STEVEN WITTENBERG GORDON, EDITOR. Featuring the poetry of: Ross Balcom, Terri Lynn Cummings, Sierra July, Mary Soon Lee, John C. Mannone, Lauren McBride, David Pring-Mill, John Reinhart, James Frederick William Rowe, & other fine poets.
The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for August 30, 2014 is "The Hurricane" (1944) by William Carlos Williams, Poet of the Month. The poem was taken from Williams' Collected Poems: 1939 - 1962, Volume II. The text of the poem may be found here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/hurricane. A brief biography of Williams and references may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html. "The Hurricane" is a short poem, consisting of only six lines (including the title), and having a word count of only twenty-one (including the title). There is a rather severe use of enjambment throughout, but no obvious use of Williams' signature variable foot. Some of Williams' early influence by the Imagists may be seen, as the first two lines form a crisp, simple, common image. The remainder of the poem is rather enigmatic, and it is unclear in the conversation between garage and tree as to who is urging whom to go to heaven.
The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for August 29, 2014 is "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" by William Carlos Williams, Poet of the Month. The poem was taken from Williams' Collected Poems: 1939 - 1962, Volume II. The text of the poem may be found here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/landscape-fall-icarus. A brief biography of Williams and references may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html. "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" is an ekphrastic poem after Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting of the same title (pictured). Note that Williams explains what is prominent in the painting and, sadly, what is not--the death of Icarus, splashing into the sea unnoticed. Williams, who did not achieve much fame as a poet until the last few years of his life, no doubt feared that his own passing and his poetry would suffer a similar fate http://www.bouwman.com/netherlands/Landscape.html.
The first two stanzas of "Details for Paterson" are an example of a memorable event about which the poet felt compelled to compose a poem--one of those "bests that love / has given...." The use of "it" instead of "them" in the third line cannot refer to the "circulars" (unless the poet made a grammatical error). "It" refers to throwing away a job opportunity and to the boy's poor character--a tragedy worthy of comment, and as opposed to the Boy Scout, whose character is assumed to be impeccable.
"For the Poem Paterson" is the first rhyming poem of Williams' that we have examined this month. Note that the rhymes are both end-line and within lines--woven into the variable feet of the piece. The choice of the word "stave" rather than the expected "save" in the second quatrain is interesting and, I admit, enigmatic. Perhaps it refers to the act of penetration. The playful eroticism and bawdy tone create a whimsical quality for a Valentine's Day greeting.
The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for August 26, 2014 is "on getting a card" by William Carlos Williams, Poet of the Month. The poem was taken from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume 1: 1909 - 1939. The text of the poem may be found here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/poem-getting-card. A brief biography of Williams and references may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html. Here we see another example of Williams' variable foot and prosaic poesy. The sentiments expressed are delightful, especially about how Williams' colleague (or perhaps rival) differs with him but does not realize that he does.
"This Is Just To Say," whose title acts as the first line of the poem, is nothing more than a note from, presumably, one spouse to the other. The note has been arranged in verse. An argument could be made that it is not a poem at all--there is no use of metaphor, no imagery, nothing beyond a banal prose piece. However, the theme is universal, and the final stanza has some emotional impact--just a little cruel and spiteful but in a familiar way.
"Sonnet in Search of an Author" is a satire of the traditional love sonnet as evidenced by, among other things, use of the word "odor" instead of the more romantic "fragrance" or "scent." The narrator, presumably the poet, laments that a sonnet could be made of the conceit of wood or woodland odors as metaphor for body odor while all the while actually composing a fourteen-line poem (or sonnet of sorts) upon the subject.
The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for August 23, 2014 is "Postlude" by William Carlos Williams, Poet of the Month. The poem was taken from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume 1: 1909 - 1939. The text of the poem, along with an audio recording by the poet of it, may be found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/1905. A brief biography of Williams and references may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html. "Postlude" is a poem about love lost, as is obvious from the title as well as the opening line. Today's readers should not be mislead by the use of "Lesbian" in the seventh line. "Lesbian," with a capital "L," refers to the isle of Lesbos (pictured) near Turkey, not to a female homosexual. Lesbos was the home of the poet Sappho http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/sappho. As the final stanza reveals, the speaker, presumably the poet, is still haunted by dreams of his lost love. The last line may refer to pent up sexual desire going unsatisfied, or perhaps to Jason and the Argonauts, depending upon how dirty one's mind is.
As I was examining older posts in the Poetry Review, I noticed that some of the links to poems link to the wrong poem. I have uncovered the glitch that caused the problem and eliminated it from August's posts one by one (quite a tedious process) and have put a protocol in place to prevent the glitch in the future.
Some of the features posted prior to August 1, 2014 will still have the problem, but I have decided to spend my time and energy concentrating on the future rather than revising the past. If a link in one of these older posts brings you to the wrong poem, a simple internet search for the poem by title and author will bring you to the correct one. My sincerest apologies for not catching this problem sooner.
The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for August 21, 2014 is "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams, Poet of the Month. The poem was taken from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume 1: 1909 - 1939. The text of the poem, as well as an audio recording by the poet of it, may be found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/178804#poem. A brief biography of Williams and references may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html. Non-sequitor or deeply profound? It is difficult to decide into which category "The Red Wheelbarrow" should be placed. There is a bit of the Imagist Williams here, as a crisp image of the wet red barrow contrasting with the white chickens is evoked. But then, why it is that "so much depends / upon" a wheelbarrow? Perhaps the poet's aim was to get his readers to think outside the box--or at least outside the barrow.
The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for August 20, 2014 is "Tract" (1962) by William Carlos Williams, Poet of the Month. The text of the poem may be found here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/tract. A brief biography of Williams and references may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html. Sadly, as Williams reminds us, funerals often become more about the attendants than the decedents. As "Tract" was published in 1962, and Williams by then was in poor health and would die a year later, perhaps he was thinking about how he would like his own funeral to be.
The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for August 19, 2014 is "Dedication for a Plot of Ground" by William Carlos Williams, Poet of the Month. The poem was taken from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume 1: 1909 - 1939. The text of the poem, as well as an audio recording of it by the poet, may be found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174767. A brief biography of Williams and references may be found here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html. "Dedication for a Plot of Ground" is an elegy to Emily Dickinson Wellcome, Williams' English maternal grandmother, a profound influence on Williams who lived with his family for a time http://archive.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap7/wcw.html. In a fierce, Whitmanian style, the poem recounts the highlights of her hard life; parts are semi-autobiographical, revealing much about William Carlos' Spanish roots.
In "The crowd at the ball game," Williams beautifully and cynically captures what it feels like to be part of the crowd at a ball game. I will admit that I am not much of a sports fan, but I do like it when the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs do well. Tickets are expensive, but I do splurge about once a year on Royals tickets for me and my family (pictured). While deep down intellectually Williams knew and I know that neither I as an individual nor the crowd as a whole have any influence on the outcome of a game, I nevertheless get caught up in the drama and majesty of the spectacle and feel a part of it. And, of course, I especially like it when Alex Gordon does well :)
As a physician, Williams no doubt treated many widows and observed firsthand their profound sense of loss. Writing from the POV of a widow, Williams uses his abilities as both physician and poet to capture a sense of what psychiatrists call "anhedonia," a loss of interest in things that once provided pleasure--a hallmark of major depression. He also captures another symptom of profound depression--suicidal ideation.
At first, life is difficult, swirling with anger and emotion. One drifts as does snow, without purpose, for a time whether long or short. Finally life improves; the sun comes out, and one may look back at the tracks in the snow, the solitary path which has been trodden. So, man lives his life alone, most of it in confusion, as if lost in a blizzard.
There are three iambic feet in the first line, a complete sentence, ending in a period. This sets the scene. The following sentence, comprised of four lines each containing two metric feet, moves with a staccato rapidity. The final sentence, comprised of three lines each containing two metric feet, moves the poem in a similar manner to its rapid conclusion: the death of the family cat, the burning of the cat's box, and finally the death of all of the fleas that once lived off the cat--total destruction.
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
among the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.
This short poem about trees in winter would have been a tired subject, even in 1921. However, Williams used his signature variable foot and Imagist style to breathe fresh life into the subject.
The vast majority of poetry venues, whether paying or not, will not consider reprints (poems previously published elsewhere) for publication. Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine is a rare exception and pays more for reprints than some venues do for previously unpublished work.
Williams repeats the phrase "they taste good to her" in the manner that some poets use anaphora or refrain. Williams uses this repetition to drive into the mind of the reader the image of someone enjoying a really tasty plum, elevating Imagist poetry beyond mere image, as taste, smell, texture, and sound, while not directly addressed, are also evoked. For that moment, the total enjoyment of the plum becomes the center of the universe.
The daily Poetry Review offers special features from time to time showcasing the work of poets that either just missed the cut for publication in Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine or poetry that, while good, was just not a good fit for the aesthetic of the e-zine. As with features in the e-zine, each poem is accompanied by the poet's notes and bio, as well as a comment by the editor and a thoughtfully chosen graphic. 100 to 1,000 readers enjoy the Review every day, so that makes for good exposure for the poems and poets!
Williams wanted to be a renowned poet. He wanted that badly. However, he was a physician and had to live with the fact that in order to support himself and his family he must earn a living by practicing medicine full time. I sympathize. After an early but largely unnoticed success in the shadow of Ezra Pound during the Imagist movement, Williams' unique, desperate-to-be-heard voice was eclipsed by the fame and fortune of T. S. Elliot. Williams would remain in relative obscurity until so late in life that, due to the affects of several strokes, he could not fully appreciate what little fame the Beats would give him as their adopted "Founding Father."
In "Danse Russe," Williams expresses his frustration with his lot. While dancing grotesquely, naked in front of a mirror, he admits that he is alone, and that perhaps (sour grapes) that is for the best. In this state of isolation, at least while the rest of his family sleeps, he can envision himself as lord of his own manor if not the captain of his own destiny.
Songs of Eretz has two main features: the Poetry E-zine, and the daily Poetry Review. The Poetry Review offers a daily analysis by the editor of a poem chosen by the editor. A biography of the poet and links to further reading are included with each post. Visit daily, and in one year you will have done close readings of 365 poems! Think of how that would enrich your life!
While organized in four couplets, "Flowers by the Sea" has a ballad-like lilt to it, a rhythm perhaps meant to evoke ocean waves. The poet imagines that flowers may be thought of as waving like water, and that the ocean may be thought of as a gigantic plant whose stem is the earth itself. Note the pun "tied" (for tide) in the fourth line, which is where the grand metaphors begin.
The form of "A Love Song" is interesting in that it was composed during Williams' Imagist phase, but already hints of his signature "variable foot" may be seen. The subject of the poem is an old one, perhaps the oldest one, and it does not mock or add much to the words that poets have sung to their lovers from time eternal until the present day. After all, who has not, at least at times, called his or her lover "honey?"
One image is worth highlighting--that of the yellow juxtaposed against a purple sky. According to color theory, yellow and purple are complimentary colors, each one acting to bring out the best qualities of the other; true lovers may compliment each other in an analogous manner.
About 100 poems a month are submitted to Songs of Eretz, an average of three to four per day. I personally, critically read each and every poem. Sometimes it is difficult to fit this into my busy schedule--but I make sure that I somehow find the time.
In "It Is a Living Coral," Williams showcases his signature style in using his "variable foot." The title serves as the first line of the poem. "Living coral" refers to the ancient origin of the white marble used in the construction of the capitol, rock formed from the exoskeletons of coral http://geology.com/rocks/limestone.shtml. The coral "lives" again as a symbol of the American system of government.
I'm a "how come" kind of guy. That is why I take the extra time (sometimes quite a bit of extra time) to provide gentle, personal feedback to the poets who are kind enough to submit their poetry for consideration--even if it's just a sentence or two on what I liked and what I thought could use improvement. I am proud to say that I have never given a generic response to a submission.
Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "The Story" by Anita Haas. Mrs. Haas is a Canadian teacher and writer living in Madrid, Spain. She has
published three books on film: Eugenio Martín: Un Director para todos los
generos andJohn Phillip Law, Diabolik Angel with her husband, film
historian Carlos Aguilar, and Eli Wallach: Vitalidad y Picardía on
her own. She has also published articles, poems, and short stories in both
English and Spanish. Most recently, her work has appeared in Literary
Brushstrokes and Falling Star magazine.
I found a story.
It fell right out of the sky. Whole. It looked good; a subtle beginning, a
round tubby middle,
and a climactic surprise end.
So I caught
thought, "What a great story this will be when I tell it, because it's mine
tried telling it, it fell out of me in one piece. Like a cobra's kill. No
swallowed it again, and perplexed, I lay down under a tree, where, like the
cobra, I went to sleep.
When I woke
up, I couldn't remember the story. Not a word, nor a turn of phrase.
has escaped." I thought, and I wandered away sadly.
A few days later, the call of a bird stirred some distant memory.
day, the shape of a cloud gave birth to a song.
in my cider completed a sketch.
terrible discord ended a long neglected play.
thread of my needlework followed an uncharted path.
Like the hen who
feathers my pillow, and the horse tail stretched on my fiddle bow, so my story
fell whole from the sky, flies off in a flock of a thousand silver
fragments … forming endless beginnings,
middles and ends.
Poet’s Notes: “The Story” is a reflection on how life affects
art; how both physically and mentally we absorb things. Just as eating certain
foods may result in shinier hair or stronger eyesight, our experiences affect
us artistically. As a writer, I often overhear a great bit of gossip, or
snatch of dialogue and think I might use it, only to realize it doesn’t
fit anywhere. What intrigues me is how these nuggets work their way through the
subconscious and often make their appearance where one least expects.
Editor’s Note: I like the prose poem and fairytale
feel of this poem as well as its interesting take on the creative process of
writing. “The Story” previously appeared in Quantum Leap and The Plum.
You may have noticed that each poem featured in the E-zine and Review is thoughtfully paired with a graphic. I find them by searching the public domain picture offerings online. Usually I find something satisfactory after five to ten minutes. However, sometimes I wind up spending well over an hour to find just the right art to enhance the presentation of a poem. This labor of love, I admit, can be frustrating at times. But I hope you agree that the results are worth my efforts.