Monthly Archives: September 2018

Monday’s Verse 9/24/2018

Dear readers,

I’ll tell you one thing Robert Herrick had right back in the 1700s or whenever: old time is still a-flying. Hence my Tuesday afternoon version of MV. Everyone loves formal poetry, so let’s have some more! Featuring yet another villanelle (an article tells me it’s for "rustic" in Italian? Is that right? Seems counter-intuitive, but… who am I to say?), by one Joyce Sutphin (b. 1949) of general prairie fame. Her poems tend to present a pastoral scene and then puncture the pretty picture with pain, because her name is an anagram for "it punches joy." Anyway, here’s a bio provided by the Poetry Foundation, and a cool poem. -ed.

Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She earned a PhD in Renaissance drama from the University of Minnesota, and has taught British literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Her first collection of poems, Straight Out of View (1995), won the Barnard Women’s Poets Prize. Subsequent collections include Coming Back to the Body (2000), a Minnesota Book Award finalist, Naming the Stars(2004), winner of the Minnesota Book Award, and First Words (2010).She has received a McKnight Artist Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship and was named Minnesota’s Poet Laureate in 2011.

A KIND OF VILLANELLE

I will have been walking away:

no matter what direction I intended,

at that moment, I will have been walking

Away into the direction that you now say

I have always intended, no matter what my

intention was then, I will have been

Walking away, though it will not be clear

what it was that I was leaving or

even why, it seems that you will say

That always, I was walking away,

intending a direction that was not towards

you, but moving away with every step,

Or, even when I pretended to be walking

towards you, only making the place

for my feet to go backwards,

Away, where I will have been walking,

always away: intention and direction

unknown, but knowing you will always

say I will have been walking away.

-2000

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Monday’s Verse 9/17/2018

Dear readers,

We talked about sestinas a couple weeks ago and then accidentally veered into villanelles. Who doesn’t love a villanelle? Nobody with eyes and a heart, that’s who. There are 2 villanelles so firmly entrenched in the pop-literary culture that I have a feeling you’ll feel the rhythm and repetition of this one pulling you there, even though it comes 50-odd years later. This one was curated by Rita Dove for the NYTimes weekend edition, and is by Adam Gianelli, a "younger" poet (I have no idea what this means, often with writers born past 1970 I can’t find a "born in" date, but in any case he seems to have relatively recently finished an MFA and has essays and a book of translations published, but no complete volume of poems. Anyway he’s an Oberlin grad, as are some of my favorite people, so I’ll say that puts him in good company. Lots of clever near-rhyme here.

Enjoy the repetition, and enjoy your week! -ed.

ON A LINE BY PROUST

Silent now, the yellow house with its host
of hiding places is gray. The true paradises
are the paradises that we have lost.

We threw the geese bread, stiff as toast,
crenellating the loaf; we watered the irises.
Those days are silent now. Without a host

the herb garden is overgrown. Like a ghost
mint lingers on the ground. Rosemary, basil, chives
were my paradises. I have lost

the rows that stretched, when as the tallest
I strode before the class — or toward the apse,
where into the silence the priest raised the host

above his head. And now like the Eucharist,
(like madeleine-laden tea) the taste of Orange Julius
contains the paradises we have lost.

Those who called at me call from bed, dear Proust,
or turn away to peck at sleep. Their memories
are silent now, and I, the only host
of the paradises we have lost.

-2018

Monday’s Verse 9/10/2018

Hey all,

I did not mean to skip last week, nor to blow through Monday without seeking some decent poetry and 5 spare minutes to cut, paste, and hit "send." I apologize for the lame intro today, but I saw this article on the poetry foundation site about poems to read when you’re stuffed in a locker–sort of a back to school thing–and it’s delightful. I encourage you to take a look, they kind of run the gamut. In the blurb about today’s poem, by J.V. Cunningham, the editor writes:

"

Here’s a poem with the bootstraps cure for dejection: a dubious affirmation of self-love. Cunningham’s speaker figures that any love outside the self can escape our control before escaping us altogether: what heart but the one you own will steadfastly follow your fickleness? Terse, smart, and sour, this is nevertheless one of Cunningham’s more poignant pieces. At first glance he comes off as a crusty old bird, but there’s a wealth of nimble wit in his brief poems. They’ll set up shop in your brain and provide hours of amusement on dateless Saturday nights.

"

The idea of a guy named "JV" writing a poem to read while stuffed in a locker has a pleasing, downbeat humor, doesn’t it? And here it is. Have a good week! -ed.

from DR. DRINK, #1

In the thirtieth year of life

I took my heart to be my wife,

And as I turn in bed by night

I have my heart for my delight.

No other heart may mine estrange

For my heart changes as I change,

And it is bound, and I am free,

And with my death it dies with me.

-1960