Monday, November 17, 2014

Low Tide (Alan Shapiro)

Low Tide by Alan Shapiro

A visually interesting poem. I like the scene he tells and the long, narrow stanzas he uses - it is reminiscent of the single pathway that he's walking.

As he talks of remaking the landscape, it's very egotistical, which is perhaps telling of the poet or of humankind, in general.

Favorite line: "which makes the water / rushing in as my foot lifts / another ocean rushing out / as my foot falls"

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing (James Weldon Johnson)

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson

A frank poem for this Thanksgiving-season. It's well crafted, with meter and rhyme. It is honest in its praise. I find that refreshing.

Favorite line: "Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee"

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Students (Mark Halliday)

Again, The Students by Mark Halliday

I don't like it as much as I did yesterday, but I do still think this poem is a apt reflection of college life. It describes well the sense of importance ('I'm learning important things, here!') as it mires in the passage of time spent doing mindless things (walking to the cafeteria, watching news).

The circles (or the concept of) that are mentioned at the end of the poem have to do with students, learning and life. The poem begins with a life's summary - "The students eat something and then watch the news, / a little, then go to sleep." and ends with a memory and some vague things that they have learned (the concept of circles and a famous artist).

I guess this poem is trying to push you to live more purposefully. Don't be a student forever. Don't just sustain, learn a little then die ("The students eat something and then watch the news, / a little, then go to sleep.").

Favorite line: "Noticing themselves at the sink"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Students (Mark Halliday)

The Students by Mark Halliday

This poem, I think, mirrors college life. Perhaps it's about nothing. Just cafeteria happenings and unvarnished nouns attempting to be something profound. But then again, maybe it is profound. Maybe it shows how learning is often accomplished - how you suddenly get what someone said or did years before without knowing how or when you understood it. How when you read a poem, you get a sense of it without knowing exactly what path you took through the thing.

Eh, this, I think, is not what I want to say about this poem, but my mind is not latching on (whoo, tiredness), so I think I will come back to this one again tomorrow.

Favorite line: "The students eat something and then watch the news, / a little, then go to sleep."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mediterranean (Sudeep Sen)

Mediterranean by Sudeep Sen

This poet's name has a nice cadence to it. This poem is neat for its use of memory keys. When remembering a place or a a past experience, you don't tend to recall the whole in neat paragraphs. I like how color is the key for this poem. Each stanza is very strongly rooted in a color and its corresponding memory.

I like this poem for its sense of place and, more importantly, for its sense of how memory works and evokes.

Favorite line: "Sahar’s silk blouse / gold and sheer"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Poems for birthdays

It's my birthday and I am very tired, so today's will be a cheat. I give you an essay on birthday poetry from and the observation that, mostly, poets are depressed when they consider bdays. But whatever, grumpy gusses, bdays are loads of fun. Anyone know of a non-depressing poem for birthdays?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Veterans of the Seventies (Marvin Bell)

Veterans of the Seventies by Marvin Bell

A poem for next week's Veterans' Day. I don't have a strong sense of war history, so I am confused as to which war the veterans of the poem are from. 70s (from the title) make me think Vietnam, but the repeated word 'foxhole' makes me think WWI. Though I suppose there were probably foxholes in Vietnam as well.

It seems like they are living together in some kind of group home. Perhaps it is a psychiatric hospital? They 'went stateside without leaving the war'. That constant feeling of being at war accounts for their need to live behind a self-made fence with alarms ( 'behind fence wires  / strung through tin cans').

It's a common story - how some soldiers are unable to leave the war behind, but this telling is quite good for its brevity and density.

Favorite line: "They had the look of men who held their breath / and now their tongues."

Monday, November 3, 2014

alternate names for black boys (Danez Smith)

alternate names for black boys by Danez Smith

A modern poem. It's in list form which doesn't bug as much as Buzzfeed's incessant 'listicles'. It talks about 17 alternative names for black boys, drawn from recent news stories like Travyon Martin and Michael Brown.

What I find neat is that in a poem which comes from contemporary injustices and starts with war imagery 'smoke' and 'archnemesis' is the can't-be-hid consistency of light-filled images.  In 17 lines, I quick-counted 12 light images - 'spark', 'starlight', 'kindling', 'brilliant', etc. Even the last word is a human, hopeful one - 'breath'.

Favorite line: "16. prayer who learned to bite & sprint"

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Go, lovely Rose (Edmund Waller)

Go, lovely Rose by Edmund Waller

This old poem is really quite lovely. I usually find older love poems to be antiquated and uninteresting. However, this one is nice in that he is talking not to his love but to a rose he sees. He is dictating a message that the rose should send on to his love.

But I don't get the sense that he plans on plucking and giving the rose to the girl. It seems more like diary-writing. I wonder if they've ever spoken or if this is totally one-sided.

Unrequited love is often written about though this rendition is particularly well-done and sweet. *Hint, hint* this would make for a great poem to give to your girlfriend / crush. (if she'd be into that 1600s-thing, heheh)

Favorite line: "Tell her that wastes her time and me"

Friday, October 31, 2014

October (Bobbi Katz)

October by Bobbi Katz

It's okay. I should have perhaps kept looking for an actually spooky poem or one that better mimics the season, but after looking a teensy bit I couldn't find a better one. Which is not to say that I hated this poem. It's got some nice imagery and it does hit the high points of the month. However, it seems to me that it lacks any fervor or worthwhile feeling. I don't get a sense of calm or of terror or of beauty from the thing. Maybe it's just me though.

What do you think ?

Favorite line:  "and sends the day / to bed / before supper"