This week at Poetry Club we ask what Is poetry analysis? Poetry analysis is examining the independent elements of a poem to understand the literary work in its entirety. Poetry Club member Lynn will host the discussion on the poem “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955) and we analyze the heck out of it.
Lynn sends us these notes:
“I’d like our discussion and reflections on this poem to move in the direction of exploring the mind watching our sensations and emotions while reading the poem…that does not hope to ‘solve’ the meaning of the poem… but expands the experience of the poem.”
Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955) was an American modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems in 1955. credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Stevens
This program was produced by Chickadee Productions
What a delight to learn a poem of mine, written in the spirit of Saint Bukowski, b. August 16, 1920, was selected for a chapbook celebrating his 100th birthday! My first international submission acceptance. Indeed an honor. A copy is flying closer towards my mailbox as I post this update. These are beautiful, limited edition, small press collector books that you can still order–get your copy today! Contact Newington Blue Press, East London, today!(Apx. £25)
“Newington Blue Press was born in 2020 – when due to the Covid–19 virus and pandemia the centenary Festival on the occasion of what would have been the 100th birthday of Bukowski – to be held in Germany – had to be cancelled. Originally planned as a small, humble replacement only, our anthology of tributes, testimonials, and unpublished works – lived up to it’s second volume so far and is to be continued.
The writer’s call-out & mission statement for BUK 100: “We have gathered writers, scholars, and graphic artists/photographers from all around the globe in order to celebrate the man Bukowski on the very occasion. Our contributors range from contemporary witnesses/friends of Bukowski – still alive, to emulating artists working in his tradition, scholars who work for or gaining degrees/doctorates on Bukowski to congenial artists esp. in the performing arts who are occopied with the phenomenon of the «poet laureate of skid row» for years. Everybody is free to greet Charles Bukowski in his or her specific way, style and individuality, be it an essay – a photograph or poetry. We would warmly welcome you to take part in our little endeavour, which explicitely aims to blow borders of nations and thus assembles contributions from artists from all continents.”
P.S. Perhaps you and a writer you know say, “I need to give this some air.” Reading a work in progress at an open mic or to a group of other writers can help form the piece. In 2018 I read my Charles Bukowski-inspired poem “Christopher Titus Save Me.” based on the Bukowski poem “The Twelve Hour Night”. It is one of my longest poems, yet written from the heart -or should I say the wrenched heart- about working as an overnight deep cleaner at a Casino. I had no words to describe the experience and Bukowski helped me find those words. But, the poem needed air, it needed to be tested.
In my town, we have a monthly open mic at the local indie book store, Village Books. The night I signed up for a 5-minute read, a new artist was in the crowd drawing, um, portraits… of each reader. Bob Zaslow–thank you. Bob included in his portrait lines from “Christopher Titus Save Me”.
Monday is the first day of SPRING! The sun is coming through my window. I watched it as it arched around the buildings, right-sided shadows slowly making their way left. The Christmas Cactus takin’ it all in. No meme this morning. just this photo. -Hope you are well, healthy, happy, fed, sheltered, loved and giving love…and CREATING, Shannon
Topic: Composition Methods Host: Ron Leatherbarrow Poems: “Housekeeper”, “River Ink”, “Her Hands” Recorded: December 19, 2020
In our final episode exploring personal styles of poetry composition, Shannon shares three poems written at different times, 2010, 2012, 2016, when her style shifted. Her background in broadcasting plays an unexpected role, not only in her composition but also in the presentation.
Thank you The Showbear Family Circus ( http://lanceschaubert.org/ ) Lancelot Schaubert’s and Tara Schaubert’s liberal arts circus, for including my poems, Crab, Grandmas Closet, and The Bog in your November 2, 2020 edition.
Your website stimulates the senses. Selected articles, short stories, poems, words jump off the page! I love this philosophy you have…
We want to focus on the liberal arts philosophy because we hope to reorder common ways magazines and readers think about news, scientific research, creative writing, and art reviews. We want all of the work shared at the Showbear Circus to focus not on money, power, lauds, or pleasure but on whether the thing made, the thought reasoned, and the feeling felt are good and beautiful and true.
You can find my poems in the November 2nd edition on the main page and here:
So many songs begging Ruth Bader Ginsburg to “hang on” until there is another democrat in the white house. This one caught my attention. SNL 2019.
Thank you Red Wheelbarrow writers for accepting my poem, “Day 53”, for publication in This Uncommon Solitude your upcoming anthology of pandemic poetry.
“We are honored to showcase and share your powerful and poignant words during this unsettling time of crisis.”
Day 53 By Shannon Laws
If the world were normal now,
as it may never be again,
I might enjoy the morning.
This morning where I woke,
at 8:37 a.m., ate breakfast
drank coffee in bed, started writing,
and still under the sheets at 11:36.
If this was, let’s say, Friday, September 20, 2019,
I would not label this morning a case of pandemic fatigue,
no—it would be relaxation.
It is what the pre-pandemic modern world
used to refer as a “personal day.”
(remember personal days?)
I could find joy in working at home if all
my neighbors got into their cars and
drove to work this morning!
THEN today would be a special day for me.
But, it is not.
It is day 53 of the lockdown, and there is nothing
but the heavy responsibility of
staying home and
Jury Duty for women as a right- In 1979, Ginsburg argued Duren v. Missouri, a case in which a Missouri man accused of murder argued he couldn’t get a fair trial because of a law that made jury service optional for women. She told the court that such exemptions didn’t just make the jury pool unfair; it devalued women’s contributions to juries.
Equal pay regardless of sex- In her 2007 dissent, which she read from the bench (a rare move for any justice), she argued that the Civil Rights Act’s 180-day time limit shouldn’t apply in the case of discriminatory pay since gender-based discrimination can happen gradually. “A worker knows immediately if she is denied a promotion or transfer,” said Ginsburg. “Compensation disparities, in contrast, are often hidden from sight.”
The worldwide pause. Will we forget these months? As citizens of the planet- let us promise to never forget. The deaths, suffering, confusion from our leaders, the kindness from neighbors, the debt, the empty shelves at the grocery and in many homes, the masses unable to pay rent, buy food, after only ONE month with no pay, the healthcare system strained, buying face masks for your family, exposed drive-thru workers, crops rotting, the temporary peace in Syria. The pandemic, The Great Pause happened.
Today I am supplementing my journal with this post by Julio Vincent Gambuto writing for “Medium”. His words challenged me and I hope they help you as well today.
Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. That never happened. What are you talking about? Billions of dollars will be spent in advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms — a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it.
We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work.
The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.
For the last hundred years, the multi-billion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to re-paint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful. Taking your kids to Disneyland makes you: proud. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to re-wire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.
What the trauma has shown us, though, cannot be unseen. A carless Los Angeles has clear blue skies as pollution has simply stopped. In a quiet New York, you can hear the birds chirp in the middle of Madison Avenue. Coyotes have been spotted on the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the postcard images of what the world might be like if we could find a way to have a less deadly daily effect on the planet.
What’s not fit for a postcard are the other scenes we have witnessed: a healthcare system that cannot provide basic protective equipment for its front line; small businesses — and very large ones — that do not have enough cash to pay their rent or workers, sending over 16 million people to seek unemployment benefits; a government that has so severely damaged the credibility of our media that 300 million people don’t know who to listen to for basic facts that can save their own lives.
The cat is out of the bag. We, as a nation, have deeply disturbing problems. You’re right. That’s not news. They are problems we ignore every day, not because we’re terrible people or because we don’t care about fixing them, but because we don’t have time. Sorry, we have other shit to do. The plain truth is that no matter our ethnicity, religion, gender, political party (the list goes on), nor even our socio-economic status, as Americans we share this: we are busy. We’re out and about hustling to make our own lives work. We have goals to meet and meetings to attend and mortgages to pay — all while the phone is ringing and the laptop is pinging. And when we get home, Crate and Barrel and 3M and Andy Cohen make us feel just good enough to get up the next day and do it all over again. It is very easy to close your eyes to a problem when you barely have enough time to close them to sleep. The greatest misconception among us, which causes deep and painful social and political tension every day in this country, is that we somehow don’t care about each other. White people don’t care about the problems of black America. Men don’t care about women’s rights. Cops don’t care about the communities they serve. Humans don’t care about the environment. These couldn’t be further from the truth. We do care. We just don’t have the time to do anything about it. Maybe that’s just me. But maybe it’s you, too.
Well, the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped. Bam! And that feeling you have right now is the same as if you’d been thrown off your Peloton bike and onto the ground: what in the holy fuck just happened? I hope you might consider this: what happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open.
What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped.
Here it is. We’re in it. Stores are closed. Restaurants are empty. Streets and six-lane highways are barren. Even the planet itself is rattling less (true story). And because it is rarer than rare, it has brought to light all of the beautiful and painful truths of how we live. And that feels weird. Really weird. Because it has…never…happened…before. If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now. I cannot speak for you, but I imagine you feel like I do: devastated, depressed, and heartbroken.
As I recover from a concussion (please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year. Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note. Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me. Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance. Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.
The third poem I want to share with you is “Bowl of Epiphany”, recorded June 20, 2018, while walking the interurban. An epiphany is an experience of a sudden and striking realization. June was the month I realized it was time to stop producing radio programs and open myself up to something new. At the time I didn’t know what that was. In August, just two months after recording this poem the answer appeared. Transitions are difficult. Building a new life is scary, but what the hell else are you goin’ to do? If you don’t move, you’re dead.
I recommend listening to the audio file while reading the poem. I open Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.
I think in life it’s not just one big apple I think it’s many apples throughout a lifetime and the apple I’ve been munching on for eight years I’ve reached its core
I could eat the core put the seeds inside of me maybe an apple tree will grow in my stomach I don’t think it will
I’ve reached the core of it and I’ll toss it I’ll toss it out into a field where hopefully time will dig it into the ground and it’ll grow a new tree there and I’ll look for a new piece of fruit that I can eat it doesn’t have to be an apple maybe it will be pear, a nectarine a hybrid
but every fruit has its pit has its seed has its rind and they all end
there’s a cycle it’s the swirl of the universe it’s the way our shells grow on the beach at the bottom of the ocean
and I’ve reached the pit, I think I believed I reached it I’m ready for something new and I’m scared —scared as hell
but everything moves and changes rain falls turns into river turns into ocean turns into mist turns into the sky it turns into a cloud and more clouds until it becomes rain again
everything changes and evolves why wouldn’t people
such an easy concept
I’m going to climb that mountain an easy thing to say doing it is different I’m going to walk across the desert, it will only take a few weeks no its gonna take you forty years you need to learn a lesson you need to change you need to grow parts of you need to die
life is a bowl of cherries it’s a bowl of apples you eat them one by one