Poet in residence

This term's poet in residence

Sujata Bhatt

Chapter 2: a continuation By Sujata Bhatt
19 Feb 2007 - 12:57 PM

POEM OF THE DAY FOR MONDAY, 19TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'In My Craft or Sullen Art' by Dylan Thomas. I've answered everyone, (most rercently H, and Lois) in the previous section which you can access by clicking on the blue words: 'more from this term's poet in residence' which will appear below this comment. As I mentioned earlier, this second chapter has been started for technical reasons (and is actually a continuation of what we have been discussing before): This way (for now at least) you won't have to scroll down so much to read the most recent comments.

Needless to say, I look forward to hearing more from you! Do any of you enjoy reading travel books or travel poems? Or do you prefer to simply travel? Until soon,I hope.---Sujata Bhatt

143 Comments at the moment

Mahesh RG at 20 Feb 2007 - 07:24 AM

Dear Sujata, I am very happy after reading I got to know that you are Indian born. I am also Indian, I am very proud about you because of your success in English language. I am a Software professional & very much interested in learning English well. Can you tell me the different ways of learning English well.

Sujata Bhatt at 20 Feb 2007 - 11:54 AM

Dear Mahesh, thanks for writing. To answer your question: one of the best ways to learn any language is to read,read, and continue reading! Listening is also helpful-- and of course, conversing with people who are fluent in the language you wish to learn. You could begin by exploring the Poetry Archive site. I find it useful to keep a small notebook to jot down new words, ideas etc. I also enjoy reading the dictionary-- just for fun. Does anyone else have other suggestions for Mahesh? Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 20 Feb 2007 - 12:07 PM

Hello everyone! I'll write more about Yeats and Dublin-- and also simply about Dublin (without Yeats) after I return to Germany. Meanwhile, I'd like to post the POEM OF THE DAY FOR TUESDAY, 20TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Wishing Tree' by Kathleen Jamie. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Katy at 20 Feb 2007 - 03:14 PM

(This is just a quick note - I'll reply fully later!) I've been reading and listening to some of Fried on his site, and also some of Brecht's love poems this afternoon, but I'm really trying to find some in bilingual book form - I'll have to keep searching, but that way it would be better because I could make notes on my own books, and it'd also help me learn more of the German -- I worry my understanding is very limited because I don't know the nuances of the language enough! But Fried seems very lyrical? There are many repetitions with little altercations, it is quite simple, playful language. The second stanza of 'Was weh tut' is similar to Greenlaw's description of what the blue is not, as you say, they are 'nonetheless imagined by the reader'. I think this is important - we need something to ground our visual mind with, images to travel between when intangibles are thrown in. In a way it makes me appreciate English differently to how I would perhaps if I was just reading English - I'm not really sure how to try and explain, but it makes me look at the language differently, to compare it, evaluate it against the others. One thing that really struck me about Fried's readings was how I could listen to them so many times - more than I could with English - the sounds entertain me themselves, the fall and rise of the lines, the stress etc - it really is a good way to enjoy readings more! Last night I was reading some Baudelaire, which I got from the library, and having a copy but without being able to scribble notes in it was extremely frustrating! I am one of those annoying readers who has to underline, make notes, stick post-its in, etc - I wonder whether anyone else reading feels a compulsion to do this? It is amazing how when you read in a foreign language all sorts of new connections are made - very exciting - there is a French song, 'Maudie' by Thomas Fersen which has the line 'Maudie est folle' repeated, which began playing in my head when I was reading 'Le Vampire', simply because of the similar sound of the words 'Maudite' and 'Maudie'... and there was something I copied out to see what you thought. It is a Baudelaire quote, from one of his three prefaces to 'Flowers of Evil'. It reminded me of when you said 'I'm sorry I don't interpret or 'explain' my own poems.' I'm sure you'll see why: 'Do we display all the rags, the paint, the pulleys, the chains, the alterations, the scribbled-over proof sheets, in short all the horrors that make up the sanctuary of art?' His use of 'horror' surprised me - why is it a horror, if it is to make up a 'sanctuary', the thing he calls art?

Sujata Bhatt at 21 Feb 2007 - 10:02 PM

Hello Katy, thanks for your 'quick note'! I will reply to you in more detail tomorrow. Lois, I will also respond to your comments (from Feb. 20th in the 'old section') in this new 'chapter 2' section. Well, today was Auden's big day. I wonder whether James Fenton had a party for his 'Poet of the Century'? You can read about Auden on the site of the Academy of American poets. And one of his (Auden's) most famous poems, 'In Memory of W.B. Yeats' can be found at the following address: www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544 Meanwhile, I've chosen the following for THE POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR WEDNESDAY, 21ST FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Lochan' by Kathleen Jamie. I think there are echoes of Yeats' The Lake Isle of Innisfree' in Jamie's 'Lochan'. What do you think? How do you feel about the 'Kathleen Jamie poems' I've suggested so far? Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lois at 21 Feb 2007 - 10:37 PM

Hello Sujata, this is to let you know that I finally found my way here to Chapter 2 via Google :-)

Lou Beck at 22 Feb 2007 - 04:58 PM

Hello Sujata. I haven't written again after my first comment, but I have always followed the discussion. Today, however, I would like to join in with a suggestion to Mahesh from India who wrote recently. I suppose you wouldn't do this yourself, but I would like to recommend to Mahesh to read one of your poems on this site which has left a very strong and lasting impression on me. It's called 'A Different History' and it deals with India and the language issue. I believe it is a great political poem, too (coming back to an earlier topic of discussions here). Too bad you only have 3 poems on the web site. I suppose there's more on your CD, or is there? Can one buy it at Tower's? Please let me know. Bye for now, Lou P.S. I wonder why the 'writer in residence' still isn't mentioned on the starting page of this site. I think that really needs to be changed. Or are you afraid that too many readers would bother you?

Sujata Bhatt at 22 Feb 2007 - 08:56 PM

Hello everyone! Lois, I'm relieved you found this 'chapeter 2' section of the blog. Thanks for letting me know. Lou, it's good to hear from you again! First, I'd like to post the poem of the day and then I'll begin answering you separately. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 22 Feb 2007 - 08:59 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR THURSDAY, 22ND FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'A Gull' by Edwin Morgan. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 22 Feb 2007 - 10:36 PM

Dear Katy, you've been very busy reading (and listening to) Brecht, Fried and Baudelaire! It sounds like you're enjoying it! It takes time to learn all the nuances and emotional connotations in a language. Yes, Fried can be lyrical but his work is also very aphoristic and full of word games, and yes, playful as you say. That's an excellent observation you make about the similarity between Fried's 'Was weh tut' and Greenlaw's 'Blue Field'. Another Fried poem (a famous one) along those lines is 'Was es ist'. Have you read it? The first stanza goes as follows: Es ist Unsinn/sagt die Vernunft/Es ist was es ist/sagt die Liebe There's no punctuation in the entire poem. I agree, often it's helpful to have a bilingual edition. When I was younger I used to write into my books but then at some point I started taking notes in separate notebooks. Yes, I believe one learns more about one's own language when one studies another language. And yes, it's funny how the 'unusual' or 'alien' sounds in another language can be more pleasing to the ear. Is that because sometimes while hearing a foreign language we are more aware of sound than meaning? Fried is also an excellent reader of his work. I think to some extent one's perception of the world is altered whenever one begins to learn another language. The images, metaphors and idioms can vary so much--which is, of course, obvious but it can be exciting when one experiences it as you are doing right now with German and French. I like Maudie-Maudite, a bit crazy with the meanings but that's how the mind works! I haven't read any Baudelaire in ages. But now I feel inspired to do so again. Thanks for the quotation! I like it. What does he mean by the 'horror'? It seems as if he is embarrassed by all the background notes and raw drafts that come before the polished version. On the one hand, the art or the poem is a sanctuary, on the other hand, all that led up to the creation of it is a 'horror'. He seems to imply that 'life', 'emotions' and 'experiences' are all a 'horror', and that once he gains control over them through his art, then he has created a sanctuary. Or maybe he means that until his art is a true reflection of whatever he wants to communicate or express, it is somehow a 'horror' because it's inadequate. He could also mean that until the poem is a 'being' in its own right, it is a horror, as it is incomplete. Horror also seems to imply failure. Well, he makes the process of creating something sound terrible! And that is a bit strange because I know many artists/writers who are sad when the painting/manuscript is complete and there's nothing more to do. These artists live for the 'horror' of the process! I also believe that it's impossible to paraphrase a poem and do justice to it. And also since a poem operates on so many levels simultaneously, one can never truly finish 'explaining' it. And, oh yes, going back to what you said earlier: I agree, the mind needs something 'known' with which it can try to grasp the 'unknown'. (Maybe I already said that earlier while discussing Greenlaw?) I've started reading Fried again too! Thanks for your enthusiasm which is inspiring! Until next time. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 22 Feb 2007 - 10:51 PM

Dear Lois and Lou, I'm afraid I'll have to continue writing to you tomorrow, as it's getting late for me. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 23 Feb 2007 - 05:06 PM

Hello Lois, thanks for reminding me of John Masefield's poem 'Sea Fever'. For those who are interested, I found 'Sea Fever' on a site at the following address: www.bluepete.com/Literature/Poetry/MasefieldSea Fever.htm You're right, Lois, there's a strong echo of Yeats' 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' in 'Sea Fever'. That's interesting what you say about the quieter solo voice in music becoming more popular in New Zealand. I wonder whether there was always such a movement (desiring the quiet solo voice) in music, but perhaps that movement has grown stronger today. What sort of music do you like? Which of the musicians that you mention do you prefer? Or do you like all of them? I think it is amazing how people from completely different backgrounds and cultures can have the same response to certain poems or songs or even films. Do write again! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 23 Feb 2007 - 05:30 PM

Dear Lou, thanks for your generous comments regarding 'A Different History'. Well, due to copyright regulations, all the writers on the Poetry Archive site have about twelve minutes of recorded poetry which is available online. All the CDs, of course, are much longer. Unfortunately, Tower Records and other megastores don't carry the Poetry Archive CDs! As you will see, the CDs can be purchased online through the Poetry Book Society. Well, next time I'm in one of those huge music stores, I'll ask if they carry any poetry CDs. And they'll probably think I'm totally mad! Lou, I have no control over how the Poetry Archive site is organised. But I agree, it would be helpful to have a link from the homepage to this writer in residence blog. I'll mention it to the moderator. No, I'm not afraid of 'too many readers' participating! On the contrary, it would be nice if more people logged in! Thanks again. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 23 Feb 2007 - 06:03 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR FRIDAY, 23RD FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Poem from a Three Year Old' by Brendan Kennelly. I hope you're able to listen to this poem: it makes all the difference! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lou Beck at 24 Feb 2007 - 11:23 AM

Thank you, Sujata. It is indeed very difficult to find Poetry on CD. A couple of years ago I was very lucky to discover a series entitled THE VOICE OF THE POET published by Random Hse Audio Book (NYC). Beautifully edited, the CD comes with a miniature book in a plastic container. So far I have managed to afford those of W.H. Auden, Frank O'Hara (fantastic!!!!) and Adrienne Rich. I think they cost around 30 dollars each, Canadian dollars, I mean. That's about 20 dollars US. Expensive enough - but not too expensive for what you get. I really enjoy poetry on CD. Sometimes I even go bicycling through rush hour traffic listening to Frank O'Hara full blast. Yes, I know, one shouldn't but then again. Cheers, Lou

Fiete at 24 Feb 2007 - 05:33 PM

Jesus Christ, Lou! Be careful. Frank O'Hara was run over and killed by a beach-buggy. And he didn't even wear ear-phones at that time. Watch out, man. Fiete

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Feb 2007 - 06:45 PM

Hello Lou, Frank O'Hara is wonderful! But, as Fiete says, do be careful as you bicycle through rush hour traffic! Thanks for telling us about THE VOICE OF THE POET series, it sounds good: a CD with a book! Meanwhile, I found a site where one can listen to a few Frank O'Hara poems. The address is: www.frankohara.org/audio.html Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Feb 2007 - 06:50 PM

TWO POEMS OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SATURDAY, 24TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Hyena' by Edwin Morgan. And then, read and listen to 'Fox' by Adrienne Rich. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lois at 24 Feb 2007 - 11:38 PM

Hello Sujata. First, thank you for including the link to where there was a copy of Masefield's poem, 'Sea Fever'. Yes I agree how amazing it is that the arts are able to stretch across so many different backgrounds and cultures, poetry in particular for me, with song coming as a close second. But I admit I found it unusual listening to Auden's poems being translated into song to celebrate it being a 100 years since his birth - I am not sure it worked for me. With the wonders of the Internet instantly accessing other countries and cultures, the following link was sent by a fellow New Zealander of this BBC program http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/noscript.shtml?/radio/aod/artsdrama.shtml?radio3/sundayfeat180207 ( I hope that link travels safely).

Lois at 24 Feb 2007 - 11:41 PM

Hello Sujata again. What a week of thinking after the poems you suggested! Did I see a pattern in the recommendations you made? If I may start back to the poems of Kathleen Jamie; yes I hear the echoes of Yeats, 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' also in her 'Lochan'. What I like about Kathleen Jamie's poems, 'Pipistrelles' and 'The Wishing Tree' is the truthfulness of what she is saying, of her standing there observing, being a good witnesser and showing us something wondrous that we may have rushed past, too busy to see and value. Was it the contrast of looking versus listening you wanted to show us by suggesting Brendan Kennelly with 'Poem from a Three Year Old'? I am not sure Kennelly is truthful though, a lot of adjusting to what may have been said, but it is a lot of fun and a new way of writing while introducing the serious underlying questions of youth and age. Even on listening to him, I hear more the poet's concern about death than the voice that is supposedly from the child, while I'm also allowing (and enjoying) that he is telling a good yarn. 'The Gull' by Edwin Morgan was initially of looking also and then his mind started to look around and to ask questions and out of that came a story-telling of what may be the truth about the gull on his window-ledge. The mind talking made his experience richer. And then, well! I read his 'Hyena'. Goodness gracious, if I was a child I would not like to hear that as a dramatic bedtime story. The adult overhearing may hear the poet has something he is saying underneath and using the Hyena as an analogy of Africa? Are we listening? And then you have finally given us Adrienne Rich with 'Fox'. For me this poem is obscure and I find her talking to herself, for herself and I may, if I wish, catch glimpses of what she means and recognise similar feelings in myself, but if I do does she care? I don't think so.

Lou Beck at 25 Feb 2007 - 09:25 AM

Thank you Sujata and Fiete for worrying about my safety. At least I'm not reading books while going about on my bike. L.

Sujata Bhatt at 25 Feb 2007 - 11:23 PM

Hello Lois, thanks so much for your messages! I've spent the day listening to various programmes about Auden (all previously broadcast on BBC radio). I started with the one you mentioned, and then got carried away! I also re-read the poems you discussed. So now I'm prepared to answer you! But I'll do that tomorrow, as it's getting late over here. Meanwhile, I would still like to suggest a POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY, 25TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'St. Kevin and the Blackbird' by Seamus Heaney. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Katy at 26 Feb 2007 - 08:26 PM

Hi SB, thank you for your suggestions -- they lead me to investigate! I've had a look at 'Was es ist': I think the lack of punctuation aids the poem -- it seems more impulsive, more instinctive somehow - and also more personal, like we are hearing his unedited (probably the wrong word, but maybe you will understand?) thoughts. Do you think that by the time we reach the end, because we are expecting 'Es ist was es ist/ sagt die Liebe', it loses some of its impact -- or, that the sentiment is only further solidified? I like the way the different emotions are personified, it helps the character of the poem to be imagined, and makes the emotions sound more forceful/ argumentative. Hmmm - I currently do both -- I really ought to devise some sort of a system of collecting/ organising my notes - it would make me less hesitant to scribble thoughts down were I to know that they would be safe, and I would know which notebook they were in. Anyway, I digress! I think so, when I first heard the 'umarmen' it amused me for ages -- maybe because I cannot imagine ever using the literal translation of that in English! Like how the French for toes is 'fingers of the foot' - the alteration in perception which you talk about is something that fascinates me - it is what I find so very addictive about delving into another language -- or even being submerged in the sounds of another language which one perhaps does not even know at all! And I do really think 'addictive' is the apt word here! Is there any Baudelaire which you would recommend particularly? Do you have any favourites? As I say, I've not read a lot, I've only just begun! It's interesting that you say the control leads him to a sanctuary -- which reminds me of tidying/ rearranging my bedroom, deciding where to place things. I suppose it is that same element of choice and excercising it. Perhaps he feels that he dislikes being uncontent with an unfinished work (arguably, nothing is ever 'finished', with the different takes on art with which history will inevitably bring, but still) being shown, that it is somehow a nakedness/ vulnerability? Yes, I understand what you say about the different levels, and also, it takes away the discovery of the poem -- the self-discovery, which is, I reckon, a lot what it's all about! (I think you mentioned something similar to that when discussing Greenlaw-) Oh, and the other reply did actually begin life as a 'quick note', but evolved as you saw! I hope you don't think this an awkward question, I am just simply curious: how do you alternate between the languages you speak and those around you? (This comes partially from reading your poem for the GCSE set text, 'Search For My Tongue', where you say 'but overnight while I dream') It intrigues me: the last, and second time I was in Germany I began sometimes dreaming in German - yet I could not know enough to understand it, despite hearing the sounds, recognising the words! A bizzarre experience!

Sujata Bhatt at 26 Feb 2007 - 10:16 PM

Hello again, Lois, I'm sorry I've had some unexpected developments today which prevented me from writing to you but I will very soon! Katy, it's good to hear from you again! I'll write to you soon as well. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 26 Feb 2007 - 10:19 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR MONDAY, 26TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'You, Reader' by Billy Collins. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lois at 27 Feb 2007 - 04:02 AM

Hello Sujata I am grinning at your reply ( 25th Feb) to your following Auden through the articles on the BBC - I also find that this is both one of the gifts and the drawbacks of the Internet when one finds a link and that leads to another and yet another, and it is all so interesting that 2 hours (did I say only 2 hours?) have gone by in a blink! I went on a similarly long journey after reading that unusual and multi-layered poem St Kevin and the Blackbird by Seamus Heaney. And found, yes there was a St Kevin who is reputed to have done this. So I am also to discover you have recommended a poem with a lot of questions and who is going to answer? The latest is Billy Collins with his poem About the Poet. I am wanting to call this poem a conversational interaction with the reader, such as may be had over breakfast and in passing he says a quirky comment that one recalls later in the day and thinks further on. So many different approaches that these poets took to convey something he /she thinks is important to say. I had not been previously aware of, or thought about, the choice of the poet's approach so seriously before and how it affects the reader and the reading. Thank you very much for that.

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Feb 2007 - 09:57 PM

Hello everyone! Lois, I'll post the poem of the day and then I'll continue responding to your comments. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR TUESDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Gun' by Vicki Feaver. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 28 Feb 2007 - 12:13 AM

Dear Lois, going back to Auden being musically celebrated on the BBC: The programme I listened to is called 'Expressing your Affection--W.H. Auden's poems interwoven with musical settings by Britten, Berkeley, Henze, and Bernstein. And the internet link that worked for me is www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/feature/pip/zmyaw Well, I have to agree with you, I was a bit disoriented by listening to Auden's poems sung by others! It didn't really work for me. I prefer listening to Auden reciting his own work. Maybe if I had never heard Auden's voice or if there were no recordings of Auden, then I might have been more receptive to hearing the poems set to music? But then again, some years ago I listened to a CD of Rilke's poems set to music--and somehow it also felt false, although there are no recordings of Rilke's voice for comparison. To move on to Kathleeen Jamie: I agree with you when you say that she is 'truthful' in her witnessing. She is so deeply honest and sincere that the reader is swept along with her emotions. Her poem, 'The Wishing Tree' begins quietly, and then suddenly we have: TO LOOK AT ME/THROUGH A SMIRR OF RAIN/IS TO TASTE THE IRON/IN YOUR OWN BLOOD Jamie's poem with a tree as the speaker made me think of Denise Levertov's poem, 'A Tree telling of Orpheus' in which a tree is the narrator. The two poems are very different and mainly share the concept of talking trees. For those who are interested, you can read the Levertov poem at the following site: http://caliban.lbl.gov/a_tree_telling_of_orpheus.html (It's weird but this address doesn't contain the 'www.') Levertov, like Jamie is great at observing and witnessing the finer, easy to miss details. I hadn't thought of the looking vs. listening aspects to the different poems and poets. But that's a good point you make. Again, I have to agree with you regarding Kennelly: 'Poem from a Three Year Old' struck a false note with me. A three year old would scoff at someone who thought people had 'petals'! From my experience of three year olds, I feel they don't really have a concept/understanding of old age or death. But who does? (This excludes three year olds who live in war zones or in other traumatic conditions.) I can't imagine a three year old saying: DO YOU THROW OLD PEOPLE OUT?/ and later in the poem: WHO WILL BRING NEW FLOWERS/THAT WILL NOT HANG THEIR HEADS/LIKE TIRED OLD PEOPLE WANTING SLEEP? Especially not a three year old who has a wonderful relationship with his/her grandparents! But then again, maybe Kennelly intended to rework a child's comment about 'throwing old things out'. This reworking of a child's voice with an adult's knowledge doesn't succeed for me. Again, it sounds fake to me and that prevents me from fully enjoying the poem. Although I like his idea and what he seems to be striving for. Edwin Morgan's 'Hyena', on the other hand, sounds more like a child! Especially in lines such as: I AM WAITING FOR YOU./WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ME?/DO YOU LIKE MY SONG?/ And even: /I HOWL MY SONG TO THE MOON-UP IT GOES/ (which made me laugh and think of a child). This hyena could even be a part of the Winnie the Pooh crowd. But the tone shifts in the last stanza: I AM WAITING/FOR THE FOOT TO SLIDE/FOR THE HEART TO SEIZE...(etc.)...MY PLACE IS TO PICK YOU CLEAN/AND LEAVE YOUR BONES TO THE WIND. Morgan's gull also appears to be a harbinger of death: PERHAPS HE WAS A MUTATION, A SUPERGULL./PERHAPS HE WAS, INSTEAD, A VISITATION/WHICH ONLY USED THAT TIGHT FIRM FORWARD BODY/TO BRING THE WASTE AND DREAD OF OPEN WATERS,/ and then the last lines: /WHO WOULD BE NEXT FOR THOSE EYES,/I WONDERED, AND WERE THEY READY, AND IN ORDER? The speakers in Morgan's poems seem more authentic (and even seem to be addressing children). Again this truthfulness element pulls the reader in. Both the gull and the hyena are frightening! I agree, too scary for bedtime poems! Now what about Adrienne Rich's 'Fox'? I find your comments interesting. Yes, maybe the speaker in 'Fox' is completely self-absorbed. Your feeling that the speaker in Rich's poem doesn't care about the reader or anyone else made me think a lot about Rich's work in general. Are her speakers/voices distant and uncaring? Some critics believe there is a thread of dogma in her work. Is that a fair perception? Well, I will continue with 'Fox' tomorrow! And then I'll answer you, Katy. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

fiete at 28 Feb 2007 - 12:55 PM

Sujata, you're asking about Rich's 'Fox' again. You know what happened to me as a kind of reflex when I read it and listened to her poem? I immediately had to think of Jimi Hendrix's 'Foxy Lady' which begins as follows: 'Foxy / Foxy / You know you're a cute little heartbreaker / Foxy / You know you're a sweet little lovemaker / Foxy / I wanna take you home / ' etc. Well, it certainly isn't anything like poetry on the paper. But the way he sings it - there's surely more poetry, longing and desire in it than in Adrienne Rich's performance. That's what I think. F.

Sujata Bhatt at 28 Feb 2007 - 10:51 PM

Hello Fiete, thanks for writing! Yes, I can see how the word 'fox' leads one to think of 'foxy'. I do enjoy many of Jimi Hendrix's songs, (and his music) but I think Adrienne Rich can be powerful in her own way too! A fox poem also automatically makes me think of Ted Hughes's 'The Thought-Fox', which again is completely different from Hendrix's and Rich's work. Any other thoughts about 'Fox'? Right now I'd like to post the poem of the day and then I'm sorry but I will have to continue tomorrow--with Adrienne Rich. POEM OF THE DAY FOR WEDNESDAY, 28TH FEBRUARY, 2007: Read and listen to 'Ted Hughes is Elvis Presley' by Ian McMillan. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

H at 1 Mar 2007 - 03:29 AM

Wow, it's hard to keep up with you all! It seems I have a serious case of insomnia, but having not read half the poems of the day/night my comments are going to be somewhat restricted. Lou - thanks so much for mentioning that audio CD series. I noticed that Auden and Lowell are on there, which is really exciting as I haven't found them online (and this site hasn't got them on board yet). Fiete - Waits, Dylan, Hendrix... great taste in music. Katy - what a legend! Doing GCSEs but already chewing up Baudelaire, Rilke and co. I'd say read Spleen et Ideal, which is the first section of Les Fleurs du Mal. (If you've read Eliot, you'll recognise random lines). Also have a look at his prose poems in Le Spleen de Paris. Both are on the net. Baudelaire is always held up as a master, but dig into Rimbaud and he'll blow you away. He wrote poetry from the ages of 16 to 21 and then abandoned life and literature in France to sell guns in Africa, dying very young. Baudelaire's Gothic thing looks jaded beside Rimbaud's 'visionary' poetry. If you want to look at contemporary French poetry, then Yves Bonnefoy is the towering colossus, and people like Saint-John Perse are worth a look.

Sujata Bhatt at 1 Mar 2007 - 09:17 PM

Hello H, thanks for joining in again! Hello everyone! First of all, I'd like to post the poem of the day, and then I will continue. So: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR THURSDAY, 1ST MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'I Dream I'm the Death of Orpheus' by Adrienne Rich. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 2 Mar 2007 - 12:10 AM

Hello again Lois, Fiete and anyone else who may be following FOX (by Adrienne Rich). Well Fiete, I suppose poets can't really compete with musicians such as Hendrix et. al. (When I was young, I listened to a lot of Hendrix.) In any case, here are a few impressions about FOX. Speaking of opening lines H, it's interesting how Rich plunges right in with: I NEEDED FOX BADLY I NEEDED/A VIXEN FOR THE LONG TIME NONE HAD COME NEAR ME/ (There's no punctuation in the entire poem.) There's no introduction, no clue as to why the speaker needs 'fox'. There is a relentless urgency reflected in the repetition: I NEEDED RECOGNITION FROM A/TRIANGULATED FACE/....I NEEDED HISTORY OF FOX/...I WAS IN WANT OF FOX/ I find it interesting that the speaker is referring to some time period in the past as opposed to the present. As if she (somehow I just assumed that the speaker is female) were recalling a time of distress, a time when she needed some sort of 'special nourishment' as desperately as someone deprived of food and water for a long time. It seems as if the speaker needs to be in touch with her composite 'animal-spirit-nature-being', her inner self which is also animal, I think. (I mean, it is for the speaker.) And for some reason, not revealed to the reader, the speaker has lost touch with this 'fox-aspect'. In other words, (to drastically simplify it) the speaker seems to want to be sort of like Tarzan, (a female Tarzan, but not Jane): someone 'recognised' and understood by wild animals, and someone who could in turn understand and 'speak' to those animals. In other words, a human being who is one and complete with 'Nature'. Rich doesn't make it all sound cosy or easy. On the contrary, there is violence and desperation connected, as always, to survival. So, the speaker continues: ...SHARP TRUTH/DISTRESSING SURFACES OF FUR/LACERATED SKIN CALLING LEGEND INTO ACCOUNT/A VIXEN'S COURAGE IN VIXEN TERMS/ And then, the last stanza makes the leap back into our earth's history: FOR A HUMAN ANIMAL TO CALL FOR HELP/ON ANOTHER ANIMAL/IS THE MOST RIVEN THE MOST REVOLTED CRY ON EARTH/COME A LONG WAY DOWN/GO BACK FAR ENOUGH IT MEANS TEARING AND TORN/...(etc.) But then the last three lines are intriguing: BACK FAR ENOUGH IT BLURTS/INTO THE BIRTH-YELL OF THE YET-TO-BE HUMAN CHILD/PUSHED OUT OF A FEMALE/THE YET-TO-BE WOMAN Who is the yet-to-be human child and who is the yet-to-be woman? At this point, I think the speaker is referring to our 'not quite human' ancestors or predecessors: perhaps Homo habilus or Homo ergaster? Or is she going all the way back to Australopithecus afarensis? I mean, a newborn human infant is already (from a biological perspective) human. (Culture is something else.) And a human female who gives birth (is usually) a woman. (I don't think Rich is writing about a young girl giving birth.) The speaker seems to be imagining a time in our collective past when the 'yet-to-be human' species lived WITH other species in more 'harmony'. At least she implies that they 'helped' one another. And so a 'human animal' today calling for help 'on another animal' does so out of a shared intense historical past. (Here, somehow I felt the 'other animal' belongs to another species...I may be wrong.) So ultimately, perhaps the speaker's need for 'fox', and need for recognition from a 'vixen' is supposed to be a natural emotion arising out of some primordial urge. On another level, it seems to be a very visceral manifestation of collective memory. Again and again, what struck me is how the imagery in this poem is so implacable and harsh: AND THE TRUTH OF BRIARS SHE HAD TO HAVE RUN THROUGH/I CRAVED TO FEEL ON HER PELT/ So one wonders how attaining 'fox' will 'help' the speaker. Perhaps, (and actually this is clear) the speaker doesn't want to be helped (or consoled or pacified) in any conventional way, but instead, wants to live in a heightened agitated/alert 'fox-like' state. Well, how does the reader feel about this? The speaker's emotions are so intense, even brutal in the way desire for 'fox' is expressed, so some readers may feel outside this experience. But maybe other readers have felt similar desires or needs and can relate to the poem--in a way that can't be easily paraphrased! The speaker is far away in her own world, so to speak, and it's up to the reader to find that world or that experience. I think the poem is powerful and shocking and mysterious, and yes, confusing in the sense that the 'meanings' are blurred. But I hope I haven't confused you more! Any other impressions? Lois, I'll get back to you about Billy Collins and Seamus Heaney. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 2 Mar 2007 - 01:01 AM

Hi Katy, sorry for being so slow! First of all, do follow H's advice regarding Baudelaire, Rimbaud and contemporary French poetry. H, thanks for being so helpful! I had read Les Fleurs du Mal ages ago--but I don't own the book. Of course, as H points out, it's all on the net, but still sometimes it's nicer to sit with a book! I feel that I need to re-read Les Fleurs du Mal! And Rimbaud--what a life! I need to re-read his work as well. (Once upon a time, I used to be able to read French. Maybe I could begin again by drawing on my passive knowledge.) Katy, I've been thinking a lot about living with different languages, in connection to your questions and observations. During the past few days I've been composing answers to you in my mind! But I'll have to end for now and so will continue writing to you tomorrow. (Also about the Fried poem.) H, I have some information regarding another Lowell CD. Again, more details tomorrow! I hope you're able to sleep tonight. It's already Friday! So until later today! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lois at 2 Mar 2007 - 02:00 AM

Hello Sujata, thank you for that lovely long reply, there was so much to think about from that, and it has taken me on quite a journey before answering. I was interested (and relieved too) to hear that I was not the only one that found poems put into songs by others, and it can feel false to you also. Then I went to look at Denise Levertov’s poem, A Tree Telling of Orpheus and was blown away! I thought it was not only an amazing poem, but I had come across a poem of hers years ago ( I cannot remember which one now) and had disliked it so much I had not looked for any more of her poetry. What a pleasure I had been missing. At http://www.poemhunter.com/ I was able to not only read the whole poem but also read another 56 of her poems and download them all as one free e-book. It has taken me a while to realise that different editors collecting poets for anthologies, can prefer entirely different styles of poems from the same poet. For this same reason, that I may have been turning away too quickly, I went looking a lot wider on the poems of Adrienne Rich. I have to remember to put her back in the context of the nineteen sixties. The decade of the first release of the contraceptive pill and the rainbow selection of prescription pills of uppers and downers, with a medical profession eager to prescribe them. What a head-mess both this sudden new sexual freedom and the accompanying chemical mixture brought to so many women! Her poem the Death of Orpheus I take to be in part of how she as a woman is now freed to be a recognised/valued poet. It will take a little while for the male poet-gods to realise their days of power are on the wane so the women still have to move with care….To quote her: A woman feeling the fullness of her powers at the precise moment when she must not use them…. ( apologies for lack of quote marks - if I put in quote marks I find they change to something else when I post this and italics do not travel either) . I find I have to choose the right day to read her; it depends a lot on my mood. PS and just as I went to paste this to your post I found your next letter about the Fox and that is so fascinating to look at it from your point of view I am going back to have another look, but before that I think I’ll escape to the garden and put my hands in the soil for a while. Thank you Sujata.

Sujata Bhatt at 2 Mar 2007 - 08:37 PM

Hello Lois, thanks for your response! Hello everyone, hope you are all thriving. Well, I ended up not getting much sleep last night! I was absorbed in Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Rich. So I will answer everyone after I'm more rested. Meanwhile, here is THE POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR FRIDAY, 2ND MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Brendon Gallacher' by Jackie Kay. ---Thanks. Sujata Bhatt

Fiete at 3 Mar 2007 - 12:04 AM

Re. 'foxy lady' again: I wonder what Freud would have said regarding Rich's image 'triangulated face'. Did you know, by the way, that in Irish folklore it is said that foxes once upon a time were introduced into Irleand as dogs by the Danes / Vikings? And that there is the belief that foxes gather when certain people die? What ever! I like it how animals manage to creep into poems. I think it would be pretty easy and at the same time quite a daring task to put together an anthology about animals in poems. Or in songs. Am I right if I say that quite a number of animals are being kept in your personal 'zoo of poems', too ('Monkey Shadows' e.g.). How are you doing for foxes? Cheers, Fiete

Lou Beck at 3 Mar 2007 - 09:41 AM

Are you getting carried away, Fiete? I mean: The face of a fox is the face of a fox. Or is it?

Fiete at 3 Mar 2007 - 12:39 PM

What do mean, Lou, by 'carried away'? I just rang a friend of mine who happens to be an expert on all things Freudian. He says that the triangular face symbolises the 'vagina dentata'. Which, combined with the imagined bushy tail of a fox makes it quite an explosive mix by Freudian terms. The female and the male all in one. Now top that! Fiete

Katy at 3 Mar 2007 - 02:24 PM

(I have found some bilingual editions! Blackwell's proved successful! I'll write more later, as I'm going out very soon... )

Sujata Bhatt at 3 Mar 2007 - 04:41 PM

Fiete, Lou, Katy--Hello and thanks for writing! Katy, I'm glad you found some bilingual editions. I'm curious to know which ones. I'll also write to you later since I'll be going out this evening. (And don't have much time at the moment.) Fiete what you say is very true. There is indeed a strong undercurrent of sexuality within Adrienne Rich's poem, 'Fox', which inevitably explodes or to quote her, '...blurts/ into the birth-yell...' Lou, I think sometimes the face of a fox can be more than the face of a fox. Although the fox/vixen Rich conjures up is meant to be, (I believe) at the same time, 'just a real fox'. In many of her poems, Rich is quite frank about her private life and her own sexuality. Also, as Lois writes, one has to look at Rich in the context of the 1960s. Fiete, that's interesting what you say about Irish folklore. I wasn't aware of that. So that's the next topic I'll have to do some research in! Yes, I do like 'animal poems' too. Has any editor/publisher come out with an anthology of animal poems recently? I wonder. The topic seems so obvious considering the amount of poems dealing with animals or birds or reptiles. No, I haven't written anything about foxes. I tend to have monkeys or lizards (and a variety of other creatures), but never foxes, in my 'animal poems'. I'll interrupt to post today's poem now and then will continue later. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SATURDAY, 3RD MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Oatmeal' by Galway Kinnell. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 3 Mar 2007 - 04:44 PM

Fiete, Lou, Katy--Hello and thanks for writing! Katy, I'm glad you found some bilingual editions. I'm curious to know which ones. I'll also write to you later since I'll be going out this evening. (And don't have much time at the moment.) Fiete what you say is very true. There is indeed a strong undercurrent of sexuality within Adrienne Rich's poem, 'Fox', which inevitably explodes or to quote her, '...blurts/ into the birth-yell...' Lou, I think sometimes the face of a fox can be more than the face of a fox. Although the fox/vixen Rich conjures up is meant to be, (I believe) at the same time, 'just a real fox'. In many of her poems, Rich is quite frank about her private life and her own sexuality. Also, as Lois writes, one has to look at Rich in the context of the 1960s. Fiete, that's interesting what you say about Irish folklore. I wasn't aware of that. So that's the next topic I'll have to do some research in! Yes, I do like 'animal poems' too. Has any editor/publisher come out with an anthology of animal poems recently? I wonder. The topic seems so obvious considering the amount of poems dealing with animals or birds or reptiles. No, I haven't written anything about foxes. I tend to have monkeys or lizards (and a variety of other creatures), but never foxes, in my 'animal poems'. I'll interrupt to post today's poem now and then will continue later. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SATURDAY, 3RD MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Oatmeal' by Galway Kinnell. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Fiete at 3 Mar 2007 - 11:52 PM

Now this is strange, Sujata: I just wanted to check out some of your 'animal poems' about monkeys or lizards - but what did I find googling along? On the track list of your poetry archive CD they mention a poem called 'The Fox and the Angel'. Unfortunately I couldn't find the text on the net - but it certainly makes me curious. Did you forget your own poem? What would Freud say about that? (Yes, Lou, I get carried away easily.) And, by the way, when I googled the title 'The Fox and the Angle' I discovered a link to a Jewish folk-tale about the fox and the angel of death. A very touching story, by the way. And yes: I just listened to Kinnell's 'Oatmeal'. Very funny. Thank you for that choice. I remember listening to one of his poems about a couple making love when suddenly they hear the footsteps of their child. Also a funny poem. And a touching one at the same time. Will try to find a link and post it here. Meanwhile: Have a nice Sunday, folks. Fiete

Fiete at 4 Mar 2007 - 12:14 AM

Ok, I found it. The poem is called 'After Making Love We Hear Footsteps'. And it's on the track list of his poetry archive CD. One can read it here: www.poemhunter.com

Lois at 4 Mar 2007 - 12:27 AM

Fiete that was interesting what you said about the fox in Irish folklore. Thank you for that. I enjoy collecting odd bits of information like that. We do not have foxes (or snakes) in New Zealand and I have never seen a live one, not even in a zoo. One of my chat friends who lives in the UK writes to me about a fox that visits his garden. After the most interesting follow-up post on 2nd Mar about the fox poem, from Sujata, I gave in and spent a while with Google going through all I could find about Adrienne Rich and after that I have to presume she was using fox as a private analogy for those in the know. But though I initially found the poem obscure I guess it can stand alone, without the reader knowing of the writer and her life.

Lois at 4 Mar 2007 - 12:32 AM

It must be marvellous to be able to understand more than one language. I often feel that my tongue has to remain two dimensional by only speaking one. A few years ago I spent some weeks in the city library studying particular poems as they were translated by different poets and realised they had understood the subtlety of the poem in completely different ways even in a word for word translation. And to add to that: I asked of a South American to hear some poems of Rimbaud in their original Spanish, and found tears were just running down my face ( and I'm not a tearful sort of person) even though I did not know what the poems were about. Maybe it was her emotion to be speaking her native language I received? Maybe a creation in words (whatever their language) can carry the emotion across boundaries on their hearing, like music does? What do you think?

Lois at 4 Mar 2007 - 12:58 AM

Hello Sujata. I don't really answer in the middle of the night, it is my being in a different time zone. I am never going to get my head out of this computer, which is another way to say how much I am enjoying and learning by your blog. If only I would keep to the poem you suggest but Jackie Kay and her poem Brendon Gallacher, which I really enjoyed (as she has, to my mind, a truthful sound of a young person's voice and experience) and this poem with its rhythms and repetitions had me reading all her archived poems plus her interview on the same site. And then remembering what I learnt by searching out Adrienne Rich, I Googled further. What an interesting life to draw upon for her writing. I found Jackie saying, to quote: Once I have a voice, I usually can find a way to write it. I am interested in the border country that exists between fact and fiction, reality and the imagination. re Galway Kinnell and his poem Oatmeal. For me it was as heavy as his porridge. (sorry Fiete I did not find it funny, smart maybe). I much prefer Billy Collins and his You, Reader, over the breakfast table that was suggested some days back.

William at 4 Mar 2007 - 01:22 AM

Poetry in translation is an interesting thing; some would say impossible because with poetry the choice of words is of the utmost importance and the poet has agonised over exactly what goes where. That's not to say that prose is sloppy writing, just that the words are more of a vehicle for narrative and less of an end in themselves. The combination of the formal structure; the deliberate phonetic effects of rhyme, alliteration, assonance; puns, the double meanings one word has in English that it wouldn't have in French, say; and on top of all that you have to convey idiomatically the basic meaning itself! I've looked very briefly at some Shakespeare in French and this particular translation Gallicised him by using Alexandrines instead of iambic pentameter. I suppose it's justified because the Alexandrine is the cultural equivalent of pentameter in France because that is what is most traditional and suits the language well. And when it comes down to the phrasing, is idiomatic always best, or is it better to preserve a note of foreignness? Why should a foreign text be made to sound like it had been written in your own tongue. There's 'meaning' conveyed by the fact that it is foreign lit, and maybe that's why Lois was so moved by words she did not understand. (on that, Rimbaud was French, so maybe you meant Neruda?)

William at 4 Mar 2007 - 01:26 AM

Do you even have to know the language?! Ezra Pound's translations from Chinese were done with no knowledge of Mandarin. I think he used literal word-for-word translations. OATMEAL To play devil's advocate, is the only thing that makes this a poem the fact that the author put in some token line breaks? Isn't this a nano-story?

Lois at 4 Mar 2007 - 02:40 AM

Thank you William for your comments - yes it would have had to been Neruda as you pointed out. And Ezra Pound in comparison to Arthur Waley and to some of the more modern translators of Chinese poetry such as Robert Bly and R.H Blyth was one of the examples I was thinking of. It took me a while to determine what a nano-story may be, but the Wikipedia tells me nano comes from the Greek for dwarf. (Was nano the signature word Robin Williams used in the Mork and Mindy tv series? That was a big leap of thought! Just kidding).

William at 4 Mar 2007 - 11:57 AM

I'm not sure whether nano story is a widely accepted term, but it was in The Guardian last week as a story that is 1000 words or less - i.e. even shorter than a short story

Katy at 4 Mar 2007 - 02:27 PM

Feite - the poem 'After Making Love We Hear Footsteps' is one which tends to restore my faith in humanity! The descriptions are wonderful - hasn't almost everyone had a pair of pajamas with 'the neck opening so small [they have] to screw them on'! It's in an anthology I have, 'Poem for the day (two)' - this, however, has no index! In looking for the poem I did stumble across one by Brecht, translated, which I hadn't actually realised at the time was by him. Anyhow, I thought you might like to know the notes given on the poem you mentioned: ' Awakened, most probably, by a certain mild commotion coming from the parental bedroom, Fergus, aged six, got out of bed and made his way to our bedside... and said, 'Are you loving and snuffling? May I join?' As the poem recounts, he climbed into bed with us and soon fell asleep... without them [these words] the poem would never have been written.' I have cut bits out, but only because my parents are urging me to get off the computer and I am supposed to be doing art research. I'll write more again later, about the Brecht and what other poems it reminded me of. (Some of which are actually in the same anthology - which I would recommend, although the thing which I really liked about it was the patterns on the cover - a crap reason to buy a book, I know, and especially to admit on here... but not my only reason, I promise!)

Sujata Bhatt at 4 Mar 2007 - 06:43 PM

Hello, Fiete, Lois, William, Katy! Thanks for writing! It's great how you keep the discussion going! Now it's my turn to catch up with you! Before I forget, I want to tell H about another Robert Lowell CD: H, if you go to the site of the Academy of American poets and search for Lowell, on the bottom of the page listing poems by Lowell which one can read on their site there's info. about a CD based on a 1963 reading with John Berrryman. So it's a joint Lowell-Berryman CD introduced by Stanley Kunitz. Also, you can listen to one poem, (by Lowell) 'The Public Garden' on this site. Let me know if you have trouble finding it. Of course, THE VOICE OF THE POET SERIES which Lou told us about sounds very tempting. Until soon, I hope. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 4 Mar 2007 - 09:45 PM

Hello again. Did anyone see the total lunar eclipse last night? Lois, unfortunately, it was not visible in New Zealand, eastern Australia, Japan, Alaska and most of the Pacific. (I found that information on an astrology site.) But the eclipse was clearly visible here in Bremen, Germany. It was amazing and beautiful (and spooky) to see how the moon turned into a shadowy reddish-orange glow. How was it in the UK? I'll post today's poem and then continue answering all of you either later tonight or tomorrow morning (European time)! POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY, 4TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Billie Holiday' by Alison Croggon. And then, read Frank O'Hara's poem 'The Day Lady Died', which you can see at the following link: http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/Frank-OHara/848 I noticed that the yahoo search machine is able to find this address--while google for some reason failed to do so. At least that was the situation with my computer. I'm curious to know what you think of Croggon's poem because I have mixed feelings about it. Also, I was already familiar with Frank O'Hara's poem before I read Croggon. Of course, I'm also curious to know what you think of O'Hara's poem! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

H at 5 Mar 2007 - 12:11 AM

The context of the 60s is less relevant when you consider that Fox was written in 1998. Of course, that's not to deny the feminist standpoint. I find the poem intriguing. It's always 'fox' without an article ('I needed fox'), suggesting some abstraction or hard-to-define quality or set of qualities subsumed into the cipher 'fox', but it's always 'a vixen', concrete (albeit indefinite). I don't recall too well Hughes's set of poems starring 'Crow' (and Crow was more of a name than fox in Rich's poem, although probably a cipher too), but was there something similarly bestial going on? I agree the poem addresses some sort of imagined/real primordial kinship between man and beast. It's a 'human animal' in the final stanza after all. Does the speaker suggest a similarity between a hunted vixen, scarred by thorny briars, and a female human being becoming 'woman' through the act of childbirth? Why else would the speaker want to feel the lacerations and scars if not to commune with/be inspired by 'a vixen's courage in vixen's terms'? Or is the fox scraping through the briar (the rose bush as female genitalia), squeezing through the speaker's hands, like the baby being pushed out...? i.e. fox compared to baby not woman. Then I suppose it's the pristine, bestial 'birth-yell of the yet-to-be human child' (i.e. not capable of speech etc) which is what the speaker thinks she (an adult) is able to feel again by sliding her hands around Fox. But then the feminist implications of 'a vixen's courage in vixens terms' makes no sense. I suppose the poem has a double focus and you don't have to choose - the child becoming human and losing the visceral bestiality of the postnatal moments, and the female becoming woman through a rather distressing (in the real sense) ordeal. And what of this legend?? How does that fit in? I feel my appreciation of the poem is compromised slightly by my constant need to fit poems together like jigsaws where every piece has a meaning within and outside of the poem. There's a definite slipperiness sought and achieved by the poet. It always just escapes my grasp... like a fox! RD=RR (for any Simpsons fans)

H at 5 Mar 2007 - 12:25 AM

PS Thanks so much for that info on Lowell.

H at 5 Mar 2007 - 12:28 AM

Also, don't double click on 'Post your comment' to avoid double entries

Lois at 5 Mar 2007 - 03:39 AM

Hello Sujata. Fortunately I have seen a total lunar eclipse (too many years ago), and I agree it creates quite a spooky feeling and it was certainly a sight I can still bring instantly to mind, including all the smells and sounds around me at the time. I notice you said astrology site rather than an astronomy site, are you also interested in astrology? Well I have spent a good part of the afternoon looking all over the internet at Alison Croggon, and Billie Holliday ( including her song Strange Fruit),and Frank O'Hara, to try and see what Alison may have been alluding to. I do not think I am any wiser, even with making some big leaps in guessing. Some of her poems, like her Owl Songs series, ( found on her website http://www.alisoncroggon.com/ ) sound lovely said aloud but I have no idea what I just read after I have said it. I saw one reviewer that likened her work to a new direction after L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry. I heard a lecture from a NZ poet and professor, who said emphatically that he likes to struggle to find out the meaning of a poem rather than have it all put out on the page in front of him. I'll look forward to hearing how others answer. At this stage I much prefer O'Hara's poem..

Lou Beck at 5 Mar 2007 - 08:43 PM

Yeah! Frank O'Hara, finally. Lovely. In my opinion he is the only poet for whom the word 'cool' applies, 100 % and not the faintest doubt. When I read his words on paper I can hear the sounds of the city all around. I actually put a CD together half O'Hara reading and half Billie singing. My favourite recording is the one she did in (I think) 1953: Billie Holiday at Storyville, Boston. Absolutely beautiful and moving. At her very best. Lou

Sujata Bhatt at 5 Mar 2007 - 11:44 PM

Hello H, Lois and Lou-- thanks for writing. H, sorry about the duplicate entries. (Mine are intentional.) I make so many typing mistakes (as you've probably noticed) that I end up correcting whatever mistakes I notice in the duplicate post. Of course, I try to make sure there aren't any mistakes before I post it. The tiny screen on my laptop probably makes matters worse. But enough! I'll make an effort to be more vigilant! (And will ask the web administrators to make further corrections.) Thanks for the in-depth response to 'Fox'. I looked at the poem again, and will respond to your comments in more detail soon. Lois, I'm glad you've seen a total lunar eclipse before. 'Astrology' was a careless mistake. (Or as Fiete would probably say, a Freudian slip.) I meant 'astronomy' site! I find astrology interesting, but don't follow it seriously. Thanks for responding to Croggon and O'Hara. Gosh! You've been working hard! Thanks for the tip about Croggon's Owl Songs series. I glanced at those poems today but will have to take a closer look. I have a lot more to write to you in response to your various entries and will do so soon! Lou, I'll have to search for my Billie Holiday CDs! Did you read Alison Croggon's poem? And Katy, and William, I haven't forgotten you! I'll begin tomorrow with my long overdue answers to Katy. And now, here's today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR MONDAY, 5TH MARCH 2007: Read and listen to 'The Agave' by J.D. McClatchy. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 6 Mar 2007 - 08:38 PM

Hello everyone! I'll post today's poem and then continue answering you all, beginning with Katy. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR TUESDAY, 6TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Straw Hat & Dusting' by Rita Dove. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 6 Mar 2007 - 08:50 PM

Oh no! As you will see, Rita Dove doesn't use the word 'and' in her title. But unfortunately, this blog doesn't really recognise the ampersand. So, as you probably guessed, written differently, the title is: 'Straw Hat and Dusting'. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 7 Mar 2007 - 05:49 PM

Katy, hello again. Finally! Regarding your question about Erich Fried's poem: I like the repetition of the final 'Es ist was es ist/sagt die Liebe'. I think it strengthens the poem. I also enjoy the personification of the other emotions. And I especially like how 'Liebe' remains calm and unperturbed despite all the fears of the others. It has become a famous poem in the German language. Fried himself was greatly loved and respected in Germany. Regarding words in other languages: Yes, I know what you mean by words such as 'umarmen'! I also like the German words 'Handschuhe' and 'Fruchtwasser'. (For those who don't know German, 'Handschuhe', the word for gloves, literally means hand shoes. And 'Fruchtwasser', literally: fruit water, refers to amniotic fluid. ) The German words feel more immediate and earthy compared to the English. Here's a short poem by the Austrian writer, Ernst Jandl, in which Jandl plays on the meanings and sounds of Handschuhe and gloves. As you will see, Jandl plays (especially) with the sounds and meanings of 'loves' contained within the word 'gloves'. I'll type in the original with slashes to indicate line-breaks. And then I'll type in Michael Hamburger's translation. (It's all in lower case. I'll use an extra 'e' to indicate Umlauts.) Title: a little english 'nie wuerde er dabei/an schuhe fuer die hand denken/kaum je an 'loves', he loves, she loves/auch nicht an 'love', my love, i love you, do you love me?/obwohl, was er tut, wenn er sie ueberstreift/viel mehr an lieben erinnert als die lange reihe/vom berg-bis zum lackschuh, die er fuellt/mit den tieren, die er seine fuesse nennt.' The word spelled 'fuesse' looks like a mess! It is actually written f-u, with an Umlaut-and the penultimate letter is the special German character called/pronounced 'es-zett' representing a double s-e Here is Michael Hamburger's translation of 'a little english' 'never they'd make him think/of shoes for the hand/rarely of loves, he loves, she loves/nor yet of love, my love, i love, do you love me?/although what he does, when he slips them on/reminds him much more of love than the long row/of shoes from patent leather to alpine which he fills/with the animals he calls his feet.' This was an experiment! I mean, on my part, considering the limited technical options on this blog site! TO BE CONTIUED! ---Sujata Bhatt

Fiete at 7 Mar 2007 - 09:49 PM

May I just return to Frank O'Hara for a sec? I wanted to recommend a book but I couldn't find it in my chaotic library. But now I did. David Lehman published a highly readable study called 'The Last Avant-Garde'. In that he deals with the so called 'New York School of Poets' - Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch. If you haven't, friends, do read Kenneth Koch's poems. He may not be as cool as Frankie boy, Lou, but very witty and full of beautifully absurd twists and turns. I think he even had at least one of his books out with your publisher, Sujata. As far as I know he died just two or three years ago. A great poet, I think. All the best, Fiete

Sujata Bhatt at 7 Mar 2007 - 10:06 PM

To continue: Katy, I thought I had made another typing mistake! But then I noticed that in his translation of the line beginning 'auch nicht an...' Hamburger leaves out the 'you' in 'i love you' in the English version of the poem. I wonder why. Perhaps a misprint in the book? The book I refer to is entitled 'Dingfest Thingsure'. It's a bilingual edtion, updated and reissued (in 2006), and beautifully produced by Dedalus Press. In case anyone is interested, the ISBN number is 1-904556-56-6. Jandl is a very difficult poet to translate and it's interesting to see how Hamburger meets the challenge! Here are two other bilingual editions, which I haven't seen, but am planning to order: (Both have been published by Carcanet Press.) One is Baudelaire's Complete Poems, translated by Walter Martin. And the other, entitled, THE NIGHT BEGINS WITH A QUESTION: XXV Austrian Poems 1978-2002, has been edited by Iain Galbraith. Again, I'm curious to see how the poems have been translated. Earlier, I forgot to mention two other German words I've been thinking of as examples of 'earthy', 'immediate' words: Mondfinsternis, literally moon-darkness for the English 'lunar eclipse'. And Sonnenfinsternis, literally sun-darkness for the English 'solar eclipse'. Moving on to your questions about alternating between languages, and dreaming in various languages: Hmmm. I don't know how I alternate, I just do. (My daughter had the same answer.) I find that it gets easier with time. Maybe one's instincts get stronger? Like most children in India, I grew up speaking several languages, so I was never monolingual. Of course, there are days when I'm more in the mood for one language than another. And I do miss the languages I'm not surrounded by. I like to maintain/foster all of them simultaneously--that feels the best to me. I think I actually do feel 'happier' when I'm reading books in English, Gujarati and German at the same time. (And now you've inspired me to refresh my French.) Although, of course, to some extent it has to be one book at a time. Films are also a great way to keep up with languages. About dreams: Yes, that's bizarre, as you say, when one dreams in a language one doesn't know well enough. It has also happened to me. I worried more about losing my 'self' and my 'languages' when I was younger. I wrote 'Search for My Tongue' when I was about twenty-two. As I got older I realised that there are certain things that one simply doesn't lose. And dreams! Dreams in which one seems to possess incredible knowledge and intuition can be so comforting---but also (in retrospect, when one is 'wide awake') confusing and unnerving, it's true. Have you heard of Steven Pinker? He is a Prof. at Harvard who conducts research on language and cognition. I'm fascinated by his work. In his book, 'The Language Instinct', Pinker demonstrates how language and thought are two different things and how thought is not dependent upon language--nor is it determined by language. And that thought is possible without language. And it is only if and when one wants to express thought verbally (as opposed to say, musically or mathematically) that one searches for 'the right words', so to speak. On the one hand, I find that very true if I consider my own experience. I do feel that often I'm transcribing 'thoughts' consisting of sounds and images into words. On the other hand, I can't help feeling that somehow language does influence thought. Nonetheless, I'm enchanted and intrigued by Pinker's work. Watching my daughter learn to speak and cope with several languages has been very interesting. Her first real word (not counting mami and papi) was 'fish' (pronounced the same in German)! To this day, she speaks German with her father and English with me, and constantly leaps back and forth from English to German when we are all together. (When she was two she offered to teach her father English, incorrectly thinking he didn't know any, since he only spoke to her in German!) She has said that at this point the way she uses English and German with us at home has developed into a psychological and emotional issue: it doesn't 'feel right' to her if she addresses her father in English or if she addresses me in German. (She is also studying Spanish and Latin.) Fortunately, from the very beginning she was the sort of child who never objected to learning/speaking more than one language. By the way, have you (or anyone else) found a good bilingual edition of Rimbaud? William, you've made some excellent observations regarding translation. Actually, you've mentioned all the classic dilemmas faced by translators! And Lois, you've written about your experience (in South America) of being deeply moved by listening to poetry despite not knowing the language. I know what you mean. I've had similar experiences. It's uncanny! William and Lois, I'll continue writing in response to your comments soon. But first I'd like to post today's poem. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 7 Mar 2007 - 11:05 PM

Hello Fiete! I saw your entry only after I posted my last one. Thanks for mentioning Kenneth Koch. Another great poet, I agree. For those who are interested: you can read about him on the Academy of American Poets site. He died in 2002. I just read his poem, 'Talking to Patrizia', which is on that site. Yes, it's a good example of the 'beautifully absurd twists and turns' you describe as being typical of Koch's work. The last time I read a lot of Koch's poetry was about seven years ago. Fiete, I'll write more in response to your comments later. And now: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR WEDNESDAY, 7TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Translation Workshop: Grit and Blood' by Kevin Crossley-Holland. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 8 Mar 2007 - 03:03 PM

You're right Fiete, Carcanet has published two collections by Kenneth Koch. They've also published an anthology including all four of the 'New York School of Poets'. Here's today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR THURSDAY, 8TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Rosa' by Rita Dove. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 8 Mar 2007 - 08:56 PM

Hello everyone. Lois, sorry, I made a mistake. You wrote about asking a South American to recite some poetry by (probably) Neruda in the original Spanish. But whether you were in South America was not clear. Sorry! Before I continue with the vast topic of 'translation' (which I think I'll save for tomorrow) I'd like to share two quotations with you. The first is from Yeats: 'I have spent all my life in clearing out of poetry every phrase written for the eye, and bringing all back to syntax that is for the ear alone... 'Write for the ear', I thought, so that you may be instantly understood as when an actor or folk singer stands before an audience.' And the second one is from Frank O'Hara: 'As for measure and other technical apparatus, that's just common sense: if you're going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you. There's nothing metaphysical about it.' Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 9 Mar 2007 - 11:06 AM

Hello everyone! I'll start with today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR FRIDAY, 9TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Grain of Things' by Kevin Crossley-Holland. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lou Beck at 9 Mar 2007 - 11:06 PM

For Frank 0'Hara: But then, Frank, if everyone wants to go to bed with you and suddenly you discover that your pants are so tight you can't get out of them?

Lois at 10 Mar 2007 - 07:12 AM

Hello Sujata and everyone else. I have been away so am running a bit behind. For the poem of 5th March. The Agave by J..D..McClatchy, just did not catch me up at all, but I read a criticism on a blog that re-arranged a couple of poems so that they did not read as a list of rhyming couplets, and I had to agree that, for me, they then improved. 6th March Straw - Hat and Dusting by Rita Dove: I have enjoyed this poet before and it was a pleasure to re-meet her again, even though these poems convey a deep sadness. Oh, I especially liked, to quote:'work is a narrow grief and the music afterwards is like a woman reaching into his chest to spread it around' - And isn't a truth as one does a repetitious chore how the mind wanders over our personal history and a name from the past is finally remembered. Was it by chance we see the locket of ice dissolved and the name Maur-ice? Thank you Sujata for including the English translation by Michael Hamburger and re my hearing Neruda's poems read in Spanish; it was in NZ and it was during a just-by-chance meeting with a visiting professor of Spanish. By the way I recently read the book My Life With Pablo Neruda by Matilde Urrutia , Stanford Univ Pr that was disturbing to read of what they went through, especially in the last days before his death and straight after. With the thought of poets who write in a language I do not know, still in mind it was most interesting to read Kevin Crossley-Holland with his example of translation and wanting to use earth words (real words which also carry a visual image) and later we get to return to him and this theme of real words and a protests for real/honest poems, rather than be untrue so he can become popular -( or become the darling of the blue-rinse circuit is a slang expression we use in NZ) with his poem, The Grain of Things. A poet I am sure I'll want to follow up on. Lou, thank you for that laugh re Frank O'Hara - well said. And William, since you used the word nano-story I have since been meeting the word nano attached to all sorts of words - I just had to become aware of it.

Sujata Bhatt at 10 Mar 2007 - 05:56 PM

Hello everyone! Hello Lou and Lois, thanks very much for writing. Lou, I wish Frank O'Hara could reply to you. Maybe even he would be speechless for once! Yes, thanks for the laugh! Lois, thanks for your response to so many poems! Right now I'd like to post today's poem and then I will try to write more soon. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SATURDAY, 10TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Prayer Before Birth' by Louis MacNeice. In one of his rambling interviews, Bob Dylan said the following: 'I THINK THAT THIS WORLD IS JUST A PASSING THROUGH PLACE AND THAT THE DEAD HAVE EYES AND THAT EVEN THE UNBORN CAN SEE AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT.' Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 11 Mar 2007 - 09:57 PM

Hello everyone! I hope you are all well. I am trying to meet other deadlines at the moment but I hope to write more within the next few days. Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY, 11TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Still Falls the Rain' by Edith Sitwell. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 12 Mar 2007 - 05:09 PM

Greetings! The sun has returned to Bremen and everyone who is able to is doing something outdoors. Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR MONDAY, 12TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'The White Goddess' by Robert Graves. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 13 Mar 2007 - 12:37 PM

Hello everyone! Early this morning I noticed that Sylvia Plath has just been added on to the Poetry Archive site. So of course, this influenced my choice for today's poem. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR TUESDAY, 13TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Parliament Hill Fields' by Sylvia Plath. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 14 Mar 2007 - 10:55 AM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR WEDNESDAY, 14TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Applicant' by Sylvia Plath. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lou Beck at 14 Mar 2007 - 10:32 PM

Can't help it - but I love the line 'naked as paper to start'. I imagine lots of smarties see this as a male chauvinist image. And this is probably how Sylvia wanted it to be understood herself - but I don't care. I simply enjoy to put my pen on the first 'fresh' page of a new notebook. There is something erotic about it. Who of you does agree? Come on, poets! Step out of your closets and talk about your secret relationship with sexy naked paper...

Sujata Bhatt at 15 Mar 2007 - 10:24 PM

Hello Lou, thanks for writing. Wow! So you are a paper lover? Some writers feel intimidated by a blank sheet of paper and like to start doodling on it immediately before they begin 'writing' on it. Anyone else? How do you feel about the 'first fresh page of a new notebook'? I agree, it can be thrilling. And of course, a new notebook always seems full of promise like a new year. To get back to Plath's poem and the line you quote: 'NAKED AS PAPER TO START' Here, Plath continues the poem with the following lines: 'BUT IN TWENTY-FIVE YEARS SHE'LL BE SILVER/IN FIFTY, GOLD./ Obviously, Plath is also referring to wedding anniversaries: gifts made of paper are meant for the first anniversary. (The twenty-fifth anniversary is the 'silver anniversary' and the fiftieth anniversary is the 'golden' one.) One has the image of the 'living doll' (addressed as 'sweetie') as being made of paper or of being paper that turns to silver and then to gold. And yes, there is the implication of the female's 'naked' or virginal, blank paper-like life or 'self' waiting to be written upon by a man. What is frightening is how this 'living doll' is not alive enough to be a 'she', and so is called an 'it'. As in the following lines: 'IT CAN SEW, IT CAN COOK,/IT CAN TALK, TALK, TALK./ Plath's reading is remarkable, and that's an understatement! The controlled fury in her voice is chilling. Any other comments? Do write! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 15 Mar 2007 - 10:48 PM

Hello everyone! I haven't forgotten about the various earlier comments that I still want to respond to! I hope to begin on that tomorrow. Meanwhile, right now I'd like to post today's poem. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR THURSDAY, 15TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Frog Prince' by Stevie Smith. This poem is a very recent addition to the Poetry Archive site. In mid February (or on 13th February, to be precise) when I had posted the other Stevie Smith poem on the Poetry Archive site ('Not Waving but Drowning'), 'The Frog Prince' was not available. So this is wonderful for all Stevie Smith fans! She is also a powerful reader of her work. Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 16 Mar 2007 - 02:57 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR FRIDAY, 16TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Moly' by Thom Gunn. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Fiete at 16 Mar 2007 - 03:56 PM

Unfortunately I couldn't find any voice recordings on the web by one of my favourite poets. So I cannot suggest any sound link which I wanted you all to make use of tomorrow, St. Patrick's Day. However, there are quite a few of his poems to be read. I'm talking about Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) Those among you who do not know of him might know the 'folk song' ON RAGLAN ROAD (as performed by Van the Man & the Chieftains or Luke Kelly of the Dubliners). Paddy Kavanagh actually wrote the original poem. But if you do have a chance: Do read his greatest poem called 'The Great Hunger'. It's quite a poem to stomach, be warned. But it's worth the trouble, indeed. If you are very, very lucky you might be able to get hold of a voice recording he did way back in 1963: ALMOST EVERYTHING - written and spoken by Patrick Kavanagh, originally released as a record by Claddagh Records, Dublin (later as an audio-tape and even later as a CD). And, yeah, it even contains an extract from 'The Great Hunger'. Maybe, after all, there is a sound recording to be found on the web. If you do find something, let me know, please so we can all share the experience. Sorry, Sujata, I hope I didn't interfere with any of your St. Patrick's Day suggestions.

Lou Beck at 17 Mar 2007 - 05:59 PM

Van the Man. Yeah, great. He's a poet himself. He is indeed. Remember ASTRAL WEEKS or, much later, TOO LONG IN EXILE? And I do like Kavanagh. Could find his voice on the web either. Will drink to your health now. Happy Saint Patrick's Day everywhere.

Sujata Bhatt at 17 Mar 2007 - 09:39 PM

Hello Fiete and Lou! Thanks for writing and for sharing your interests with us: Patrick Kavanagh, and 'Van the Man'. I agree, they are both great artists. I hope everyone is having a good St. Patrick's Day. Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SATURDAY, 17TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'From the Irish' by Ian Duhig. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Jo at 18 Mar 2007 - 01:10 AM

Dear Sujata Bhatt,I am a student at a college that has just started learning about your poem 'Muliebrity.'We were told the reasons you used cow dung in your poem, and understood your poem as being a way of showing us a different culture and a different way of living. Is that why you used it? also may i ask if you have used any SEMANTICS in your poem? We were taught what they were but i forgot and i was confused with them anyway. Can you also explain what is your inspiration for your poems and why you pick memories or things yoy have experienced as subjects? Thank you

krishna at 18 Mar 2007 - 03:35 AM

hello this is krishna im a student from new zealaand and im learning about your poem 'muliebrity'. And its about a girl in gugurat i take and my family is from gugrat too but i havn't seen this been happening . but this poem is a wonderfull poem telling the reader how harsh things the girl needs too do. But my question was that why does she do this? We got told that this that it is used for fertiliser and that is normall in india to do this is that the only reson or omething else so they only use it for fertiliser? And i'd just like to say that i speak Gugrati! And when i first saw that we were going to learn about your poem and when i read it i felt really proud or however you;d like to call it that yes indians little children have to do this and its very harsh and its really nice of you to write someting like this so even the people that are not this religion see wat in india and what some people go through.and also have you used semantics and lexical in your poem ? Thanks sujata and best of luck to all the other poems you write . sorry i wrote the comment on chapter one then when i read the comments from others and then read your comments you told them to write it in chapter 2. so i posted this comment on here and one the other chapter thanks!

Katy Murr at 18 Mar 2007 - 06:12 PM

Sorry this reply is so late, Sujata! 'And I especially like how 'Liebe' remains calm and unperturbed despite all the fears of the others.' I do too: the way 'Es ist was es ist/sagt die Liebe' is monosyllabic, bar the final 'Liebe' delights me. Simple use of language, but perhaps this is often best, for otherwise poems can seem cluttered in an awful way. I suppose this poem needs to be simple to express the 'calm', 'unperturbed' feeling of the 'Liebe' which you speak of. 'Handschuhe' is immensely cute (and so very, very German that it makes me grin!); 'Fruchtwasser' strikes me as beautiful, do you not think? To visualise 'fruit water', and think of all the biblical connotations of fruit - 'The German words feel more immediate and earthy compared to the English.' I can only agree Sujata, and it is this immediacy which delights, shocks and amuses me in turn, constantly, whilst I am absorbed in it. Thanks a lot for that poem - you really picked something you knew I would love! The word 'ueberstreift' interests me: could it be possible to read this as 'over tucks'? It's so strange how this gets translated into 'slips on'. As for 'fuesse' - I enjoy saying words like this, if you know what I mean? Ones where you don't have that sound in the language you have to speak all the time, so it seems almost like a treat to be speaking and hearing the language. Or perhaps not? I might just be getting a little over-enthuasiastic! That's peculiar about the 'my love, I love', where it's not 'I love you': I think though, with the punctuation as it is, and such a close relationship physically on the page between the two parts, you would assume that it is 'his love' whom he loves, so that could be why the 'you' is missed out. Yet as it's included in the original, and that is a translation, it seems slightly rude to take it out! Do you think a lot of poets mind others translating their work and making such conscious decisions to 'change' it? I've already ordered some bilingual stuff (Fried! And then two anthologies, one French, one German - I thought perhaps this way was best initially as I could see whom I most enjoy.) What makes you say that Jandl is particularly difficult to translate? (I am not questioning this as such, I just do not know much about translation, and so it interests me as to what the main barriers can be which cause difficulty.) William talked about it earlier, didn't he: I'd assume, that as he says, this difficulty over 'choice of words' being 'of utmost importance' would ring true for all poetry? Although perhaps Jandl 'layers' his poetry more than some? I like those other words too, quite topical when you posted that! My favourite, out of those you've mentioned though, has to be 'Fruchtwasser'! Umm - I suppose as neither of you grew up monolingual (as I have done), then that removes a lot of the problems people have, the rejection of another language, the difficulty in adapting to other grammatical structures, seeing the other languages as a difficulty rather than delight. 'And I do miss the languages I'm not surrounded by' - I wonder whether this can be like dialect and accent, to some lesser extent. For example, I'm from the North, Mancunian, I suppose, but my mum is Geordie, and my dad was from London. Maybe this is something that makes me be more aware of changes in languages because even the accent, the tilt of the words and the sentence were quite different between both parents. You use 'happier' in inverted commas - happier as in more content, more spread out, with more choices? Haha, 'to some extent'. I presume you prefer to have one book on the go, or primarily one book? I do now - I used to have about 6/7 on the go - it got ridiculously complicated, and my thoughts and plotlines all tangled up -my dreams would often compose the stories together, very strange! As in your 'self' being defined to a large extent by your languages, so that by having your languages sort of 'stationary' (rubbish choice of word!), then you felt like your 'self' also was divided and stuck sometimes? (I am running away with my ideas here; please do interject with what you did indeed mean by that.) Nope, not until you mentioned him. I googled quite a bit and he does certainly seem very exciting! (I just got distracted by the weather, had to run round shutting windows: in a single day, we've had great sunlight, torrential rain, snow, then more sunlight, a bit more rain, thunder and lightning, and now crazily fast hailstones! Oh, and more thunder - sorry, that's completely offtopic!) I hope to buy that book, once I've got through what I've just got (recently bought some more novels, and also there's the French and German on the way!) It seems impossible for me to grasp that concept at the moment: to think without language, as a human, is an incredibly strange idea. Maybe when I read the book it'll make more sense. I have to go now, for dinner, but I'll reply more later! (Hope everyone else is surviving crazy weather, if indeed they also have it!)

Katy at 18 Mar 2007 - 07:09 PM

to continue... Maybe language limits thought in a way, or at least we believe it does, and that is enough to limit our thought: so by being unable to express ourselves verbally, we just become frustrated? Hmm - that's interesting that English and German share the pronunciation of your daughter's first words - as if in a struggle to combine the two. I suppose she would then maybe also think of you each in the separate languages, when thinking consciously in language? Either way, that's great to be brought up with so many languages! I found some Rimbaud here: http://www.mag4.net/Rimbaud/Poetry.html , but I don't really know whether the translations are 'good' or not!

Sujata Bhatt at 18 Mar 2007 - 11:54 PM

Hello Jo, Krishna, Pooja (who wrote in the old section) and Katy! Thank you all for writing. Katy it's good to hear from you again! I'll answer Jo, Krishna and Pooja together since you all raised questions about the poem 'Muliebrity', and then I'll get back to you later, Katy. Regarding 'Muliebrity': Pooja, and anyone else who is interested, I had given some background information for this poem earlier in response to Talha's questions. You would have to go back to the old section and read my posts from 12th February at 10:35pm and 14th February at 12:05pm. Otherwise, I believe there is plenty of material within the poem. I also think that the poem is fairly straightforward. And in the end, any reader of any poem (or any other text) has to work with what is there in the poem/text. Often, a vast amount of background information is not entirely necessary or relevant to the poem itself, because the poem has its own life. Once written, it is an object independent of its author, free to be perceived in different ways by different readers. To me it sounds like your teachers have already provided you with sufficient background information. Jo, actually there were no grand 'reasons' or pedagogic motives for writing this poem. I wrote the poem when I was in my early 20's and basically I had written it for 'myself', it was a note to myself. In a way, I always still see it ('Muliebrity') as a verbal photograph, recorded because it was a memory very much 'on my mind' that needed to be written down. Jo, moving on to your questions about why I rely upon memory and experience and 'what is my inspiration' for writing. Big questions! Well most writers use memory and experience to some extent for the simple reason that one can't write about something one doesn't know. For example, if you were writing a poem (or a novel) in which two characters go fishing, you would not be able to do a good job of describing the scene if you didn't know anything about fishing. Many of my poems are imagined or 'fictional' to some extent but there's always an element of experience or knowledge contained within the imaginary dimensions. Muliebrity is more firmly rooted in memory. Inspiration?? Almost anything can inspire me to begin a poem: travel, a film, music, something overheard on a train, a visit to a fish market, etc. Jo and Krishna, you both ask about 'semantics' and Krishna mentions the word 'lexical'. Semantics is a branch of linguistics concerned with the meaning of words, and 'lexical' refers to vocabulary. As you can see, analysis of any written text would involve semantics. Do ask your teachers to explain their usage of these terms. They must have already used terms such as 'diction', 'syntax', 'connotation', 'denotation' etc. Krishna, about the uses of cow dung: dried cow dung is also sold and used as fuel in India. And for centuries in different parts of the world cow dung mixed with mud has been used for building adobe dwellings. Thanks for all of your positive, encouraging comments! And do write again, also about other topics! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 18 Mar 2007 - 11:56 PM

POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 18TH, 2007: Read and listen to 'On Going Deaf' by Anne Stevenson. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 19 Mar 2007 - 12:55 AM

VARIOUS THOUGHTS: Krishna, I forgot to say, thanks very much for making the effort to re-post your comment on this 'Chapter 2' section. Pooja, I hope you found your way to this section. Krishna, for me it's amazing to hear from a student of Gujarati origin (who speaks Gujarati) living in New Zealand! I don't know how poetry is taught in schools today. Of course, a lot depends on the teacher, but I hope that having to learn poems for exams doesn't destroy your relationship with poetry. Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Carmen at 19 Mar 2007 - 05:07 AM

hi im Carmen and I am currently studying your poem 'Muliebrity' at school, it is a very great poem and I have some (alot) of questions about it. I was wondering if you yourself had the job of picking up the cow dung or whether you were an onlooker, our teacher was telling us all the uses for cow dung, and how you as a person might have felt when you saw this girl picking up the cow dung, how did you actually feel? Also how old were you when you saw this happening and how many years or months or whatever later did you write the poem? Was the poem meant to be for your own personal memories or as a poem for others, and what do you think of the poem now that people know about it? thanks for your help Carmen

Jo at 19 Mar 2007 - 05:46 AM

thank you for that, it really did help. but going back to semantics and lexical.. i still dont get it. Well i kind of do but why use them? Have you, yourself, used semantics and lexicals in your poem muliebrity? Also, talking about poems there are many features and techniques used. We are studying your poem in class ( as i have said before) and we have to identify poetic techniques in your poem Muliebrity. now, hearing this im not asking you to give me the answers. I want to know the answers but i want to learn from it. Can you help me identify some or give me an example because in the poem, for me i have not been able to recognise any except for figurative language, dont take this offencively ( if that is how you spell it) as much as i like your poem and the ideas i am still getting used to working on advanced and more mature texts. It would be much appreciated. Thanks again.

krishna at 19 Mar 2007 - 10:45 AM

hey, thanks for the response Sujata. Im just lost for words at the moment i dnon't know what to say but i'll revisit the site when you respond to carmen and jo since they raised good points. Thanks again for writing.

Katy at 19 Mar 2007 - 05:57 PM

If it's OK to return to 'You, Reader', this is a poem which I shall print out and stick on my wall, in some prominent spot. I like the opening, 'I wonder', although this does seem to be cropping up a few too many times in poetry recently - I worry it will become a 'worn' word, yet I suppose as it's not a word ostracised to just poetry, there is hope for it yet. The 'I wonder how' is echoed in tumbling pace of the 'when you find out', sort of looping the opening together, concreting the rhythm/pace, and reminding us of the first line. I like that, it's very clever. When the poem first pivots, it sounds rather like he's won something, with the 'I wrote this instead of you,' then a pause for us to mount our tension, to fall to the blow, 'that it was I who got up early'. As someone who writes, and finds it essential to living, the lines 'but, listen - it was just a matter of time', followed by 'before one of us happened' screams at me: it makes writing, and writing poetry sound so fantastically instinctive! (I love it!) Of course it is intended to scream at me, and I have been ordered to listen, to then be pushed by the punctuation into what I am supposed to be paying attention to. Really beautiful, I must read more of his work! I wonder (ahem...) what other people think of this poem?

JS at 19 Mar 2007 - 06:39 PM

We've had information ahout a POETRY SYMPOSIUM on 22 March, from 2.30pm - 5.00pm at the South Campus, University of Delhi. Invited speakers/poets include Sudeep Sen, Meena Alexander, Keki Daruwalla, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Ruth Vanita. The Symposium has been specially organised to bring together an audience with an active engagement in poetry and creative expression. Kindly reserve your place calling South Campus, phone/fax 25115450. There is no participation fee for the Symposium. Refreshments will be served.

Sujata Bhatt at 19 Mar 2007 - 09:35 PM

Hello everyone! Thanks for writing! I'll begin with today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR MONDAY, 19TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Tempest Avenue' by Ian McMillan. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 19 Mar 2007 - 09:45 PM

Hello Carmen, Jo, Krishna and Pooja (if you're still with us): thanks for your comments and questions regarding 'Muliebrity'. I will write to all of you tomorrow. I must say that I haven't given much thought to this poem in ages! Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 19 Mar 2007 - 10:36 PM

Hello Katy! Thanks for your detailed response to 'You, Reader'. Yes, Billy Collins can be very funny and clever. He's great at this teasing, maddening tone--as you point out. He has another poem entitled 'Dear Reader' which begins: BAUDELAIRE CONSIDERS YOU HIS BROTHER,/AND FIELDING CALLS OUT TO YOU EVERY FEW PARAGRAPHS/AS IF TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NOT CLOSED THE BOOK,/ You can find this poem at the following link: http://www.poems.com/dearread.htm Also, he has more poems on the Academy of American poets site. I agree, one has to be careful with 'I wonder'! I was looking at Jandl again last night and meditating on the beauty of 'Fruchtwasser'. Thanks for the Rimbaud link. Actually, I had come across it earlier but this time I decided to save it on my list of 'bookmarks'. After some googling I realised that two of the translators, Louise Varese and Oliver Bernard, are highly respected. Still, I prefer to have books--so I will try to find Bernard's and Varese's translations in print. I found two more Jandl poems for you that I'll post tomorrow. I'm glad you liked his 'a little english'! I will write to you in more detail soon about languages and translation. To be continued. ---Sujata Bhatt

Iva at 20 Mar 2007 - 06:15 AM

Hello Sujata Bhatt!!! Well I too am studying your poem muliebrity and it's very good. We were analysing it today and we were talking about the expression you used, 'But have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor, for a nice image' that last part, for a nice image, we were discussing this a lot in class and we didn't end up with an answer because many of us were confused. Can you please tell me what you meant with that expression? thanks it means a lot. BYE!

Sujata Bhatt at 20 Mar 2007 - 10:43 PM

Hello Iva, thanks for writing! Hello everyone! I'm afraid I'll need more time to answer you all. Meanwhile here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR TUESDAY, 20TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Urban Lyric' by Elaine Feinstein. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 21 Mar 2007 - 10:13 PM

Greetings. I hope to write more tomorrow. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR WEDNESDAY, 21ST MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Lammas Hireling' by Ian Duhig. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Lois at 22 Mar 2007 - 12:28 AM

Hello Sujata and everyone else. We are in the last days of a 2 week Art Festival in Auckland, New Zealand, and I went and stayed with my daughter to go and see the exhibitions in particular. After our weeks of discussions here about various languages, words and translations, I have had a week of no-words that I was being asked to relate to. Most of the exhibits were very experimental and I stood before them blank and speechless. In contrast, I am home now and with my reading through the past week of daily poems I have come out of the experience rich with an overload of images, words, emotions, information and a definite connection with each artist, and as the write-up said about Elaine Feinsteins poems, AS IF SHE IS TAKING US INTO HER CONFIDENCE; and I am already having a conversation in reply with all of them. Lou I think there are a lot of us who have a love of paper, the colour, the textures, the smell, and do you ensure you are the first to open and smell the new book, the magazine, the newspaper? It is a compulsion with me. I will not even start talking about my collecting of pens.

Katy at 22 Mar 2007 - 06:43 PM

Lois and Lou - I could chime in too, with talk of paper, books, newspapers, and then to pens, post-its, marker pens, different coloured pencils, inks, paints: watercolours which run, thick acrylics which can be built up and almost sculptured into the most fantastic textures... Lois - I am envious of the art exhibitions, it has been a while (a few weeks) since I last went looking at art. And don't you like watching other people looking at art? Or people, students perhaps, drawing from things, and then the young children running round crazily annoying and amusing people...

Sujata Bhatt at 22 Mar 2007 - 10:20 PM

Hello Lois, it's great to have you back! Hello Katy, thanks for joining in again! Yes, Lou, Lois and Katy, beautiful paper and a nice pen can make such a difference! The sensual pleasures of writing and/or painting shouldn't be underestimated! Here's a quotation from U.A. Fanthorpe: 'THE REALLY BASIC THING IS THE PENS. I HAVE THREE PENS; I KEEP THEM IN MY LEFT HAND POCKET, AND THEY'RE ALWAYS THERE BECAUSE IF I HAVEN'T GOT A PEN I'M REALLY LOST.' This reminds me of the joke/saying that when art critics get together they have intense discussions about various theories, but when artists get together they talk about where to buy the best paper, brushes, paints! Yes, like Katy, I envy the art exhibitions you've seen, Lois. But from what you say about feeling blank and speechless while looking at the art, it seems as if you found it difficult to relate to the experimental forms. I'm glad you enjoyed Elaine Feinstein, and the other poets of this past week. Katy, yes, I too like the museum atmosphere you describe so well! Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR THURSDAY, 22ND MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Hare as Witch Animal' by David Harsent. Thanks. (To be continued.) ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 23 Mar 2007 - 08:50 PM

Hello everyone. Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR FRIDAY, 23RD MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Fables--Cutting off One's Ears for Someone Else is Wrong' by Jenny Joseph. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 24 Mar 2007 - 09:30 PM

Greetings. Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SATURDAY, 24TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Watergaw' by Hugh MacDiarmid. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 25 Mar 2007 - 12:17 PM

Hello everyone. After more than a week of 'crazy weather' as described by Katy, now in northern Germany we're having a lovely sunny spell. Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY 25TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Catmint Tea' by Ciaran Carson. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Tenth at 25 Mar 2007 - 01:14 PM

Dear Ms.Bhatt I am a student in Thailand and have studied about Muliebrity for IGCSE Literature Exam. To be honest, I believe it is one of the best poems I have ever read. I have gone through most of the posted questions and answers, but I still do not understand why you "have been unwilling to use her ... for a nice image" if her image was so beautiful. Also, I was asked to think if the smells (road-dust and wet canna lilies ...)are metaphors too. It would be extremely helpful if you can answer my questions. Thank you very much.

kylie at 25 Mar 2007 - 06:28 PM

Hi Sujata my name is Kylie, I'm doing an investigation of you, and you poem "A different history" can you tell me an analysis of your poem, please? here are few question i would like you to answer, it would help me alot.. the tittle and the effect on the poem (A different history)? experience of migration and how it is explored in the poem? experience of the living between culture and its effect in the language of the poem? I would thanks you alot...

Sujata Bhatt at 25 Mar 2007 - 11:55 PM

Dear Tenth, thanks for writing and thanks for your generous comments regarding 'Muliebrity'. I will respond to everyone's questions about that poem soon. Hopefully by 28th March. Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 26 Mar 2007 - 12:25 AM

Hello Kylie, thanks for writing. I'm sorry, I don't analyse my own work; nor can I do your assignment for you. I'm quite sure that your teacher expects you to come up with your own ideas in response to the questions you list. I can only answer very specific questions such as 'who is Pan?' or 'when was the poem written?'. I suggest you read the poem again and focus on what you think about the title and its relation to the poem etc. And then continue to ask yourself what you think about the way migration is presented within the poem. Every reader is free to form their own conclusions. I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say! Thanks again. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 26 Mar 2007 - 01:19 AM

Hello everyone! I'll be travelling later today, so I'll post today's poem now: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR MONDAY, 26TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Her News' by Hugo Williams. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Mar 2007 - 01:23 PM

Greetings from Spain. Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR TUESDAY, 27TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Judith' by Vicki Feaver. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Mar 2007 - 05:48 PM

I have been having some problems with the computers at an internet cafe in this remote town in Andalusia where I'll be for a fortnight. But now I hope it works! To continue with 'Muliebrity': Jo and Krishna, you asked about 'semantics' and 'lexicals'. But the way you (or your teachers?) phrased the question, 'do I use semantics and lexicals in my poem?' makes absolutely no sense. 'Lexical' refers to vocabulary or words, and 'semantics' refers to the meaning of words in language. So in a way, you might as well ask if one uses tea in order to make tea or if one uses water in order to water the flowers. I suggest you go to the links page of the Poetry Archive site and scroll down until you find the heading, 'Glossary of poetic terms', click on those blue letters to explore that useful site. 'Muliebrity' contains some alliteration, assonance and consonance. For example, 'dung/dust' is an instance of alliteration and assonance. I'm sure you will be able to find more examples. For some reason, I can't go back to check my entry on this computer so I just hope there are no typing mistakes! In any case, I hope this helps. And you must ask your teachers to clarify their terminology, and to explain whatever you didn't understand. Thanks. To be continued. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Mar 2007 - 06:46 PM

Carmen, to continue with your questions regarding 'Muliebrity': I was the observer, not the one who collected cow dung. The poem draws on my experiences as a child. I was nine and ten during the time period when I used to see this particular girl. I believe she was also my age, nine or ten. So, we were equals in a sense. I suppose this information is quite important for one's interpretation of the poem, but I left it out because the focus is on the girl, not on the speaker. However, during the past week I have thought about this quite a bit and have even wondered whether I could write a second poem on this subject from another perspective in which the speaker's age could be mentioned. What did I think at that time when I saw her? Well, very briefly, I was impressed by the speed and skill with which she gathered cow dung. I had seen all sorts of people collect cow dung so it was a 'normal' activity in my opinion. I did not consider her to be an object of pity although I knew that her life was more difficult than mine. There was something special about her, and I've tried to express that in the poem. This poem, like all of my work was written primarily for myself. I wrote the poem twelve years after the experience. You ask, what do I think of the poem now that other people know about it. Well, in a sense it feels weird that this poem is not only published, and therefore 'known', but also 'studied' by students all over the world. It is indeed ironic if I consider my circumstances when I wrote it. But then again, every poem has a private, uncertain beginning. On one level, it's difficult for me to judge my work. Mostly, I take it for granted, so I tend to have a neutral reaction to my published poems. Of course, it's always gratifying if a poem succeeds or if others can understand or appreciate what one is trying to say. I hope you're still there somewhere and that my comments are useful. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 27 Mar 2007 - 07:05 PM

Iva and Tenth, both of you have asked what is meant by the speaker's unwillingness 'to use the girl for a nice image'. What I meant was that I did not want to misrepresent or reduce or distort the girl in any way through my description of her. I did not want to make her 'cute' or 'exotic'; nor did I want to make her poverty appear to be 'beautiful'. And yet, there was something wonderful about her that I wanted to convey and record for myself. In other words, I didn't want to do an injustice to her. But I wanted to portray her as honestly and as accurately as possible. Hope this makes sense to you! Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

john fotheringham at 27 Mar 2007 - 09:18 PM

I'm a newcomer to your site although I did contribute once or twice last year to your predecessors' discusons. Do I perhaps detect a lack of keenness to talk about your own work all the time? I see, too that you were discussing The Lake Isle of Innisfree some time ago. My grandfather was a lover of poetry and, though Yeats wasn't really his cup of tea, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to go to a hall in Dundee to hear Yeats read that poem amongst many others. My grandfather said that after the reading there was a time set aside for questions and one (locally) eminent critic asked a long complicated question about why the poem had specified 'nine bean rows' in the third line. The critic had various theories involving celtic mythology, classical Greek poetry and the burgeoning of the Irish State. 'Why' concluded the critic,'did you choose 'nine bean rows'?' Yeats looked (according to my grandfather) as if he was only just managing not to laugh. 'Why not?' he said at last. But that's not what I was wanting to say about poetry. My impression is that poetry in schools and elsewhere is treated all to frequently as an arrid academic discipline which is for the initiated only - the charm of which is partly its exclusivity. It appears to me that poetry is losing its universal appeal because of this. Perhaps the way around the problem is to encourage people to realise that their daily lives are already steeped in poetry both good and not so good. Popular songwriters can, at their best produce poetry of a pretty high order - poetry which many can recite even though they may not recognize it as this inaccessible zone which lazy teaschers and anti-intellectual peer presure have taught them to reject. Do you or your contributors agree? What examples of popular song lyrics would you accept as poetry rather than mere verse? By the way I seem to be having the same kind of computer problems as you -- I can't check or change any of the text so I apologise for typos and other errors.

Lois at 28 Mar 2007 - 04:44 AM

Hello Sujata. Germany, Ireland, back to Germany and now in Spain! You are a busy lady and I am sure we all appreciate you being able to be able to keep in contact with us. I do. The Internet has certainly changed our expectation of how the world should work. To explain more on my recent visit to an Arts Festival. For me, some experimental art-works, including all installation-art, means I am left speechless until I make up a story, and it can be any story, of what may be happening in the artist’s mind, and most of the time, do I really care I ask myself? I appreciate the poet who is also a craftsman in the way they chose and shape and chose yet again the perfect word to communicate as exactly as they can to both themselves and to the reader, with their poem recording the poets awareness of something that is elusive/special/unique/ even disruptive in some way, of our living in this complex world. What other art could have given us the totality of Catmint Tea. Her News. Judith.?

Sujata Bhatt at 28 Mar 2007 - 01:49 PM

Hello John, thanks for joining the discussion! Hello Lois, thanks for writing! And hello everyone else, hope you're all well! Tenth, I ran out of time yesterday, so I didn't manage to respond to your question about whether road-dust and canna lilies are metaphors. I don't think so. I'm describing the smells of real road-dust and real canna lilies. So I think they are what they are, and nothing else. But as John mentions, it is amazing how some critics can interpret a poem! Meanwhile, here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR WEDNESDAY, 28TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Marigolds' by Vicki Feaver. Thanks. John, yes, I suppose I am not so keen to dwell on my own work. Somehow I feel that the poems should stand on their own, but also I believe that for me, talking about my creative work is difficult because it was usually written with a great deal of unconscious 'play'. Most writers don't begin a poem with a pre-formed clever analysis in their minds. I agree with your observations regarding the way poetry is taught in schools! Anyone else? What do you think? About songwriters: I'm a big Bob Dylan fan and think he's a great poet. I'm also curious to hear what others think. Lois, thanks for your encouraging words! That's interesting what you say about wanting to create a story or narrative in response to abstract or experimental art. The human mind seems to need some sense of order! Yes, I suppose I do that too. I will continue later! Thanks again! ---Sujata Bhatt

Moderator at 29 Mar 2007 - 11:03 AM

Just to let everyone know that next Monday is the last day of Sujata's residency - thank you to Sujata and to all of you for the lively and thoughtful discussions. Next term our Poet in Residence will be Jo Shapcott. Jo will be here on these pages from 30 April to 6 July - please do come back and join in the conversation then.

Sujata Bhatt at 29 Mar 2007 - 12:15 PM

Hello everyone! Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR THURSDAY, 29TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'The Excuse' by Michael Donaghy. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 29 Mar 2007 - 01:50 PM

John, thanks for sharing that anecdote about Yeats! Right now there's an excellent exhibition in Dublin, at the National Library of Ireland, on the life and works of Yeats. I saw it in February, and I hope to see it again later this year! I was told that it will be on show at least until the end of 2008, and perhaps even longer. Here are some quotations from Yeats: 'I AM PERSUADED THAT OUR INTELLECTS AT TWENTY CONTAIN ALL THE TRUTHS WE SHALL EVER FIND.'...'I BELIEVE IN THE PRACTICE AND PHILOSOPHY OF WHAT WE HAVE AGREED TO CALL MAGIC...' ...'THE MYSTICAL LIFE IS THE CENTRE OF ALL THAT I DO AND ALL THAT I THINK AND ALL THAT I WRITE.' Yeats is also famous for the number of revisions he made to many of his texts! I find that encouraging when I'm stuck with a series of hopeless drafts! Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 30 Mar 2007 - 01:06 PM

Greetings! Here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR FRIDAY, 30TH MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Haunts' by Michael Donaghy. Thanks. On the Rimbaud site that Katy told us about, there are the following lines (translated by Oliver Bernard): 'IT HAS BEEN FOUND AGAIN! WHAT? /ETERNITY./ IT IS THE SEA MINGLED WITH THE SUN.' So true, I thought again this morning as I watched the Atlantic! To continue with the topic of revision: I'd like to go back to Galway Kinnell and his poem 'After Making Love We Hear Footsteps', that Fiete had introduced, (via poemhunter) and Katy had cited some notes accompanying this poem in her anthology. Well, if you listen to Kinnell reading the poem at the Academy of American poets website, you'll notice that some of the information found in the notes was originally within the poem itself! The deleted line is: ...'and says,'Are you loving and snuggling? May I join?' (This 'missing line' follows the line: 'about the mental capacity of baseball players--') The poem was included in his book 'MORTAL ACTS MORTAL WORDS' published in 1980. I wonder why he removed that line? I prefer the original version! Anyone else? What do you think? I agree with William and Lois about 'Oatmeal', it does feel like a cumbersome nano story! Strange how Simic's prose-like lines worked! Until soon! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 30 Mar 2007 - 06:38 PM

Fiete, to answer your question (finally!) about the poets who have been important to me: I've made up a list of those who were among my earliest influences, writers I read continuously during the time period from when I was 15 until I was 18. (I don't mean to imply that I stopped reading them at 18!) Here they are, in no particular order: Theodore Roethke, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, H.D., Yeats, Wallace Stevens, W.C. Williams, Auden, Sylvia Plath, Marianne Moore, Emily Dickinson, Rilke, Lorca, Neruda, Borges. And of course, Shakespeare! This is actually a pared down list! Fiete, thanks also for digging out 'The Fox and the Angel'! I had completely forgotten that I had written a poem about a fox--although it's not a 'real' fox but a fox in a collage-like sculpture. No, I didn't know about the Jewish folk-tale about the fox and the angel of death when I wrote my poem. When I searched for it (the Jewish folk-tale) on the net, I found a story very similar to an Indian folk-tale about a monkey and a crocodile. I believe the Indian story pre-dates the Jewish one. Can you send me your link to the Jewish folk-tale? Thanks. In yesterday's Guardian there's an interesting article about foxes by Blake Morrison, entitled 'WILD MAGIC'. Morrison writes that the foxes are 'THE CARNIVORE KINGS OF URBAN SPRAWL.' This leads me back to Adrienne Rich's 'FOX': was her fox urban or rural? Or perhaps both? I'd like to continue tomorrow by responding to H's comments about Rich's poem and then I'd like to move on to the topic of translation in response to some observations and questions from William and Katy. I hope you're all there somewhere! Bye for now. ---Sujata Bhatt

fiete at 31 Mar 2007 - 11:15 AM

Dear Sujata, that is really wonderful that you came up with your juke box! I can subscribe to most of your chosen ones. Would add Brecht, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti to my list, though. To name but a few. Sorry, I kind of lost the link to that Jewish fox story. Will try to find it before your 'time runs out' if I may put it that way. I really have enjoyed your entries, answers, ideas, links etc Will always read your new books - and the old ones, too. They seem very fresh anyways. Cheers, Fiete

fiete at 31 Mar 2007 - 01:09 PM

I think I found the site about Jewish fox-lore: http://www.authorama.com/delight-6.html Greetings, Fiete

Sujata Bhatt at 31 Mar 2007 - 01:29 PM

Dear Fiete, thanks so much for writing and thanks also for your generous comments! Yes, I agree, Brecht, Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti are vital. I started reading them when I was in my 20s. I'm glad you enjoyed this residency! I've enjoyed reading your contributions and mulling over your ideas! I'll think of you whenever I listen to Tom Waits! To continue: here is today's poem: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SATURDAY, 31ST MARCH, 2007: Read and listen to 'Note from the Outside' by Jean Sprackland. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 31 Mar 2007 - 01:35 PM

Hello again, Fiete! Thanks for the link! I saw your second entry after I posted mine. Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 31 Mar 2007 - 01:47 PM

Dear H, I've been re-reading Adrienne Rich's poem, 'Fox' and have re-read my initial response to it as well as your comments. So now, I'm prepared to delve into the world of fox again, but this internet cafe (where I am) is about to close for their 'siesta' and so I'll continue later today. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 31 Mar 2007 - 06:42 PM

H, to continue: I agree, the poem 'Fox' is full of double and even multiple, meanings that remain 'slippery'. There are the 'biars of legend' and 'the truth of briars'. I like your observation that the image of the fox passing through the briars could stand for the action of a baby being born, or it (the fox) could mirror the mother's ordeal. The closing lines are the most puzzling to me, in view of Rich's feminist philosophy-- and in view of modern science! On the one hand, it is probably more 'logical' to think of the newborn (human) infant as not 'completely' human, but more 'animal', with 'animal instincts', and still lacking human speech. However, most biolgists and neuroscientists would argue that a newborn human infant is already human and no other animal. Steven Pinker, (experimental psychologist and neuroscientist) has even demonstrated that newborn human infants can already recognise the speech patterns of their mother's language. To move on to the other implication in the closing lines: that a human female is not a 'woman' until she has given birth. I resisted this interpretation although again it appears to be the most 'logical' (in contrast to my earlier interpretation involving species that pre-dated ours), because it goes against 'feminism'. (Sorry for this convoluted sentence!) Also, it seems rather unfair to deny the status of 'womanhood' to all those women who for whatever reason do not bear any children. It just doesn't make sense to me, if the staunch feminist Adrienne Rich means one has to give birth in order to be a woman or a 'real' woman! As you've noticed, all the pieces in this poem don't fit together! I don't know how I feel about this slipperiness. I find that a certain amount of 'mystery' can be pleasing. But the contradictions I just mentioned feel more irritating. In any case, I am fascinated by the poem and have enjoyed meditating on your questions and impressions. To be continued! ---Sujata Bhatt

John Fotheringham at 31 Mar 2007 - 09:26 PM

I had een unfamiliar with Rich's poem about the fox - thanks for the introduction. Yes there is a double edged sword in poetry, isn't there when creative ambiguity spills over into self conscious illogicality. For me, the poet who begins work with an iron determination to be logical and self- consistent above all else has already missed the point before a single drop of ink hits the paper.I have no problem with a poem being inconsistent with other work by the same poet, or even with itself. Logic is surely an over rated tool for the task of poetic analysis. If the world and all the people in it acted only logically then perhaps we would not even need poets at all. It's partly because they don't that we do. The images of the fox and of birth call to mind a different interpretation for me - Norman McCaig's wonderful 'Basking Shark' takes a real fish and develops the link between that animal and the prehistoric reaction which the poet feels within himself - '..shooggled on a wrong branch of my family tree' (or something like that - I don't have the text by me) -suggesting that the birth Rich is talking about is (or partly is)a more general birth of consciousness. Poems about birth and new life are bracketed, in my mind, by Larkin's poem about the new lamb in springtime on one hand and by the chilling 'Stobhill' by Edwin Morgan - surey one of the most harrowing poems he wrote.

Sujata Bhatt at 1 Apr 2007 - 12:30 PM

Hello John, thanks for writing again! I'll post the poems for today and tomorrow, and then return to your entry. Hello everyone, I thought it might be useful to post tomorrow's poem right now as well since tomorrow is my last day and this blog will shut down (tomorrow) at 4:00pm (GMT). So here are the last two poems: POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR SUNDAY, 1ST APRIL 2007: Read and listen to 'Ice on the Beach' by Jean Sprackland. POEM OF THE DAY/NIGHT FOR MONDAY, 2ND APRIL, 2007: Read and listen to 'Hard Water' also by Jean Sprackland. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt (to be continued!)

Sujata Bhatt at 1 Apr 2007 - 01:29 PM

John, hello again. Thanks very much for introducing Norman McGaig's 'Basking Shark' and Edwin Morgan's 'Stobhill'. I don't know either of those poems but will certainly seek them out! I agree, 'the logical approach' is over rated, both for the writer and for the reader. I suppose readers and writers need to find some sort of instinctive balance and hope for the best! I like your observation that the birth Rich is describing can be seen as a 'more general birth of consciousness'. This leads me to H's comments about Ted Hughes's 'Crow' series. Hughes's crow seems to be pure consciousness, and a sort of alter ego. And in that sense more 'human' than bird. While Rich's fox is not that tame, or in other words, is allowed a 'true' foxhood. I was also thinking about Rich's choosing the word 'fox' over 'vixen'--although the word 'vixen' is also mentioned in her poem. 'Fox' has a richer sound and is all encompassing in its meanings. You're right, Rich wrote the poem in 1998, but nonetheless I think she is still heavily influenced by the 60s and 70s. 'Fox' was the title poem of Rich's collection published in 2001. I wonder if she ever considered using 'Vixen' as a title. I say that because W.S. Merwin published a collection of poems in 1996, entitled 'The Vixen'. Merwin's fox poems are very different, of course. His poems are more contemplative and the foxes and vixens are so steeped in myth that they seem unreal. But I wonder whether Rich was at all influenced or affected or inspired by Merwin's book. We can only ask her! I'd like to start a new entry and move on to the theme of translation, in response to William and Katy. Until soon. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 1 Apr 2007 - 06:02 PM

William and Katy, to continue with some thoughts on translation and languages: William, your description of a French translation of Shakespeare (full of alexandrines) that you were reading, reminded me of the fact that many Germans consider Shakespeare to be an intrinsic part of their culture! There are many fine translations of Shakespeare into German, some also by Erich Fried. And perhaps the Germanic Shakespeare sounds a bit closer to the original, (than the French version does) however I prefer Shakespeare in English! William, as I said earlier, you've mentioned all the classic dilemmas faced by translators! Should a translated text sound as if it were written in the host language? Or should a translation preserve something tangible from the original language? From my experience, editors and critics/readers prefer fluent translations that don't 'sound' like translations. I can understand that viewpoint, because for example, if a poem sounds too weird, language-wise, then the poem is not working on the same level that it would be in the original language. Instead, the odd foreign sounding nature of the language would call undue attention to itself without fulfilling whatever larger or deeper purpose it had. So, the reader would stumble over the strange grammar or syntax and miss the action, imagery or sound values in the poem. And yes, since word order is so crucial in poetry, translation can often feel daunting if not impossible. I don't believe in any fixed set of rules for approaching translation. I find that each poem creates its own demands. But generally, when I translate, I do try to make it work as fully as possible in the 'new' language. Does one need to know the language one translates from? Personally, I prefer to be intimately acquainted with the languages I translate from. And I have, at times, translated from languages where I needed to work with scholars who could provide a word for word translation. I like to experience both languages fully while I'm in the process of translating and to feel (often with sadness and frustration) all that is 'lost' in the translation! Similarily, I prefer it if translators of my work can also have this sort of experience of being lost/stuck between two languages that one knows well. Otherwise, one would feel like a blind art critic or a deaf music critic who can never really know what he/she is describing. This leads me to Katy's question about whether poets mind about their work being translated or mistranslated. I think most poets are pleased to have their work translated into other languages but probably (and understandably) would not like to see their work distorted beyond recognition. I've been quite lucky with my translators and of course have given them the freedom to choose the poems they wish to translate. So for example, my selected poems in Spanish, Italian and Estonian contain different groupings of poems and the books have completely different titles, chosen by the translators. Obviously, different poems work better in different languages. Or in other words, the same poem would translate with varying degrees of success in different languages. Some poet-translators, such as Pound, are brilliant and can't be compared to everyone else! Nonetheless, nowadays there are many excellent translations (of poetry) being done by all sorts of translators! This entry is getting very long! I'll end over here and continue tomorrow. Thanks. ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 1 Apr 2007 - 06:13 PM

Hello everyone, (especially those in different time zones such as Lois) I'd like to thank you all for participating in this blog. I've truly enjoyed hearing from you and who knows, maybe I'll hear from some of you again. All the best and thanks! ---Sujata Bhatt

Lois at 1 Apr 2007 - 09:27 PM

Sujata I am hoping that I am beating the time zone and am in time to thank you so much for your time and knowledge that you have shared with us. I have truly appreciated it and send my very best wishes on to you.

Lois at 1 Apr 2007 - 09:57 PM

And thank you everyone else for sharing your ideas and viewpoints, it has been a most interesting couple of months and I have learnt so much. May your journeys be good ones - Cheery, Lois

Lou Beck at 2 Apr 2007 - 11:19 AM

Hey! So it is all over today? That is too bad. I still wanted to say quite a few things. But you know how it is. You push it to the next day and to the next one etc (like writing letters) Thanks a million, Sujata for keeping us all going on poetic fuel. A true pleasure, and lots of inspiration. I just would like to make one last statement refering to the entry by John Fotheringham regarding songwriters / poets. I would, of course, once again mention Dylan, Tom Waits and add Frank Zappa, Ray & Dave Davies, early Van the Man, certainly not Paul McCartney. And I just saw a nicely produced collection of poems by old Canadian singer Leonard Cohen, who, I believe, is very well known as a poet in his home country. And indeed, in Vancouver there is a young poet/singer called Veda Hille who writes great stuff. She does have a couple of excellent CDs out. Ok. That is it. I look forward to reading your next book, Sujata. Is there anything coming up? Best wishes to all fellow bloggers, too. Lou Beck

Sujata Bhatt at 2 Apr 2007 - 02:06 PM

Hello Lois and Lou, thanks so much for writing! I hope you continue using the resources of the Poetry Archive site and participate in future residencies, beginning with that of Jo Shapcott. Lois and Lou I'm glad you enjoyed the blog! You've both been an inspiration for me. Lou, thanks for all your great last minute tips! I wish you wonderful journeys too! ---Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt at 2 Apr 2007 - 02:36 PM

Katy, to continue with Jandl: yes, his work is full of so many word games that it makes translation difficult. Earlier, when we were speaking about missing different languages, you mentioned missing accents and dialects too. I agree, it's a similar feeling. And yes, I feel my identity is bound up with various languages so sometimes it does get bewildering or confusing depending on my mood! Here is one more Jandl poem entitled 'baum' ('tree') in the original followed by Michael Hamburger's translation: It's all in lower case: baum/vater des tisches/ellbogenfroh./hier, meine freunde/sind fruechte/ (the 'ue' in 'fruchte' stands for the Umlaut!)/und auf gutem holz./ Translation: tree/father of the table/elbow-happy./here, my friends/are fruits/and on good wood./ Hope you like it! I'll end for now. Katy, thanks so much for your entries and questions and ideas! And everyone else, thanks again! ---Sujata Bhatt

Katy at 2 Apr 2007 - 03:17 PM

Thank you - Sujata, who has held our fort, and welcomed us all, and everyone who I've spared with on here. It has been a great place to share ideas, thank you! (And yes, Sujata, I do like that poem very much. I am going to try and buy some Jandl - I'll put it on my list. Thank you!)

ishani at 4 Dec 2007 - 09:42 PM

Hi!My name is Ishani and I am from India. We have been studying your poem lately and I must add that it is a very picturesque one. However i want to ask you why you used the enjambent and does the cow dung symbolise anything?

Seema at 11 Dec 2007 - 01:33 PM

Hi my name is Seema. I'm studying "Muliebrity" in school currently. Our teacher asked us to write an essay on how you used language to emphasize the meaning of the poem. I noticed alternate lines in the poem consisted of monosyllabic words and I wanted to know if this is of any significance in the poem. I thought that you used monosyllabic words because you were in awe of the girl but i wasn't sure if I was reading too much into the poem. Also, does the enjambment have any significance in the first few lines, especially regarding the mystery surrounding the girl in the first line.

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