I've known rivers: I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers. I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. I looked upon the Nile and
poems & poets
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore— While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door— "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my
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You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.
While poetry remains as the primal foundation for my visual and literary work, I’m constantly analyzing its relationship to my ‘mixed-media’ identity, and I like Carrie Mae Weems’s words, “Sometimes my work needs to be photographic, sometimes it needs words, sometimes it needs to have a relationship with music, sometimes it needs all three and become a video projection.” There are endless creative decisions for each of us, linked to our needs as human beings.
As a poet who is also a photographer and painter, I find myself perpetually challenged by meditations on my blurred insider-outsider role as well as the tail-chasing dialectic of Subject-Object and Other. For me, poetry and photography, as mediums, exist as persistent spaces of discovery, shock, pleasure, risk, and joy. These spaces also contain voices, which can be intense, inaudible,
It’s hard to believe that 2014 is John Berryman’s centenary, in part because his best work is of such consummate strangeness that it seems to exist outside the confines of any period or style, and almost outside literary and historical time altogether.
We think of Berryman’s fellow Middle Generation poets—Robert Lowell, Robert Hayden, Elizabeth Bishop, and Randall Jarrell, among others, all born between 1910 and 1920—as very much products of their era, who all, in various ways, forged poetic styles that seemed especially reflective of the culture, politics, and vernacular of mid-twentieth century America. Lowell and Hayden were above all poets of personal and public memory, witnesses to the turbulence of their times who were canny in their ability to intermingle the topical with the historical. Bishop and Jarrell strove to perfect a limpid version of the American idiom—what Marianne Moore famously called a plain American English that cats and dogs can understand—that was at
Poetry that speaks to the enduring and irreversible coordinates of human fate—love, striving, fear of pain, hope, the fleeting nature of things, and death-leads us to believe that the poet is one of us, and shares in that fate. "We," the subject of such poetry, is determined neither by nation nor by class. But it would not be quite right to claim that its theme is therefore an eternal human nature, for as our consciousness changes, we humans try to confront ultimate things in new and different ways. In Wislawa Szymborska's poetry the "we" denotes all of us living on this planet now, joined by a common consciousness, a "post-consciousness," post-Copernican, post-Newtonian, post-Darwinian, post-two-World-Wars, post-crimes-and-inventions-of-the-twentieth-century. It is a serious and bold enterprise to venture a diagnosis, that is, to try to say who we are, what we believe in, and what we think.
Szymborska's "I" is an ascetic "I," cleansed not only of the