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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dark Horses: Poets on Overlooked Poems (Joy Katz & Kevin Prufer, Eds.)

Okay, so I took it out from the library, but now I'm thinking of buying this book which pairs neglected poems w commentary by some of our nation's most esteemed poets, and Alan Michael Parker does a stand-up job articulating what's going on in Vasko Popa's "The Craftsmen of the Little Box," a poem I can't stop thinking about, reveling in, wishing I'd written, etc:

The Craftsmen of the Little Box

Don't open the little box
Heaven's hat will fall out of her

Don't close her for any reason
She'll bite the trouser leg of eternity

Don't drop her on the earth
The sun's eggs will break inside her

Don't throw her in the air
Earth's bones will break inside her

Don't hold her in your hands
The dough of the stars will go sour inside her

What are you doing for God's sake
Don't let her get out of your sight


I love how this poem begins with a contradiction: don't open / don't close for any reason.  Every word is startling, enjoyable, & makes me wish I could be 1/10 as imaginative. If it were my poem I wouldn't repeat "will break inside her" in the third and fourth stanzas, but because he did, I'm compelled to think through that choice over and over again--it seems a daring move (b/c it calls attention to how poets deliberately don't repeat  themselves in these situations, and instead strive to be continually original and startling w new verbs, images, etc.). 

Meanwhile, I've been writing poems that can fit on the left side of a postcard. One a day (or more, as I need to get ahead--reason why to follow). At first I thought I wouldn't be up to the challenge, but I'm finding  that if I lower my standards a little, focus on a place, a conversation, one small thing (like the way the clouds look), and make a poem of it--or, if not a poem, a conglomeration of words that might be a poem someday, it's kinda easy and, well, fun. And I love that I get to legitimately send my poem a day--thanks to Lana Hechtman Ayers and her wonderful poetry postcard project--out into the world on an actual postcard. And I don't even have to "think" about who I'm sending it to; the names/addresses have been provided.

Why I need to get ahead in my postcard poem writing: I will be spending next week as a Scholar in Residence on an undisclosed island.  

8 comments:

Maggie May said...

on an undisclosed island! if you told us, would you havta kill us?

Martha Silano said...

Maggie: exactly.

Kimberlee said...

I've been a blog stalker for a bit now and have thought that you were way too cool for words. Then much to my dismay, your name ended up amid the recipients on my poetry postcard list. *Gasp* That is just way too much pressure! The serendipity of it all amazes me. :)

Martha Silano said...

Hi Kimberlee--

Moi? Too cool for words? You're so sweet.

Re: the postcard project. You don't have to feel dismayed or pressured in the least. I've been writing my postcard poems based on things my kids say, pretty much unedited. Out of the mouths of babes! I am sure you will easily top me in quality, though my kids have been known to say some pretty amazing things. The main thing is to just have fun!

Martha Silano said...

P.S. In my post I give credit to Lana Ayers for the postcard project, completely spacing out that Paul Nelson is at the helm as well. Thanks, Paul--and many apologies for my oversight!

rams said...

The last few times I've seen Tony Hoagland he's used an overlooked poem for illustration; last time it was Paul Goodman's "The Birthday Cake" to illustrate the three levels a poem needs (short poem, too.) The talk, in a different form, is the first piece in Real Sofistikashun, but I swear it was clearer and more persuasive at the Dodge Festival as we all fought hypothermia. (Musta been the candles.)

Martha Silano said...

I am eager to find this Hoagland book--is it a collection of essays about overlooked poems? I sooo want to know more about this (I tried googling and nothing came up).

Jarod K. Anderson said...

Cool idea for a book. Thanks for the recommendation.