Poet in residence

This term's poet in residence

Sujata Bhatt

Hello and welcome By Sujata Bhatt
22 Jan 2007 - 11:30 AM

Hello everybody! My name is Sujata Bhatt, and I will be the Poetry Archive's virtual writer in residence from today until April 2nd. I was born in India, grew up there, as well as in the U.S., and currently live in Germany. As you can imagine, English is not the only language I am concerned with. For the past few years, besides focusing on my own work, I have been translating various German poets into English. This residency will, of course, be greatly influenced by your questions and comments. So please do write! I thought it might be useful (and fun) to start a 'poem of the day' feature. There are so many poems on the Poetry Archive website, sometimes one doesn't know where to begin.

Poem of the Day: Listen to Harold Pinter's poem 'It is Here'. The poem is quite short so you probably have time to listen to it more than once. Enjoy Pinter's brilliant reading! As you can see in the accompanying biographical information, Pinter started out as a poet, and recently has decided to devote himself to poetry again. Instead of me commenting on this poem, I would like to know what you think of it. How is your perception of the poem affected by listening to it? If you wish, do compare it to his other poems on the site: 'Cancer Cells', 'Later' and 'Episode'. That's all for now. I look forward to hearing from you!

133 Comments at the moment

Sujata Bhatt at 23 Jan 2007 - 11:19 AM

23 Jan 2007 Poem of the day: Read and listen to Gillian Clarke's poem, 'The Piano'. (By the way, I hope that yesterday you also read Pinter's poem, 'It is Here', although I only spoke of listening to it.) It can be fascinating to follow the links between certain poems and poets already set up by the Poetry Archive. For example, on the page where you can read Gillian Clarke's 'The Piano' there is a link (beneath the question 'where next?') to a poem by George Szirtes, simply called 'Piano'. These piano poems are completely different, and yet, a few crucial words and one image appear in both. Amazing! I'd like you to discover the surprises in these poems on your own. And of course, I'd like the poems to speak for themselves. So I'll refrain from making any further comments at this point. Please feel free to write your thoughts, impressions etc. Do suggest poems you would like to share as well as topics you would like to discuss. bye for now, Sujata Bhatt

Fiete Blieffert at 23 Jan 2007 - 12:52 PM

My favourite piano-poem is a song by Tom Waits: The Piano Has Been Drinking - Not Me. But I like the two poems you suggested, too. Cheers, Fiete

William Zantzinger at 23 Jan 2007 - 05:17 PM

I never thought I liked Gillian Clarke's poetry but that one is really good. The first two lines are terrible though - the cheesy image and hackneyed language/alliteration of bus sighing through sleeping suburbs; and the zoomed in snapshot detail of a click of keys and a step on stairs, sort of metonymy for the action of getting home feels pretty cliched too. It gets so much better though. I love the way the wing image makes you read the scales in line 8 as part of some mythical creature or monster, setting you up for the revelation of line 10. The penultimate stanza is brilliant - especially the metronome of tennis. A great ending brings the poem back to the central image - hands - and expresses, with that enviable poetic precision, both the idea that he plays so furiously it were as if he had more than two hands and the image of the listener needing more than two hands to catch the waterfall. I liked the Szirtes poem too. There are some great images here, like the butterfly wing in netting, the grinning three-legged creature. I don't understand the crescent of her one hip - is that the cut-away? Learning to play the piano is definitely like trying to play a femme fatale; a lot of coaxing, frustration and, in the end, you give up or lose the opportunity. PS Tom Waits is awesome

H at 23 Jan 2007 - 06:02 PM

For some reason I can't type in line breaks in this box, so I've posted elsewhere a couple of John Fuller poems that also morph musical instruments in slightly fantastic ways: http://rhinocerotic.blogspot.com

Ali at 24 Jan 2007 - 06:55 AM

I read Pinter's "It Is Here" and as someone who is more familiar with his plays than poetry, it was a wonderful surprise. I did a scene from his play "Betrayal" once between the two ex-lovers and let me tell you, the pauses mean almost more than the lines. In this poem, you can almost hear the pauses, how what you don't hear is really the most important part. I think Hemingway may have said something to that effect once...anyhow, the poem just reminded me of the play a lot since in both, a connection exists within the characters that communicates so clearly it is beyond words whether that be in silence (as in Betrayal) or in just a breath in the poem.

Ali at 24 Jan 2007 - 06:59 AM

I also wanted to recommend Frank Bidart's "Love Incarnate". I cannot get it out of my head.

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Jan 2007 - 02:24 PM

Hello, Fiete, William, H. and Ali! Thank you all for writing. I'm going to reply to all of you separately. --Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Jan 2007 - 02:33 PM

Thanks, Fiete, for reminding me of 'The Piano has been Drinking--Not Me'. It's one of my all time favourites too. And yes, I'm a big Tom Waits fan. Have you seen the film DOWN BY LAW? Lately, I've been listening to a lot of EARLY Bob Dylan songs and have been absorbed in the words. Poem-songs. They are the best, when they work on all levels. Do write again!--Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Jan 2007 - 03:07 PM

William, thank you for the detailed response to the two piano poems. Yes, perhaps the opening lines of Gillian Clarke's poem are a bit quiet. I wonder whether she intended it to be like that. The ordinary event of a son coming home at night is transformed when he starts 'shuffling/ through the music'. And the speaker's sudden emotional intensity is shared by the reader. You've described it very well. Yes, I like the butterfly image in the Szirtes poem too. In the end I imagined it as a giant butterfly. Although the woman image also stayed with me. And I pictured a very tall, wide-hipped woman. And somehow the contrasting, or almost contradictory images didn't disturb me. I wish I could play the piano. It sounds like you can. Do stay in touch. --Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Jan 2007 - 03:45 PM

Dear H., I'm immensely grateful to you for posting the John Fuller poems on your site. It took a while for my computer to locate the site but it finally worked with the yahoo search machine. For those who are interested: the site address is: http://www.rhinocerotic.blogspot.com And the poems referring to 'morphing musical instruments' are TRIO, CONCERTO FOR DOUBLE BASS, and an extract from SONATA--all by John Fuller. Well, based on these poems I've decided that I must read more of John Fuller! (I don't know how I missed out on his work.) I think it's obvious to everyone that there are many, many poets who are still not on the Poetry Archive site, and who definitely should be on it. I can only hope that the Poetry Archive continues to grow...and thrive. Thanks again. Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Jan 2007 - 04:22 PM

Hello Ali, I'm glad you like Pinter's 'It is Here'! I think it's stunning the way he manages to make a small thing such as a breath into a powerful, haunting being. And 'Love', which is not even mentioned, appears to be incredibly strong. I agree, Pinter is a master of the dramatic pause. Have you seen the new Tom Stoppard play? (ROCK'N'ROLL) I love the way he is able to integrate so many ideas and genres, such as poetry, within that play. I just read Frank Bidart's 'Love Incarnate'. Strong stuff. A different twist on the saying 'eat your heart out'. For those who don't have Bidart's book, (and would like to read the poem) I found it on the following website: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/love-incarnate Thanks again for picking up the Pinter thread. --Sujata

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Jan 2007 - 04:37 PM

Well, now the day is practically over, but I would still like to keep our 'Poem of the Day' feature. Again I have two poems that I'd like you to listen to and read. So for Wednesday, January 24th, 2007, I suggest 'Soil' by George Szirtes, which touches on our music theme in yet another way. And to continue with 'Love' I'd like you to hear James Fenton reading 'In Paris with You'. Please do write again and tell your friends about this site! Sujata Bhatt

Ali at 25 Jan 2007 - 07:53 AM

I love how the same way the soil has clearly pulled Szirtes into writing this poem, the poem starts with just the appearance and then the imagery pulls you down under it. Words that stick out are 'hooked' and 'weighed', 'adhesiveness' and 'borne down'. The speaker is almost seduced by the soil, pulled down by it and entranced by its music. But the soil does not really give him anything material, only spiritual and emotional, which he expresses in the last line saying he doesn't really 'know' the earth. Yet, I think his message is sort of that the unspoken and sensory things that tie us to a place or home are really more important and powerful than what is visceral and above ground. In short, I loved it. I liked 'In Paris With You' as well: sort of the way the author distorts things like 'love' into 'Paris' instead (at the end, I kept wishing he'd say I'm in LOVE with you) and even the definition of Paris is changed. Instead of meaning what most people think of it as (like all the sightseeing he talks about), Paris is rather in a dirty hotel room with the general definition only slightly in view. His rhythm was great, and obviously the wordplay and all that was really cool. I have not seen Stoppard's new play, seeing as I am about 6000 miles away from its current venue, but if it ever comes to California, or NYC, I hope I can see it. I guess I'll ask a question as well: how long is it usually after you've written a poem, before you feel truly confident about it, if ever? I really love your work and think this is an awesome opportunity they've set up through poetry archive. Thanks so much so far!

William Zantzinger at 25 Jan 2007 - 03:24 PM

I found the SZIRTES poem a bit muddy (sorry, couldn't resist). Some of the lines seem really flat to me. The concept, as I understand, is interesting though and, as Ali says, it's as if the poet wants to be sucked down into the soil but in the last stanza he realizes he can't - this ground is solid - and he isn't able to 'visit it or know it'... at least until he's dead. I wonder whether I'm misreading to think there's some sort of Baudelaire/gothic thing going on. The soil is appealing partly because it is earthy, because it has the appearance of excrement and death (suede - leathery bodies). Only when it 'creeps under your skin' properly will he be able to achieve the intoxication and the communion that is the imagined experience of the first two stanzas. The third stanza pulls the rug out from under his day-dream and the reality is, for now, that the ground is solid; like a doorway that vanishes into a brick wall. Anyway, I think the form was interesting and I wonder why he chose it - tetrameters punctuated by one foot lines (monometers?). FENTON: If you've been listening to early Bob Dylan you might know All I Really Want to Do. You can read the lyrics here: http://bobdylan.com/moderntimes/songs/really.html . There seems to be a similar delight in a glut of playful rhymes as a vehicle in which to convey an emotion that might be hard to express straight up. Even with the Dylan song it seems to be lust dressed up knowingly as chaste love. H mentioned John Fuller and Fenton was a pupil of his. There seems to be some degree of influence. See Fuller's Valentine poem about half way down the page: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/11/taking_poetry_to_heart.html . By the way, I wonder whether a poem a day is expecting too much, unless some more readers come out of the woodwork! I hope they do.

William Zantzinger at 25 Jan 2007 - 03:25 PM

all those weird 'a' letters are dashes, sorry.

Sujata Bhatt at 25 Jan 2007 - 11:52 PM

Dear Ali and William, thanks for writing. I kept hoping for more responses today. Right now I'd like to post the poem of the day or night, depending where you are, and then I will reply to you. So for Thursday, 25th January 2007, please listen to Jo Shapcott reading her poem 'Piss Flowers'. The title of her poem is taken from Helen Chadwick's sculpture 'Piss Flowers'. I think the poem is a tribute to the sculpture. If you are curious, you can see a photo of the sculpture on the following site: http://www.sculpture.uk.com/artists/helen_chadwick --Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 26 Jan 2007 - 01:18 AM

Hello again, William and Ali, thanks very much for writing your impressions of the Szirtes and Fenton poems. Well, to start with Szirtes: I agree with both of you. It was also muddy for me to begin with. Although the poem starts with questions, plunging one into something without any 'introduction', all those three and four syllable words ('precisely, 'excrement', 'peculiar', and 'adhesiveness') slow down the momentum and maybe sound flat. The language changes after 'borne down', and it flows better. I was struck by the image of the 'you', (the speaker) becoming a violin, 'scraped and scratched'. I don't know if there is something gothic going on here but it could be a valid interpretation. I find the poem unusual in many ways. I see the form, but don't know why it's used for this subject or for these words. I had to read it over several times before I could appreciate all that I think Szirtes is trying to say. But you have both illuminated it very nicely! Moving on to Fenton: the speaker in the poem is sad or claims to be, but he's also funny which is accentuated by the rhyme and repetition. I like the way Paris is turned on its head. But Ali, I can't imagine the speaker saying 'I'm in love with you'. Not yet. Maybe in a later poem he would sort of mumble it! William, that's interesting how you link it up with the Bob Dylan song. Yes, I see the similarities you point out. I think there's more tension when lust is disguised or obliquely hinted at. I think of Fenton as a poet who focuses more on history and politics so I was surprised by his love poem. Fuller's Valentine poem is wonderful. Yes, I think Fenton is influenced by Fuller. Thanks for the links! I'd like to continue with the poem of the day theme, however, please don't feel burdened by it or feel that you have to write about it in such depth each time. I don't know how many people are reading this, but it would indeed be nice if more joined in the discussion. Ali, I will answer your question soon, in a few hours. William and Ali: you could also write more about what YOU are doing, reading, writing, cooking, etc. Or whatever preoccupies your thoughts these days. Thanks again! --Sujata Bhatt

Katy at 26 Jan 2007 - 03:10 PM

The Szirtes poem particularly resonated with me - I live near Manchester, but my family is scattered around, and so some of my friends are too. (I've also had a lot of London-Manchester train and car journeys recently, so the appeal is understandable!) I'm intrigued about the form of the poem too, and it's something I want to learn more about: how is it that you identify the feet, exactly? Or begin to, at least? William, can you just hear it and assume it's 'tetrameters punctuated by one foot lines'? I like the way the poem is divided, how it swings and swerves, in the way that trains do indeed sway. And how there is a trail of questions followed by a sort of 'echo' reply, comprising of two trundling sentences. I like the way Paris is turned on its head. But Ali, I can't imagine the speaker saying 'I'm in love with you'. Not yet. Certainly, I agree. The speaker seems stubbornly certain that he won't talk about love, beginning three of the stanzas by stating 'Don't talk to me of love', so I reckon Fenton would be considerably changing the tone, abruptly, and unsettlingly by perhaps allowing the speaker to say (admit?) 'I'm in love with you'. As for Fuller's Valentine Poem - I found and sent that poem to a friend earlier this week, with the note 'don't read anything into this, really' enclosed. (I honestly did mean that, too) I found myself surprised that I didn't get fed up with the continuous repitition - the images helped somewhat though, concrete and rapid, as did the humour, like in Szirtes poem. The entire thread on the Guardian Arts Blog is worth having a scan through - I like it in a similar way to this archive really, as a sort of online anthology which provides further reading, more snippets which make me want to find out about more poets and their poems. Sujata, you mentioned that you've been translating German poems into English. I speak German reasonably - at least, enough to get around, and I certainly want to continue with my German - be it in further education or self-taught, so what German poets/poems would you recommend I have a look at to begin with? If you could recommend any sites, or any books, I'd be very grateful. This is something I want to do not only to learn more about the languages but simply to have access to more poets, and more poets from different places!

Sujata Bhatt at 26 Jan 2007 - 04:48 PM

Hello Katy, thanks for writing! Right now I'd like to answer Ali's question, and then post the poem of the day, and then after that I'll get back to you. William, Katy, and everyone else: never mind about the way certain punctuation marks are transformed into odd characters. I'll have to consult the web administrators about this. --Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 26 Jan 2007 - 05:54 PM

Dear Ali, thanks for your generous comments regarding my work! It's nice to know I'm read so many miles away! I'll repeat your question here: 'how long is it usually after you've written a poem, before you feel truly confident about it, if ever?' After I've written a poem (and consider it to be a fairly polished draft), then I usually need to show it to my editor/publisher or to friends who are the first readers of my work and who I rely upon for their honest criticism. If the poem passes their tests then I feel I'm on the right track. But the time between completing a poem and showing it to someone else varies greatly. Also, I like to try out new work at readings, to see how a larger audience perceives it. Last year for example, in one instance, three months elapsed between the writing of a series of poems and feeling reassured about them. I find that after writing a poem, mostly I always know if it doesn't work or needs revision. Although revision can also take time, as often I don't immediately know how to solve the problems in any given poem. With other poems I'm luckier, and everything falls into place right from the beginning. On top of that, since every poem is a new start to some extent, the writing of every poem is like jumping into cold water and and trying to find one's bearings. On another level, I'm always a bit nervous before a reading. One never knows how one's work will be received and I don't feel that I can take anything for granted. Also, I know that among my readers, different people prefer different books(which is natural). So I suppose I never feel a hundred percent confident. Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 26 Jan 2007 - 06:13 PM

Poem of the day/evening for Friday, 26th January, 2007: Listen to Jo Shapcott reading her poem 'Deft'. There is an epigraph at the beginning of this poem, which she doesn't read. And that puzzled me. (The fact that she doesn't read the epigraph.) Yesterday's poem, also by Jo Shapcott, was 'Piss Flowers'. (See above for the site on Helen Chadwick whose sculpture is connected to 'Piss Flowers'.) ---Sujata Bhatt

William at 26 Jan 2007 - 06:40 PM

Katy, you can hear what metre a line is in most of the time. SB is more qualified to talk about this but, as I understand it, most of English poetry goes on stresses not syllables - unlike say French and Spanish poetry. So you read a line of poetry in a normal voice and count the number of times you stress a word or part of a word. That's the easy way of working out the number of feet in a line. Check out Fenton's readable intro in the Guardian; see 'Patterns of Stress' in particular: http://books.guardian.co.uk/fentonserial/0,,728495,00.html . Having reread the Szirtes poem, I don't think it's clear that the longer lines are predominantly tetrameter. Will have a look at those Shapcott poems later

Katy at 26 Jan 2007 - 07:17 PM

Thanks William, I have looked at some parts of that before actually - I think I printed it off but never got around to reading it! Anyhow, am babysitting tonight (always a raving friday night...) so it's a fantastic excuse for lots of 'work' - ie. poem-reading, attempting poem-making, and, in general, poetry.

gaurangi patel at 27 Jan 2007 - 04:30 AM

Actually,i am interested in publishing my poem 'He Ram, Gandhi Phari Hanayo...' meaning, 'Oh God{RAM},gandhi assasinated onceagain...' with backdrop of gujarat riots..it is antiracist/anti hatred. Any suggestions as to how do i beginwith? Please?

gaurangi patel at 27 Jan 2007 - 04:50 AM

I strongly feel that poetry can be instrumental in awakening feelings of humane cause, serving a kind of social purpose too.Especially if you are aware of how the true story based 'Parzania' is not finding any distributors in Gujarat.Isn't it tragic? My poems cries out towards the gujarat rioters on behalf of gandhi,who was never more relevant than today. Till date, every one is moving scott-free.who is to be blamed? Government? community?Politics? Is post-riot gujarat 'gandhi's Gujarat'? I am aware this not forum for such discussions...yet...as a humble citizen, I couldn't resist about how i feel about gujarat and peace all over the world...I believe Sujata may empathise with my views.

Ali at 27 Jan 2007 - 05:22 AM

Sujata- thank you for your response, it was very helpful! I can't say 'Piss Flower' was my favorite poem. I couldn't tell if she was joking or not in places, but I liked the premise. I am waiting to hear from a poetry contest on Wednesday through Kenyon so that is what is going on with my writing right now. A poem I recommend to all now is 'You Begin' by Margaret Atwood.

Moderator at 27 Jan 2007 - 02:21 PM

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Sujata Bhatt at 27 Jan 2007 - 06:25 PM

Hello everyone! Thanks, moderator, for sorting out the punctuation mark mess. Gaurangi, thanks for joining us. I will write to you separately. William and Katy, I'll get back to you about scansion. And Katy, I have made a list of German poets and online sites for you (and anyone else who is interested) which I will post later this evening. Ali, I will also write to you separately. Meanwhile, thanks for recommending Margaret Atwood poem 'You Begin'. More on that in my next post right now. ----Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Jan 2007 - 06:27 PM

Hello everyone! Thanks, moderator, for sorting out the punctuation mark mess. Gaurangi, thanks for joining us. I will write to you separately. William and Katy, I'll get back to you about scansion. And Katy, I have made a list of German poets and online sites for you (and anyone else who is interested) which I will post later this evening. Ali, I will also write to you separately. Meanwhile, thanks for recommending Margaret Atwood's poem 'You Begin'. More on that in my next post right now. ----Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Jan 2007 - 06:39 PM

Hello again, everyone. Ali suggests we all read Margaret Atwood's poem 'You Begin', which unfortunately is not on the Poetry Archive site. However, I found it on the Academy of American Poets site. The address is: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16789 You can also listen to Atwood reading 'You Begin' on that site. Ali's recommendation inspired me to choose another Atwood poem for today's (27 January 2007) POEM OF THE DAY/EVENING: Read and listen to Margaret Atwood's poem 'The Moment'.

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Jan 2007 - 09:17 PM

Dear Katy, (and others who are interested), here are two online sites with a large offering of poems in German and in other languages. The addresses are: http://www.brindin.com/main.htm and http://www.lyrikline.org Do browse through the sites and don't hesitate to ask further questions. Some poets to look out for: Bertolt Brecht, Erich Fried, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Ingeborg Bachmann, Günter Eich, Günter Kunert and Ulrike Draesner. This is a random selection! Brecht and Fried might be easier to understand. (Bachmann and Fried were Austrian.) Fried, of course, lived in exile in London for many years. You can find out about his life and work on the following site: http://www.erich-fried.de/start.htm You probably know that Michael Hamburger is the foremost translator of German poetry. I don't know how many bilingual anthologies are available. But you could have a look in libraries and bookshops. Meanwhile I will continue to suggest more poets to you. Let me know how you fare with the online sites. --Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Jan 2007 - 09:24 PM

Oh no! The blog cannot recognise the 'Umlaut'! So the name Gunter (which is spelled with 'u' Umlaut) got distorted. Just so you know. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Jan 2007 - 10:17 PM

William, thanks for the address of the Guardian site where extracts from Fenton's book, AN INTRODUCTION TO ENGLISH POETRY can be found. The book itself is worth getting. But Katy, (and everyone else) do explore that site. Fenton is so erudite! I don't want to repeat what he has written. And William, you are also very qualified to discuss form and metre in poetry. (Yes, a line containing a single foot is a monometer.) It's true, what you say: one must read a line of poetry in a normal voice and count the number of times a word or parts of a word are stressed. I will have to look at 'Soil' again and listen to it again to hear how Szirtes deals with the visual form. I mean, does it SOUND the way he has it on the page? ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Jan 2007 - 11:48 PM

Gaurangi, first, regarding your question about how to go about publishing your poem: Well, I would suggest sending it to a literary journal where you think poetry would be accepted. There's no other way. One simply has to send work out to editors and see what happens. The other option would be to create your own, personal website and post it online. And now, moving on to your second message, concerning the role of poetry: Yes, poetry can awaken all sorts of noble emotions in the reader, and there is a strong tradition of a 'poetry of witness', of poems speaking out against injustice, violence, war etc. A few years ago, the American poet and translator Sam Hamill started POETS AGAINST THE WAR as a part of his protest against US foreign policy. But returning to the Gujarat riots of 2002: I too was deeply saddened by the events that took place at that time. I have not seen the film 'Parzania' but I believe it has just been released in India. (For those who may not know, 'Parzania' is a film by Rahul Dholakia based on a true story, the misfortune of a Parsi family who lost their young son during the riots.) I hope I have a chance to view the film. And yes, it is unfortunate if the film cannot be shown in Gujarat. Well, the situation in Gujarat and in many other parts of the world is frustrating, to say the least. Perhaps 'appalling' is a better word. I think there are many among us who feel strongly about 'peace', and who wish they could do something to VASTLY improve the present conditions. You ask: 'who is to be blamed?' (Referring to Gujarat.) I cannot answer that. I think the problems are so complex that no one group or organization can be blamed. However, I believe that many people in Gujarat share your sentiments. And so there is hope. And on one level Mahatma Gandhi will remain a part of Gujarat, or in other words, there will always be those (no matter how few) in Gujarat who will be true to him. Does anyone else want to comment on the theme of political poetry or poems engaged with social issues? Harold Pinter said that he felt better able to express his political concerns through his plays and essays. And that that was what kept him from writing more poetry in the past. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 28 Jan 2007 - 12:31 AM

Ali, I just have a few more thoughts regarding your earlier question to me: Generally, I trust my own judgement during the writing/editing and post-writing process. And I do enjoy giving readings! Also after I've written a poem I need to read it aloud to test how it sounds. I think Shapcott is joking (I think her tone is funny and sarcastic) in 'Piss Flowers'. But strangely enough, the surreal ending sounds serious. The premise is unusual--for a woman, as she implies in her introduction to the poem. I wonder if anyone else had a chance to read that poem? Meanwhile, good-luck to you Ali, for the poetry contest! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 28 Jan 2007 - 12:57 AM

It's Sunday already! So here is the POEM OF THE DAY for SUNDAY, 28th JANUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Shout' by Simon Armitage. I know there still might be more comments about Shapcott's poems and we haven't discussed Atwood yet. And some of us are still looking at the Szirtes poem! Please don't feel bombarded! I'm trying to post 'the poem of the day' earlier in the day! Wishing all of you a good Sunday, ---Sujata Bhatt

Adim De at 28 Jan 2007 - 03:18 PM

I really love your poem, Muliebrity....Of course, many people have their own perceptions of this poem, but just wondering what is your perception in this(since your the writer) and how is the picture former ....Adim

Adim De at 28 Jan 2007 - 03:19 PM

formed* not former.... :P Silly mistake.. Adim

Fiete Blieffert at 28 Jan 2007 - 09:17 PM

re. political poems: I think there are quite a few very bad political poems around. Sometimes the poets get carried away with the MESSAGE - and as a result the poem reads like a newspaper article or like a pamphlet. But there are wonderful examples of very touching poems which are highly political without having to be labeled 'political'. Adrian Mitchell for example has written a number of such poems. Simple, accessible, humane, moving, sometimes shocking - but surely unforgettable. Like his poem 'Ten Holes for a Soldier'. Poems can't end a war and they can't convince men like Blair or Bush to pull out the troops. But they can help you to think twice. That's a lot, I think...

Sujata Bhatt at 28 Jan 2007 - 10:10 PM

Hello Adim, thanks for joining us, and hello Fiete, good to hear from you again. I will reply to both of you separately. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 28 Jan 2007 - 10:38 PM

Adim, I'm glad you like 'Muliebrity'. Thank you. Yes, many people have their own perceptions or interpretations of it. And I suppose that's how millions of dissertations get written about certain authors. Well, many writers feel that all that they have to say about a particular text or poem already exists within it. So in that respect, I find 'Muliebrity' to be fairly straightforward. And all that I wanted to say is in the poem. You ask: 'how is the picture formed?'. I am not sure I fully understand your question. Are you asking me about how I got the idea or where I got the images in the poem? Or is it something else you mean? The poem is composed of a series of actions and images which taken as a whole 'form a picture'. Please do clarify your question. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 28 Jan 2007 - 10:55 PM

Fiete, I agree with you! I couldn't find Adrian Mitchell's poem, 'Ten Holes for a Soldier' on the web. (It is indeed a powerful, harrowing poem.) But meanwhile, for those who are interested: you can read another one of his anti-war poems 'To Whom it May Concern', on the following site: http://www.serendipit-e.com/hollow/war/index.html Thanks again for writing. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 29 Jan 2007 - 08:05 AM

POEM OF THE DAY for MONDAY, 29th JANUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'You're Beautiful' by Simon Armitage. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 29 Jan 2007 - 11:14 AM

Adrian Mitchell's poem, 'Ten Holes for a Soldier', can be found in his book, BLUE COFFEE, on page 91. ---Until soon, I hope! ---Sujata Bhatt

Moderator at 29 Jan 2007 - 11:36 AM

Re the punctuation issue: composing your comment in Notepad or Wordpad is the best way to avoid problems. More sophisticated programmes like Microsoft Word use a wide range of punctuation, some of which is not supported in this blog. Sorry!

Adim De at 29 Jan 2007 - 04:13 PM

Thanks for the reply, The question restated is: How do you make this poem tell the readers about the women and labour...? How do you communicate with the reader..? Thanks-Adim

H at 29 Jan 2007 - 06:29 PM

Simon Armitage is a fantastic poet and he read 'You're Beautiful' at the TS Eliot Prize readings this year. Only a week or so ago, in fact. I have a problem with list poems though. They are fantastic as way for the poet to limber up and warm up the imaginative faculties, but as a poem deserving of publication I often find them wanting. While I feel I better understand the characters and the relationship they have by the end of the poem, and can admire the imagination and attention to little details of the poet, I end up thinking 'so what'? 'The Shout', on the other hand, leaves me thinking and wondering about different things at the end - man's cosmic insignificance (I couldn't think of a less pretentious way of describing that); the way people's lives develop into very different beasts and the fact that two lives were contiguous at one point makes the divergence so much more striking and amazing; the way that process is countered to some extent by the ability to carry around many lives or parts of lives inside your head through memory..... Sujata, you wanted to know some anecdotal stuff too... I'm just out of university having read History and my fav poets are Glyn Maxwell, Paul Muldoon, David Constantine, Derek Walcott and (loyalty demands) John Fuller. I've posted up a poem by Glyn Maxwell, which people might want to read. It's not entirely relevant, I suppose, but in the same way that Armitage uses a relationship as a way to show off some imaginative firepower in 'You're Beautiful', Maxwell's narrator uses a (non-)relationship as a premise for some poetic fun and games too. It's on http://rhinocerotic.blogspot.com

Sujata Bhatt at 30 Jan 2007 - 09:42 PM

Adim, thanks for elaborating on your question. In many ways, however, it still puzzles me. I mean, you are the reader, so you should know how the poem communicates to you. And the answer does lie within the poem itself. If you are asking a broader question, such as 'how do I control the poem to make it say what I want it to say', then the answer I have to offer might sound strange or useless to you. First, I believe that as soon as one stops trying to 'control' or 'force' a poem into being something or into fitting some preconceived notion one may have, then paradoxically one has more control, and at the same time the poem is free to follow its own logic and to become what it wants to. Many writers have said this in different words. It sounds like zen, or magic, and it is to some extent. But it's also a lot of work: it's trial and error, discarding failed drafts and always trying to find the language to approximate or 'give flesh to the idea' or 'vision' (for some, such as Blake). There's no one rule or recipe. Many writers work by instinct: So much is unconscious, especially if one is writing rapidly and is practically in a deep, trance-like state. Sometimes one is lucky and the lines just appear 'out of the blue', and it feels like someone else is writing them. Sometimes the words just order themselves in surprising ways you hadn't really anticipated. But to return to your question: I'm sorry I can't answer it in a more 'rational' way. Maybe it's a bit like swimming: you learn the strokes and then you just do it and if you stop to watch yourself swimming then you'll start sinking! Well, I hope I understood your question. Otherwise, try again! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 30 Jan 2007 - 11:28 PM

Dear H, thanks for joining in again and also for posting the Glyn Maxwell poem on your site. I haven't looked at Maxwell's work in ages, so it was a good excuse to do so! Yes, I see what you mean about 'list poems'. Sometimes the device can feel too easy. Although both Armitage and Maxwell are highly skilled with their 'lists'. Both poems have a light-hearted momentum. While 'The Shout', as you point out, has an existential undercurrent that just stays with you. (You've described it very accurately.)Does that mean that funny poems are not as important as serious poems? (Although 'The Shout' has its funny moments.) Or maybe it's unfair to compare poems, since often it's like trying to compare oranges and apples? I admire all your favourite poets, including John Fuller (a new one on my list--!) (That was an unintentional play on 'making lists'.) I haven't read Walcott in a long time. There was a time when I used to read his poems almost daily! I find it hard to keep up with all the poets/writers I like! I need to look at Muldoon again and to catch up with Maxwell and Constantine. It is disappointing that they are not on the Poetry Archive site. Well, (for those who are interested), Walcott, Muldoon and Maxwell can be found on the site of 'the Academy of American poets' at the followinng address: http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/58 Oh yes, I wanted to add that I think Armitage is a superb reader of his work! Some questions (for everyone actually): when did you start reading poetry? And what about now? Do you read poetry on a regular basis? Do you mainly focus on your favourites or do you read others as well? How often do you go to poetry readings? Do you read a lot of fiction/non-fiction as well? Sorry, if this sounds like an interrogation! It's not meant to be. So H, do you miss university or is it nice to be out of the education system? I'll end for now! Thanks again. --Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 30 Jan 2007 - 11:32 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT for TUESDAY, 30th JANUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Blue Field' by Lavinia Greenlaw. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 31 Jan 2007 - 09:24 AM

TWO POEMS OF THE DAY for WEDNESDAY, 31ST JANUARY 2007: Read and listen to 'Playground' by Adrian Mitchell. And then read and listen to 'Blood and Lead' by James Fenton. 'Playground' is very different from the other Mitchell poems we have mentioned so far. And it is on the Poetry Archive site! Note how Fenton reads 'Blood and Lead': he's on the verge of singing. Does the sing-song quality of the poem make it more chilling/macabre? ---Sujata Bhatt

Katy at 31 Jan 2007 - 07:50 PM

What I enjoy about 'You're beautiful' was the way the actual things which made her beautiful, and him ugly, supposedly, could be substituted for anything, so long as they contrasted. It's easy to see what is successful here: the refrains (which would be fantastic when read aloud/ performed, providing a 'sing-song' quality... aiding the momentum you mention, perhaps? - this poem really reminded me how much can be got from listening to poetry), the commonplace objects/ events/ stereotypes... I agree with what you say about his readings, too - his northern accent is delightful! (It's a pity that the recordings on this archive won't play on my computer.) & thank you for the links with German poems, I have read only a few so far - there is a lot there! About 'Blue Field': once the poem reached 'ultraviolet / twilight' I felt that it slowed down a lot, & I felt almost reluctant to have been pushed out of the list, like I would have preferred it to finish at the end of the list. But then without the parts which follow (and I love that rhyme I just posted - the whole thing is languid, lyrical, but that rhyme especially stood out - maybe because it is a pivotal point?) we wouldn't have so much to ponder on - as H said, 'man's cosmic insignificance' is what comes to mind when I read the part following the list, what I think of as the second part of the poem, the sort of pausing and then reconsidering, and that pondering is what I enjoy about poetry, what delights, so really, first time around, I was just being a lazy reader.

Sujata Bhatt at 1 Feb 2007 - 09:20 AM

Katy! Thanks for writing! I will reply to you (in more detail) later today. Meanwhile, I'd like to post THE POEM OF THE DAY FOR THURSDAY, 1ST FEBRUARY 2007: Read and listen to 'The Cormorant' by Robert Minhinnick. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 2 Feb 2007 - 11:11 PM

Hello Katy, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Yes, it is a pity that you can't listen to the Poetry Archive recordings on your computer. Is there any solution in sight? The other day I compared Armitage's reading of 'You're Beautiful' to Szirtes's reading of 'Soil', and I felt that while listening to Armitage one could see, or rather, hear how his oral rendition fit the visual, printed layout of the poem. For example, the long lines were read at a much faster pace than the short lines of the refrain. Listening to Szirtes, on the other hand, I felt that the printed form of 'Soil' had little connection to his way of reading it. Regarding 'You're Beautiful': I agree, at times there didn't seem to be any rule as to what is beautiful and what is ugly in the poem. And yet, the speaker hints at class differences and seems to be making fun of or perhaps, affectionately teasing the 'beautiful', politically correct you. Lavinia Greenlaw's 'Blue Field' is hypontic. One is lulled but also swept up by the current (or tempo) by all those lines (9 in total) beginning with 'no'. And then as you point out, the striking slant rhyme 'ultraviolet/twilight' is a turning point. The last part of the poem is essential. As you say, without it there would be little to ponder on and the poem would remain a list. What do you make of the last three lines: 'I keep my distance, as things turn blue/through stillness and distance,/as everything blue is distant.'? The repetition of the word 'distance', and then to close with 'distant'! It's unusual and powerful. Although it's on the brink of sounding like a tongue twister! No, I don't think you are a lazy reader. On the contrary, you're sensitive to so many nuances. I agree with you: 'that pondering is what I enjoy about poetry'. 'Blue Field' is another poem that I've enjoyed reading and rereading and getting lost in, so to speak. I'm glad you've been able to access the links with the German poems. Yes there are a lot! I'm curious to hear your impressions. Let me know if there is any other way I can help. I suppose at first it's easier if you explore it on your own. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 2 Feb 2007 - 11:20 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR FRIDAY, 2ND FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'In the Theatre' by Dannie Abse. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lou Beck at 3 Feb 2007 - 08:40 AM

Jasus! I thought I was totally stupid. A friend had told me that there is a new writer in residence at poetry archive. I tried but I just could not find it on the web. Why is there no mention of it on the initial page? I really was about to give up my search. Thank god I found it after navigating like a mad captain. Well it was worth it. I am enchanted by the debate about poems, poetry and poets. You will certainly hear from me. One question: Are we as ordinary reader just supposed to comment or can we also suggest a poet or a poem? And does that poet have to be present in the archive files? Thank you.

Fiete at 3 Feb 2007 - 04:30 PM

Hello again. Reading today's GUARDIAN (there's a highly intriguing article by James Fenton on W.H. Auden)I suddenly remembered that you had suggested we read Fenton's poem BLOOD AND LEAD which I did right now. Well, it certainly works, even though I don't really know what I mean by saying it WORKS. It is gripping and somehow creates an atmosphere of tension and fear. But then again: Who is he pointing his finger at? Who is THEY? What if THEY just said the same thing about US or ME? I kind of suspect that Fenton simply wrote the poem for the pleasure of sound and image. He reads it overwhelmingly well - but he doesn't take sides, really. I'm not suggesting that he has to. But in this respect it is a neutral, well, a sex-less poem without flesh and blood, if you get me. Adrian Mitchell's poem PLAYGROUND is very different. In his poem there is a face, so to say, like in a photograph. A person, a concrete person who embodies all the fear, tension and loneliness of an individual in the times of war. It is touching because it makes you feel that there is someone you can touch. PLAYGROUND, by the way, can be found in Adrian Mitchell's collection THE SHADOW KNOWS published by Bloodaxe. I just bought it last week. My favourite is a tiny poem called NATIONAL PRIDE HAIKU which goes as follows: IF SMACKING CHILDREN / WERE AN OLYMPIC EVENT / ENGLAND WOULD TAKE GOLD

Sujata Bhatt at 3 Feb 2007 - 04:50 PM

Hello Lou, thanks for joining us! I'm sorry it was difficult for you to find this section of the Poetry Archive. To answer your questions: No, you are not obliged to 'simply comment' on topics such as the 'poem of the day'. As you can see, other poems and poets not on the Poetry Archive have been introduced and discussed by several readers of this site. You are welcome to speak of your interests in connection with poetry. I look forward to hearing more from you! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 3 Feb 2007 - 05:16 PM

Dear Fiete, it's good to hear from you again! At the moment I'd like to post the 'poem of the day' and then, I hope to respond to your message later this evening. Also anyone else reading this (William, Ali, H, Katy, Adim, Lou?) is welcome to comment on Fiete's impressions. Meanwhile, here is the POEM OF THE DAY/EVENING FOR SATURDAY, 3RD FEBRUARY, 2007: read and listen to 'The Innocence of Radium' by Lavinia Greenlaw. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 4 Feb 2007 - 06:03 PM

Hello Fiete, that's quite a provocative haiku by Adrian Mitchell! It also shatters the traditional notion of the haiku as a meditative, imagistic poem concerned with 'Nature'. 'Playground' is a quiet poem in which understatement works very well. As you say, sometimes it can help to have a concrete person in a poem, and a mini story so to speak. In that respect, Fenton's poem 'Blood and Lead' may appear to be more abstract, but I don't believe Fenton wrote it as a mere exercise in sound and image. (One must imagine what Fenton witnessed in Vietnam and Cambodia as a war correspondent.) You rightly ask, 'who is he pointing his finger at? Who is 'they'? What if 'they' just said the same thing about 'us' or 'me'? Exactly. No nation or tribe on this earth is innocent. No one can claim that their country has a perfect, unblemished history. I don't think the poem is 'neutral', it is clearly against violence. I think the speaker in Fenton's poem is addressing everyone: everyone who has a heart and a brain and blood. I agree, Fenton's article on Auden in yesterday's Guardian is worth reading! Do write again. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 4 Feb 2007 - 06:19 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/EVENING FOR SUNDAY, 4TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'De Humani Corporis Fabrica' by John Burnside. ---Sujata Bhatt

William at 4 Feb 2007 - 09:48 PM

Science is a treasure trove for poetry. When writing I think you either take an area of experience that is common and universal and try to make it fresh; or you focus on the stranger parts of our natural environment. So I think the Burnside poem is an example of the former and the Greenlaw poem of the latter. In these secular, incredulous times, I wonder whether science and medicine have taken over from religion and war to be the last areas of experience that offer strangeness and awfulness (in both senses). For example the conceptual and psychological complexities of, say, organ transplants - the way donors and recipients try to find each other and establish weird new kinship relations - or, as in the Abse poem, the horror of having a doctor swirl his finger around your brain while you sit watching. There was a poem by Mario Petrucci called 'Heavy Water', if I remember right, that dealt with people's experience of the atom bomb in a very impressive way.

Fiete at 4 Feb 2007 - 10:25 PM

Great choice, Sujata! That Burnside poem is a real eye-opener (not in the surgical sense, William). What a strange world indeed! One may know one's way through cities like New York, Kuala Lumpur or Buenos Aires without getting lost - but at the same time one doesn't have the foggiest idea about what the hell is going on just milimeters underneath the skin of one's forehead, let alone in the catacombs of one's stomach or heart. Well, at least I don't know anything about it. Doctors like Abse, Benn or W.C Williams would. Poetry and the medical profession - what an interesting field of research!

William at 4 Feb 2007 - 10:45 PM

I'm intrigued by the Burnside poem but I don't think I understand it - help! The persona shies away from the morbidity he associates with how-the-body-works scientific investigation; he's interested less in the mechanics than the humanity - the living, breathing body. He's also less interested in naming than feeling. The last four stanzas seem to be to me a sexual encounter between the persona and a lover. I read 'recover' over the stanza break, transitively, as 'pick up/discover from your skin a history of tides, a flock of birds, a love...' but I don't understand the imagery. Why a flock of birds and why a history of tides? Tides, I suppose, works in a sexually convulsive way (am I reading this too filthily?!), but flock of birds? Then I understand bodies mapping themselves onto each other, again in the sense of moving about on top of each other. But the last stanza - the living flesh revealing and erasing what it knows - seems to be incomprehensible if it's still about two lovers. There seems to be a sudden shift of time and perspective to Vesalius himself, recording (and correcting?) his knowledge of the human body onto a sheet of vellum. The bodymaps have become secret charts and the skin has become vellum. Now for me to accept that, as a reader, I want to be able to read the Vesalius interpretation through the whole sentence i.e. through the whole of the last four stanzas (simultaneous with the two lovers interpretation). But I can't; it won't work semantically because of 'themselves' and because 'recover' is used instead of 'record' or some such. Otherwise it could read like this: 'until my hands record from your skin a history of tides, a flock of birds, the love that answers love when bodies meet; and map anew... the living flesh etc. I suppose there's no obligation to make the language carry both interpretations simultaneously. I suppose it's perfectly ok to switch violently in the last stanza, mid-sentence, but it is disorientating. Perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding this poem!! Help

H at 5 Feb 2007 - 12:25 AM

My turn to mention Bob Dylan! Masters of War - http://bobdylan.com/moderntimes/songs/masters.html . Of course, you really have to listen to it because it's a song, not a poem, but I think even on paper it's more powerful than Fenton's poem. Admittedly, it's much more partisan than 'Blood and Lead' (I agree when Fiete says Fenton's poem doesn't judge), so it's easier to be more emotive. But I'm still not that taken by Blood and Lead. People get ideas for poems from really different things and I wonder if Fenton thought of the drum/snare pun first and then incorporated it into a poem. 'Playground' is interesting. A child having to go to his grandmother's house at the edge of the city is innocent and ominous at the same time: I think of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother's house in the forest. I like the way 'a boy on a swing' is, in every instance, qualified by an action (scanning, humming, thinking). Every instance, that is, until the end where 'a boy on a swing' seems bald, not only because it's a one line stanza but because semantically we're expecting something else, Pavlov style. Really brings home the violence but in a subtle way. Just thinking about this, I would have considered ending it 'A boy on a swing/swinging' (where/denotes a line break) but maybe that's unsubtle. I'm unconvinced by the shelter stanza, which gives the reader the information that this is wartime, but which detracts from the focus of the poem - the boy - for too long. Mitchell could have used some other means to place the poem in a time of war. I'm rambling.

H at 5 Feb 2007 - 12:57 AM

Odds and ends... I agree with Lou that a link to the Poet in Residence from the home page would be really useful. Sujata, I was tempted by the DPhil but, to be honest, I've had enough of universities and education for now, especially as a lot of dons seem jaded and stuck in a time warp where they see young people explode into life year on year but never move on themselves. Having said that, jobs with suits don't do it for me. Reading poetry - I remember my teacher at school talking about who was to succeed Ted Hughes as poet laureate and he talked about Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy and Andrew Motion. It would have been after GCSE, I think, when we had studied the MEG anthology. Most of the ones we were prescribed I didn't get into - e.g. Edwin Muir's Horses; terrible. I was really drawn to Carol Ann Duffy's Valentine but we weren't studying it. Anyway, I remember that was the first time I was interested in poetry, although it wasn't until university that I actually read any and started writing. I have tended to read much more 20th century poetry than anything else. I am very badly read in contemporary fiction - no Zadie; a tiny smattering of Amis, Barnes and McEwan. Similarly, really patchy on pre-20th century poetry, which is something I really need to sort out - no Victorians, few Romantics and Augustans, no Herbert, no Clare, some Milton and Marvell but not even Shakespeare's sonnets... The problem is there is sooo much. I have just bought Daljit Nagra, the new MacNeice Collected and R S Thomas's Collected. In fact, thinking about it, I still haven't got round to Auden's Collected - the big daddy of 20th century poetry. The TS Eliot Prize was the first reading I've been to outside of an institutional context. I find readings slightly ridiculous, though, especially if it's someone like Muldoon. There's too little time to take it in and you're quickly lost. I find it next to impossible to capture a poem from a reading. A lot of modern poetry is for the page. How do you read, by the way? I like to hear the line breaks without losing the sense. I don't like poets who ignore the breaks completely in readings. Anyway, enough for now.

Moderator at 5 Feb 2007 - 09:42 AM

Katy - if you're having problems listening to the recordings on this website, it may be that you don't have RealPlayer installed on your computer. It's freely available to download. Please click Help at the top of the screen and see FAQ 1. Hope this helps.

john at 5 Feb 2007 - 01:10 PM

What people are reading is always an interesting question. Who are the most recent poets you have been reading, Sujata? And how do you divide your reading? 80 per cent contemporary poetry and 20 per cent pre-twentieth century? How important is it to read older poetry? I think of poetry as the most direct and personal literary medium and so when it uses contemporary idiom it is most powerful. Older poetry is great for refreshing expressions and musicality but there is a barrier of artifice. Maybe I've been reading only lyric poetry (but there doesn't seem to be much else being written these days) and maybe it's a fallacy to think that contemporary poetry is frictionless communication without the deforming effects of form, narrative and linguistic conventions. I'm reading some border ballads, Djuna Barnes' Nightwood and some Tony Harrison. Oh and Bill Clinton's autobiography... very slowly. My teacher at school always says it's good to read different things at the same time so you don't get bored and because one thing can help your appreciation of another. Anyone out there, do you read one book at a time or do you mix it all up?

Fiete at 5 Feb 2007 - 01:41 PM

I agree with you, H.: Dylan's 'Masters of War' is a powerful song. For me, however, the most moving writer and singer of anti-war songs is Eric Bogle. If ever you have a chance to listen to 'No Man's Land' or 'The Band Played Waltzing Mathilda' you will never forget it. The 'Mathilda'-song was also beautifully interpreted by Shane MacGowan of 'The Pogues'. These songs should be played to our present day 'masters of war' using giant loudspeakers...Or to the parents who let their kids join the army. It's worth looking up Eric Bogle's homepage: www.ericbogle.net/ One more comment regarding John's question to Sujata: Who are the most recent poets you have been reading? I just got hold of a CD called 'Tom Waits' Juke Box'. A compilation of songs and tunes by musicians who have strongly influenced his own song-writing plus his concept of music. Sujata, could you name 10 poets who would certainly be contained in 'Sujata Bhatt's Juke Box'??? Or is it asking too much?

Sujata Bhatt at 5 Feb 2007 - 03:09 PM

Greetings! Thank you, William, Fiete, H and John for your messages! I'm very pleased to hear from all of you! I'll begin answering soon. But first I'd like to post the POEM OF THE DAY FOR MONDAY, 5TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Lung Wash' by Michael Symmons Roberts. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 6 Feb 2007 - 11:08 PM

Dear everyone, I've been floating between Dylan, Mitchell, Fenton, Bogle and Burnside! And so the hours went by! Well, before 'today' is over I'd like to post the POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR TUESDAY, 6TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Not Yet My Mother' by Owen Sheers. I'd like to continue writing to you (very early) tomorrow morning! I've enjoyed mulling over your comments. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

lianne at 7 Feb 2007 - 08:44 AM

hi im 9 how old r u

lianne at 7 Feb 2007 - 08:45 AM

hi again

lianne at 7 Feb 2007 - 08:45 AM

its my birthday 2day

lianne at 7 Feb 2007 - 08:46 AM

i liv in australia where do u liv

Sujata Bhatt at 7 Feb 2007 - 11:50 AM

Hello Lianne from Australia! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Have you seen the 'Children's Archive' on this site? What sort of books do you like to read? ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 7 Feb 2007 - 12:57 PM

William and Fiete, thanks for your comments regarding John Burnside's poem, DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA. I agree, William, 'science is a treasure trove for poetry'. And never mind crime fiction, few books can frighten me as much as 'THE MERCK MANUAL OF MEDICAL INFORMATION'. I have heard that certain patients who received a new heart inherited the emotional conflicts/preoccupations of the donor, although of course they did not know the donor. (And obviously, after the transplant, never could.) It seemed as if the heart that they received had a 'mind' of its own. Ages ago, when I was a student, I heard Dannie Abse read 'In the Theatre'. And I never forgot that poem. The whole mind/soul and body relationship is something philosophers have always argued about. And the soul! So many people want to define it or capture it. And at the same time, one's 'spirit' is considered to be a holy otherness somehow incorporated within oneself. It (the soul) is the 'self' but not the everyday conscious self, I think. And then, to have it speak as it does in Abse's poem is spooky. (Or rather, I suppose the soul makes the man speak out.) The fact that it was a TRUE incident makes it even more exciting and humbling. Yes, I think, for many, science is the new religion. William, you mention Mario Petrucci. You're right, he has written a (book length) poem, 'HARD WATER: a poem for Chernobyl', as well as a companion book called 'HALF LIFE: poems for Chernobyl. I've only read an extract from 'Hard Water', but now I've decided that I must read the entire poem! What do you think of the anti-bubbles in Jo Shapcott's poem, 'Deft'? She's also addressing the mind-body issue. (To be continued...) ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 7 Feb 2007 - 07:31 PM

William, to continue with Burnside's poem: I follow your reading of it which basically corresponds with my interpretation, however, the meanings are just as blurred for me! But first of all, I'd like to point out that the layout of the poem on the Poetry Archive site is wrong! If you look at it in his book, THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR, you'll see that it's a very 'visual' poem. The lines are not all flush against the left hand margin, but seem to float all over the page. (Well, maybe you can have a look at it the next time you're in a bookshop or library.) The layout of the poem lends itself to the minimalist punctuation: 5 full stops, 2 colons and a small dash (before the pivotal line '-so I lie beside you here'). My initial impressions of it were terribly confused. For example, after all the gruesome descriptions of artists studying corpses to learn anatomy, the lines: 'CORPORIS FABRICA/IS LESS TO ME THAN HOW A SHUDDER STARTS/AND RUNS ALONG THE ARM/ etc., made me think of a heart attack. But then, as soon as I got to the line '-so I lie beside you here/unnamed/until my hands recover from your skin/' I realised it was a more innocuous event he spoke of. The word RECOVER also brought to my mind RECUPERATE, in addition to DISCOVER (you mention) and GATHER/OBTAIN. But I don't understand the use of the word 'UNTIL'. The speaker is unnamed UNTIL his/her hands recover ('tides' etc.) from his/her skin (the skin of whoever the speaker is addressing). And so, that implies that afterwards, at some later point, the speaker will be 'named'. Does that (being named) allude to the 'vellum' at the end of the poem? (And how and why does the 'recovering' of 'a history of tides' from someone's skin lead to the 'unnamed' speaker becoming 'named'?) Unless, of course, the speaker means 'I will lie beside you here/unnamed' forever, (and remain unnamed) until we turn to vellum. Meaning 'I will stay by your side' etc. And 'will actually never be named'. I agree with the semantic discrepancies you point out. If recover means discover and not recuperate, then the next thing we're confronted with is 'a history of tides/a flock of birds' etc. Well, if the 'you' is female, then 'a history of tides' could be a fair description of the female body (the monthly cycle/tides interrupted by giving birth...that's how I thought of HISTORY). 'A flock of birds' ??? One can think of nests and birds mating etc. On the other hand, the birds make the landscape more real, so 'a history of tides' becomes more than a symbol for a woman's body, and suddenly one can think of a walk along the beach. (Or at least I did!). I agree, the word/image 'tides' also reinforces the sexual 'shudder' at the beginning. And I suppose the inevitable body fluids. I'm sorry if this sounds too clinical! (Actually, right now I can't help laughing at myself.) I agree, removing the word 'themselves' would be an improvement. And then I'm also baffled by 'erasing', which brings to mind, disintegration and death. However, as you know, it's not Vesalius or Michelangelo doing the erasing but 'THE LIVING FLESH/ REVEALING AND ERASING WHAT IT KNOWS/ON SECRET CHARTS/OF WATERMARK/AND VELLUM/' It's as if the two lovers have suddenly turned into diagrams in a book. Burnside's language is seductive (no pun intended!). At first one is simply carried away by his music. Another question I have is: why 'secret charts'? Of course, 'vellum' at the end of the poem brings one back to Vesalius but one can't really picture him at that point. I see what you mean by wanting both interpretations and actions (the love-making and the act of drawing) to be seamlessly interwoven so the reader can clearly picture both. The way the poem stands now, the reader has to choose and further develop his/her own images. Which is a common situation, but I agree, words such as 'themselves' and 'erasing' make it a bit too fuzzy or unbelievable. Another thought I had is that perhaps the two lovers are a sort of living vellum. But that sounds too disgusting after the beach scene of tides and birds. Perhaps this is a poem about growing old and turning into vellum? This sounds too simplistic compared with what is going on in the poem. I think after a while I just tried to accept the disorienting/mysterious parts. But that's not completely satisfying either! In some poems one can understand the 'mystery' on an emotional/gut level but I feel that here there are places where one wants it to make more sense. Sorry, I can't really provide much help! Does anyone else have other ideas/suggestions? I'll end for now. I haven't forgotten you, H and John and Fiete! (to be continued!) ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 7 Feb 2007 - 10:12 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR WEDNESDAY, 7TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'In the Library' by Charles Simic. The poem by John Burnside (De Humani Corporis Fabrica) we've been discussing is haunting and beautiful--no matter how puzzling towards the end. I keep returning to it. I'll continue tomorrow. You may interrupt me whenever you wish to! ---Sujata Bhatt

William at 7 Feb 2007 - 11:57 PM

Thanks for your great response! Very interesting and illuminating. I felt 'erasing' was needlessly confusing too. As you say, the reader has to choose and then slightly force the poem into the mould he has chosen. So, because 'erasing' wouldn't make sense to me in the context of lovers I interpreted 'the living flesh' as a hand writing/drawing and erasing. But anyway, enough of that. I enjoyed that SIMIC poem. I've not read any Simic before, although he is a big name. Libraries really are mysterious places and it's wonderful and disheartening to pick up a book that hasn't been opened in years. Wonderful because of the discovery and disheartening because you feel for the author. So many worlds are crammed between the pages of all the books in a library and you feel that only the present one is excluded, everyday life, concerns, sounds etc shut out by the four walls. It's a weird, self-indulgent escapism, I suppose, and no wonder librarians are such strange beasts. I felt there was a certain cynicism in this poem. The angels, usually positive, are pesky flies. The books 'lie' on shelves (in both senses). Maybe it's not as strong as I'm making out, but the last line made me re-read the poem in a new way that stressed the poet figure as a disgruntled student wanting to be outside. 'I hear nothing, but she does' suggests cynically that she's a bit mad (affected by the very peculiar environment that is a library) or that she's gifted in a way that the poet isn't (frustrated at not getting his head around the work he is doing or something like that). You can use prosy language and still get poetry. The 'tall windows', frustration and a librarian reminded me of High Windows by Larkin, which I just re-read (not that it's about a librarian, but he was one I think). What a brilliant poem, but using equally prosy language deliberately

William at 8 Feb 2007 - 12:03 AM

Just having listened to him read the poem, I hear more wonder than cynicism and frustration. Weird how much meaning is in inflection

MJeffers at 8 Feb 2007 - 09:10 PM

I've been reading this thread and just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed it. Something that's always intrigued me... do any of you think that poetry would be perfect for the morning commute? Why do people read novels when they can only get through ten or twenty pages on the way to work. One or two complete poems, on the other hand... and I think it would have the stimulating effect of doing the crossword, wakes you up a bit. But maybe it requires too much concentration. When you're half asleep prose might be less masochistic.

Sujata Bhatt at 8 Feb 2007 - 10:50 PM

Hello MJeffers, thanks for writing! I'm glad you've been enjoying the dialogue. Right now I'd like to reply to the others and then I'll return to you. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 8 Feb 2007 - 11:12 PM

Dear William, thanks for the thanks! Today I thought of interpreting 'secret charts' as 'IMAGINARY charts' in the speaker's mind (in the Burnside poem). And the part about 'revealing and erasing' could refer to the constant state of flux the body is in, especially while engaged in any physical activity. So the 'before', 'during' and 'after' phases of the sexual encounter the speaker alludes to could be the 'revealing and erasing'. Maybe this is pushing it. Or is too weird. I'll have to ask John Burnside! But thanks for your quick response last night and for commenting on Charles Simic! I'll write about SIMIC tomorrow. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 8 Feb 2007 - 11:20 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR THURSDAY, 8TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Clocks of the Dead' by Charles Simic. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 9 Feb 2007 - 12:45 AM

Dear H, thanks for rambling! And thanks for 'odds and ends'! You're right, of course, Bob Dylan remains unbeaten. 'Masters of War' is powerful. The rage is more real. I have to confess there are other poems by Fenton which I prefer to 'Blood and Lead', and yet, there's something about 'Blood and Lead' which is 'gripping' as Fiete said. Maybe the snare! To move on to Adrian Mitchell's 'Playground': it is quite poignant. As you point out, one wants to know more about the boy on the swing. (And yes, I agree with you, I like the way the boy is portrayed on the swing: humming, thinking, etc.) That's a brilliant comparison with Little Red Riding Hood! It may seem obvious but I didn't think of it! What worried me was that the boy's mother would send him off ALONE to 'his grandmother's house/ on the edge of the city/'. He is indeed vulnerable. I see what you mean about the shelter stanza distracting the reader from the boy. But somehow the information in that stanza is crucial. Maybe if we had more descriptions about the boy, that (shelter) stanza wouldn't feel so intrusive. But then again, maybe Mitchell wanted it to be like that, as war is very intrusive. I agree with your suggestion of ending the poem on 'swinging' as in: 'a boy on a swing/swinging'. Or something similar. But again, Mitchell most probably knew that the reader would expect some action on the part of the boy and so he left us hanging at the end, knowing that mentally we would fill in the missing word(s)/action(s). Obviously, the strength of the poem lies in the fact that the reader begins to care about the boy. I wonder whether in this poem Mitchell is drawing on his own childhood memories of war? (To be continued!) ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 9 Feb 2007 - 11:41 PM

Greetings! I will continue answering everyone tomorrow. Right now I'd like to post the POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR FRIDAY, 9TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Animals' by John Burnside. Thanks! ---Sujata Bhatt

Katy at 10 Feb 2007 - 04:24 PM

Regarding the audio problems: I've installed realplayer, but to no avail: for some reason, on this computer, the poems won't play, although they will on my dad's laptop (so I shall be sneaking time on this when he is out!) -- About the poems: 'Listening to Szirtes, on the other hand, I felt that the printed form of 'Soil' had little connection to his way of reading it.' -- did this disappoint you at all? When you hear a poet reading something you have seen written, do you not sort of want to urge them to have a connection, or even wonder why they wrote is as they did if they will not use that structure and layout to enhance their own performance? It's a strange thing, readings. Sometimes I get the feeling that poets don't want to put their own way of reading their poems onto you, so they read rather 'blankly' that word doesn't quite describe what I mean, but I cannot find another one yet which does. Maybe you will understand anyway though.) About 'You're Beautiful', you say 'And yet, the speaker hints at class differences and seems to be making fun of or perhaps, affectionately teasing the 'beautiful', politically correct you.'-- this, I reckon is why Armitage allows their to be no rules as to what is beautiful and what is ugly, maybe because a lot of the things that we are sometimes expected to perceive as beautiful -- like being able to play the piano well, is ugly if it is only taught or learnt because the person wants to be perceived as beautiful or correct for learning this. 'Half rhyme, sometimes known as slant, sprung or near rhyme, and less commonly eye rhyme (a term covering a broader phenomenon), is consonance on the final consonants of the words involved.' (Wiki.) So slant rhymes are where the final part of the words rhyme? So they won't seem so intentional/ forced? Like rather than 'climb' and 'rhyme' you could have 'climb' and 'underline'? Or are the sounds in the second pair too far apart? With these lines, 'I keep my distance, as things turn blue/through stillness and distance,/as everything blue is distant.' I think Greenlaw makes us feel her reluctance, in a way that maybe the 'stillness and distance' has a profoundly inexplicable affect on her, as it is something very scarce. We never really have that much in modern life, or city life, do we? It's interesting how she uses 'as everything blue is distant', almost securing her separation from this strange change, deliberately choosing to isolate herself. It seems scary. I agree, 'The repetition of the word 'distance', and then to close with 'distant'! is unusual -- it reminds me of the last line in Heaney's 'Storm on the Island', which proclaims: 'Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.' (I tried to find this poem, but all I could find was the Bitesize version, which is actually incorrect: I suppose because it's set on the GCSE syllabus, there are more 'helpsheets' etc that come up than the actual poem!) In particular, the 'huge nothing' resonated with what you were saying about the use of 'distant' so close to 'distance', the deliberate manipulation of the words against their own meaning to sort of make us question what they mean to us ourself? 'The Clocks of The Dead' intrigued me a lot, and I've read it a few times over! -- my present art project revolves around 'time'. But I think I need more of the context to understand it, for example the lines 'Once there were clocks like that/ In every kitchen in America'. I had a read of it last night and tried to find some info by googling, but nothing much came up. There seems to be a lot of superstition in this poem: the mention of 'midnight' so close to 'graveyard', and the way the last three lines seem to be a prediction, a suggestion that there is knowledge of what the poet believes to be the inevitable, as he addresses, 'Grandmother on the wall,/ I heard the snows of your childhood/ Begin to fall.' I like the delay here too, signalling a finality, and his deliberate use of enjambment. Structurally, it reminds me of another poem we're studying at school, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, apparently a beat poet: the poem is called 'Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes' (now, I am again reminded of 'You're Beautiful' -- if you read the poem you will see why,) and the lines which it reminded me particularly of are 'The man/ in a hip three-piece linen suit/ with shoulder-length blond hair & sunglasses'. I can't lay it out as it is on the page though, so it'd be best for you to see the poem properly. You can see it on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english/poemscult/ferlinghettirev3.shtml although the Bitesize site can be a bit garish, sorry! SB yes, I've only managed to spend a little time looking at them so far though, perhaps after I've tackled my mountains of work this weekend I can have some more time looking through them leisurely. (A relative recommended beginning with Brecht?) Hope people might enjoy reading the other poems I mentioned!

Sujata Bhatt at 10 Feb 2007 - 11:54 PM

Hello everyone! Katy, thanks for your long message! Sorry I'm delayed, but tomorrow I should be able to spend lots of time writing to all of you. Meanwhile, I'd like to post the POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SATURDAY, 10TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Cameo Appearance' by Charles Simic. Thanks! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 11 Feb 2007 - 06:51 PM

Hello. Many of you probably know that today 44 years ago Sylvia Plath died. Unfortunately, she is not on the Poetry Archive site, but some of her poems can be found on the Academy of American Poets site at the following address: www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/58 I'll begin answering you in chronological order, beginning with H's message on 5th February at 12:57am. H, I agree with you, there is sooo much to read, or so much one wants to read or feels that one 'should' read! Although I read a great deal of English Literature at university, I feel that I need to re-read most of it. (Carol Ann Duffy's 'Valentine' is one of my favourites.) I'm curious to know how you like the authors whose books you've recently bought (Nagra, R.S. Thomas, MacNeice). I agree readings can be tricky. It is difficult to grasp a poem unless you've had a chance to see it on paper first. Is the oral tradition dying out? Sorry, that's a very big, general question! I do enjoy listening to poets read their work, especially if they are good readers and if I like their work. If I'm encountering the poet or the work for the first time, then often there might be something I hear which would make me want to read the book. Of course, it's disappointing when a writer one likes is a terrible reader or if one has to endure hours of poetry (or prose for that matter) not to one's liking! How do I read? I do try to follow the line breaks in my poems, (especially since while writing I'm very aware of the line breaks), otherwise, it varies, some of my readings are significantly better than others. Maybe that's normal? It seems like you are sort of in transition regarding life and work. (Sorry, that sounds too pretentious and simplistic.) But then again, who isn't? I feel that I'm perpetually in transiton or that as soon as I get used to one set of circumstances, things change or I change. Well, young people do have an intensity and freshness that the old usually don't! I experience it every day: just watching my daughter and her friends, the words 'revolution', 'protest', 'idealism', 'romance' etc. come to life in incredible incarnations! How does one prevent oneself from becoming 'jaded'? How can one constantly reinvent oneself (as an artist and a person) and still be true to one's self? But now I'm going off on tangents! (to be continued) ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 11 Feb 2007 - 07:30 PM

Hello John, that's an incredibly varied group of books you're reading these days! How does Bill Clinton's autobiography affect your perception of Djuna Barnes' 'Nightwood'? I'm like you: I also read several books at the same time. Recently, (aside from constantly checking and reading what's available on the Poetry Archive site) I've been reading Charles Simic's MY NOISELESS ENTOURAGE, Sinéad Morrissey's THE STATE OF THE PRISONS, Czeslaw Milosz's SECOND SPACE, Louise Gluck's (with an Umlaut over the 'u' in 'Gluck') AVERNO, and the collected poems (and other writings) by the Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger. I usually have at least one book in German in the collection of books that I'm reading. For the past few years I've been working on two (totally different) manuscripts and during this past week I had to complete one of them, so that has reduced my reading time, not to mention the delays it caused in responding to all of you! But to return to the activity of reading several books at the same time: when it comes to fiction, I tend to read one novel at a time. Anyone else? How do you read? John, you ask: How important is it to read older poetry?' One answer to that I think is that one cannot fully appreciate much of contemporary poetry if one doesn't know the tradition it grows out of. Any other opinions from all of you out there? ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 11 Feb 2007 - 07:44 PM

Sorry, the name 'Sinead' appears mangled. It's 'Sinead' with an accent (acute) over the 'e'. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 11 Feb 2007 - 08:11 PM

Dear Fiete, thanks for the address of the Eric Bogle website! I agree, THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA is a classic. I also like Bob Dylan's WITH GOD ON OUR SIDE. I agree, these songs should be played to our present day 'Masters of War'. Imagine if the BBC, for example, broadcast such songs during the News Hour! The Tom Waits CD you mention, 'Juke Box', sounds very interesting. You ask me to name ten poets who have influenced me the most. That's a tough question, because I find it hard to limit myself to just ten poets! I'll need some more time to answer that! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 11 Feb 2007 - 08:25 PM

I'd like to answer MJeffers (8th February) first, post the poem of the day, and then answer William (7th and 8th February) and Katy (10th February), who will probably require long responses. Thanks! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 11 Feb 2007 - 08:49 PM

Hello MJeffers, I hope you're still with us! To answer your questions: yes, I think poetry could be perfect for the morning commute. However, I believe that the people who read 10-12 pages in a novel during each journey are perfectly happy to do so! And they don't want anyone to take away their novels and substitute them for poetry! What one reads (or likes to read) while travelling is, of course, a very personal decision. Do you read poetry during the morning commute? And who are your favourites, if I may ask? I like to read poetry during breakfast, (unless I'm in a strong writing phase) and also at night with a last cup of tea before going to bed. I think good prose can demand just as much concentration as good poetry. Anyone else? What do you think? ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 11 Feb 2007 - 09:08 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY, 11TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Underground' by Seamus Heaney. Tomorrow morning (when the web administrators are available to solve any potential mishaps) I'll begin a 'new' section to this blog, just so people don't have to scroll down that much to read the latest comments. But you will still be able to access this 'first' section of the blog by clicking on the blue words: 'more from this term's poet in residence'. And the 'new' section or chapter will, of course, be a continuation of this 'first' section. Thanks ---Sujata Bhatt

Talha at 12 Feb 2007 - 11:34 AM

I'm a teenager studying literature. I was searching for a background on Sujata Bhatt when I stumbled onto this place. Could I have your ideas on one of her poems pleeazz.. Muliebrity Sujata Bhatt I have thought so much about the girl who gathered cow-dung in a wide, round basket along the main road passing by our house and the Radhavallabh temple in Maninagar. I have thought so much about the way she 5 moved her hands and her waist and the smell of cow-dung and road-dust and wet canna lilies, the smell of monkey breath and freshly washed clothes and the dust from crows’ wings which smells different – and again the smell of cow-dung as the girl scoops 10 it up, all these smells surrounding me separately and simultaneously – I have thought so much but have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor, for a nice image – but most of all unwilling to forget her or to explain to anyone the greatness 15 and the power glistening through her cheekbones each time she found a particularly promising mound of dung – University of Cambridge International Examinations

Talha at 12 Feb 2007 - 11:51 AM

I've read some of the great discussions above, and I'd love to know your response to this poem..Any ideas, interpretations,comments on language,etc...I'd be really thankful for them..! Plus, Sujata, could you give your own emotional experiences while writing this poem? How did you get started? And does the girl really exist and does the Radhvallab temple??? Things like that- Again loads of thanks in advance for anything you could say. Bye! P.S. Sorry for the numbers that’ve appeared in between the lines of the poem; each number is actually the number of the line immediately before it.

Sujata Bhatt at 12 Feb 2007 - 10:35 PM

Dear Talha, thanks for writing! I'm sorry, I don't interpret my own work. But I can provide you with a little bit of background information and can answer some of your questions. Yes, the Radhavallabh temple still exists. And the girl was real. I hope she is still alive. I used to see her every day whenever I was at my grandmother's house during the holidays. This was when I was nine and ten years old. I wrote the poem a long time ago when I was in my early 20's. You ask about my 'emotional experiences while writing this poem'. I don't know. It was something that was on my mind and I simply wanted to write it down. In a way, it is a note to myself. While I was writing it, I didn't think of it as a 'poem'. (I also expected to revise it, or redo it afterwards, which I never did. And that is somewhat unusual.) And I wrote it down quickly, focusing primarily on the memory, the girl and on what happened. 'How did I get started?' I just did. No one asked me to write this poem, and I didn't attach much importance to it. Or in general: I started writing when I was very young, (soon after I had learned how to read), so again, no one really cared whether I wrote or not, and 'getting started' was entirely up to me, which was fine because that way I had a certain amount of freedom. I hope this helps! Do write again--about other topics as well! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 12 Feb 2007 - 11:03 PM

Hello everyone. I'm still uncertain about when it would be a good time to begin the 'new' section I mentioned yesterday, or how confusing it would be for you, since that would entail flipping back and forth between the sections in order to find the responses to your questions. (And I still have to answer William and Katy!) Meanwhile, right now I would like to post the POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR MONDAY, 12TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'A Supermarket in California' by Allen Ginsberg. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Talha at 13 Feb 2007 - 12:28 PM

Tahnk you! Yeah I know poets dont do that. I was actually hoping to get some feedback from others. A little bit of background is all I really needed from you, thanks again...Ms Bhatt, one last question for you: Could you please say a little what you had in mind when you wrote:'I've been unwilling to use her for a metaphor'?? Thank you! P.S. Could you help with finding out poems for reading on this site, because I only seem to be able to get audios, not texts. By the way, you mentioned Heaney's Underground, has anybody read heaney's Midtermbreak? At first read, it seems 'weirdly moving'. Then looking more closely tells this is because sadness is not on the surface in the poem, its hidden somewhere beneath the young boy's naiveness, this is crafty.(I'm still searching for Underground)

Sujata Bhatt at 13 Feb 2007 - 09:28 PM

Dear Talha, I'd like to respond to William and Katy first, then post the poem of the day, and then I'll get back to you. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 13 Feb 2007 - 10:22 PM

Dear William, I'm glad you enjoyed Simic's poem. That's a brilliant connection you made, between Larkin's HIGH WINDOWS and Simic's IN THE LIBRARY! I re-read both poems together as well, following you. I agree, sometimes one can read a few ordinary, prose-like lines in a poem and still experience a certain intensity. Of course, there's no recipe! Libraries are magical places-- or can be! Yes, it's amazing how much inflection and tone of voice determines the meaning of a poem! (I agree, I think there is more wonder than cynicism in Simic's tone.) Also, notice Simic's accent: American interwoven with 'old Yugoslavian'. Oh yes, like you, I was also struck by how he compares the angels to flies. You've illuminated IN THE LIBRARY very well! What did you think of the other Simic poems on the Poetry Archive site? ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 13 Feb 2007 - 10:47 PM

Hello Katy! I'm glad that at least you can listen to the poems on your father's computer. I've been following all the links you made between Greenlaw and Heaney, and Armitage and Ferlinghetti. Excellent groupings! I don't know what sort of clocks Simic is referring to in THE CLOCKS OF THE DEAD. I imagined a clunky metallic one with a loud tick-tock and a very loud rrring. I've enjoyed re-reading all the poems you discuss. And of course, during each reading of the poem one can perceive something different. Sorry, this sounds simplistic! But I think you know what I mean. I'm afraid I'll have to interrupt for now, but will continue writing to you tomorrow. Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 13 Feb 2007 - 10:54 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR TUESDAY, 13TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Not Waving But Drowning', by Stevie Smith. She has a very long (and fascinating) introduction to this short poem! Thanks---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 14 Feb 2007 - 11:34 AM

Katy, to continue: About readings: yes, I am disappointed if I hear a poem being 'poorly' read by its author. I don't know why some poets deflate/destroy their work this way. I don't mean that everyone should develop a flamboyant style, however when some writers read it sounds as if they are bored with their own work. Perhaps, it's cultural, and also I think some writers believe it's more 'cool' to read 'blankly'. Yes, you're right, probably the political correctness aspect in his poem, 'You're Beautiful' results in the speaker/Armitage making no rules for what is beautiful and what is ugly. Yes, 'half rhyme', (as you quote from Wiki.) is a term used to refer to consonance, where the final consonants of the stressed syllables agree (but the vowels differ). Half rhyme can also refer to assonance, in which the stressed vowels of the words agree but the consonants don't. Such as 'climb and 'underline' which you mention--although there is the 'l' sound here. (Or another one: 'current' and 'shudder') And yes, I think half rhyme or slant rhyme can be more exciting, and can contain more surprises for the reader than full rhyme can. To move on to Greenlaw's BLUE FIELD: one thing I like about her 'negative analogy' is that the things she claims the blue is NOT are nonetheless imagined by the reader, so in the following lines: ...NO IRIS OR ARTERY.../NO SLATE, PLUM, OIL-SPILL OR GUN/...NO DUCK EGG OR MILK JUG...NO INDIGO, OCTOPUS INK, the word 'no' is not strong enough to remove the colours evoked by her list of objects. So one pictures 'duck egg' before the mind realises it has to delete the image. Another example(not from her poem) is the word 'treeless': here one pictures a tree first before one obliterates it as 'less' instructs the mind to do. Greenlaw's method of describing this unusual colour in BLUE FIELD is wonderful. For it is only through comparisons with the known that the reader can begin to imagine the unknown. Yes, I agree, Greenlaw's ending in BLUE FIELD is unsettling and the speaker seems intent on keeping her identity separate from the blue void. I agree, her unusual juxtapositioning of the words DISTANCE and DISTANT calls more attention to these words and makes the reader focus on (and even question?) their meanings. And yes, as you point out, Greenlaw's closure in this poem is reminiscent of Heaney's closure in STORM ON THE ISLAND. I found a correct reproduction of Heaney's poem on the following website (which also has some poems by Ted Hughes): www.hayinart.com/001409.html (The poem is in Heaney's first book, DEATH OF A NATURALIST.) About Simic and 'time'. Well, TIME is a vast subject, as you know! At the end of Simic's THE CLOCKS OF THE DEAD, the speaker seems to have a premonition of his own death. In the sense that the quietness is described (by the speaker's wife) to be LIKE THE CLOCKS OF THE DEAD. And then it feels as if suddenly they have entered the land of the dead where the speaker hears the snow falling in his (probably dead) grandmother's childhood. The poem is full of superstition and death: midnight, graveyard, Charon's boat-- and the speaker projects his own fears onto the clock. I enjoy the leaping surrealistic quality in much of Simic's work. It took me some time to re-enter Ferlinghett's San Francisco after being immersed in poems by all the above mentioned poets. TWO SCAVENGERS IN A TRUCK, TWO BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IN A MERCEDES was first published in 1979 in Ferlinghetti's book 'Landscapes of Living and Dying' and it was republished in 2001, in his book San Francisco Poems'. It has been reproduced with all sorts of mistakes on the web. For one thing, (in the correct form) the lines are not all flush against the left hand margin, but 'float' all over the page. Katy, I can see how you connect it to both Simic's THE CLOCKS OF THE DEAD and Armitage's YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL. Bravo! Regarding German poetry: I agree, I think I had also suggested starting with Brecht. I hope your work is going well! Do write again! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 14 Feb 2007 - 11:38 AM

Katy, to continue: About readings: yes, I am disappointed if I hear a poem being 'poorly' read by its author. I don't know why some poets deflate/destroy their work this way. I don't mean that everyone should develop a flamboyant style, however when some writers read it sounds as if they are bored with their own work. Perhaps, it's cultural, and also I think some writers believe it's more 'cool' to read 'blankly'. Yes, you're right, probably the political correctness aspect in his poem, 'You're Beautiful' results in the speaker/Armitage making no rules for what is beautiful and what is ugly. Yes, 'half rhyme', (as you quote from Wiki.) is a term used to refer to consonance, where the final consonants of the stressed syllables agree (but the vowels differ). Half rhyme can also refer to assonance, in which the stressed vowels of the words agree but the consonants don't. Such as 'climb and 'underline' which you mention--although there is the 'l' sound here. (Or another one: 'current' and 'shudder') And yes, I think half rhyme or slant rhyme can be more exciting, and can contain more surprises for the reader than full rhyme can. To move on to Greenlaw's BLUE FIELD: one thing I like about her 'negative analogy' is that the things she claims the blue is NOT are nonetheless imagined by the reader, so in the following lines: ...NO IRIS OR ARTERY.../NO SLATE, PLUM, OIL-SPILL OR GUN/...NO DUCK EGG OR MILK JUG...NO INDIGO, OCTOPUS INK, the word 'no' is not strong enough to remove the colours evoked by her list of objects. So one pictures 'duck egg' before the mind realises it has to delete the image. Another example(not from her poem) is the word 'treeless': here one pictures a tree first before one obliterates it as 'less' instructs the mind to do. Greenlaw's method of describing this unusual colour in BLUE FIELD is wonderful. For it is only through comparisons with the known that the reader can begin to imagine the unknown. Yes, I agree, Greenlaw's ending in BLUE FIELD is unsettling and the speaker seems intent on keeping her identity separate from the blue void. I agree, her unusual juxtapositioning of the words DISTANCE and DISTANT calls more attention to these words and makes the reader focus on (and even question?) their meanings. And yes, as you point out, Greenlaw's closure in this poem is reminiscent of Heaney's closure in STORM ON THE ISLAND. I found a correct reproduction of Heaney's poem on the following website (which also has some poems by Ted Hughes): www.hayinart.com/001409.html (The poem is in Heaney's first book, DEATH OF A NATURALIST.) About Simic and 'time'. Well, TIME is a vast subject, as you know! At the end of Simic's THE CLOCKS OF THE DEAD, the speaker seems to have a premonition of his own death. In the sense that the quietness is described (by the speaker's wife) to be LIKE THE CLOCKS OF THE DEAD. And then it feels as if suddenly they have entered the land of the dead where the speaker hears the snow falling in his (probably dead) grandmother's childhood. The poem is full of superstition and death: midnight, graveyard, Charon's boat-- and the speaker projects his own fears onto the clock. I enjoy the leaping surrealistic quality in much of Simic's work. It took me some time to re-enter Ferlinghetti's San Francisco after being immersed in poems by all the above mentioned poets. TWO SCAVENGERS IN A TRUCK, TWO BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IN A MERCEDES was first published in 1979 in Ferlinghetti's book 'Landscapes of Living and Dying' and it was republished in 2001, in his book San Francisco Poems'. It has been reproduced with all sorts of mistakes on the web. For one thing, (in the correct form) the lines are not all flush against the left hand margin, but 'float' all over the page. Katy, I can see how you connect it to both Simic's THE CLOCKS OF THE DEAD and Armitage's YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL. Bravo! Regarding German poetry: I agree, I think I had also suggested starting with Brecht. I hope your work is going well! Do write again! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 14 Feb 2007 - 12:05 PM

Hello again, Talha, in order to READ the poems on this site you should click on the yellow letters 'read' which appear on the right hand side of the poems, and not on the poem title which is connected to the audio symbol. If you click on 'read' you will automatically also get the audio. Regarding your question about the lines: '...I have thought so much/but have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor', I meant that I wanted to portray the girl without compromising her in any way. I simply wanted to give a 'picture' of her without having this 'picture' turn into a symbol for something else. I respected the girl and had been intrigued by her when I was a child, and so I wanted to convey that to the reader without reducing or distorting her (the girl's) 'being' in any way. I hope this makes sense. Seamus Heaney's poem MID-TERM BREAK is incredibly powerful . You're right Talha, it is 'crafty'. Has anyone else read it? And would anyone like to comment on it? Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 14 Feb 2007 - 12:53 PM

TWO POEMS OF THE DAY FOR WEDNESDAY, 14TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Flowers' by Wendy Cope. And then, read and listen to 'Siren Song' by Margaret Atwood. As you all know, today is Valentines Day. How do you feel about it? I mean do you find the whole concept silly and annoying or do you think of it as something important? Do you expect or hope that something spectacular will happen to you today simply because it's Valentines Day? Or do you want to run away and hide from everyone who celebrates it? I know we have discussed 'love' and valentine poems by Fuller and Duffy etc. Bob Dylan has a large number of great love songs. I'd like to suggest one by Tom Waits: BLUE VALENTINE. The lyrics can be found on the following site: www.officialtomwaits.com/music/m_bv_lyr.htm#Blue_Valentines Does anyone else have poems or songs they'd like to suggest? Later today I will try to start the 'new' chapter/section to this blog. Thanks! ---Sujata Bhatt

Fiete at 15 Feb 2007 - 01:14 AM

Hey, this is great you're mentioning Tom Waits again. And 'Blue Valentine' is one of my all time favourites. By the way: Do you know Gertrude Stein's 'A Valentine for Sherwood Anderson'? A crazy piece of prose. Or is it poetry? Or prose-poetry? Or poetry-prose? Sometimes I wonder where prose ends and where poetry begins or vice versa. However, it's well worth reading. I greatly enjoyed listening to that poem you suggested by Stevie Smith. I didn't know it before. As a matter of fact I didn't even know the author. But now you really have set me on the trail. Strangely enough that 'not-waving-but-drowning'-poem reminds me of a real situation I once experienced in the South of Spain. Nothing really happened - but I saw this person waving to his family like hell and they all waved back. When that man finally had made it out of the water he yelled at his wife and his three little piglet-like children. I think he had some kind of a cramp and was blaming them for just ignoring him, or not taking him serious. But it was him who made a fool of himself. Well, I'm sorry, but I thought that's funny that the poem kind of corresponds with one of my experiences. Maybe sometimes such are the poems which really mean most to us. The ones in which our own experience is mirrored? - How's the list with your most important poets coming on? Your Juke Box?

laws at 15 Feb 2007 - 03:40 AM

im studying a poem of yours called "a different history". can u please tell me what it is about?(in detail) i need it for my upcoming exams,thnx

Sujata Bhatt at 15 Feb 2007 - 04:51 PM

Hello Fiete and laws, thanks for writing. I will reply to laws first and then later get back to you, Fiete. laws, I'm sorry I don't interpret or 'explain' my own poems. And I'm afraid your question is too general. If you had some questions about specific words or lines in the poem, I might be able to answer those. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 15 Feb 2007 - 11:00 PM

Hello again, Fiete. I'm glad you liked the Stevie Smith poem! Thanks for sharing some of your travel experiences with us. (It's good to know nothing happened to that man you described.) Yes, I agree, poems which reflect or voice our experiences on some deeper level are ones we tend to identify with. You could probably write another poem in response to Stevie Smith! It's been a long time since I've read Gertrude Stein's A VALENTINE FOR SHERWOOD ANDERSON. You're right, she does have some 'crazy prose'. And yes, in her work the boundaries between prose and poetry (and 'meaning') are blurred. For those who are interested: you can read more about Gertrude Stein on the website of the Academy of American Poets. I didn't find her valentine text on the web, only a recording on the following site: www.ubu.com/sound/stein.html Fiete, I'm still working on my 'Juke Box' list of poets. Actually, I think I'll have more than one list! I'll post it next week. Do write again! And continue listening to Tom Waits! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 15 Feb 2007 - 11:03 PM

Hello again, Fiete. I'm glad you liked the Stevie Smith poem! Thanks for sharing some of your travel experiences with us. (It's good to know nothing happened to that man you described.) Yes, I agree, poems which reflect or voice our experiences on some deeper level are ones we tend to identify with. You could probably write another poem in response to Stevie Smith! It's been a long time since I've read Gertrude Stein's A VALENTINE TO SHERWOOD ANDERSON. You're right, she does have some 'crazy prose'. And yes, in her work the boundaries between prose and poetry (and 'meaning') are blurred. For those who are interested: you can read more about Gertrude Stein on the website of the Academy of American Poets. I didn't find her valentine text on the web, only a recording on the following site: www.ubu.com/sound/stein.html Fiete, I'm still working on my 'Juke Box' list of poets. Actually, I think I'll have more than one list! I'll post it next week. Do write again! And continue listening to Tom Waits! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 15 Feb 2007 - 11:09 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR THURSDAY, 15TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Shantung' by Denise Riley. Her poem 'Oleanna', (also on the Poetry Archive site) reminds me a bit of Gertrude Stein's style. But only a bit. Riley clearly has her own voice. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 16 Feb 2007 - 08:24 AM

TWO POEMS OF THE DAY FOR FRIDAY, 16TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Pipistrelles' by Kathleen Jamie. And then listen to 'Bats' Ultrasound' by Les Murray. So? What do you think? In a few hours I shall be departing for Dublin, and so tomorrow I'll continue writing to you from there. Meanwhile, I hope someone else writes too! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 17 Feb 2007 - 08:49 PM

Greetings from Dublin! I hope you are all well and thriving. Yesterday, the Irish poet and translator Pearse Hutchinson celebrated his 80th birthday. Many friends and fellow writers (and musicians) were present last night at the Instituto Cervantes to launch a broadsheet in his honour. Among those present were the writer Philip Casey and the musician Tony MacMahon. Do check out their websites: www.philipcasey.com www.irishwriters-online.com www.irishliteraryrevival.com and www.macmahon.ie In fact, I have the great honour to be with them right now. Otherwise, the day was sunny, I wandered through many famous streets, and had a chance to explore a few bookshops. How are all of you faring? Have you had a chance to read any of the poems I suggested? For today I've chosen a poem which I'm uncertain about. I mean, I like the idea behind the poem but I'm not convinced that it really works. So here goes: POEM OF THE DAY FOR SATURDAY, 17TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Lost Woman' by Patricia Beer. What do you think? Thanks. Sujata Bhatt

Lois E Hunter at 17 Feb 2007 - 09:39 PM

Thank you Sujata for your most interesting and informative quests that you set up each day. I just wanted to say to you that I am sure there is a huge silent audience following your daily letters, but, like me, they don’t feel they know enough to contribute an intelligent reply. Wondering along your pre-set trails I take notes, add my own, try things out, and altogether I am thoroughly enjoying this learning experience. ..Lois ( New Zealand)

Lois E Hunter at 17 Feb 2007 - 09:39 PM

Thank you Sujata for your most interesting and informative quests that you set up each day. I just wanted to say to you that I am sure there is a huge silent audience following your daily letters, but, like me, they don’t feel they know enough to contribute an intelligent reply. Wondering along your pre-set trails I take notes, add my own, try things out, and altogether I am thoroughly enjoying this learning experience. ..Lois ( New Zealand)

Sujata Bhatt at 18 Feb 2007 - 07:52 PM

Dear Lois, thank you so much for your uplifting message! Please don't doubt or underestimate your abilities! I'm sure your personal thoughts and impressions regarding the poems we've been discussing or mentioning are interesting (and intelligent). At least I would be curious to know what you think! In any case, I'm glad you're enjoying this blog! Walking by Yeats' house (here in Dublin)today inspired me to choose the following for THE POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY 18TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' by William Butler Yeats. I believe we are incredibly lucky to have this recording on the Poetry Archive site! Thanks.---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 18 Feb 2007 - 07:54 PM

Dear Lois, thank you so much for your uplifting message! Please don't doubt or underestimate your abilities! I'm sure your personal thoughts and impressions regarding the poems we've been discussing or mentioning are interesting (and intelligent). At least I would be curious to know what you think! In any case, I'm glad you're enjoying this blog! Walking by Yeats' house (here in Dublin) today inspired me to choose the following for THE POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY 18TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' by William Butler Yeats. I believe we are incredibly lucky to have this recording on the Poetry Archive site! Thanks.---Sujata Bhatt

H at 19 Feb 2007 - 01:02 AM

Wow, that Yeats' reading is a corker. I think there's some Browning on the archive with a similarly declamatory style. I don't think any poet today could get away with reading like that! (what does that say - are we stuck in a rut with poetry shunning its performative roots/nature?) There are some great lines in there and some masterful use of repetition and attention to cadence. I like 'I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree'; 'And live alone in the bee-loud glade'; 'evening full of the linnet's wings' - cracking lines, but with a full-on lyricism that you'd be lucky to get away with now. 'peace dropping slow' is good and reminds me of 'and it was very heaven' and 'do not go gentle into that good night' as other really successful grammatical 'errors'. I do think the poem still works in 2007 despite the unashamed lyricism and the use of hyperbaton; though I don't think any poetry magazine would touch it with a barge pole if it were submitted. One criticism I have would be the poor last line - a really clunky, cheesy rhyme. I'm willing to be carried along by the rest of it, but I hope that even in 1892 I would not have been convinced by that final line! I'm very interested by the way people start poems. When you sit down to write a poem it's very typical to open with a third or first person description (generally visualised), or remembering/asking if the reader remembers X. Beginning lines can get pretty formulaic or just unexciting - syntactically and conceptually. It struck me that 'I will go arise and go now' is an arresting start. The openers from modern poets that catch my eye tend to be more deliberately bathetic, or just idiomatic phrases that you would never think of or have the courage to use at the start of a poem. Somehow when you come across them, though, they seem very very fresh. Just picked up David Constantine at random and some of these openers have some life: 'Yes, that is the door...'; 'It was never enough to...'. Muldoon at random: 'For what it's worth..'; 'Be that as it may..'; 'The thing is, when...'; 'Though not before I'd...'; 'How about that?' You really have to see it on the page as a poem to see/feel the effect. I'm very aware that this list just looks like a sequence of rather banal phrases, but I'll try and find the poems on the web and put up a link.

Sujata Bhatt at 19 Feb 2007 - 12:39 PM

Dear H, I'm glad you enjoyed the Yeats poem! I love his passionate reading style here. I think it suits the poem. (Yes, there is a Browning recording on the Poetry Archive site, but the sound quality is very poor. Nonetheless one can get a feel for Browning's equally extravagent performance.) Well, nowadays there are poets from Africa, Asia and Latin America who are dynamic performers of their words. But you're right, in most English speaking countries the poets tend to be more subdued. And audiences (in those places) have also become accustomed to QUIET readings. Maybe English language poets could get away with a bit more performance. I think it could work if it's genuine and fits the poem. So everyone would have to develop their own style--which is obvious, of course. I agree with all your comments regarding the poem and the various lines you quote. I also like AND NOON A PURPLE GLOW. And the poetic diction, such as: AND A SMALL CABIN BUILD THERE. Why is it difficult for poets writing today to get away with Yeats' lyricism? Is it because 'it has already been done before' so it's not fresh anymore? Similarily, one could not get away with using Shakespeare's style today as it would probably sound like a poor imitation. Not to mention that our language has changed so we can't go back to writing like that no matter how much we enjoy listening to older forms of English. H, how would you have ended Yeats' poem? Do you have a stronger last line in mind? In a way, all the sounds (and the imagery) ultimately lead inwards into the 'heart'. But I just wondered whether you thought of something else. That's a great point you make about opening lines. In some poems there are introductory 'throat clearing' lines as openers, (not always necessary) while other poems simply plunge in with little scene setting, and the reader has to find his/her bearings with less help. It seems that increasingly poets have to find lines (openings or endings) which are more shocking/unsettling/or unusual in a dramatic way. (Or maybe it has always been like that for centuries.) Do you think poets will run out of ways to be inventive? Will our language get worn out? Or will the language change further and writers will have to keep up with the changes, and thus will be forced to be inventive. I suppose, certain fields such as SCIENCE continuously offer new vocabularies and experiences for writer/poets so inclined. I'm still in Dublin, so next time I'm in a bookshop I'll look at opening lines in different poems. Of course, I look forward to seeing any poems you can provide links to. Now, for the poem of the day I'll try to start a new chapter. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lois at 20 Feb 2007 - 09:11 PM

Thank you H and Sujata I really enjoyed reading your commentaries on the poem for the day by Yeats. It is always a pleasant surprise when someone else raises the same questions that had been niggling away at your own mind. Opening lines, for me, do set the whole intention of the poem to follow. With so many words written all over our world, including our clothing, how is the poet to capture/seduce the interest of the roaming eye so that it lingers and reads on? And was I also wishful thinking with the rising popularity ( in New Zealand anyway) of singers like Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Bic Runga, Madeleine Peroux that maybe there was a movement back to needing to hear the quieter solo voice again? On reading 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' it immediately brought to mind another poem of yearning to be alone, yet at one with the natural world - 'Sea Fever' by John Masefield, who would have been around 10 years old when Yeats wrote that poem.

Sujata Bhatt at 21 Feb 2007 - 09:35 PM

Hello Lois, I'm glad I noticed your comment on this 'older' section. Thanks for writing again! I will reply to you tomorrow in the 'new' (chapter 2) section. Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lois at 21 Feb 2007 - 10:22 PM

Oh oops Sujata - I do not know how to see the 'new' (chapter 2) section. It is not automatically appearing on my screen. I hope you both return to here and then have a solution...? Regards, Lois.

Adim De at 1 Mar 2007 - 02:57 PM

Hi, me again. I have a presentation to do on Muliebrity on Tuesday and have written a speech and all, I just want to clarify a few things about the poem. Is there any theme to the poem? Is cow dung a theme or smell a theme? How does it affect the poem and Whats the Background of the poem? Thanks! Adim!

Sujata Bhatt at 5 Mar 2007 - 12:09 PM

Hello Adim, I just noticed your entry from the 1st of March now, because all comments at the moment are being posted in the 'Chapter 2, a continuation' section. First of all, if you like, you can scroll back to my comments from the 12th of February at 10:35pm and from the 14th of February at 12:05pm, where you will find some background information in response to Talha's questions. Otherwise, do trust your own feelings and instincts about the poem. There could be various themes. The girl in the poem is quite important, and so is the title of the poem. Think of how the poem affects you. How do the smells make you feel? How important is the information about cow dung for your interpretation of the poem? Good-luck with your presentation! Do write again. But please try to find the 'Chapter 2' section, which should appear if you click on 'Students' on the upper blue bar. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Harold Freedman at 15 Mar 2007 - 12:11 PM

Sujata!Greetings from Amity High School in Woodbridge CT. I was your ninth grade English teacher at Amity and remember you very fondly. For many years I kept a drawing you did of Athena when we were studying Homer's Odyssey. Congratulations on your wonderful career as a poet.

Sujata Bhatt at 15 Mar 2007 - 09:31 PM

Hello Mr. Freedman! I'm glad I checked this older section of the blog. All comments are now being written in the newer 'Chapter 2' section which you can reach by clicking on the blue letters 'Chapter 2--a continuation'. But I'll answer you in this section to avoid confusion. Thank you so much for writing! It's good to hear from you after all these years! I loved your classes and I remember you very fondly too. Yes, I remember that drawing of Athena. I was touched by your desire to keep it. And Homer's Odyssey! Those classes were fantastic. You were the one who also introduced me to Theodore Roethke's poetry. I'll never forget those days! I hope the Poetry Archive website can interest students at Amity High School today. Please do write again if you care to join the discussion in the chapter 2 section. I will try to write to you in a non-blog context, maybe even using snail mail! Thanks again! Best wishes, Sujata

Pooja at 18 Mar 2007 - 12:17 PM

hi... umm..I'm learning one of poems,"Muliebrity" and now we asked to anaylse it.Though the foundation was provided,There seems to be inadequete info on the poem on the net.I am able to understand it and able to pen it down on paper..its just that that i want more adequte info on the poem. Overall,I think that the poem is amazing!!!the way it shows light on the child labour and the way that the girls are not sent for education but instead for work is truly amazing!!

Sujata Bhatt at 18 Mar 2007 - 10:03 PM

Hello Krishna and Pooja, I will reply to you in the 'Chapter 2' section which you can reach by clicking on the blue letters 'Chapter 2--a continuation'. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Neil at 16 Nov 2007 - 09:16 PM

Hi ms Bhatt. its amazing to actually communicate with the poet of the poem you are studying! anyways, like many others here, i too am studying the poem 'Muliebrity' in school for the GCSE's. i find it really interesting, since its very different from what other poets write about. i know you said you won’t analyse your own poem, but can you just tell me what inspired you to write this poem? what was so interesting in this girl, who we see often on the streets of a typical Indian town, that you wrote about her? also, can you tell me the significance of all the different smells and the contrast of the road-dust to the canna lilies. And why are you hesitant to explain her power and greatness to anyone? Why are you unwilling to use her as a metaphor? Ps - the post before this contains links to porn, with viruses embedded in the site. Pls don’t click on any of them!

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