Friday, September 30, 2011

To Kill A Mockingbird: The Ultimate 'Challenged'

Today's Crazy for Books blog hop asks us, "What's your favorite banned or frequently challenged book?" 

Although Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian rank right up there, I must say that Harper's Lee's singular masterpiece takes the prize for me every time.

If you haven't read it recently or ever, I recommend it highly.

Or, for more provocative titles that might strike your fancy, hop back to Crazy for Books to join in the celebration!

Do stop by tomorrow for another installment of the Poem in Your Post blog hop!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Poem In Your Post Blog Hop: "We Real Cool" - Banned!


We real cool.  We
left school.  We

lurk late.  We
strike straight. We

sing sin.  We
thin gin.  We

Jazz June.  We
die soon.

             - Gwendolyn Brooks, 1960

A pensive Ms. Brooks.
Yes, folks, this poem was banned in West Virginia and Nebraska schools because community members claimed that the phrase "jazz june" referred to sex.  Which it didn't. 

Here's an illuminative and divertingly quick audio clip of Brooks talking about the poem and how it arose for her:

For many interesting and illuminating articles about banned poets and poetry, jump over to Banned and Dangerous Art. 

This week, why not post a controversial or edgy poem, just to stir things up a bit during Banned Books Week?  Then link back here so we can share our subversions.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Poem In Your Post: "Poetry"

In the same way that the mindless diamond keeps
one spark of the planet's early fires
trapped forever in its net of ice,
it's not love's later heat that poetry holds,
but the atom of the love that drew it forth
from the silence: so if the bright coal of his love
begins to smoulder, the poet hears his voice
suddenly forced, like a bar-room singer's -- boastful
with his own huge feeling, or drowned by violins;
but if it yields a steadier light, he knows
the pure verse, when it finally comes, will sound
like a mountain spring, anonymous and serene.

Beneath the blue oblivious sky, the water
sings of nothing, not your name, not mine.

                                            - Don Paterson

Lovely, eh? Possibly true, too.

What poem caught your fancy this week? Which poem did you create? Share it here, either by linking to your post or by adding it to our comments.

Autumn's approach signals a more pensive mood, so expect to see some thought-provoking poems here this season.  I'm looking forward to reading yours as well.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Poem In Your Post: Forgetfulness

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
                                                    - by Billy Collins

Here's to a long, slow, gentle letting go until all that remains are the things, sans words.

A variant on William Carlos Williams's, "No ideas but in things"?

What poem caught your eye today?  Or this week?  Share it in your post or share it in the comments below. 

If you do link here, please give us a shout-out in your post so more folks will join in the sharing of poems.

May you create a glorious weekend worth remembering, even when all your words melt away.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One more week, and I'll be back...

Hey, friends,

Just wanted you to know that my back-to-school ramp up should ease up at least a little after this week.  Then I'll be back to Action Reading and posting here regularly again.

MFB, with much gratitude for your inspiration and patience,

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Poem In Your Post Blog Hop, Back-to-school Edition: Workshop

I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title.
It gets me right away because I’m in a workshop now
so immediately the poem has my attention,
like the Ancient Mariner grabbing me by the sleeve.

And I like the first couple of stanzas,
the way they establish this mode of self-pointing
that runs through the whole poem
and tells us that words are food thrown down
on the ground for other words to eat.
I can almost taste the tail of the snake
in its own mouth,
if you know what I mean.

But what I’m not sure about is the voice,
which sounds in places very casual, very blue jeans,
but other times seems standoffish,
professorial in the worst sense of the word
like the poem is blowing pipe smoke in my face.
But maybe that’s just what it wants to do.

What I did find engaging were the middle stanzas,
especially the fourth one.
I like the image of clouds flying like lozenges
which gives me a very clear picture.
And I really like how this drawbridge operator
just appears out of the blue
with his feet up on the iron railing
and his fishing pole jigging—I like jigging—
a hook in the slow industrial canal below.
I love slow industrial canal below. All those l’s.

Maybe it’s just me,
but the next stanza is where I start to have a problem.
I mean how can the evening bump into the stars?
And what’s an obbligato of snow?
Also, I roam the decaffeinated streets.
At that point I’m lost. I need help.

The other thing that throws me off,
and maybe this is just me,
is the way the scene keeps shifting around.
First, we’re in this big aerodrome
and the speaker is inspecting a row of dirigibles,
which makes me think this could be a dream.
Then he takes us into his garden,
the part with the dahlias and the coiling hose,
though that’s nice, the coiling hose,
but then I’m not sure where we’re supposed to be.
The rain and the mint green light,
that makes it feel outdoors, but what about this wallpaper?
Or is it a kind of indoor cemetery?
There’s something about death going on here.

In fact, I start to wonder if what we have here
is really two poems, or three, or four,
or possibly none.

But then there’s that last stanza, my favorite.
This is where the poem wins me back,
especially the lines spoken in the voice of the mouse.
I mean we’ve all seen these images in cartoons before,
but I still love the details he uses
when he’s describing where he lives.
The perfect little arch of an entrance in the baseboard,
the bed made out of a curled-back sardine can,
the spool of thread for a table.
I start thinking about how hard the mouse had to work
night after night collecting all these things
while the people in the house were fast asleep,
and that gives me a very strong feeling,
a very powerful sense of something.
But I don’t know if anyone else was feeling that.
Maybe that was just me.
Maybe that’s just the way I read it.

                                          - Billy Collins

We're about to start the school year, and this poem's ironic yet scalding humor appeals to me as a cautionary note, a reminder that if we decide to talk about poetry, we should take care. 
Assignment: This week, post a poem about poetry, about workshops or classes or school.
Alternate assignment: Post any poem you want OR put it in a comment below...

Whichever 'assignment' you choose, make sure to link back here in your post so we can keep the poetry flowing.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...