Poetry Overload

Yesterday was the quarterly meeting of the Georgia Poetry Society, and I think it was one of the better ones.  For one thing, the programming ran really smoothly, and we we didn’t get crazy behind as we have in the past.  For another, there was just a really good selection of people who presented.

Since it was hosted by Kennesaw’s Foreign Language department, Robert Simon (the VP, and a faculty member in that dept.) had gotten two of his colleagues to present on poetry–one was an Italian scholar, and the other was Chinese.  So it cool to hear poems in a different language, and then to hear them translated.  What was especially interesting to me was hearing the musicality (which you know from my last post is something I’m particularly passionate about) of both the Chinese and Italian poems–the attention that the poets paid to sound was deliberate.  I enjoyed it.

Then Dan Veach from Poetry Atlanta and The Atlanta Review gave a really great presentation of his own poetry, Chinese poetry, and Iraqi poetry.  He was really engaging and funny–I mean, one of his poems was a paean to his ratty old underwear (which reminded me of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Underwear” poem… maybe just because it’s about undies).  And he had a funny Power Point to go with his poems that had illustrations and Chinese brush and ink paintings that he’d made.

And what was best of all was that he knows his poems to speak them–every last one from his someday-to-be-released book Elephant Water he spoke from memory.  Now he made a gag about this book being 30 years in the making, so I suppose, if you’ve had these poems lying around for 30 years more or less, you might actually have memorized them just by virtue of their longevity.

But I just think he’s one of those people who just memorizes poetry, which to me is amazing and impossible.  (I mean, I’ve memorized Pound’s “In a Station of a Metro,” but who hasn’t?)  I asked him about that when he was selling the book of Iraqi poetry he edited, Flowers of Flame, and he said that memorizing his poems is very good for his writing.  He didn’t elaborate, and I didn’t stick around because I felt bad not buying the book (although, had Elephant Water been available, I would have bought that).

Lunch, of course, was a disaster (as always), although I did get my $$$ for winning a few of the 2009 GPS contests.  (Which I won’t complain about, except that the money I won will have to go to paying the boarding/ vaccinating fees for the little dog I found on Thursday, instead of something more useful.  But that’s another story.)

The afternoon program had GPS poets Robert Lynn reading from his new book, Midnight Verse, and Clela Reed reading from her new book, Bloodline.  So, I’m going to be a little petty here and say that Bob confused Petrarchan sonnets with Shakespearian (not only did he misidentify the form when he and I were talking about sonnets before his presentation, he actually misidentified it in his book!) and that irritated me.  Not like I’m the Sonnet Police, but I don’t know.  It seems to me, if you’re going to use a form, be sure which one it is–Petrarchan sonnets are quite different from Shakespearian sonnets in rhyme scheme and purpose/ organization.  Or, if you don’t know which one it is, just be safe and say generic ol’ “sonnet.”  (Ok, ok, maybe I am being a little police-y.)  But other than my bout of poetry form OCD, his poems were ok.

Clela’s poems, as usual, were very good.  I actually would have liked to have bought her new book, and might have felt more free to with winning that money, but because it’s all going to the boarding  fees, I didn’t.  Maybe at the April meeting I’ll see if she has any copies with her…

And then the meeting was over, and the Board went over some things, and I went home.

I really enjoyed yesterday.  Sometimes GPS meetings can seem excruciatingly long, but yesterday the pacing was just right.

And certainly, all of the kudos for my poems were, of course, well-deserved, but nice just the same to hear them. 😉

7 thoughts on “Poetry Overload

  1. Oh, JC…you are so funny. I’m so sorry to have missed the meeting yesterday with one of the main reasons being to stand in your shadow and collect stardust.
    I, too, love Lawrence Ferlinghetti (which, Ron Self pointed out to me, revealed my antiquity). Yes, I’m old, but not dangerous except on the highway.
    Well deserved congratulations to you.
    Elsie Austin

    • I heard Ferlinghetti’s “Underwear” poem at one of the first poetry readings I ever went to–one of the professors who was there said it always made him laugh, and it’s stayed with me ever since.

      And none of this “standing in my shadow” baloney! I appreciate the congratulations, but honestly!

    • First of all, since most people don’t uses “kudos” as the subject of a sentence, the fact that it’s technically a singular noun goes unnoticed. Try listening to how STUPID and WRONG this sounds: “Kudos is good.” Since usage of the word has moved away from its Greek etymology, and has moved towards a more general/ collective meaning of “praises,” I would argue that a plural verb is more appropriate.

      Second of all, “all” is the subject of that last sentence, so “were” is the right verb.

      Third of all, why do you live to devil me?

      • 1. If you use the traditional pronunciation, “Kudos is good” sounds fine (though hardly profound). To say “coo-doze” is to accept “kudo” as a word. Journalists do, poets don’t.
        2.Would you say, “All the praise were good”?
        3. I’m only trying to save you from yourself.

  2. JC, this is a great recap of your meeting. I should get involved in GPS–it sounds like a lot of fun! I know what you mean about poetry memorization. THat sort of learning style was out of vogue when you were a child, I’m sure. Stacey Lynn Brown has her poems memorized too. It really is a treat to hear the poems recited that way.

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