What Use is Poetry? Featured Book – Tracings by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
In the Red Engine Press January 2006 e-newsletter, “Yarnspinners and Wordweavers,” Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of Tracings, writes:
“Auden idea the reason for poetry is to disenchant. That, my reader, can be why I am now not tons for rhyme or pretty, even though I like food pictures, particularly chocolates. I prefer melancholy, reflective and if the music is sung, let it discord to hold the reader alert make him reconsider. Nursery rhymes are for nurseries, sunsets to be viewed firsthand from a bluff, preferably even as preserving palms with someone handsome. The tendons of the quality poetry are politics, introspection, and the abominable snowmen amongst us tempered–on occasion–with the aid of a glance lower back at wherein we have been. Oh, and irony. That’s better than tiramisu and latté for preserving humans speak me past due into the nighttime.”
In the preface to One Hundred and One Famous Poems, published in 1929, editor Roy W. Cook talks approximately the excellent want for poetry in the advanced commercial age.
While the advanced age, with podcasting and blogs, has made poetry more significant reachable, poetry is also considered frivolous–and truly not profitable. It’s a disgrace because Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s poetry could cause an air raid to sound still and calm. She can let us stand beside an uncle who smells of Barbasol and is on his way to battle. The diffused message is clear: Stop. Pay attention. Listen.
Most people wrote poetry in excessive college that protected protests towards dad and mom, petitions to teenage crushes or the standard “my lifestyle stink, what’s the meaning of all of it” poems. As adults, we may also dribble our wine-and-cappuccino-soaked angst onto the page. As a personal remedy, poetry frequently cannot be beaten, and it helped poet Dessa Byrd Reed heal after an automobile twist of fate. But Reed grew to become her healing writings right into a passion for poetry that took her to China currently.
Poetry is applicable in the contemporary textual content-messaging high-tech world, as evidenced by using all of the poetry websites. It speaks of affection, as in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnets. It relates eternal epic truths, as in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. It captures the cry of technology, as in Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” It reflects, as in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. It makes a cinematic statement about freedom behind bars, as in the film “Slam.” It speaks of the Divine, as within the poetry of Thich Nhat Hanh. I consider Carolyn Howard-Johnson that poetry movements us–or it ought to if we want to move others. Howard-Johnson’s poetry moved Compulsive Reader editor Magdalena Ball to name Tracings to The Compulsive Reader list of “Top Ten Reads of 2005.”
Howard-Johnson pokes fun at graphics of poets on poetry magazines; however surely loves poetry:
“So long earlier than you took up a pen, wrote photos,
you imagined them in liquid blue, the tales of others,
It’s easy to get stuck up in our memories without knowing them. Howard-Johnson peppers her poetry with images of the journey, not simply worldwide but time tour. She remarks in “Poetry, Quantum Mechanics and Other Trifles” that her critique institution warns her she complicates her poems with too many layers:
The poet Rainer Maria Rilke talked about the truths of existence in Sonnets to Orpheus, displaying us that a young ballet dancer, dead, is not all the time long gone but isn’t seen to us. That’s “the truth of this kind of grand/dessert.” That’s what poetry is about–revealing, evoking, describing, thought-frightening. Poetry connects the past with the existing and destiny. Howard-Johnson can visit the ancient the conflict museum at Oslo and reflect on the battle as it affected the arena:
“Norway’s fjords shed salty droplets
on faces like my father’s. Round faces. Eyes dilute-blue
just like the dull skies above them. Men who fought
Howard-Johnson considers war as it now impacts her own family:
“Only days before
I reached this spur, I saw my grandson off to warfare, by myself.
A sacrifice. An alternative. For my father, who never marched.”
We feel the sense of area in poetry. However, the place is fluid, as in Howard-Johnson’s paintings–a flight from LAX to Salt Lake City can take her through her youth domestic in which her mother washed a slip every night. The unities of time and location in good drama or a brief story can be tweaked in poetry–even though often the poet, like a painter, wants to listen to interest on one time, one area, one concept. Good poetry can tell a story or seize a temper each way.
Dr. James Ragan, the director of the University of Southern California Master of Professional Writing Program where I graduated in 1999, says in an interview quoted on the Master of Professional Writing Web web page:
“You want to task yourself. Ask yourself, is my time here going to have the meaning I need for it to have? Poetry has given me what that means. But then I had to write on the extent that allowed me to move borders as well as time, and that is the task of introduction.”
Ragan, like Howard-Johnson, strives for common issues. The non-public and the usual aren’t together exclusive. A poem may be peppered with non-public information, however, it may additionally capture a commonplace history (World War II), the need for tolerance (a fave subject matter in Howard-Johnson’s work), growing old, the worry that a poet has started too overdue in existence, which Howard-Johnson captures in “A Reel Left Running”:
“Now age obscures pics, pulled taffy,
whisked meringue, they melt, warfare to be named.
So plenty there is to say, your craft left idle for years,
equipment lay fallow, and now, there’s so little time.”
It is no longer the output that matters with poetry–many college-age poets and their older colleagues produce reams upon reams of the equal poem on every occasion. William Wordsworth becomes in no way identical from poem to poem; Ginsberg went through poetic levels; Arlo Guthrie produced “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre,” “This Land Is Your Land,” and the post-Katrina oft-performed anthem “City of New Orleans.” Emily Dickinson’s poems have a commonplace style. However, they are all unique. While not unusual issues and pics (together with cooking and cakes, as she points out) thread themselves via Howard-Johnson’s chapbook, her poems do not provide you with the experience that you hear the equal old again and again.
Dessa Byrd Reed said it best during a writers’ night at Barnes and Noble in Palm Desert: “Poetry is the language of marvel.” The surprise in this contemporary international is that our language, with its profanities, “That’s warm” catchphrases, e-mail shorthand (no longer inspired by way of e.E.Cummings) that stimulated the e-book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, makes room still for poetry and beauty.
Does this suggest a poem has to be deep and weighty to be meaningful or lovely? You may additionally have listened to pompous, ponderous poems on The Meaning Of It All. Wolf Knight, a poet from Ann Arbor, Michigan, poked fun at dusty professors whose books sit unread in university libraries. While the traditional poems may demand more of our time and attention, they make for less complicated studying than a twenty-page musing on the that means of a fly on the wall (though a fellow poet and then-med pupil at the University of Michigan did produce a high-quality poem about a fly.)
Howard-Johnson’s poetry is significant and pleasant to study…No longer best that it makes us suppose, as she says, about who we have been and in which we are going. Poetry is more excellent by using small information, but poetry itself is enormous.
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