Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas Dance

Panic in your face, you write questions
to ask him. When he arrives,
you are serene, your fear
unbetrayed. How unlike me you are.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan, the great talent who has given me (and many others here in NJ) much to learn from as both artist and host is represented by her poem "My Daughter at 14: Christmas Dance" this week at The Writer's Almanac (first stanza above).

Reminds me: Time to get cracking on that old yuletide versification. Check back near Chrismas and see if I found something to write about.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Science = Metaphor?

Via Ron Silliman, I just finished reading an interview with Rae Armantrout wherein she says

I find that thinking about contemporary science takes us to the border of what we imagine we know—which is a good place for poetry to be. Science generally ignores poetry, of course. But science, like all human communication, depends on metaphors. I sometimes think scientists would do well to study poetry to become more conscious of the way metaphors work.

My first instinct was to say "umm, no." Science, in the sense of discovering the laws of nature, is the opposite of metaphor. It's the paring down of all interactions until unalterable truths are stated a minimum of ambiguity. But articulating that thought made me realize that this is not necessarily the opposite of metaphor. In fact, the demonstration of scientific findings to nonexperts through models and simulation does seem to be to contain some of the stuff of metaphor. And in that sense, Ms. Armanttrout is right: scientists could benefit from a fluency in meatphor to express their concepts better outside the fraternity of technogists.

I have drafted a Grade 6-8 program called "Poetry and Science" in which I use science concepts as poem starters and exercises. This simple statement has me thinking I could also go the other way: Start with language that captures a nugget of a scientific concept and have students expand on it, seeing if they get close to the law described or not, and discussing what the process teaches about separating "fact" from "idea" in the poem.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Salmon Revives the Poem of the Week

Jessie Lendennie's mailing list came back to life this week with a sample from the newly released Salmon: A Journey in Poery 1981 - 2007. I discovered Salmon searching for the poems of Ray Bradbury a while back and am glad the Salmon Poem of the Week is active again.

Salmon Poetry (not to be confuse with salmony poetry) is primarily a publisher of contemporary Irish Poetry, though as the Bradbury book confirms, they are open to other authors writing in English, and they have an Advice for Writers page that's pretty good as a refernce for beginners.

This week's poem, celebrating the new anthology is "The Day The Horizon Disappeared", by Nadya Aisenberg:

Cast out, flung to the furthest rim of neediness,
then caught there in the branches of the danger tree,
where meaning dwells, out of reach, attached
on its green stem at the very edge of dreaming,
a sign repeating itself through branches
surging in air. Wind surrounds and blows through us.
And whose hand is tearing strips from the sky,
And whose hand will seed wild grasses
on the worn nap of the threadbare world?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thoughts on the way back from the Post Office

Why are they removing the stamp machine?

Do people really buy their envelopes standing in line to send their mail?

Did I spell the editor's name right?

Wow, the Christmas stamps are of questionable artistic merit this year.

Did that guy really expect his Hummer to fit in that spot?

Wait a minute -- I just entered a chapbook contest! What did I do?!?!

Hey, look - a Twix bar!