April 26th is National Poem in Your Pocket Day. It’s pretty self-explanatory--you copy down a poem and carry it in your pocket all day. Simple, right?
I’ve asked people in and around the Piper Center (the headquarters for HFR) to share the poems they plan on carrying on PIYPD, and the reasoning behind their choice. So for the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at the poems staff, interns, MFA students and general float-arounders hold close.
To celebrate PIYD, Sally Ball (ASU professor/poet/wonderwoman) chose "Black Swan" by Brigit Pegeen Kelly. Here is what she has to say on the poem, on bullying, and on the magic of carrying poems:
"From the Hip
There are a handful of poems I think of as being perpetually in my pocket: poems whose lines have stitched themselves into the general fabric of my wardrobe (I know: enough with the metaphor! —but think of this: a wardrobe isn’t just your jeans, it’s the place where the armor is kept, a place which also adjoins the bedchamber: protective and intimate: isn't that what poems often are? even if essentially they ‘protect’ us by crashing through into our most vulnerable center and (cathartically?) turning us inside out?)—
The anthology that rattles around in my head includes Berryman's first Dream Song and Keats' "This Living Hand," Bidart's "A Coin for Joe" and Glück's "April" ("No one's despair is like my despair"!). It includes a little Rilke, Dickinson, Carson, Stevens.... William Gass points out (in a fantastic encomium at the end of Reading Rilke), that "the poem can be carried about more easily than a purse, and I don't have to wait, when I want it, for a violinist to get in key, it can come immediately to mind—to my mind because it is my poem as much as it is yours—because, like a song, it can be sung in many places at once—and danced as well, because the poem becomes a condition of the body, in enlivens our bones."(That passage is always in my pocket, too—)The ever-near poem I want to call to your attention is "Black Swan" by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, and I am thinking of it for not-necessarily celebratory reasons. I'm thinking of it as the movie BULLY is in theaters, and thinking of it after the extended hullabaloo about what BULLY should be rated (see here if you haven't followed this: http://www.salon.com/2012/03/28/why_the_mpaa_doesnt_want_your_kid_to_see_bully/singleton/).Brigit Kelly writes so intimately (here and in “Song,” her famous severed-goat’s-head poem) about the harm done when we take our pleasure by causing a wound to someone else (harm to ourselves as well as harm to our targets). In “Black Swan,” she also unnervingly suggests that even those places we imagine to be safe are not safe, even an imagined oasis away from the world, a fairy tale meant to comfort, not a lie, exactly, but a fantasy of mythic refuge: not only can that place come to feel like yet another thing to lose, it can also be infiltrated—even transformed—by those who have no knowledge of its existence, who tear it down simply by causing us to doubt its value.This is a mother’s poem, a poem about powerlessness in the face of a son’s pain. It is also a poem about the imagination, the ways we control and do not control its territories. Reading, we open ourselves to the dark low wind of the rest of the world."
Here's a link to Black Swan. Thank you, Sally!