Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Painting by Chagall-The Weepies


Painting by Chagall--The Weepies

Thunder rumbles in the distance, a quiet intensity
I am willful, your insistence is tugging at the best of me
You're the moon, I'm the water
You're Mars, calling up Neptune's daughter

Sometimes rain that's needed falls
We float like two lovers in a painting by Chagall
All around is sky and blue town
Holding these flowers for a wedding gown
We live so high above the ground, satellites surround us.

I am humbled in this city
There seems to be an endless sea of people like us
Wakeful dreamers, I pass them on the sunlit streets
In our rooms filled with laughter
We make hope from every small disaster

Everybody says "you can't, you can't, you can't, don't try."
Still everybody says that if they had the chance they'd fly like we do.

Monday, December 10, 2007

ENGW 333/Fall 2007--Poetry Critique Guide

Print and read each poem scheduled for your group critique session, marking any passages or concerns that strike you as you read. Then take no more than 15 minutes to respond to the questions below, giving as specific a response as you can. You will give your responses to the poet, so make comments legible (type if you can) and references to the manuscript specific (stanza numbers, particular lines, etc.).

Reader Response(s)
1) As you finish the piece, record your initial response as a reader. Are you jealous? Overwhelmed? Confused? Thrilled? Eager to read more? Calmed? Reminded of something? What in the poem or poems most powerfully contributed to this response?

2) What conversations do you overhear as you read this work? Which voices (the poet’s, the artist’s, the audience’s, or other voices) most attracted you? Which ones compelled you to learn more in order to read the poem better? Which voices kicked you out of the poem?

3) What role does the artwork or song play in this ekphrastic piece? Is it central or peripheral? In what ways would you like to understand the work more fully—through the artist, through description, through reception, through context?

4) What role does the speaker or poet play in this ekphrastic poem? Where would you like to experience more distance between the speaker and the work? Where would you like to see the poet better collapse such a distance? How might he or she do this? How might your sense of this distance change as you encounter more poems in the grouping?

Formal/Technical Concerns
1) How does the writer’s choice of form fit or fail to fit with her artistic subject matter? What aspect of the form is he using with special skill? What aspect of the form could still be brought to bear on the poem? (For instance, perhaps the voice in a dramatic monologue is strong, but the writer hasn’t made use of the implied audience).

2) Which images in the poem are especially strong? Which sense does the writer use best? Which sense could he or she develop more here? Where would you like to see a particular image developed in more detail? Which image strikes you as a cliché? How could the poet write “through” the cliché?

3) Mark one or two lines in the poem that you think stand out above all others. What did you like about this line? Is it located in the most effective position? How does it make use of tension? How does it make use of meter? Which line strikes you as more random than it needs to be? Suggest another layer of choice the writer might consider in his or her lineation.

4) How effective or ineffective is the writer’s word choice/diction? Which particular words should the writer reconsider? Why should she/he reconsider these (connotation, sound, consistency of voice)?

5) What uses of sound--rhyme, alliteration, assonance, etc.--fit well with the sense of the poem? What choices seem overdone or under-considered?

6) Characterize the voice in this poem. Is it strong, reflective, consistent or inconsistent? How could the writer better establish the speaker’s voice?

7) Which use of figurative language in the poem drew your attention (metaphor, simile, personification, etc.)? Where could this writer consider using a stronger or weaker comparison? Where do you see mixed or inconsistent figures of speech that need to be made more consistent?

Harder Revision(s) (answer at least one of these and no more than two)
1) What is the central emotional core of the poem? Where do you think the writer best demonstrates this as a grounded/embodied feeling? Where does he or she miss a chance to emphasize or offer more connection to this sensation? Where is he sentimental?

2) What thought/idea/term in this poem is used in a lazy way? Where could it be better defined or made vivid? In whose voice could this abstraction/thought be better conveyed?

3) Where do you find the poet moralizing? Has she earned this? Tell her what she must do to talk to you this way.

4) Does this poem fit your understanding of ekphrasis or musical ekphrasis? Does it expand your sense of these kinds of poetry? Tell the writer what he has done to make you clarify or revise your definition.

Friday, December 7, 2007

You Tube Ekphrasis

H/T to Wingtips for this video, set to my favorite sarabande.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Michelangelo's Seizure

Michelangelo's Seizure--Steve Gehrke

When it happened, finally,
on the preparation bridge,
where he had stood all morning
grinding the pigments, grooming
his brush-tips to a fine point
so that he could thread Eve's hair
like a serpent down her back,
his head rocked forward on the bell-chain
of his spine, the catwalks
rattling as he fell, a paint-
bowl splattering the ceiling,
then spinning like a dying bird,
to the chapel floor, frightening
the assistant who—trained
in such matters—huffed up
the footbridge to wedge
the handle of a wooden brush
between the mouse-trap of the teeth,
to keep the master from biting off
his tongue. Did the choir-box
fill with angels? Did the master
feel the beast rising up in him
to devour the pearl of heaven
at the center of his brain? If you
were that assistant, kneeling
next to the stampeded body,
smelling the quicklime in the air,
the boiled milk of plaster, seeing him
tangled in the body's vines, voiceless,
strained, would you call it rapture?
The assistant didn't either, didn't even
consider it, or think to pray,
but sat watching as the spirit clattered
back inside of him, like a chandelier
lowered from a ceiling—
and when it was over, he thought
he heard the artist curse softly
as he surfaced, a small word, violent,
so that when the master walked outside
to get some air, the boy sat atop
the scaffolding, eating his orange
and letting the fruit peels fall,
like drips of flame, feeling freer
in a way, almost glad. Outside,
it was fall, the city proud
with chimneys. Ragged, clouds
of plaster in his beard, his mouth
hollow, aching like an empty purse,
Michelangelo could still hear
the tortured voices on the ceiling
calling out for completion,
amputated, each face shadowed
with his own, which he would paint,
one morning, with the witchcraft
hushed inside his veins,
onto the flayed skin of St.
Bartholomew, crumpled, fierce,
with two dead bugs crushed
into the paint, like that bit of terror,
he would think, sealed inside
of everything He makes. Now
he lifted his fingers to his lips,
to the wasp's nest of his mouth,
and withdrew, with the ease of spitting
out an apple stem, a tiny splinter
of wood that had sunk into his tongue.

Read a reviewof Steve Gehrke's entirely ekphrastic collection from U of Illinois Press.Of course you could always read Michelangelo's own sonnets.

Lesson: Here is how to revise

Sunday, December 2, 2007

is this all ekphrasis is?

New Yorker cover from Apr. 30, 2007 by Harry Bliss

Saturday, December 1, 2007

music as lonesome as I am

Bluefield Breakdown--Rick Mulkey

Where are you Clyde Moody, and you Elmer Bird,
"Banjo Man from Turkey Creek," and you Ed Haley,
and Dixie Lee singing in that high lonesome way?
I feel the shadow now upon me...
Come you angels and play those dusty strings.
You ain't gonna work that sawmill Brother Carter,
nor sleep in that Buchanon County mine. Clawhammer
some of that Cripple Creek song. Fiddle me a line
of "Chinquapin Hunting." Shout little Lulie, shout, shout.
I need to hear music as lonesome as I am,
I need to hear voices sing words I've forgotten.
This valley's much too dark now.
Sunset right beside us, sunrise too far away.
I haven't heard a tipple creak all day,
and everyone I loved left
on the last Norfolk & Southern train.

from Toward Any Darkness (Word Press, 2007)