Wednesday, April 17, 2013

poetry teaching vulnerability

Two poets writing through and about their emotions came across my path this past week. They come at it from exceptionally different places, yet I find their commitment to digging and writing from a profound, personal level very inspiring. Their willingness to be vulnerable is disarming.

image from vulnerability

Louise Glück’s poems are “built on rhythm and repetition. Lines are repeated within a poem and then within other poems. Titles of poems are repeated within a single collection and then within other collections.”  As reviewer Kelly Cherry notes, what she writes most about are feelings, “attuned to delicate delineations among sounded notes.

The Wild Iris by Louise Glück 
At the end of my suffering there was a door.
Hear me out: that which you call death I remember.
Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting. Then nothing. The weak sun flickered over the dry surface.
It is terrible to survive as consciousness buried in the dark earth.
Then it was over: that which you fear, being a soul and unable to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth bending a little. And what I took to be birds darting in low shrubs.
You who do not remember passage from the other world I tell you I could speak again: whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice:
from the center of my life came a great fountain, deep blue shadows on azure seawater. 
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Poet Dunya Mikhail is an Iraqi American writing about home through the eyes of exile.

"I still feel that poetry is not medicine — it's an X-ray. It helps you see the wound and understand it. We all feel alienated because of this continuous violence in the world. We feel alone, but we feel also together. So we resort to poetry as a possibility for survival." 

I was in a Hurry by Dunya Mikhail  
Yesterday I lost a country. 
I was in a hurry, 
and didn't notice when it fell from me 
like a broken branch from a forgetful tree. 
Please, if anyone passes by 
and stumbles across it, p 
erhaps in a suitcase open to the sky, 
or engraved on a rock  
like a gaping wound, 
or wrapped in the blankets of emigrants, 
or canceled 
like a losing lottery ticket, 
or helplessly forgotten 
in Purgatory... 
[rest of poem here]

Poet Dunya Mikhail and translator Elizabeth Winslow 
read from "The War Works Hard"