular?Â Click on the link above to go to their home page.Â If you click through the link to YouTube, you can see more videos of them.Â Here’s a video to see (though dimly) what they’re like performing:
On an additional note, I found this video a couple of days ago.Â It’s been inspiring to me and I get chills every time I watch it (which is often, at least once a day since I’ve found it).Â There’s a lot of hope I feel when I watch…sadness, too.Â I wonder how long the locales Matt dances in will be there, and at the same time, I marvel in the wonder and diversity there is in the world.Â We miss out when we think the American Experience is the cumulation of humanity.
This has opened up a deep longing, and at the same time, a deep satisfaction in me….
Do not fret, soon Music Thursday will be posted. My computer went down this week, so I’m a little behind on things, so I am collecting candidates and will soon have them filtered down to a few choice Music Thursday selections.
In the meanwhile, enjoy this interview I heard today on NPR. This artist folds well-known poems into her music. I think it’s a great way to expose some people who may not otherwise think poetry is “their thing.” Anyway, I think it dovetails into the conversation we’ve sort of been having about the importance getting poetry into the hands, hearts and minds of the populi.
Click on the cover to be taken to the album’s Amazon.com page, or here for the NPR page with Kris’ intervew with Melissa Block. There’s some great stuff in the interview and I think Delmhorst articulates herself well. I wish I would have said some of the things she said. I can’t say that very often about things I hear in popular culture….
It is the sin we all commit,
To make things in our image.
But how can I empathize
With you that have been shot,
Burned, poisoned, demonized,
Hunted, trapped, and hung for hides,
Born into this Manifest demise.
It is not human inclination
To leave things untouched;
But between us, I know,
There can be no suture.
For you are another nation,
Perfect in nature.
And maybe redemption will come
When it is enough
To love without sight
To love without touch
To succumb to the knowledge â€“
That freedom does not bend
For the hubris of men.
We pick locusts sliding fresh from the dunes like little Saint John the Baptists wandering in our wildness. Our little wilderness, sanctuaried by a wheat truck and a chain, arrives each time the metal-gray auger slips under the patch of dust- blue prairie sky.
It’s not very good, but I just felt like posting something different…the following is true and I put it in a poem while I was in college.
V. The police called to tell me my car window was reported â€œfound shattered.â€ I slip on my shoes and white T-shirt and break out of the front door, heavily squinting in the morning sun. I slowly twist my head through where-the-window-should-be to find glass seeding the front seat. I talk to the police officer; taken:
1 rental tape,
26 music discs.
The letter that came this morning:
â€œYour recent letter came. I have read it and reread it many times. You know you can count on us for prayers for your safety. Itâ€™s a problem I have understanding how God answers in so many unusual ways.
Your mother needs you so terribly much. Through her tears is sobbed, â€˜I wish he could spend some time with Andrew this summer.â€™ I really donâ€™t know what else to say.