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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Thanks very much for that, Shabfriend. Poem goes back to '90 or '91. In the space of 28 days (month of February) I made thirty plus poems. I decided to call the collection Cottage Industries, since, that is what I had decided poetry is. Still feel that way. The poem is not the first poem in which I've focused on language for the sake of sound. But it is the first poem I think successfully made word-sound associations and combinations looking for an affect. Not that I was aware of us much at the time. Thanks again.

Tere
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Tere--why all in one thread? That's a bit overwhelming for me. Anyway just to let you know I'm reading, starting backwards of course.

I don't have my critical hat on just now but will try and get back. Just to let you know what sings for me. I love the word passerine and the mascara eyes and I think your ending just sings

along the willow stems and limbs
of where we want to be,
gone further between
the tremble of trees.

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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Do not feel overwhelmed, Caroline. Just choose a poem at random. When the mood strikes again pick another poem. No need to read too much in one sitting. I'll be able to sort through the various comments

To answer your question, in the thread's beginning I said I would try a single spot for some poetry. The purpose is to keep the forum's top-shelf space free for other members. Additionally, I am pacing myself. As site owner I feel my first responsibility is to encourage good space for you and everyone else. But, and of course, as a poet I am also wanting your feedback. This seems like the best solution, at least for now.

And thanks for commenting. I've always liked the mascara eyes line too. Birding is a guilty pleasure of mine, purely aesthetic.

Tere
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Hey tere

starting at the top of this thread- some comments below, hope they're useful and you're doing well.
Overall, this poems feels a little incomplete- possibly needs further development, or some careful cuts. I could imagine this poem being spoken aloud, with a glint in the eye.

--

She said the design is complete,
the request comes too late,
that it is too tight to change,
like the rhythms of this

happening as how any child's life weave
is long since pulled, stretched, set
in the breach of birth.
but i'm not sure this works- seems to complicate it somewhat- simpler language along the same theme would draw me in more

Needless to say,
I let the matter go, as
who can ever sway or coax
a fulling sister of the threads.
first three lines are fine- fourth gets a bit too fancy for me
Instead we drank a toast,
one for the road we agreed.
But then she suggested
we slowly drain another.
Chartreuse.
the lines above get a little prosey, because, i think, of the fullstops. I do like the specifics of what you're drinking.

Who, then, was studying whom?

The way she warmed her glass,
how her hands cupped the green, and
the scene of her there stilling all
motion in the room.
Then she who leaned in, who said,
almost imperceptibly,
"Take me home tonight."
i wonder how you can say the bits above without, you know, saying it.

In the morning she was gone.
I would've poached her some eggs.
good, really like this, makes me smile slightly

And startled then, certainly taken
by the sight of what she left.
In the window, on ocean shore side,
she hung the rug of a man's life.
i wonder if she should just hang 'a rug'? Let the image work harder.
In the night sometime
she took apart far corner threads,
doing the Arab thing;
she imperfected the weave to leave
an open end. A chance.
nice and crisp. by the end i feel you could use some more development at the start- good concepts in operation, but i'd love more context to work with.

sam

Feb/3/2010, 10:09 pm Link to this post Send Email to sambyfield   Send PM to sambyfield
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Thanks, Sam. Good crits and good thoughts, enough to make me think on the poem again.

Tere
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Yes, I like this nature painting a lot Tere. You mention looking at what might be cut, so I have made a few possible suggestions. I feel it could use bit of condensing here and there.

Just a Thing

There is a warbler //How about condensing the start somehow like this?
in the body of the green,
the little yellow warbler
as surprising as
the female flower
when she's swollen, standing//ok maybe the bird is approaching the flower?I like that idea if that is what you mean. I wonder if this is just me or could this be clearer with a word or two. I think "when" might be "that"? Anyway, I do like this image of the swollen flower
holding open
in late dewlight and spring.
The warbler through the window //might end s here?
near to where I kneel,
calling back behind
to the working girl who's home;//??I feel I should get this line but I don't. Maybe I'm dense. Is this still about the flower? Or the bird is like a working girl?

just a little seen thing
a smaller passerine//love this
fluttering, feeding, nearer to
the heart stop.//your heart?
Mascara eyes, the flashing//my dog had mascara eyes too
whiteness in the wings,
then gone inside
the living wall of green,
coming back behind, out beside//might condense this?
along the willow stems and limbs
of where we want to be,
(gone) further between
the tremble of trees.//love this last line and the whole movement it takes the poem out of view, out of the passerine. The tremble seems perfect too

Last edited by carolinex, Feb/4/2010, 6:31 pm
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


sorry, double posted

Last edited by carolinex, Feb/4/2010, 6:27 pm
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Thanks much for taking on the poem, Caroline. I always enjoy reading your comments, getting your perspective. I'll be thinking about your suggestions.

Tere
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Brother Anthony
(or the inconvenience of Christ)

Silently dusting the sacristy,
listlessly ringing the bells,
smiling just like a young nun
who picks her way between
the flowers of hell.

It was only a village church
having been dedicated
to the local Our Lady
who could have easily been
the village nurse,
or the sibyl coming before
some sunnyside defender
of the narrower door
had slain the sibyl's dragon.
And there was brother Anthony
whose spirit I've seen
in weightless men
once or twice since then.
He was laying the fresh flowers
with burnt orange names
out around the mounds
of gray bone mold and
flattened out matter.

What was curious about him
was how he maintained that
I-know-what-you-don't-know kind of grin
as he walked the graveyard grass.
And it did no good to remember
that his silly, old child's face
had the slack lines, slack grace
of an idiot,
or that there might have been things
I knew that he didn't.
What he knew, even what he
was tending to I couldn't tell.
This was enough to make me
loose the lines in my
superior face.

It was just something
that looked awake in him,
some name-place
that must have had him held.
Some body talk memory,
some forgotten imprint
that was living on in him
while he went bending down,
moving through,
bending down again
with those flower bunches
he kept arranging.

And he smiled like a kitten
purring on the suckle,
like a worker in final rest,
smiling like a Mary man
resting hands on her chin,
smiling just like some idiot
who's never worried about
the negative meaning
that meets between friends.

The really funny thing was
how he walked back inside that
perfect postcard of a church.
Like, man, he had no rhythm then.

Terreson
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ChrisD1 Profile
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


hi Tere,

I'm coming away from this with N's unresolved conflict: a suspicion or downright
hostility toward the church whose agents are defenders of "the narrower door" and slayers of "the sybl's dragon"--pulled up short by his encounter with a true believer--in the best sense of the word--an awakened one.

I like that there's no cheap and dirty resolution dressed up to look poetic. That would be icky. Scracthing my head over:

"Like, man, he had no rhythm then."

No mojo? Emasculated? "smiling like a Mary man" ? Left to wonder whether this poem is more about the narrator's conflicted feelings projected onto Brother Anthony or a portrait of Brother Anthony...or both...or neither. Or maybe the narrator has concluded
it's too high a price to pay.

Chris



Last edited by ChrisD1, Feb/13/2010, 10:25 am
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Thanks, Chrisfriend, for the comments. I suspect the poem is about both subject and narrator. For me at least the clue to the poem is carried in the parenthetical sub-title. Let me put it this way. In my philosophy days I didn't read Hegel with perfect comprehension. But I did get a few of his ideas. One of which he called the world historical irony. What he meant is that when you take an ideal, Christ maybe, and you institutionalize it, the Church maybe, you invariably get a contradiction between ideal and practice producing the irony. Something like that.

Anyway, you've now read my earliest surviving poem. First penned in '74, while in Switzerland, and reworked in '87. I guess I am wanting to see how it still reads so many years later.

Tere
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Zakzzz5 Profile
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Terreson,

You let us off the hook by telling us this was an early '74 poem. The tension is released. No worries because this was a young Terreson. Yes, I can see you don't yet have the control you will acquire later on. Interesting perception of the priest. I found that reference to some name-place that held him to be the most intriguing. That stanza was actually very positive, even though some of the others were negative. I read your comments about instituionalized religion. You know now that at least among the intelligectuals there is an institutionalized irreligion, right? You present some valid insights that work even today. Zak

quote:

Terreson wrote:

Brother Anthony
(or the inconvenience of Christ)

Silently dusting the sacristy,
listlessly ringing the bells,
smiling just like a young nun
who picks her way between
the flowers of hell.

It was only a village church
having been dedicated
to the local Our Lady
who could have easily been
the village nurse,
or the sibyl coming before
some sunnyside defender
of the narrower door
had slain the sibyl's dragon.
And there was brother Anthony
whose spirit I've seen
in weightless men
once or twice since then.
He was laying the fresh flowers
with burnt orange names
out around the mounds
of gray bone mold and
flattened out matter.

What was curious about him
was how he maintained that
I-know-what-you-don't-know kind of grin
as he walked the graveyard grass.
And it did no good to remember
that his silly, old child's face
had the slack lines, slack grace
of an idiot,
or that there might have been things
I knew that he didn't.
What he knew, even what he
was tending to I couldn't tell.
This was enough to make me
loose the lines in my
superior face.

It was just something
that looked awake in him,
some name-place
that must have had him held.
Some body talk memory,
some forgotten imprint
that was living on in him
while he went bending down,
moving through,
bending down again
with those flower bunches
he kept arranging.

And he smiled like a kitten
purring on the suckle,
like a worker in final rest,
smiling like a Mary man
resting hands on her chin,
smiling just like some idiot
who's never worried about
the negative meaning
that meets between friends.

The really funny thing was
how he walked back inside that
perfect postcard of a church.
Like, man, he had no rhythm then.

Terreson



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Maria Divina Profile
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Just a thing


Need will always necessarily be a wish. It is part of being human.

And when we express ourselves in whichever way we feel comfortable to, we are, even if briefly, transported outside ourselves. We lose our identity. It's in these moments that we don't need anything but our feelings.

What does this have to do with your poem? I don’t want to read too much into the images, the song, the rhythm of the words. The title ‘just a thing’ implies just that – we don’t have to give everything we see, touch, a name. It exists and there’s nothing else to know at times.

For me this poem is therefore an exploration of the senses, of awakenings, moments when we could actually choke on a colour, a sound, then rise a different person than before. Ah yes, those little journeys of life ‘of where we want to be’.

It is the wheres we want to be that sort of triggered these thoughts/feelings in me, although I am wondering what the poem would communicate without that line. Maybe you could leave it out or replace it with one single word, a single image.

Also, I see what you are going for with the lines ‘calling back behind
to the working girl who's home'.
If it had been my poem I would have probably taken the easy way out and gone on with the 'I' perspective. So I appreciate the complementary contrast between the working girl and the sounds of the 'just a thing'.


Divina



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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


~Ain't blowing smoke here, Zakman. But I love it when you speak up. You always give me something to think on.

Glad you feel yourself off the hook. And, of course, you are right about how that 23 year old hadn't found his stride yet. There is a name for this kind of poem: juvenilia; even if maybe I can detect a certain perceptual slant already in play. And yes again. All institutionalizing kills the spirit, kills the heart, kills the soul. It is as true of Buddhism as it is the Western intellectual tradition as it is of science...as it is of poetry.

~Maria. First off welcome to the board. I hope you like the fit of it. Sometimes I think of her as a sailing ship, and all that rigging. And thank you for your comments. If this is the kind of approach you take in your readings I am certainly looking forward to what you have to say. I'll call it the meta-approach, or looking to get inside the thing.

What you say about the title and naming things brings to memory an aphorism of mine:

The act of naming things cheats us into thinking we know the thing. The act of poetry gets us behind the name, inside the thing.

It is true ne's pas?

I'll be honest with you though. I never really know if a poem actually works. After however many years of working on the conception and execution I just give up, saying, 'man, you got to let it go.' Thanks again.

Tere
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Man. Talk about poetry trading in the range of the bitter and the sweet. I'll assume everyone knows the legend the poem predicates itself upon.


Merlin to Vivian
(maybe just before she encases him in crystal)

I see you best

when you push me in my steps,
when yours becomes the way,

and your body tilts the ocean,
and you meet your touch to fires you crave;

when you stop yourself from killing boredom's hurt,
when you keep yourself sane,

and you show the world your naked lustre,
and you show us all grace in the gloom;

when your breath touches me, when you trust,
when you tell the policeman I'm yours to keep,

and the baby you bloom is yours alone,
and the smell you smell is yours alone;

when the night you wake to is your friend,
when I am not the enemy,

and your belly's need pulls on love,
and your belly need calls on death;

when you no longer care to know yourself,
when you stare clean through the stars;
and the cave you keep is your home again,
and you are what grounds me in the way you do.

Terreson

(later. I will take advantage of the situation and tell a fun story about the poem. It is maybe three, maybe four years old. Certainly post-Katrina. I was visiting a poetry board one late Saturday night. A member posted a topic for a bit of improv play: "I love you when." I decided to play, typing to the screen. Then I forgot about it, remembering the poem a week or so later. And I saw that thing I sometimes see in an improv piece. I saw the germ of an idea, which, to me, is the greatest value of the game. I don't know why, but then I saw Merlin and Vivian in his cave just as she has used magic to encase him in crystal. There are two takes on her motive for "imprisoning" him. One side says that he was infatuated with her and that he incautiously gave over to her all his secrets. Once he had given her the last and greatest of his magic she no longer had use for him and so made him captive for all time, or at least until the return of Arthur. But the other side says that Vivian was the Lady of the Lake, the high priestess at Avalon, that Merlin was her lover, and that she encased him, still alive, to preserve him from death and again until the return of Arthur. Because of something Jung said I side with the second slant. Jung called Merlin the archetypal Son of the Great Mother, also known as Sovereignty. So out of a bit of vapid improv written to the topic, 'I love you when,' there came Merlin, Vivian, his crystal encasement and 'I see you when.' You got to love how poetry can take on a life of its own.

Poem still open to crit.)

Last edited by Terreson, Feb/22/2010, 9:16 pm
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Zakzzz5 Profile
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Terreson,

When I read poetry, I read material that people quote on the internet. If you remember Bernie from TCP, he used to post poems from current (late 1800's to today) that he liked or that resonated with a poem in question. I'm not as primed as some on the modern/post-modern. Why am I saying this? Because one grows familiar with a certain vein, and I'm somewhat familiar with how you write, and so what you write makes an impression like many commercial poets don't. Which is "life". Maybe I see each poem you write as a "piece" of the greater puzzle, i.e., the whole. It may be for that reason that your poetry hits more clearly and honestly and solidly with us here who are familiar with more of your work than we would with other published people. What am I saying? Just rambling.

See my notes below. The poem is good. As I stated below, the poem suddenly sped up, maybe a bit fast towards the end. Otherwise, good. Zak

 
quote:

Terreson wrote:

Man. Talk about poetry trading in the range of the bitter and the sweet. I'll assume everyone knows the legend the poem predicates itself upon.


Merlin to Vivian
(maybe just before she encases him in crystal)

I see you best

when you push me in my steps,
when yours becomes the way, [unique language here]

and your body tilts the ocean, [wonderful]
and you meet your touch to fires you crave;

when you stop yourself from killing boredom's hurt, [a little enigmatic, but others may clear this up for me]
when you keep yourself sane,

and you show the world your naked lustre,
and you show us all grace in the gloom; [good alliteration]

when your breath touches me, when you trust,
when you tell the policeman I'm yours to keep, [interesting insertion of a modern term here; up to now it was timeless]

and the baby you bloom is yours alone,
and the smell you smell is yours alone;

when the night you wake to is your friend,
when I am not the enemy, [this becomes very personal with the "I"]

and your belly's need pulls on love,
and your belly need calls on death; [here you seem to embrace the totality from birth to death, conception to death -- suddenly]

when you no longer care to know yourself,
when you stare clean through the stars;
and the cave you keep is your home again,
and you are what grounds me in the way you do. [If I had one comment or criticism it would be that the poem suddenly picks up speed, terrible speed in the last several stanzas, with the inclusion of death an dissolution.]

Terreson

(later. I will take advantage of the situation and tell a fun story about the poem. It is maybe three, maybe four years old. Certainly post-Katrina. I was visiting a poetry board one late Saturday night. A member posted a topic for a bit of improv play: "I love you when." I decided to play, typing to the screen. Then I forgot about it, remembering the poem a week or so later. And I saw that thing I sometimes see in an improv piece. I saw the germ of an idea, which, to me, is the greatest value of the game. I don't know why, but then I saw Merlin and Vivian in his cave just as she has used magic to encase him in crystal. There are two takes on her motive for "imprisoning" him. One side says that he was infatuated with her and that he incautiously gave over to her all his secrets. Once he had given her the last and greatest of his magic she no longer had use for him and so made him captive for all time, or at least until the return of Arthur. But the other side says that Vivian was the Lady of the Lake, the high priestess at Avalon, that Merlin was her lover, and that she encased him, still alive, to preserve him from death and again until the return of Arthur. Because of something Jung said I side with the second slant. Jung called Merlin the archetypal Son of the Great Mother, also known as Sovereignty. So out of a bit of vapid improv written to the topic, 'I love you when,' there came Merlin, Vivian, his crystal encasement and 'I see you when.' You got to love how poetry can take on a life of its own.

Poem still open to crit.)





Last edited by Zakzzz5, Feb/24/2010, 9:31 am
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


I get the crit, Zak, about the speeding up. I may end up going back to the original, all in couplets.

Tere
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Back to your post, Zakman. Sorry for not having responded to your prefatory note last night.

Thanks for the compliment. If what you say is true, and I know you are no BS artist, then you've touched on one of my objectives, maybe a conviction. Put parenthetically, if maybe a little enigmatically, you can't hit the high notes without walking the low road. It is what grounds the poem. All my poetry heroes and heroines have. As for a poem's success, well, there is no accounting for that. Always a gamble, always an experiment, always a matter of hit and miss.

I get your other point too about familiarity, what I call orientation. If it doesn't eventually come, this right orientation, then maybe the poem and poet is the problem.

But you make me think of a fun story. For all his experimentation in prose, when it came to poetry James Joyce was clean and straight and he tended to keep to closed form versification. When I read his novels and short stories I was also reading his poetry. The contrast didn't bother me. Somehow it made sense. His poetry served as a primer for me in trying to figure out his objectives in prose. What came through was motive, Joyce's motive. And that was all I needed. (Tonight I am thinking there is no literary metier as telling of motive than both poetry and the essay, the lyrical essay especially.) Anyway, the great Ezra Pound took Joyce seriously to task for his poetry. My sense is that Pound felt Joyce's poetry betrayed the Modernist cause whose primary concern amounted to a reaction, looking to overturn Victorian modes and tastes which could and certainly did falsify poetic expressions of experience.

Thanks, Zakman. You just gave me an essay idea. Modernism in lit viewed as a wholly local, parochial reaction to Victorian tastes and dictates. Anybody knowing a grad student in need of a thesis idea?

Tere
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Over in the jobbing adventures thread I briefly mention a visit to Spain. The mention brings this poem to mind, written almost two decades later. I've been told it is publishable. I just can't figure out what that means. Open to crit.


Picture Postscript

There is a tradition
Gnostic in origin
about the Magdalene, saying
she was to succeed Him.

These are the whitest nights I've ever seen.
Overnight train through the plains of Castile.
Destination: Andalucia.
In the federal streets of Madrid, and Franco recently dead,
freedoms start in stutter on the unused tongue.
And hilltop Toledo, the ancient capitol where
there the river ghost skies El Greco saw.
But now the Iberian night, and the white plateau
barely habitable, scraped clean, chalky.

Her black eyes miss nothing in the train's dark;
gypsy girl captioned in moonshine window.
Her lover's lips buried in her neck, his hand
hidden in her fulling skirt, and her
suckling, her son or daughter, content at her breast.
Granad by morning. I cannot sleep.

The Alhambra, the castellated mountaintop.
Perfectly defensible, or until
Gothic Crusader stretched, strained, pulled.
Inside these cool walls the sister soul flourished.
And still the stylus in the stone, the intricate
inflorescence more modern fingers can trace.
Now another incursion, this by the busload,
the camera carrying, tourist pilgrim.

The opposing hillside. In the white washed cave
I make the rare trade of Tarot pack for
the lonely Juerga in all night Flamenco session.
And there she is again, the same dark eyed girl
with son or daughter at play in her lap;
while she who keeps the pitos, sharp finger rhythm for
gitano on low stool who in deep song
delves the thing alive, she stares him on,
alive inside the big bottomed guitar; slender neck.
And the tidal surge felt for the middle sea.

Thin ribbon roads through mountains and
Sierra Nevada's divide, the descent.
And roadside women, age indeterminate,
sweeping in black sack dress, sweeping pendulous while
politics of pursuit keep the approach;
and the blood of the bull, death ceremonial,
what must dance a man's life away for him.

Costa del Sol. Muscular
olive groin, hibiscus home.
Old fishermen beached, staring to will the sea,
hauling in long nets with rotten teeth.
I want the Mallorcan man, sure sign of him,
the last lyricist, poetry's final best.
But dementia has lately cleared his head.
Clinging to the coast are the English expatriates.

Too many Jerez bars. Too many brawls. Too much talk.
Just the unsettled argument betweeen
communist, anarchist, fascist,
separatist and the like.
And the American bar run by
the Chicago born man whose pasty, night face
is a Trader Vic portrait, who says:
"simply disengage." And so away from them
with soon the question, who the hell keeps the lead?

As she shows that night on ink well beach.
This girl I've seen, in dreamscape too.
The same woman in full phase, same
daughter or son sifting sand beside her, and
there the lover she lays, disciple three.

She who body breeds the fertile dream, sea change.

Terreson
Mar/15/2010, 5:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Tere,

I think I understand the logic/rightness of ending the poem with the image of the girl/woman. But I want it to end more open-ended with, "who the hell keeps the lead?"

This line is so striking:

"freedoms start in stutter on the unused tongue."

This one's impressive, Tere.

Chris
Mar/17/2010, 10:50 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Thank you, Chrisfriend. I know precisely what you mean about the questioning line. But, as you also get, I wanted the Magdalene to have the last word. I have for long been a lover of the Black Virgin legend of the 11th C when she showed up spontaneously in cathedrals, from Spain to Poland. This amounts to my handling of the theme and set against a tableau vivant of sorts. (One of these days I may have to do the Eliot-footnote thing with these poems of mine looking to body out one ancient myth, legend or story.)

And, yes, in all honesty, I too think this may be a larger kind of poem. Not sure why, less sure how. Maybe the poem's real ambition is to tape back together the modern individual, the subject of fracturing experience. Thanks again.

Tere
Mar/17/2010, 6:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Hi Tere,

Oh, yes, I really like this poem. It's a big poem, and in it, I see many of the themes you often work with in other pieces. The poem feels at once contemporary and ancient. Overall, the poem has weight, breadth, depth. During the second read through, I caught the rhythm and was able to follow it easily after that.

The only change I might suggest is to the last line:

She who bodies forth the fertile dream, sea change.

I understand why you use breed for both the sound and content of the word, and my suggestion would change the tone slightly and perhaps not in a way that suits your sense of things.

Thanks for posting this. Now send it out some place!
Mar/22/2010, 10:39 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Terreson poetry (bitter root and sweet)


Thanks, Kat. That is high praise coming from a close reader like you. And, sure, the poem's rhythm, punctuated as it is, is hard to get on a first reading. As always, when it comes to line rhythm, I am beholding to my two rhythm fathers: Hopkins and Eliot.

Your suggestion about the last line makes sense. I'll need to think on it. As it stands the line, or so I hope, more highlights a kind of sacral carnality. I remember that gypsies give votive offerings to the Black Virgin. They view her as a fertility goddess. Heck, even the late Pope John Paul II was a devotee of hers.

Tere
Mar/22/2010, 7:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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