'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. "Beware the Jabberwock, my son The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!" He took his
poems & poets
I've fond anticipation of a day O'erfilled with pure diversion presently, For I must read a lady poesy The while we glide by many a leafy bay, Hid deep in rushes, where at random play The glossy black winged May-flies, or whence flee Hush-throated nestlings in alarm, Whom we have idly
In recent years, I’ve found that some of the most compelling and exciting poems I’ve encountered are those by American poets of color, and many of them LGBT. These poets have stepped into an arena of a true democracy of voice, often publishing their first works, sometimes a chapbook of poems, with little known and/or regional presses. Many of these poets want to explore not only gender identity but also the sexual transgressions that make a culture doubly nervous; these concerns are often coupled with issues of race as well. One especially notable, though admittedly high profile, example of this is Eduardo C. Corral’s book, Slow Lightning, selected by Carl Phillips (his own recent poetry a superb example of the sexual transgressions I’m noting) for the 2012 Yale Younger Poets Prize.
Let me now introduce to you another wildly compelling young poet, one who has not yet published a full collection—Saeed Jones. His chapbook, When the Only Light Is Fire, was published in 2011 by
Yi Lei astounded readers in China when, in 1986, she published a long poem entitled, “A Single Woman’s Bedroom.” In it, a female speaker unpacks her own private urgencies. She speaks of passion and sexual desire. Again and again, the speaker returns to the refrain “You didn’t come to live with me” as she laments her lover’s failure to make good on his promise—this at a time when cohabitation before marriage was still illegal in China. The poem goes still further, laying claim to a freedom of the mind and spirit, and openly criticizing the rigidity of law:
I imagine a life in which I possess
All that I lack. I fix what has failed.
What never was, I build and seize.
It’s impossible to think of everything,
Yet more and more I do. Thinking
What I am afraid to say keeps fear
And fear’s twin, rage, at bay. Law
Squints out from its burrow, jams
Its quiver with arrows. It shoots
Like it thinks: never straight. My
proverb: A terse didactic statement that embodies a general truth, the proverb is short and pithy, akin to the aphorism and the maxim, and draws attention to itself as a formal artistic entity. Folk and traditional proverbs are well-known expressions, usually the length of a simple sentence, that function in conversation. They are part of daily discourse. They also operate in educational situations and judicial proceedings. Proverbs take personal circumstances and embody them in impersonal form. Their meanings seem fixed, but depend on context, since texts are adapted to different situations. Proverbs are normative, consensual. The proverb simplifies a problem by naming and solving it with a traditional solution.
The linguist Roman Jakobson called the proverb “the largest coded unit occurring in our speech and at the same time the shortest poetic composition.” Proverbs frequently employ traditional devices of poetry, such as balanced phrasing (“Out of sight, out of mind”) and