Not my favorite collection by one of favorite poets but still full of lines I would never see from another writer my favorite but still full of lines I would never see from another writer poems that take me deep into whatever it is poems are Interesting period politics apartheid East Berlin Jesse Helms and a testament to art memory and survival This book came late in her life and I wonder how I ll feel differently when I read this book late in my life The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance makes for a breathtaking volume of poetry Although it is short it packs a punch and I would absolutely recommend itThe poems
flow from one technically beautiful piece to the next The language used is deliberate and from one technically beautiful piece to the next The language used is deliberate and a hefty punch One of the final poems in the book speaks of her feelings on dying these were the poems she wrote in the years leading up to her death as she struggled with cancer and it was by far the best poem in the volume That said the final three lines of a short poem somewhere in the middle of the volume really spoke to mewe both now womenwho take up spaceare called sloppy concrete trains elegies Really feeling her spacing and phrasing fuck And with this I close out my Audre Lorde poetry excursion This collection was written towards the end of her life when she was struggling with cancer so while there are some poems dealing with race and politics and change and injustice it also deals a lot with personal loss and memory and death and I found those to be the most poignant nowing that the lines How hard it is to sleep in the middle of life and I can t just sit here staring death in her face blinking and asking for a new name by which to greet her were among her last Powerful in a different ind of way than her previous collections but just as lushly written Beautiful and true Rushing headlonginto new silenceyour facedips on my horizonthe nameof a cherished dreamriding my anchorone sweet seasonto cast offon another voyageNo reckoning allowedsave the marvelous arithmeticof distance Smelling the Wind pg 3 Gloria has a permitto change the earthplucks fliesfrom the airwhile discussingrevolutionis taken for localin a lotof different places Building pg 26 The cockroachwho is dyingand the womanwho is blindagreenot to noticeeach other s shame Kitchen Linoleum pg 36 Timber seasons betterif it is cut in the fourth uarterof a barren signIn Cancerthe most fertile of skysignsI shall build a housethat will stand forever Construction pg 47 In whose beddid I lie asweatas the first thrush soundedtelling myself storiesof someone I used to behurling myselfat the unfamiliar shoretaunting the rocks long shadowtill the waves beat my rageback to spindriftand my wars came homeThe girls who liveat the edge of the calm poolwhere the moon risesteach meto leave dreams alone Change pg 56 This reflection was originally published on inthemarginsca and references the following books A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver Citizen An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance by Audre Lorde Summons Poems from Tanzania This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson Upstream by Mary Oliver The best use of literature bends not toward the narrow and the absolute but to the extravagant and the possiblefrom Upstream by Mary Oliver In the fourth grade we received an assignment to write a poem A few days later we were to hand in our poems to the teacher who would look them over that afternoon and we would then recite them out loud to the class the next day The morning after handing mine in my teacher pulled me aside and told me she needed to see me after class I would not be allowed to read my poem to the rest of the class that dayCrestfallen I listened to the work of my friends and cheered them on That afternoon before getting on the bus my teacher pulled me aside and asked who taught you how to write thisI will not pretend that my submission was good but it was different Unlike the acrostics haikus limericks and uatrains we were learning about in class and that most of my peers had written my poem was three pages long written in sestets with an aabbab rhyme seuence It was an ode to a young lady in my class I think her name was Michelle A where I did not mention her but instead how the world changed when she entered the room The imagery was rudimentary and the diction plain but it was different enough from what we were learning that my teacher was perplexedThe honest truth was that I had discovered Wordsworth earlier that year and was so impressed by his poetry that I had spent weeks imitating his style The nuance of his language and much of his content was above my head but by the time I got around to reading Lucy Gray it did not matter that I did not understand what he was saying but instead that the musicality of his language was enthralling I wanted to write poems that sounded like song and so I attempted to do that in my sprawling three page odeI did end up being allowed to read my poem. This collection 39 poems written between 1987 and 1992 is the final volume by a major American poet whose concerns are international and whose words have left their mark on many li. .
Then there is dissatisfaction by Manga J Kingazi Mmgaha in Summons Poems from Tanzania Early This Year Early this year received a parcel in the mail In it a copy of Summons Poems from Tanzania and a note from a new friend I had made in the fall In her note she remarked upon a conversation we had when we first met where I told her that I was born in Tanzania and that she told me that she had worked in East Africa many years ago at the start of her career and still held a fondness for the region The collection of poems was one of the mementos she had ept from her time there and it was now mine to haveIt is a modest collection and I did not connect with every piece but it got me thinking why is poetry not an appropriate way to learn about our own history How can we discover who we are and from whence we came through verse and why do we not do this often There is a timbre of voicethat comes from not being heardand nowing you are not beingheard noticed onlyby others not heardfor the same reasonfrom Echoes by Audre Lorde in The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance In elementary school I learned that poetry was about beauty I learned that a poem was written to extol to recognize to celebrate We were given odes and sonnets to read each talking about love and joy and sometimes heartbreak but beautiful heartbreak We weren t taught that sometimes poetry comes of anger of despair of rebellion of revolt We were taught that we could express the range of human emotion through verse but then were driven towards only the emotions that echoed with pleasantnessWe were not taught that poetry was a way to speak truth to power It took me far too long to realize thisI finally understood this when I picked up Claudia Rankine s Citizen An American Lyric and read the now iconic but painfully true stanzabecause white men can tpolice their imaginationblack men are dyingRankine s Citizen is filled with vignettes prose poems that punch you in the gut while you read them They are not the poems of my elementary school days they hurt enrage fill you with anguish They are often harrowing but they are exactly what we all must read in order to understand our current era At times we feel as though these are words used as weapons verses used as bludgeons emptiness on the page used as pauses to reflect and recover from the blowsI am currently reading Audre Lorde s The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance Like Rankine does in Citizen Lorde speaks of a life lived as a Black woman and speaks the truth of all the joys and pains of that experienceThey are both speaking truth to power They are both making sure we sit up and listen and ideally do something about the injustices they reference They are using poetry to enlighten to incite to create change they do this with power with strength and with beautyPerhaps my elementary school teachers were right poetry is about beauty They were just wrong in telling us what beauty could look like once it was in verse First and foremost I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple or a green field a place to enter and in which to feel Only in a secondary way is it an intellectual thing an artificial a moment of seemly and robust wordiness wonderful as that part of it is I learned that the poem was made not just to exist but to speak to be company It was everything that was needed when everything was needed from Upstream by Mary Oliver I am reading poetry now after many years away I am not writing it just yet but I am told by friends that it is inevitable that the I read the I will be besieged by the desire to write I will perhaps hold off on writing three page odes until I have had much practiceFor now I am allowing myself to be enveloped by verseFor now I am allowing myself to listen to the sliding the floating the thumping the rapping For now I am allowing myself to see a poem as a place to enter a place in which to feel For now I am rediscovering poetry and through it rediscovering myself Poetry is a river many voices travel in it poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves None is timeless each arrives in an historical context almost everything in the end passes But the desire to make a poem and the world s willingness to receive it indeed the world s need of it these will never passfrom A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver This reflection was originally published on inthemarginsca and references the following books A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver Citizen An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance by Audre Lorde Summons Poems from Tanzania This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson Upstream by Mary Oliver Intimidatingly brilliant And not an easy read Lorde has a deceptively fluid and lyrical voice that belies the musculature of her thoughts She is all that it means to be a modern woman and Inheritance His is one of my all time favorite poems Such a powerful collectio. Rs include the Manhattan Borough President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1994. In class the next day The subject of the ode was oblivious she did not see herself in the words subject of the ode was oblivious she did not see herself in the words like the rest of the class thought me pretentious and too much of a try hard They were all right of course I didn t now what I was doing but instead was trying to impress others with my feeble imitationInto my late teens I continued to write poetry and was lucky enough to have a few of my pieces printed in small journals and magazines And then one day I stopped I stopped writing poetry and I stopped reading itUntil this year The beauty and strangeness of the world may fill the eyes with its cordial refreshment Eually it may offer the heart a dish of terror On one side is radiance on another is the abyssfrom Upstream by Mary Oliver If we were all taught poetry in school the way that Mary Oliver teaches the art in A Poetry Handbook we would all be poets today Yes there is discussion about meter and rhyme but Oliver opens the book with an in depth look at sound at the book with an in depth look at sound at the way we read poetry is an aural experience and how it is that sound that makes poetry resonate both metaphorically and literally when read out loud Reading this chapter I am reminded of the first time I read Wordsworth when I was not yet nine years old and immediately realized that poetry was about the music you heard when you read it and not about the strict adherence to form that we had been learning in schoolOliver does remind us that form is important along with diction voice tone and so much that all of these go into the true musicality and resonance of the poem but opening her handbook with sound was what made my heart stir This is how I wish I was taught poetry to learn how sound influenced the soul and how poetry how beautiful writing of any ind could make the spirit flourishI have written out this passage from Oliver s Handbook and left it on my desk as a reminder of what I can do what I should do when I write and what I should listen for when I readLanguage is rich and malleable It is a living vibrant material and every part of a poem works in conjunction with every other part the content the pace the diction the rhythm the tone as well as the very sliding floating thumping rapping sounds of itI am diving back into poetry this year and I am looking forward to the sliding the floating the thumping the rapping Writing actually sucks Like you re alone in your head for days on end just wondering if you actually can die of loneliness just wondering how healthy it is to make all this shit up and just wondering if you did actually make this shit up or if you just copied down your life or worse someone else s life or maybe you re just feeding your delusions and neuroses and then advertising it to whoever reads your drivelfrom This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson My colleague and friend Adie was the first to hand me her copy of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson s Islands of Decolonial Love It sat on my bookshelf for a few weeks but once I picked it up I could not put it down Instead when I had turned its final page I uickly went on to read Simpson s follow up This Accident of Being Lost which was just as enthrallingMost of the poetry we grew up reading was by white people white men in particular Eventually in my late teens I learned of Latin American poets like Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda and of Middle Eastern poets like el Fagommi and Rasha Omran but still my exposure to poetry was still defined by the Western classicsSimpson s collections remind me that there is another view onto the world that poetry is not just art or craft but also a reflection of life an expression of emotion and vulnerability and uestioning It can be raw and incisive and in Simpson s writing it most often isIf I had ten minutes alone with you I d tell you that I love you I d tell you not to be scared because it s the ind of love that doesn t want anything or need anything It s the ind of love that just sits there and envelops whoever you are or whoever you want to be It doesn t demand It isn t a commodity It doesn t threaten all the other people you love It doesn t fuck up and it doesn t fuck things up It s loyal It s willing to feel hurt It s willing to exist on shifting terms It s willing to stay anyway It doesn t want It s just there It s just there and good and given freely sewing up the holes unassumingly because it s the only thing to do There is so much space around it and the space shimmersWhen I was young poetry was presented to me in one way Now that I am re immersing myself I am excited to find the other paths through verse the paths carved by people whose voices were often silenced and definitely need to be heard Then there is dissatisfactionthe flesh the heart and the souland most especially the mindThere I always an antagonised idealin this antagonistic worldthere is always a craving desireto satisfy the fleshthe heart the souland most especially the mindAnd one never gets alland there is always dissatisfactionfrom. Ves” in the words of Adrienne Rich Audre Lorde 1934 1992 was the author of ten volumes of poetry and five works of prose She was named New York State Poet in 1991; her other hono. .