One Art | Elizabeth Bishop

One Art | Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

I think it’s fitting that I post this on Mother’s Day. Loss is the most universal, prevalent, primal feeling human’s experience. Some might say it is love, but I would argue that we’re keenly aware when we lose something and may not be aware when we love something (or someone). Combine that with a masterful, seamless poetic display in one of the most difficult verse forms to master in English (that isn’t redundant game-playing– I’m looking at you sestina) and you will have what I might consider the best poem I’ve ever read, Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.” It’s so unassuming, so simple, yet so complex. Hearing this poem read aloud for the first time in a Forms of Poetry classroom read wonderfully by Poet/Professor Michael White changed my life. Not in one of those hyperbolic, 21st century teenager ways either. Before that class I was more interested in poetry as expression, poetry as philosophy, and, mostly, poetry as performance. I wanted to cry after he finished reading it. It was a release. Later, re-reading it, I did cry. I became obsessed with Bishop afterwards; I fell in love with the dead lesbian who shook me into wanting to become the poet that I want to be. I devoured everything: her poems, prose, biography, art, and letters. I saved bits of each, so that I might one day discover something “new.” So I may be a bit bias. To the point, “One Art” is a villanelle. If you think about Bishop’s biography, then this poem is usually connected to her time abroad in Brazil, her mother’s insanity and later death, her return to America from Brazil, an ex-lover’s (Lota de Macedo Soares’) suicide, and an estrangement from a young lover, Alice Methfessel. I believe the poem is about all of these things and none of them. It’s a writing through, universal sort of poem that requires no context, but becomes even richer once you have it. “One Art” is from Bishop’s final collection, Geography III.

Red Like Our Room Used to Feel

So first off, the website went down during April. I was in the process of moving hosts and screwed up. I wasn’t able to take the time to get it back up until now. Meaning, the NPM posts I had planned never happened. I think I’ll just randomly post some of the choices. In the meantime, here’s a spoken word album that’s inspired me to do something similar (hopefully) in the next few weeks and post it online:

Enjoy. Learn more about Ryan Van Winkle.

Second Glance at a Jaguar – Ted Hughes

Second Glance at Jaguar | Ted Hughes

Skinful of bowls, he bowls them,
The hip going in and out of joint, dropping the spine
With the urgency of his hurry
Like a cat going along under thrown stones, under cover,
Glancing sideways, running
Under his spine. A terrible, stump-legged waddle
Like a thick Aztec disemboweller,
Club-swinging, trying to grind some square
Socket between his hind legs round,
Carrying his head like a brazier of spilling embers,
And the black bit of his mouth, he takes it
Between his back teeth, he has to wear his skin out,
He swipes a lap at the water-trough as he turns,
Swiveling the ball of his heel on the polished spot,
Showing his belly like a butterfly
At every stride he has to turn a corner
In himself and correct it. His head
Is like the worn down stump of another whole jaguar,
His body is just the engine shoving it forward,
Lifting the air up and shoving on under,
The weight of his fangs hanging the mouth open,
Bottom jaw combing the ground. A gorged look,
Gangster, club-tail lumped along behind gracelessly,
He’s wearing himself to heavy ovals,
Muttering some mantra, some drum-song of murder
To keep his rage brightening, making his skin
Intolerable, spurred by the rosettes, the cain-brands,
Wearing the spots from the inside,
Rounding some revenge. Going like a prayer-wheel,
The head dragging forward, the body keeping up,
The hind legs lagging. He coils, he flourishes
The blackjack tail as if looking for a target,
Hurrying through the underworld, soundless.

This is probably my favorite Ted Hughes poem. It captures the raw, animal rhythms of his poetry. It has great imagery. “Second Glance at a Jaguar” revisits a poem, “Jaguar,” from his first collection The Hawk in the Rain. The first jaguar poem is about how animals in a zoo are so depressed, caged in slots and separated, but content with it except the Jaguar who “… hurrying enraged / Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes // On a short fierce fuse.” Hughes is almost certainly making a connection to humanity in that poem. This second jaguar poem is all about those moments, those movements. He’s pacing as if he’s plotting, as if his refusal to grow weary is an act of rebellion. Hughes said that poems are like animals; he addresses this in another poem. He wrote a lot about animals and usually as a way to talk about humanity.

Also, as a bonus, here’s Hughes reading the poem:

Spring – Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring ——
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,

   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

#Modern Monday #National Poetry Month

So Gerard Manley Hopkins might technically be considered a late Victorian poet, but formally he was so innovative that Ramazani, editor of (the amazing) Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry included him as a Modernist. I’d definitely agree, especially since his sprung rhythm, alliteration, and rhyming is more similar to rap lyrics than poetry. It’s like Rakim said on his track “Follow the Leader:”

RAP is Rhythm And Poetry, cuts create sound effects /
You might catch up if you follow the records he wrecks /
Until then keep eating and swallowing /
You better take a deep breath and keep following– the leader. /

Rakim was just following Hopkins’ tradition, and so are all the rappers (nearly every contemporary rapper) who followed him.

Gear up for National Poetry Month

I’m going to attempt to blog each day of April with a poem from poets that I like following these  themes:

#ModernMonday

#TedHughesTuesday

#WomenPoetsWednesday

#Pre-ModernThursday

#CaveCanemFriday

#InternationalSaturday

#ElizabethBishopSunday

I’m hoping to have each blog contain an audio or visual element as well. Let’s see if I can be dedicated. Follow me on Twitter to keep updated.

See Me on a Panel at the University of Southern California

I will be on a panel with two lovely and brilliant writers (Christopher Pendergraft and Dillon Scalzo) at the University of Southern California’s Cruelty conference in Los Angeles, CA on April 12-13, 2013. We’re hosting a creative panel featuring readings, a discussion, and Q&A. Here’s a copy of the proposal. Hope to see you there!

Speleology

More video poetry. This time by the poet Duriel E. Harris and filmmaker Scott Rankin. A blog recapping AWP and an essay on “What I Learned from the TV Show ‘Girls'” coming soon-ish.

In Lieu of the Apocalypse

I’d like to invite you to check out and consider “What makes a poetry film a poetry film?” It’s a question that Erica Gross over at Connotations Press: An Online Artifact considers in the December video poetry section. She discusses the Zebra Poetry Film Festival that apparently happened in October in Berlin. She posted ten videos, but I’m only going to link to one. You’ll have to go over there to see all ten.

I’m an eBook Convert

As a Kindle Fire owner and as someone who just left the vast majority of his books on the other side of the country, I’ve realized the truth. Printed books are a luxury. The rich (or moderately well-off) can have their books shipped or placed in storage; the old do not move their books; the young do not buy books, but they borrow.

With quality eBooks, I get the content I enjoy, and it’s cheaper, accessible faster, and all in one place. It’s not even just books. I send articles to my Kindle as documents via the web add-on, Readibility. It’s wonderful. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of money and who plans to move around a lot for (at least) the next five to seven years, eBooks just make sense. Amazon, your fully-integrated content system has done it. I’m a convert. Heck, I’m even going to start publishing chapbooks and books as eBooks via my micro press. Now, if only I could solve two problems:

  1. How can I force publishers to embrace publishing more poetry as eBooks?
  2. How can I get authors to sign my Kindle?

Tokyo Dreamer

I consider this the sound track of this website. Learn more about Beat Culture.