|May 13, 2013||A JEWISH MUSICAL EVENT FOR WOMEN||1 comments|
|April 15, 2013||EVERYTHING TODAY -- WHAT A TREAT!||3 comments|
|April 06, 2013||APRIL IS POETRY MONTH||1 comments|
|March 21, 2013||MEDIEVAL HEBREW* POETRY||2 comments|
|March 02, 2013||MEET THE ARTIST: #3||1 comments|
|January 16, 2013||POET AND PATRIARCH, AL SMOLOVER||5 comments|
|December 23, 2012||THE BLUE HEART||3 comments|
|November 19, 2012||A CANADIAN POET||3 comments|
|October 29, 2012||AUTUMN 2012||3 comments|
|October 27, 2010||Why Poetry?||3 comments|
IN HEBREW THE WORD FOR POEM AND FOR SONG IS THE SAME : "SHEER" (PHONETICALLY) --WHICH POINTS OUT THE MUSICALITY INHERENT IN GOOD POETRY. IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT THE OLD ENGLISH WORD "RUNE" MEANS BOTH SONG AND POEM. THE CLOSE CONNECTION OF POEM AND SONG HAS TO DO WITH RHYTHM, METER AND MEANING.
SOON A VERY SPECIAL EVENT DESIGNED AROUND BOTH "SONG AND POEM" IS SCHEDULED FOR PITTSBURGH JEWISH WOMEN. CHANI ALTEIN, (WIFE OF RABBI Y. ALTEIN AND MOTHER OF FIVE, INCLUDING NEWBORN LEAH) TEACHER, WRITER, AND ENERGETIC LEADER OF PITTSBURGH CHABAD, IS HOSTING AN EVENING OF MUSIC AND CELEBRATION CALLED "THE SOUND OF JEWISH MUSIC" ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 29TH, BEGINNING 7:15 PM, AT CMU'S KRESGE THEATER.
CHANI HAS ASSEMBLED AN ARRAY OF TALENTED WOMEN: CANTORIAL SOLOISTS, OPERATIC SOPRANOS, ORCHESTRAL MUSICIANS--VIOLINISTS, CLARINETISTS, PIANISTS, TO ENTERTAIN WITH SONGS BY COMPOSERS SUCH AS MAURICE RAVEL, MICHEL LEGRAND, RABBI RAFAEL ANTABI, AS WELL AS MORE THAN A DOZEN OTHERS. EIGHTEEN MUSICAL SELECTIONS WILL BE HEARD, SUCH AS "THE THEME FROM SCHINDLER'S LIST," "CHANSON HEBRAIQUE" AND "ZUM GALI" TO NAME JUST THREE.
THE EVENING WILL BEGIN WITH WINE, CHEESE AND CHOCOLATES, AT 7:15, FOLLOWED AT 8:00 BY MUSIC, AND WORKS OF POETRY, PHOTOGRAPHY AND PAINTINGS BY LOCAL ARTISTS, AS WELL. THIS PROMISES TO BE AN EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE, A RARE AND WONDERFUL OCCASION FOR JEWISH WOMEN TO ENJOY.
IT IS AN HONOR FOR ME TO BE INVITED TO TAKE PART IN THIS WONDERFUL EVENT. I WILL READ "HOW FEROCITY BREEDS," FROM THE NEWLY PUBLISHED BOOK OF HOLOCAUST-RELATED POETRY, "THE BLUE HEART," FINISHING LINE PRESS, 2013.
THERE IS A VERY SMALL NUMBER OF SEATS STILL AVAILABLE.* IF YOU HURRY YOU CAN ORDER TICKETS ONLINE AT email@example.com OR CALL 412-421-3561.
HOPE TO SEE AND ENTERTAIN YOU ON THE 29TH! THANKS FOR CLICKING IN.
*Couvert is $18.00 in advance, $25.00 at the door.
NOT A GREAT MANY GROWN-UPS HAVE THE ABILITY TO RECAPTURE AN EXACT SENSE OF CHILDHOOD, EVEN GOOD WRITERS. BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WRITE FOR CHILDREN, QUITE SUCCESSFULLY, AND HAVE GOOD RECALL IN DOING SO. MY PREMISE TODAY CONCERNS SUCH A PERSON, A POET AND ARTIST WHO IS POSSESSED OF AN ADULT SENSIBILITY, BUT WHO ALSO CAN SLIP INTO THE SORT OF PLAYFULNESS, IN BOTH WORDS AND PICTURES, THAT WILL DELIGHT CHILDREN. THIS IS HELEN BAR-LEV.
HELEN WAS BORN IN THE UNITED STATES BUT HAS LIVED IN ISRAEL FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS. WHAT CAN WE SAY, HERE IN AMERICA, ABOUT THE LOSS TO ISRAEL OF SO TALENTED A WOMAN? THE ANSWER IS TO BE THANKFUL THAT SHE BOTH WRITES IN ENGLISH, AND THAT VISUAL ART OF COURSE HAS NO BOUNDARIES OR LIMITATIONS.
IN 2012, AFTER DOZENS OF WIDELY PRAISED ART EXHIBITIONS AND SCORES OF POETRY PUBLICATIONS, HELEN PUBLISHED "EVERYTHING TODAY,"* A BOOK OF POEMS AND ILLUSTRATIONS THAT IS SIMPLY ENCHANTING. ABOUT THIS BOOK SHE REPORTS THAT, "ON ONE APRIL MORNING, SHE REALIZED, 'INSTEAD OF PAINTING IN COLOR, ALL DAY I WAS USING MY BLACK PEN. 'EVERYTHING TODAY IS BLACK AND WHITE, I THOUGHT'...AND THE POEM CAME TO ME. THEN, OVER..HALF A YEAR...(CAME) THE PINK POEM, THE YELLOW POEM, THE RED, THE BLUE, THE GREEN...AND ALL THE OTHERS."
ACCOMPANYING THE POEMS, EACH OF WHICH BEGINS, "EVERYTHING TODAY IS..." FOLLOWED BY ONE OF EIGHTEEN COLORS, (FROM 'RED' TO 'MULTI-COLORED') COME THE ILLUSTRATIONS: FOR EXAMPLE, ON A PAGE OF 'GOLD' YOU WILL FIND: A SHINING CROWN, A VIVID FISH, A POT OF COINS, AN EGYPTIAN MUMMY, A FRIENDLY RETRIEVER, AND A PLUMPLY DELICIOUS LOOKING BAGEL. PLUS THESE LINES:
"...I COME IN LIQUID, LEAFS, SHEETS, PLATING,
NUGGETS, INGOTS, BARS,
BULLIONS, BANDS, BANGLES..."
"I'M ON THE DOMES OF EVERY NATION
I'M ON THE CROWNS OF THEIR ROYALTY
FASTEN ME TO YOUR EARS, YOUR NOSE,
YOUR NAVEL, YOUR TONGUE
HOARD ME, STORE ME IN FORT KNOX ..."
"IF YOU ABIDE BY THE RULES YOU MIGHT FIND
A POT AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW...
...YOU'LL FIND ME IN A FINCH
IN A POND OF KOI
UNDER A NESTING GOOSE
IN THE FUR OF A RETRIEVER
IN THE GLOW OF JERUSALEM'S STONES AT SUNSET..."
"EVERYTHING TODAY IS GOLD."
THIS IS A COLLECTION THAT LIGHTS UP EXISTENCE, THAT CAPTURES THE WORLD FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES BY DEFINING IT THROUGH THE MAGIC OF THE POET- ARTIST. I BELIEVE IN THE SYMBIOSIS AT WORK IN "EVERYTHING TODAY." THE INFLUENCE OF THE VISUAL THROUGH THE ARTIST'S EYE, INFORMS AND INSPIRES HER IMAGINATION, HER TALENTED HAND, AND THEN, OF COURSE, THE POETRY. THEY ARE INTERTWINED IN WAYS OTHERWISE UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN.
FOR YOUR PLEASURE, I WILL SHARE SOME LINES FROM "PURPLE IS PEACEFUL."
EVERYTHING TODAY IS PURPLE
DON A ROBE
ASCEND A THRONE
PRETEND TO BE A PRINCESS
INSIST ON AN AMETHYST
WEAR A HEART, THINK HEROICALLY...
TODAY IS THE DAY
TO MAKE GRAPE JELLY
TO PICK A PLUM
TO EAT AN EGGPLANT
TO LOVE AN OLIVE...
ADMIRE THE LILAC AND LUPINE
THE IRIS, THE VIOLETS
SUP UNDER A JACARANDA
FLY WITH THE MARTINS
JOSTLE WITH A JELLYFISH...
APPLY GENTIAN TO CURE THAT BRUISE.
EVERYTHING TODAY IS PURPLE."
AND IN ADDITION TO ALL MENTIONED ABOVE, THERE ARE THE RED, BLACK AND WHITE, ORANGE, GREY, TAN, GREEN, TURQUOISE, BLACK, PINK, BROWN, YELLOW, WHITE, BLUE, SILVER, AND COPPER DAYS TO READ ABOUT, OBSERVE THE BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLES OF, AND ENJOY.
THANK YOU, HELEN BAR-LEV, FOR GIVING US THE FULL SPECTRUM OF COLOR AND THOUGHT.
AND THANK YOU, READERS, FOR CLICKING IN. XO JUDY
*EVERYTHING TODAY IS PUBLISHED BY CYCLAMENS AND SWORDS PUBLISHING, 2012
AVAILABLE THROUGH WWW.CYCLAMENSANDSWORDS.COM
THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO SEE THE POST-GAZETTE POEM, "SPRING LIGHT IN PITTSBURGH," WHICH WAS PUBLISHED TODAY, APRIL 6, 2013. AS THE TITLE SUGGESTS, I WROTE IT TO HERALD THE COMING OF SPRING. I AM PLEASED THAT GREG VICTOR, P-G POETRY EDITOR, CHOSE TO PUBLISH IT ON THIS FIRST SATURDAY IN APRIL, POETRY MONTH. THE POEM WAS ACCOMPANIED BY AN EVOCATIVE PHOTOGRAPH OF MELTING ICICLES.
Spring Light in Pittsburgh
on her chest
of bulky woolens
forced on her
even as the sun
down the Slopes
so long ago;
light in afternoon
--Judith R. Robinson
THANK YOU FOR CLICKING IN. EVEN THOUGH THE POEM SOUNDS A NOTE OF SADNESS, SPRING ALSO BRINGS US RENEWAL AND HOPE. AND I DO HOPE YOU ENJOY SPRINGTIME. XO JUDY
It is well known that Hebrew was a dormant language for centuries. Jewish people in Europe spoke Yiddish, other scattered Jews did as well. In the Diaspora many of our people also spoke the language of the country where they resided. But the Jews never gave up Hebrew entirely. It remained and was maintained as a language of prayer, and of law.
That said, enter scholar Peter Cole. Translator, poet and editor, he has assembled a collection of poems by Hebrew writers who lived in medieval Spain from 950 to 1492, the "Golden Age," when Arabs, Christians and Jews lived in relative harmony.
The poetry is not pure Hebrew*, but rather a hybrid of Arabic, Spanish and biblical Hebrew, and much of it is rich, humorous and wise. "The Dream of the Poem," 2007, Princeton University Press, is his collection of these works.
For your pleasure, here are selections from the collection:
WOULD YOU TELL ME
Would you tell me friends, how I should sing?
How to treat and tune my lute, then play?
Then why have you gone and snapped the strings
which I'd set out in perfect array?
Go, Giorni, bellow and bray
like a mule longing for grass---like a bull.
They're telling me how I should handle the spindle!
How could i work with the distaff's wool?
The Bee and the Grumbler
When the bee stings, it hurts like a thorn---
though the wound can be dressed with its honey and calmed.
But you, complaining, strike with an arrow
that's sharpened---and your mouth yields no balm.
The Poet's Distress
I've weighed out the world's evil and good
on the scales of night and day and the seasons---
but the worst things I've found is the poet's distress
when he is filled with hatred, and can't get even.
---- Avraham HaBedershi
On Poets and Poetry
Many will praise you, including the wealthy,
when poetry comes your way and you sing.
You'll offer them flattery and in exchange
they'll give you gifts that are just as vain.
---Shem Tov Ibn Falaqera
The Dream of the Poem is a monumental acheivement. The book contains more than 300 pages of poetry, all translated by Peter Cole. There are another 200 pages of well researched notes on the poetry. This month, at the Melton Alumni Lunch and Learn, AJL's Danielle Kranjec presented "Love Songs of the Jewish Troubadours," poetry taken from the book. These particular poems address the many aspects of the subject of love, and they are particularly frank and sensual. Beside providing pleasure for their prosody, they serve as a reminder that matters between men and woman are timeless. An example:
She Said She Wanted
She said she wanted to run when she saw
the gray scattered with white in my hair:
"Dawn's already come up on your head
and I am the moon---you'll drive me away."
"It isn't true," I said, "you are the sun---
and can't, by nature, hide by day."
"You have lost your power to run after love,"
she replied. "What good would it do to stay?"
"Nothing has changed," I told her, "except
for the gray. I"ve got the heart of a lion
to do your will." And she offered: "OK,
you're a lion...Then I am a gazelle.
Would I lie down in a lion's den,
bright gazelle that I am?"
Happy Passover, and thanks for clicking in. xo Judy
Reporting on an outstanding event held February 21 by the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. The evening was multi-faceted: at trendy Tamari Restaurant in Lawrenceville, there was delicious food, drink, inter-generational mingling--(although mostly the young and cool/hip meeting up with the fewer mature but gracious) - stimulating visual and literary art programming, lots of fun as well as serious purpose.
Kara Ruth Snyder, of the young/cool/hip generation, presented several of her remarkable paintings, including "Painting for Patrick" which graces the cover of the poetry chapbook "The Blue Heart," authored by me--one of the mature celebrants. The buzz over Kara's paintings resonated throughout the night, as did her "artist's talk," -- the insight she offered about the inspiration she felt in order to produce the art, which included her passion for Israel, as experienced during the Mission to Israel trip she took last June.
Ours was a collaboration, in the truest sense. Kara's painting captured the emotional intensity as well as the imagery of the Holocaust-related poetry included in "The Blue Heart." The message of the art as well as the writing is the same: now, more than ever, as the survivors reach the end of their lives, the lessons of the Holocaust must be taught, must be reinforced, must never be forgotten. To the terrible truth of the destruction of European Jewry, now must be added another fact: an army of deniers lies in wait, ready to try to rewrite history. This must not be allowed to happen. That is our charge and our obligation as the children and grandchildren of the Holocaust survivors: To Never Forget.
In that spirit, here is "The Shock That Went Away," one of the poems in "The Blue Heart."
Once there was a shock
so fierce it forced
shame on all who owned it.
It was foul---a dark, filthy rag
they could not lose.
Because there are no words,
there can be no poems,
the people said.
So they hid the ugly shock
deep within busy, useful shadows
that winged beast,
came flying in and out.
Time found the hidden shock
& pecked & pecked
until it broke down into
smaller & smaller shabby scraps
they could not be rid of by tossing
in the air or spreading around.
Some kindly passersby bore witness...
heads nodding, eyes watering,
but no one wanted the shock,
no one wanted the shame.
So the people grew old and sick.
The shock piled in books and papers
until shreds of it were buried with them.
Then, one after another,
bearing torches and ashes,
the deniers came.
"The Blue Heart," is dedicated to the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, and to the memory of Dora and Israel Iwler, courageous, heroic survivors of the Holocaust.
The book can be purchased by calling The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, 412-421-1500; price is $10, which is a gift to the Holocaust Center.
Thanks for clicking in. xo Judy
THERE IS SAD NEWS IN PITTSBURGH TODAY. WE HAVE LOST AL SMOLOVER, A COMMUNITY LEADER, GOOD FRIEND, AND FINE MAN.
WE ARE FORTUNATE THAT THERE ARE OTHERS WHO ALSO FIT THAT DESCRIPTION. JEWISH PITTSBURGH IS BLESSED TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE MENSCH, MORE THAN ONE LEADER.
YET THERE WAS ONLY ONE AL--AND THAT'S THE MENSCH I WANT TO PAY TRIBUTE TO TODAY.
HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS, AWARDS, HONORS AND ACHIEVEMENTS WOULD FILL PAGES: FROM THE PRESIDENCY OF BETH SHALOM TO THE INCEPTION OF COMMUNITY DAY SCHOOL---AL SERVED JEWISH PITTSBURGH HIS WHOLE LIFE. HE ALSO SERVED HIS COUNTRY AS A SOLDIER IN THE BURMA/CHINA THEATER DURING WW 11.
HIS DEEP LOVE AND COMMITTMENT TO FAMILY, COMMUNITY AND COUNTRY WERE NOTED AT HIS FUNERAL SERVICE TODAY. SO WERE HIS INTELLECT, SENSITIVITY AND TALENT. THAT'S WHERE HIS LIFE AND MY OWN INTERSECTED. AL WAS A TALENTED WRITER, A POET, AND A LOVER OF LITERATURE.
IT WAS MY GOOD FORTUNE TO PARTICIPATE IN POETRY WITH HIM---HE ATTENDED THE WORKSHOP I CONDUCT AT OSHER/CARNEGIE MELLON, FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS.
WOULD IT SURPRISE ANYONE WHO KNEW AL SMOLOVER IF I SAID THAT FROM HIM I LEARNED MORE THAN I TAUGHT? IT'S TRUE---I LEARNED THAT ZEST FOR LIVING IS NOT DIMINISHED BY PHYSICAL CHALLENGES, THAT APPRECIATION FOR THE ARTS CAN DEEPEN WITH AGE AND IN FACT, INCREASE AND EXPAND, AS ONE AGES. AL, ALONG WITH HIS BELOVED ANITA, HIS SOUL MATE AND HELP MATE, LIVED THAT JUST WAY: WITH GRACE.
I THANK THEM BOTH, FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, FOR THEIR FRIENDSHIP AND FOR SHARING SOME OF THEIR PRECIOUS TIME WITH ME.
IN THAT SPIRIT, I WILL SHARE ONE OF AL'S POEMS. YOU WILL NOTE THAT AL'S SPIRITUALITY AND PROFOUND SENSE OF THE ETERNAL PERVADE HIS POEM.
THE END AND THE BEGINNING
The coach rolled quietly away,
Its heavy wheels crunching the gravel.
The box was so alone...cold and lonely.
It was moved, and slowly descended to the bottom.
Suddenly, enormous thuds of earth being moved
Cascaded to the right and left
To the bottom and top of the box.
It was quietly surrounded by earth.
The rabbi could be heard leading the family
In the mourner's prayer.
Yisgadol, Yisgadosh, Shemay Raboh...
The voice of the rabbi faded away.
A wisp of warm air touched my cheek.
All cells stopped. Eternity had begun.
WE WERE FORTUNATE TO KNOW HIM, FORTUNATE TO HAVE THE MEMORY OF HIM, AND FORTUNATE TO HAVE HIS WORK. THANK YOU, AL SMOLOVER, SO MUCH.
Hello Poetry Lovers,
I am very pleased to tell you that quite soon a new poetry chapbook called THE BLUE HEART will be released by Finishing Line Press. This is the collection of my work which I first announced in this column last August, and will at last appear on February 8, 2013.
Most poets concentrate on themes throughout their writing careers, and for me, the Holocaust has been a subject I write about, and seem to come back to and revisit time and again. These poems relate to aspects of that tragic history.
My returning to writing on the Holocaust may be partially because even now new information appears. Some of the history is presented anew--in 1989, for example, 44 years after the end of World War 2, the Soviet Union collapsed, and with that came the uncovering of facts hitherto unknown about the role of the King of Bulgaria and the fate of the Bulgarian Jews. And those facts themselves are undergoing reexamination to this day. There is disagreement about the complicated motives and actions taken by the King. A Greek survivor I know quite well right here in Pittsburgh has challenged the written account of a Bulgarian survivor, who now lives in Israel.
So despite the many scholarly investigations, the literature and various artistic interpretations, the full story has yet to be written.
The theme also persists in my work due to the realization that those comparatively few who survived are nearing the ends of their lives, and with that comes the army of deniers, ready to challenge and rewrite everything they can. So never has personal testimony been more important, nor personal contributions of those of us who have had the privilege of knowing these incredible people.
The book is dedicated to the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, and to the memory of two such people---Dora and Israel Iwler, my treasured friends who survived the Holocaust, and as Dora, who spent the rest of her life teaching the principle of forgiveness and hope, often said, to the triumph of good over evil.
I will share one of the poems in the collection here:
Israel Iwler and His Peaceful Cow
After seven hundred
days of night
a stunned Jew-bird
hands and knees,
the years in his
deep cave home.
He came into
the presence of
a sun, a moon,
the roof of stars.
It was when
he saw his own
cow, dumb, peaceful,
and not frightened
in the quiet field,
that he fell down
beneath a drift of
wind and heedless blossoms
he clawed and wept
and tore apart
the abundant ground.
--Judith R. Robinson
Israel Iwler was the husband of Dora Iwler, to whom I referred earlier in this post. Mr. Iwler survived the Holocaust by hiding in a cave in his native Poland for several years.
Thanks for clicking in... xo Judy
I AM EXCITED ABOUT SHARING THE WORK OF A POET NEW TO ME, ALTHOUGH SOMEONE OF CONSIDERABLE REPUTE IN THE 20TH CENTURY, A.M. KLEIN. RECOGNIZED AS AN IMPORTANT FIGURE IN POETRY, IT MAY BE THAT ABRAHAM MOSES KLEIN IS LESS WELL KNOWN HERE THAN HE SHOULD BE BECAUSE HE WAS A CANADIAN-JEWISH, NOT AN AMERICAN-JEWISH WRITER.
HIS POETRY IS INFUSED WITH HIS JEWISH HERITAGE. HIS LIFETIME, 1909-1972, COVERED THE YEARS OF THE NAZI TAKEOVER OF EUROPE, WORLD WAR 11, AND THE HOLOCAUST. ON THESE TRAGIC MATTERS, HE WROTE PASSIONATELY AND ELOQUENTLY. MORE CAN BE LEARNED ABOUT THIS FINE POET, AND MORE OF HIS WORK CAN BE READ AT www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/article/am-klein.
I THINK YOU WILL ENJOY THE FOLLOWING POEM, AS I DID. IT RESONATES WITH TENDERNESS AND AUTHENTICITY.
HEIRLOOM BY A.M. Klein
My father bequeathed me no wide estates;
No keys and ledgers were my heritage;
Only some holy books with yahrzeit dates
Writ mournfully upon a blank front page —
Books of the Baal Shem Tov, and of his wonders;
Pamphlets upon the devil and his crew;
Prayers against road demons, witches, thunders;
And sundry other tomes for a good Jew.
Beautiful: though no pictures on them, save
The scorpion crawling on a printed track;
The Virgin floating on a scriptural wave,
Square letters twinkling in the Zodiac.
The snuff left on this page, now brown and old,
The tallow stains of midnight liturgy —
These are my coat of arms, and these unfold
My noble lineage, my proud ancestry!
And my tears, too, have stained this heirloomed ground,
When reading in these treatises some weird
Miracle, I turned a leaf and found
A white hair fallen from my father's beard.
(SEE, I KNEW YOU WOULD LIKE IT!) THANKS FOR CLICKING IN. XO JUDY
Just past the Jewish New Year, and looking forward to Chanukah, but in between we deal with autumn, in all its majesty. But of course there is more than majesty to autumn. Like nearly everything else in life, it is a mixture of the wonderful and the dreadful: of all four seasons, I think that autumn most closely echoes the human condition, the dichotomies of living. So I thought I'd share a few good poems that hint at what I am talking about, and what we all know.
Poetry is a tool for expanding the experience of life, through the artistry of the poet, but more than anything else, a good poem should resound with something that we recognize as true. There are endless ways to do this; endless pleasure for the careful reader to share. So for your reading and living pleasure...
Autumn Begins in Martin's Ferry, Ohio
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Therefore, Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.
--by James Wright
As western Pennsylvanians, and close neighbors of West Virginia and Ohio, we can relate to the culture of Friday night football. James Wright's stunning, emotionally resonant poem conveys the intense importance and meaning of high school football in the otherwise drab lives of those living in this small steel town.
Now this rapturous piece from Edna St. Vincent Millay:
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide gray skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with color! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this:
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,--Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,--let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
Here is another piece, a prose poem, provocative and haunting, from the Scandanavian poet, Tomas Transtromer:
After a Death
|Once there was a shock that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail. It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy. It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires. One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun through brush where a few leaves hang on. They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories. Names swallowed by the cold. It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat but often the shadow seems more real than the body. The samurai looks insignificant beside his armor of black dragon scales. |
Finally, a new poem of mine.
Autumn Picture by Judith R. Robinson
Picture an apartment
in a nineteenth-century
brick building in Queens,
or Shaker Heights
or Squirrel Hill.
Picture a late, chilly
The Sabbath, drawing to an end.
Picture a table, round,
Covered with a white lace cloth.
From underneath peeks
A printed oilcloth.
Candlelight is flickering down.
Picture people gathered
Around, sitting quietly.
They are middle-aged,
The men balding or turning
Gray, the women weary.
There is hot tea, cookies
On a red glass plate.
The Yiddishe Bubbies would say:
If everyone puts
Their own tsuris,
On the table,
You will take
Back your own.
Let's take in and appreciate what's left of autumn.
Thanks for clicking in.
A question I am often asked; there are a multitude of ways to answer, but here is mine:
More than another form of amusement or entertainment, poetry has been regarded as something central to existence, something having unique value to the fully realized life, something we are better off for having and spiritually impoverished without.
Well, that can be said of all good literature, right? Yes, it can---but poetry is literature at its most succint, most clearly observed, most intense.
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
He watches from his mountain walls,
There is a great deal that can be said about this work--the sound, rhyme scheme, speed of the lines, but most importantly, I believe we can enjoy an expanded sense of eagle, feel it as a living creature, thanks to six lines by the great poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
This is a first blog post. Please come again. I hope to bring you some good poems, some pleasure, and do some de-mystifying for you. Thanks for clicking on.