Thursday, March 28, 2013

Five Poems about Poetry

by William Carlos Williams

As the cat
climbed over
the top of
the jamcloset
first the right

then the hind
stepped down

into the pit of
the empty

Notes on the Art of Poetry
by Dylan Thomas

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,,,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,, ,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

Poetry is a Destructive Force
by Wallace Stevens

That's what misery is,
Nothing to have at heart.
It is to have or nothing.
It is a thing to have,
A lion, an ox in his breast,
To feel it breathing there.

Corazon, stout dog,
Young ox, bow-legged bear,
He tastes its blood, not spit.

He is like a man
In the body of a violent beast
Its muscles are his own...

The lion sleeps in the sun.
Its nose is on its paws.
It can kill a man.

My Heart
by Frank O'Hara

I'm not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don't prefer one "strain" to another.
I'd have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says "That's
not like Frank!", all to the good! I
don't wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart--
you can't plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.

A High-Toned Old Christian Woman
by Wallace Stevens

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That's clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"High and Bright and Fine and Ice" by Darcie Dennigan

When the motorboat man asked me to love him

I whispered precipice
the word for the no-more-boyfriend feeling

because precipice contains ice (practically twice)
because I wanted teetering—

What? he said

His ears from the engines—so hard of hearing—his hands always so hot

Mid our first winter—I’d clung so long to the dock
he had to crowbar my fingers off

Each digit cracked so cleanly
Would you say they break like icicles? I asked sweetly

I knew I was nothing! But if I could sustain one song—
I is, I is, I is I is I is

I could be: ice

Sex on the bathroom’s cold marble counter was best
I whispered statuette, monument

What? he, sculpting my legs, said


The child? I named her Cecily
It sounded like iced lily

For pure, I said pristine
At the ocean, I said brine

Isle for vacation; for flowers, edelweiss

But when I said (only of late, late!) I choose ice
Brittle pearls broke behind my syllables

Did he hear me?
Again, twice, thrice:

For my love
we would need to live
in a great pyramid
We would need to sleep
beneath the continental shelf
with Antarctic crust blanketing us
The only driveway to any kind of house
is an iceberg-ridden Northwest Passage
When I whispered universe
you were to translate it as
one bright line
one bright rime

Thursday, March 14, 2013

On failure and perseverance towards the living impulse

You write something and there’s no reality to it. You can’t inject it with any kind of reality. You have to be patient and keep going, and then, one day, you can feel something signaling to you from the innermost recesses. Like a little person trapped under the rubble of an earthquake. And very, very, very slowly you find your way toward the little bit of living impulse. - Deborah Eisenberg

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why Schools Need the Arts

There are habits of learning (like “sticktoitiveness”) that the arts foster.

The tangibility of the arts: the presence of a something that was not there before the artist/student created it. From this emerge the learning outcomes of imagination (possibilities that the student invents and/or considers) and agency (the student’s central role in effecting these ends).

A focus on emotion, out of which students learn about expression (giving shape to their own feelings) and empathy (recognizing the emotions of others).

Ambiguity: the arts deliberate delivery of multiple meanings from which students learn about interpretation (making sense) and respect (for others’ sense making).

Kids who struggle in reading seem able to memorize all their lines for the play.

When the arts are included, more students show up at school and furthermore, they stay to graduate.

Kids who have left high school show up at community art centers and direct shows.

Visual arts give students the opportunity and courage to express their inner lives.

Musical ensembles give students a sense of community and mattering.

Playing a dramatic role enables students to experience almost first hand the suffering of a grieving friend.

The safe haven that students find in the arts classroom and the difference they experience between arts teachers who treat them like colleagues who can make their own choices and non-arts teachers whose expectations are set and constrained.

The passage from childhood to adulthood is both thrilling and perilous and at this challenging time of life, these students find that arts learning helps them with the pressing agenda of self-discovery.

The arts teach students to think in important ways that other subjects do not - beyond the right answer to critical analysis and interpretation.

What is beyond measure often has the most value - imagination, agency, emotion, expression…

Arts learning’s more authentic often holistic means of assessment: just as it seems laughable to reduce our estimation of expression or imagination to a numerical score, we need to be more mindful of the injustice we do to all learning areas by restricting them to the playing fields of right or wrong - math and science, like the arts, are fueled by good questions (not just right answers).

How many more of us would be able to participate as makers and audiences in the timeless and particularly human conversation that the arts perpetuate.

- Jessica Hoffmann Davis