Apr 6, 2011

When the love poem outlives the love


I have written my poem ‘Somewhere’ a while ago for a person I was very fond of, the relationship did not last but just yesterday the poem was accepted for an anthology entitled ‘Bad Language’. I was very pleased to learn that it had received some acknowledgment and amazed at how the poem had held on to an emotion that had passed. This anthology will be printed and distributed, soon people will buy it, and lend it to friends and maybe be even give it away as gifts, some will not like it and give their copy to charity and some will squeeze it between two old books on the shelve and forget it was ever there! Whatever the case the poem (alongside others) will be read and passed on, someone might read it and say “hmmm this is kind of sweet!” all the while the person subject the poem entirely oblivious to how that single moment of pure affection composed in this short verse continues to linger to them.
The poem here is doing what a poem does best; binding the beauty of something that no longer exists, but I will always know.

Somewhere


He hides somewhere 
between the skin and the skin,
and pressing my warm cheek against
the cold window I dream I’ve somehow
narrowed distance, 
defeated,
I hold him between my lashes when I sleep.

Each thought of him, an autocrat
oppressing my every other thought
moving my hands in a knitting motion
composing him little verse of longing
tying them in red velvet ribbons
blowing them gentle kisses in the wind.

Apr 5, 2011

In Love with a Dead Poet!


In Love with a Dead Poet!






The strong winds we’ve been experiencing here in the West Midlands (UK) for the past couple of days reminded me of e.e.cummings’ The Wind is a Lady, Sonnet I from his collection Post Impressions:

the wind is a Lady with
bright slender eyes (who

moves) at sunset
and - who touches – the
hills without any reason

(i have spoken with this
indubitable and green person
“Are You the wind?” “Yes” “why do you touch flowers
As if they were unalive, as

If They were ideas?” “because, sir
things in which my mind blossom will
stumble beneath a clumsiest disguise, appear
capable of fragility and indecision...


Every poet has favourite poet, a poet they hold dear, a poet who inspires their work, however my fascination with Edward Estlin Cummings (1894 – 1962) has exceeded the mere appreciation of verse and inspiration of thought to develop into a fondness and a love towards the person of cummings. But can you be in love with a dead person you’ve never met? I know that a lot of people continue to love their loved ones after they had passed, but this is someone I have never met before!
I've become besotted with cummings from my first readings of his work, when my first reaction was; ‘why are all the words written in lowercase letters? where’s the punctuation? and why was the poem fashioned in this unusual manner and shape? I found the answer to this in Sonnet (VII) of his collection Four:


since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you


cummings mostly wrote about love and nature, however his love poetry at the time was rejected by many publishers due to its highly erotic and sexually suggestive meaning, when  his collection No Thanks was finally published he dedicated it to the 14 publishers who have rejected it before, here is poem 16 of  his collection No Thanks:


may i feel said he
(i’ll squeal said she
just once said he)
it’s fun said she

may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let’s go said he
not too far said she
what’s too far said he
where you are said she)

may I stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
id it love said she)
if you’re willing said he
(but you’re killing said she

but it’s life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don’t stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

cccome? said he
ummm said she
you’re divine! said he
(you are Mine said she)



The same incident of rejecting his erotic poetry reoccurred when he tried to publish his collection Tulips and Chimneys, much to Edward’s disappointed the collection was never published in it complete form since publishers found many of the poems to sexually explicit, many poems were removed from the collection, cummings then had the rejected poems published in later collections entitled XLI Poems and &. Both XLI and & received better reviews than Tulips and Chimneys

These are some of the reasons why I am so love-struck by cummings, I love him for saying

the mind is its own beautiful prisoner.
mine looked long at the sticky moon
opening in dusk her new wings.

Sonnets – Actualities (VI)



But I love him even more for saying:


i am a beggar always
who begs in your mind

am this person of whom somehow
you are never wholly rid..

you might as well toss him a few thoughts..

Four (XV)



There are answers in e.e.’s poems, that is why I enjoy reading them, but they are also the kind of poems which are not fully ingested unless read out loud. And thus to my darling beloved e.e.cummings i would like to finally say:

i do not know what it is about you
that closes and opens; only something in me understands
                                 from his poem (somewhere i have never travelled)


Apr 2, 2011

Spring

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950) has always been an inspiration for me, this is why I was thrilled to learn that my favourite modern poet Lucille Clifton (1936 – 2010) was inspired by Millay also. In an interview I watched for Clifton on Youtube, she replies to the question “Which poet inspires your work?” Clifton laughs and says: “when I was young I read Millay a lot, you know, that kind of romantic but tacky poetry!”  She and the audience both laugh.
I must admit I was a bit disappointed when Clifton called Millay’s poetry tacky, but then again the two poets have led very different lives; Millay who describes her life as “very very poor and very very merry” was an ardent feminist, she practiced her bisexuality openly and had engaged in numerous love affairs even when married to her husband Eugen Jan Boissevain - as their marriage was an open one - she won the pulitzer price in 1923. While Clifton who had worked in social services and wrote a lot of poems about children sexually abused by their parents, admits openly in one of her public readings about how the husband she has been faithful all her life was not faithful to her. Clifton admits in her poem “Donor” how she tried to miscarry her son:
When they tell me my body might reject
I think of thirty years ago
And the hangers I shoved inside
hard trying to not have you

I think of the pills, the everything
I gathered against your
Inconvenient bulge; and you
My stubborn baby child,
Hunched there in the dark
Refusing my refusal...


The two incredibly talented and incredibly strong women obviously have very different perceptions on love and romance, but they will both continue to inspire me and my poetry, but enough about me, here’s Millay’s very timely poem Spring:


                             Spring

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.