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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday #10

I was cleaning off the counter 
this morning
wondering what I might do
for Post-Note Tuesday
was confronted with this

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hart Crane (1899-1932)

A recent post in which I include a dictionary definition that features the poet Hart Crane, reignited in me a desire to go back and read more of his poetry.

Mr. Crane was considered one of the Modernist Poets--the poets who broke all the heretofore existing poetry "rules" more than any other preceding poetry movement.  The Modernists began-ish with the likes of Walt Whitman & Emily Dickinson and ended-ish with the likes of Anne Carson & Sherman Alexie.  The Modernist Movement existed from approximately the late-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth.  The Modernists were brave and interesting and many will argue "rather difficult to understand".  Of that group, you will find T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound at the helm.

Hart Crane was in many ways no different.  He was a true Modernist who relied heavily upon intricate metaphors and obscure historical references to express important ideas.  The Modernists were not known for reaching the "everyday" man and required you to "work" at their poetry.  I'm assuming at this point, I have lost many of you!  Which in our non-appreciation-of poetry-yet-incredibly-poetic-world-we-live-in is simply a reality.  I'm the epitome of a non-salesman, so no sales pitch here.  Go if you must.  But if you're even vaguely interested and if my comment about our poetic-world struck a chord, please read on ........

Hart Crane wrote an overall aesthetic of "celebrating crucifixion and resurrection, horror or squalor out of which suddenly radiate hope and light." (1)  He wrote like a Modernist, acknowledging poetically the bad-ness of the world and yet, in his case, expressing poetically the possibility-ness of it all.  It is this quality in his writing that makes me love him.                            
"He takes unusual words, combines them in an unusual way, and forms them into unexpected rhythms, as if his technique as well as his subject matter were intended to expand the boundaries of consciousness.  When he was reproved for the difficulty of his work, Crane explained, in a 1926 letter to Harriet Monroe, the editor of Poetry magazine, that his object was to find a logic of metaphor that would not be the logic of rational thought.  This pursuit of unconscious interconnections of "emotional dynamics" working through abbreviated thoughts is different from the explained images of the Metaphysical poets; it works by sudden forced conjunctions that find their justification at deeper levels of meaning.  Crane has as much complexity as any modern poet, but largely self-taught, he does not present himself as difficult and allusive; rather, his powerful speech and rhythms claim the instant response that his intricate images would seem to delay." (2)
Don't feel bad if you had to read that twice.  I think I've read it seven times at this point.  In any case, his work!  Here's some:



The interests of a black man in a cellar
Mark tardy judgement on the world's closed door.
Gnats toss in the shadow of a bottle,
And a roach spans a crevice in the floor.

Aesop, driven to pondering, found
Heaven with the tortoise and the hare;
Fox brush and sow ear top his grave
And mingling incantations on the air.

The black man, forlorn in the cellar,
Wanders in some mid-kingdom, dark, that lies,
Between his tambourine, stuck on the wall,
And, in Africa, a carcass quick with flies.
                                     --Hart Crane (1926)

Crane explains, in this piece, "The word 'mid-kingdom' is perhaps the key word to what ideas there are in it.  The poem is a description and bundle of insinuations, suggestions bearing out the negro's place somewhere between man and beast." (3)

This is me, adding food for thought: this was published in 1926.  Not 2010.  Have things changed that much?  Honestly now??  Changed???  Simply, are we still racists?


In my opinion this next poem is breathtaking in its "simple complexity", and again, for its relevance to today.  Published the same year as Black Tambourine, Crane writes about Chaplinesque, ".....that I like the poem as much as anything I have done." (4)  He was a big fan of Charlie Chaplin and includes numerous references to Chaplin's The Kid in this poem--be sure to notice them.  Don't forget to notice as well, how the words sound/feel .....something all the great poets are known for.  Read it once, maybe, for meaning, and another time for sound.


We make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index finger toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!

And yet those fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies (5) are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart;
What blame to us if the heart (6) live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.
                              --Hart Crane (1926)


And finally, this one, quite coincidentally again published in 1926, that is simply ________ (fill-in the blank with a "good" word!).  Think about what it might mean to you .......don't worry at all about what it meant to him.  That simple rule is really the best way to read poetry.


The willows carried a slow sound,
A sarabande (7) the wind mowed on the mead.
I could never remember
That seething, steady leveling of the marshes
Till age had brought me to the sea.

Flags, weeds.  And remembrance of steep alcoves
Where cypresses shared the noon's
Tyranny; they drew me into hades (8) almost.
And mammoth turtles climbing sulphur dreams
Yielded, while sun-silt rippled them
Asunder . . . 

How much I would have bartered! the black gorge
And all the singular nestings in the hills
Where beavers learn stitch and tooth.
The pond I entered once and quickly fled--
I remember now its singing willow rim.

And finally, in that memory all things nurse;
After the city that I finally passed
With scalding unguents (9) spread and smoking darts
The monsoon cut across the delta
At gulf gates . . . There, beyond the dykes
I heard wind flaking sapphire, like this summer,
And willows could not hold more steady sound.
                              --Hart Crane (1926)

Now if those words could not be more relevant to today as we belabor to stuff golf balls and tire remnants into a hole on the ocean floor (has anyone thought about that "pollution" btw?  millions of golf balls & pieces of tires??  in the ocean???) then I shall eat this blog!

Thank-you for your patience readers.  This was a long one.


PS--the modernist poets usually require the most footnotes!
(1) and (2) Ramazani, Jahan; Ellmann, Richard; O'Clair, Robert, editors. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry "Volume 1 Modern Poetry". Third Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.: 2003. Print. Page 605.
(3) and (4) Ramazani, Jahan; Ellmann, Richard; O'Clair, Robert, editors. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry "Volume 1 Modern Poetry". Third Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.: 2003. Print. Page 607.
(5) quy n. pl. A funeral rite or ceremony.  Often used in the plural.
(6) According to Crane, a deliberate pun on his first name.
(7) sar.a.bande n. A stately court dance from the 17th and 18th centuries.
(8) pr. n. The underworld of Greek mythology; Hell.
(9) unguent(s) n. Ointment(s)

PPS--Here's a fascinating little Hart Crane factoid ......his dad was the candy manufacturer who invented Life Savers!!!!  (Can you imagine how a self-made business tycoon and a sensitive poet son must have gotten along?  Am guessing it wasn't smooth sailing .......)

WEIRD!!  Something else!  (I wonder if I'm the only one who's ever put this together? .....I just put it together now! ......probably not but still!)  Prepare yourself.  This is in the category of wildly speculative & horrifyingly juicy!  And incredibly p-o-e-t-i-c.

Hart was thirty-two when he jumped off a ship in the Caribbean Sea.  It's generally agreed upon that he committed suicide yet in the above footnotes, see The Norton Anthology only make it page 606, it says this!!!!  " .....he went on deck and jumped into the Caribbean Sea.  Accounts differ (cue Twilight Zone music!) as to whether or not he tried to catch the life preserver (read: LIFE SAVER!!!!!) that was thrown to him."

I shouldn't be making so much fun.  Have to make sure I get credit for making amazing connection, somehow ..........oh!  Did I say that out loud?


Hart Crane
Hart Crane biography--The Poetry Foundation

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Black Humor

This week's cartoons are SO funny .......I'm gonna cry my eyeballs out :'-(


And finally, the best worst for last:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chris Brogan

(this post first started out as a follow-up comment to yesterday's post, "Taking Chances", but it was becoming the longest comment in history so it became today's post)


Ummm people!!  Mr. Chris Brogan just COMMENTED ON MY BLOG!!!!!!

Ok normally when I quote someone or post their link I am extremely careful to, first, ask their permission.  But frankly Chris gets 10,000 emails a day.  No, here's a better way to illustrate for those of you who don't know him (although many of you do, obviously)--Chris has 137,487 followers on Twitter--to my 35.

Needless to say he's rather a rock-star in social media and my measly attempt to ask his permission would have fallen through the proverbial crack.  I thought.  To be honest, I didn't even think about contacting him.  I simply credited him.

So an hour ago when I realized  he had commented on "Taking Chances" in which I post his quote, I actually panicked!  I thought the Chris Brogan Machine must have somehow picked up my blog in search engine fashion and his "comment" was going to be a computer form letter demanding I retract my post until I received his formal permission to post it!!!

(I sound a little paranoid I admit, but remember, I have Blogger breathing down my neck like a scary monster over that one post about Steve in which they 1) won't tell me what it is they're freaking out over and 2) have it in "post jail", won't allow me to post it, until I fix the unknown "it"!!) (So ha ha Blogger!  I'm getting back at you by badmouthing you to Chris Brogan!!!)

I've heard from everyone who knows or has met Chris, how incredibly nice he is.  But to my ears it was kinda like telling me how nice Barack Obama is know?  Of course he's nice!  It's his job.  Er, one of them.

But now I know (if you haven't yet, go read his comment to me in "Taking Chances").  Chris, you really ARE nice!  I didn't even thank-you in my post cuz it didn't occur to me that you would actually read it.  So let me take this opportunity to thank-you.  I have learned a great deal from you.  You tweet more than anyone of the 16 I follow (ok! so I'm still a little tweetie newbie!!) and I don't read every single one of your tweets, but let me say, I read most and you are unfailingly positive and helpful and you manage to reach out to so many people in a very, very constructive way.  You are an inspiration.  And that is why I follow you.

And now, particularly, I think you're the bomb!


Check-out Chris's website: Chris Brogan--Community and Social Media

Follow Chris on Twitter (read in sing-song voice ....."you can be number 137,488 ....."): Chris Brogan on Twitter

Buy Chris's books: Social Media 101 and Trust Agents--co-authored with Julien Smith

PS--Chris garnered 11 more followers on Twitter in the one hour it took me to write this post.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Taking Chances

Ok I can't elaborate (unfortunately) but I took a chance today.  Not a giant one.  But one that kept me up half the night last night and made me pick at my breakfast instead of wolfing it down (like usual) this morning. 

My Facebook friends will be bored since I posted this on Facebook earlier today, but considering my angst about the chance I took, it seemed like a little gift when I received this quote in the form of a Tweet this morning--it totally helped me get through my "chance".  Sorry for redundancy Facebook friends.

Readers, meet Mr. Chris Brogan, the total guru and man's man of social media ......Chris Brogan on Twitter

PS--and I am a leader.  That I do know.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yay CSA!

Tomorrow begins another season of my CSA subscription to Mattawoman Creek Farms.

What's a "CSA" and what's a "Mattawoman"?

Rewind to Spring 2009 when I'm having my bi-weekly adjustment by most fabulous chiropractor, Dr. Mark Haynes, when he mentions to me "something something something CSA Subscription something something". Naturally I ask, "What's a CSA?"

Now Dr. Mark and his also chiropractor wife, Dr. Celeste McLean, should be the poster-couple for two of the healthiest-looking people on the planet.  I am totally not exaggerating here--any of you who know them will positively second my opinion.  I mean they are gorgeous.  Have you ever noticed that?  Super healthy=Super gorgeous??  Every time.  In a nutshell, they make their own yogurt and "juice" everything in sight.  Need I say more?  Yes! I feel strongly compelled, after shallow-sounding gorgeous remarks, to say that that they are ALSO two of the nicest, kindest, peaceful, happy, and extremely professional people I'm lucky enough to know.

I will say more about Dr. Mark and Dr. Celeste in future posts--I've included them in my cast of characters--they both, especially Dr. Mark, have been a huge influence on my lifestyle and my attitude about good health ...of which I have a long way to go .....but still! check them out: Coastal Chiropractic, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA
Anyway, Dr. Mark explains that CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and quite often is shorthand for a "subscription" during the growing season (approx. May thru Sept) to a weekly infusion of fresh, locally-grown, organic (in most cases), delicious, seasonal produce from a local farmer.  So I was lucky and was able to receive a subscription last spring (they typically fill up fast) and Thing One, Thing Two, & I ate fresh veggies & fruit 'til they were flying out of our ears, all summer!  I was grateful to Dr. Mark for tipping me off and to my new favorite organic farmers Rick & Janice of Mattawoman Creek Farms.

This year I was first in line for a subscription.  My friend MEC (hi MEC!) and I are actually sharing a subscription this year because I wasn't joking about the veggies.  They were flying everywhere.  Overflowing everything.  My refrigerator could barely close and it pains me greatly to admit that I had to throw some of it away because we couldn't eat it fast enough :-(  So I'm hoping the sharing-plan works better with my little, not-so-little family.

Our pick-up day is every Thursday in the Shorebreak Pizza parking lot from 4:00-6:00: just find the big, white refrigerated truck, pull up next to it, tell the nice man (who is sometimes Farmer Rick, but is usually someone else who I think works on the farm?) who's sitting on the tailgate, usually reading a book, whether you have a standard or large-sized box, sign your initials next to your name, say a few nice things to the man while he gets your box out of the truck (since you have a "thing" for farmers who read), tell him "thank-you, see you next week!", put your veggies/fruit in the cooler you've fabulously remembered to bring along (not necessary, but nice), and get your a** home cuz kale soup is waiting to be made!!!!!

Thing One and Thing Two were indeed subjected to kale soup last year.  To their credit, they both tried it without much arm-twisting but even I had to admit, I need to tweak that recipe.  There is an art to southern-cooking and I need some art classes!

Oh, and I have NO idea what a Mattawoman is.  

OMG!  Even I'm not this crazy: Back Away from the Bok Choy, Ma'am! (and btw MEC, we are getting bok choy in the box tomorrow!)

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Been Real Lee Hall, Room 740

Mom ....really?

Thing One is home after his freshman year at college. I remember last summer when it finally hit me that he was leaving, I spent four days in a depressed fog feeling devastated and crushed at the prospect of life without him.  Ridiculous considering that theoretically I'd known he was "leaving" for months.  But the instinct to parent is a "gathering-in" instinct, not a "pushing-away" instinct.  I  privately prepared for the worst when we left him at school in August.

It turned out that my big melt-down was those four days in the summer.  Saying our final good-byes was a breeze because it was a long, tedious, very hot day moving him in and we were all rather sick of each other by the end of it.  Here's to exhaustion usurping emotion!

I will say that Ex played a very large role in the tedium of that day, so when it came time this week to cross the state to bring Thing One home for the summer, I expertly appealed to Ex's workaholic-ness which worked like a charm.  He stayed home and I went to Blacksburg.

Moving Thing One out was still exhausting, but without Ex's anxiety and controlling nature, it was a calm exhaustion--one that makes room for emotion.  I had a moment to contemplate what a difference 9 months makes: Thing One has lots of friends. Thing One is happy here. Thing One is looking forward to returning in the fall. Thing One has grown-up a little bit.

I say out loud, "I wish I'd known last summer what I know now".  I think inwardly that the knowledge would have saved me a lot of grief. 

But then I realize, maybe not?  The kind of knowledge that saves grief is an earned thing.  I think about my own journey this past 9 months: Thing Two and I have created a nice routine sans Thing One. I started this blog. I am officially seeking a writing job. I have grown-up a little bit too.

Then I laugh when I suddenly focus on the checklist taped to Thing One's dorm-room door which I'm leaning on in my reverie's the official checking-out checklist for Lee Hall which includes all the standard items:

                              1. Remove all personal belongings
                              2. Sweep and mop floor
                              3. Clean sink area
                              4. Close windows and blinds
                              5. Turn in key to R.A.
                                  and written in blue highlighter at the bottom ...
                              6. Take a shit!

Thing One says it wasn't him that wrote it.   


Don't EVEN ask how we got this picture!