Wednesday, August 4, 2010
"The truest poetry is the most feigning..." (AYLI)
.....I've gotten to the point in my retirement where I have nothing much to do but play games on the PC -- such as scrabble, Aloha solitaire, and perhaps, at times when I want to flagellate myself, chess. Then all gets boring and I try to find a soccer game on the Gol channel. But since watching the World Cup, I find it hard to accept anything less. On Thursdays I attend the Theatre Workshop meetings in our clubhouse where I finally get to see a number of people all in one place. The "facilitator" has asked me to "critique" the performances of wannabe actors, and I reluctantly agreed even though I might facilitate the hatred, anger, and fury of the performers after they perform monologues or skits. I felt queasy about how there would be no one to love me there after awhile--but thus far my trepidations have been unwarranted. I've done enough teaching to know how to offer suggestions to a student without giving offense.
.....But yesterday I found something else to do. I discovered that every Tuesday from 2:30-4:00pm at our public library there is a program/class(?) called "Poetry Workshop". So, being curious as to what I would be getting into I decided to attend. I was amazed to see a full conference room of poetry lovers/writers(?). There were about thirty people--mostly women--and three guys plus myself. The teacher was Stacie Kiner--no relation to the former baseball player. She purportedly was a published poet (like me), but when I tried to "Google" her name, I could not find any information about her even though there were listed some few with her name. Perhaps my son, JR, might be helpful and provide some information about her poetry and her qualifications to teach it, and about it. I know that when my full name is googled--Norman Ralph Ross, it leads to something about me.
.....The first poem she read to us was John Donne's "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning" which I have taught a zillion times. It's about Donne telling his wife not to shed tears when he goes his way, I imagine, to become poet laureate of Heaven. She said he was the "best poet" of the 17th Century--forgetting all about Shakespeare. Anyway, the people in the class spent an hour discussing this poem with her input, which, I must say was not very enlightening--possibly because it is a lousy poem--in my opinion, of course. Also, I didn't find the discussion very exhilarating no doubt because when it comes to a discussion of a poem, I'm a very severe critic of the teaching and learning process.
.....When the class time ended Ms. Kiner gave us a rather lengthy poem written by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Anne Sexton, called "Angels of the Love Affair." While Donne was a poet of the "metaphysical" school, Sexton is a member of the "confessional" school where the poet writes intimately about his--or her-- life. For example, this poem has six sections--the first being called "Angel of Fire and Genitals." All six sections of the poem contain 14 lines each, which qualifies them as being in sonnet form, but the rhyme schemes are not like any I've ever seen before. And the themes of each one of them wander aimlessly in and out of reality and intelligibility. The standard themes of her poetry are of depression, isolation, suicide, and despair; her work also encompasses issues specific to women, such as menstruation, abortion, masturbation and adultery. It seems that Ms. Sexton spent many years of her life in and out of mental institutions with a bipolar disorder; it is purported that she suffered sexual abuse from her mother, and that she had an affair with her therapist. She eventually committed suicide by carbon monoxide while sitting in her car in an enclosed garage. Strangely enough, I can't wait to hear the class participate in a discussion of this strange, mystifying and mostly unintelligible poem. I doubt very much that any in the class knows anything about Ms. Sexton's life. We shall see.
.....Well, now I have something to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays, each activity somewhat intellectual. Now, I can match RH+ as she plays cards on Mondays and Tuesdays. I'm looking for something to do on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and the weekend. Golf is out. So, then, to summarize: I attend two classes--Theatre Workshop and Poetry Workshop. I'm not too certain as to what the word "work" means. I'll check it out with Webster.