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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Poets on Poetry - Friday morning - Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham took the Main Stage to open Friday Morning at the Dodge Poetry Festival .
She talked of taking a short line poem by William Carlos Williams or Robert Creeley, removing the line breaks, then as an exercise have the students (or someone) put in the line breaks as they see fit. See what comes of this. How does it match the original?
Jorie is a professor at Harvard. She talks in intellectual terms, themes, ideas, at universal levels. This will be a good setup to have Billy Collins next.
She used the Red Wheelbarrow and spent the next twenty minutes or so working an analysis of the poem. She claimed she has talked for three hours on this one poem and did not exhaust the avenues of exploration the poem presents.
In brief:
  • The red wheelbarrow uses the senses. It asks how was this done? What had just occurred? "Glazed" with rain water. The storm had just passed.
  • The senses are translatable. Justice conjures up a different idea for everyone.
  • The poem is democratic. Red. White. Blue.
  • "Upon" - imposes a hierarchy
  • Multiple cycles, circles
    • Evaporation - the water cycle
    • Wheel representing the cycle of human development
    • Motion introduced with the chickens
    • Chicken/egg cycle
I had overhead someone talking about Jorie doing haiku. She talks in such long sentences, I find that hard to fathom.
Interesting note: she lives part of the year in France, in Normandy, about the D +18 mark. The Allies has divided the country side into zones marking where they would have made progress in advancing since D Day. Hence, D + 18 (hours) is about where they would have been 18 hours after landing. One of the signals the troops had been prepared with were little crickets. The toy kind, that makes a clicking sound. The area in Normandy is full of hedgerows. Thick impenetrable brush. You can go along a hedgerow but not through it. The crickets were set up as a signal to confirm in the darkness that the person there was either friend or foe (friends would respond with the cricket). There was a terrible miscalculation as a similar sound would be made when the Germans cocked their guns. Many, many of the advance troops unfortunately died that way.
"There is this category of 'by mistake' for everything, even death"
She read a long poem taken from the "Active Action Reports". A series of reports filed by the field commanders at the end of each day.
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