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Friday, May 7, 2010

The Piper Center Celebrates "Poem In Your Pocket" Day!

I know all of you have been sharing those poems you've kept handy for National Poetry Month's Poem In Your Pocket Day with just about everyone you meet. The Piper Center's been keeping up with the festivities as well--so what if we're a week late? Here's some of our favorites!

Beth Staples
I've got two, and I can't seem to decide: "[nor can love be proven except by act]" by Emily Carr, from Issue #45, and "Under the Rug" by Lauren Henley from Issue #46. Both have this incredible urgency about them. I love how Emily's starts with a plea, to look at our "want & not wanting." I love that combination of feelings: tragedy and breath. Lauren's is more disturbing, but there's a mystery to it, and a strength.
Under the Rug

The night before I leave you for good,
I'm driving us home from a party
because you've gotten stupid again,
insisting you weren't the fool
of the evening, certain you didn't
piss in my friend's vegetable patch
and break two glasses. All lies
you say. We get home, you puke
into the drapes, hide them somewhere
I can't see. I scrub the wall
and you tell me it wasn't you,
it was me. I spend the night searching
for the drapes, checking all
the garbage cans while you sleep,
looking through closets, cupboards.
There is no moon to light my way,
I stumble through the dark calling out
for the drapes. In between meals and chores
I hunt for them, imagining how foul
they must be. I'm about to give up
and then-a trapdoor under the rug...
it leads down a bright tunnel to a pile of junk.
The drapes are there, clean and spotless.
Nothing makes sense. I come back up
and scream for you to hit me.
Hit me. Hit me. And you do.



Elizabyth Hiscox
I don’t like to outright apex, if possible. For poem-in-your-pocket day I will assume that all my pockets are full of poems (on any given day I usually have at least four pockets from which to choose) and that I've grabbed these two first. Each of these poems was originally brought fully to my attention by a friend, so the attractions aren't mine alone although the reasoning might be.

Adrienne Rich's "For This."
The close of the poem where the equation between art and salvation is made swiftly and with force while somehow circumventing the melodrama that necessarily accompanies both those concepts.

Gary Snyder’s "Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout."
It smacks of a romantic American West, but in ways that ring true for me. There’s the serenity at the cusp of a wild (fire) season. The revelations of isolation.




Sean Nevin
My poem is "Brothers Playing Catch on Christmas Day" by Gary Short. I guess it's the emotion, that Nevada-ghost-town nostalgic melancholy that somehow smacks of what Jane Kenyon or Anna Akhmatova do at their best. It's the same seemingly simple structure and diction, plane even, (that is until one tries to replicate it) that can blindside the reader. The sheer psychic weight of this poem and the love between brothers is so compressed it is not just held in the concrete object of the football but the flashes of the spiraling, soon-to-be invisible "clean white laces" of the ball that rescue it (and us) from the sentimental.





Amanda Monrad
This, "Let America Be America Again" by Langston Hughes is not my favorite poem. This is a poem I love and reread the other day in light of what’s been happening in Arizona recently. It resurfaced for me just prior to the 2008 election and found it to be a true motivator, for me a true symbol of the change we were all looking for so desperately. It’s a poem that moves me by a poet whom I love dearly. (PS - It might not fit in your pocket.)




Tom McDermott
I have a 18 month old beagle (Hank) that I can’t help but think about when I read "Verse for a Certain Dog" by Dorothy Parker. I can picture his confident strut with his head held high when I read the line 'High in young pride you hold your noble head'. That is of course until he hears an oncoming skateboard and runs for cover!




Aaron Falvey
"Junk" by Richard Wilbur: It's a perfect marriage of antiquity and modernity through judicious use of refuse.




Mike Pitoniak
"Happiness" by Raymond Carver. To be brief, I love that last stanza. Just awesome.




Colin McGann
"Learning to Swim" by John Burnside.
Trying to seem unconcerned, but numb with the fear
that he'd killed me, the glare of his laughter
dying away in the hollows and nooks of the roof
and everything silent...
I really like this line and poem because I teach swim lessons at a pool over the summer and it frightens me how many people have horror stories about how they learned to swim. The fear that consumes someone when they first learn to swim is something that is very immediate in my mind and I like how Burnside captures it here.




Maleri Sevier
A piece by Dorothy R. Parker:
Razors Pain you;
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you:
Drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren't lawful;
nooses give.
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.




Erik Daniel Smith
"Genius" by Mark Twain: When I (Brittany) first asked Erik why he picked this particular poem, he replied, "Because you made me choose one." When I tried to pry further, all I got was, "Because Mark Twain kicks ass." Hear, hear.





Amy Ledin
"Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.





Brittany Herman
"Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem", by Bob Hicok. There's this longing contentment throughout the voice: it's lost. It longs for theoretical physics, for how hands mourn (by praying or clapping), for "a Bronx where people talk / like violets smell", and finally for "each of the places we meet." Oh, and that opening.

3 comments:

princess kanomanom said...

What a great entry. Thanks for the tip-offs.

Also, love that Carver's poetry is included. You don't hear much about "Carver the poet."

(Oh--and the "Verse for a Certain Dog" link doesn't lead anywhere. Thought you'd like to know.)

John Tynan said...

I missed carrying a poem in my pocket, but who knows. Maybe I'll pick up the practice... and when the moment comes where it seems it's the right time to unfold the smudged and well-worn page (perhaps in the glow of a real candle, our spirits warmed by wine) this is the poem I hope to have at the ready: "I Know Your Body" by Victor TerĂ¡n and translated by David Shook: http://www.asu.edu/pipercwcenter/publications/haydensferryreview/issue45/international/international_teran.html

Thanks HFR!

John Tynan said...

Great choice of poems, folks!

Amanda, your choice of "Let America Be America Again" gives a new, better meaning, to carrying your papers with you. Thank you for this.

Aaron, I appreciate the idea of carrying Richard Wilbur's "Junk" as a caution about making gimcrack works. This is one that should be in every author's back pocket.