Speeding through ModPo and I could do with a few 36 hour days and/or a better brain. I seem to be spending more time watching discussions about poetry rather than reading poetry and I am starting to feel like a child at the fairground trying to catch up with the merry-go-round. One of the disadvantages of a taster course is the pace: so many poets, so little time. Then again, not enough poems – only one Robert Frost, for example, although it was discussed in detail, and I must admit that I found Mending Wall deflating after the exuberance of Gertrude Stein. However, when this whirlwind of a course is over, the poems will be patiently waiting – poems that I wouldn’t have known about if it hadn’t been for ModPo.
I was pleased to be introduced to some of the Harlem Renaissance Poets and watching Al Filreis choke up as he recited Incident by Countee Cullen reminded me of the importance and power of poetry.
Moving on to Chapter 7, Breaking Conformity: The Beats, I enjoyed Howl (Allen Ginsberg) but I became exhausted by the “spontaneous prose” of Kerouac. I started to long for short lines, lineated stanzas, white space on the page. (Dear 15 year-old-self who read, re-read, read again and carried in her black jacket pocket On the Road – sorry XX).
I hated Anne Waldman’s Rogue State – liked the message but her spoken delivery alienated me. What bliss to be back with the short lines of Robert Creeley’s I Know a Man. And I enjoyed his use of linebreaks as punctuation in his recordings of the poem.
The chapter ended with the reading and discussion of Incident by Amiri Baraka. I really admired this poem and the fascinating discussion, led by Al Filreis, that it is an expression of the complexity of incomprehensible violence.
Next week – The New York Poets.