Sunday, March 26, 2006

part two of those shelves of imaginary jars of memory

Water based contents:

a sixth jar: the green ocean stretching out to all horizons from the small ship, which has for weeks been avoiding storms at sea. Sunlight at last, and suddenly--a whole flock of flying fish, glittering, silver, amazing. I was five years old.

Jar seven: a canyon in Baja California. I have been walking a long time with friends, stumbling over the red-orange rocks, my legs aching. As we come over yet another hill, the creek is there, and has made rounded, smooth pools in the stone, carved by centuries of water. Hot day, cool blue green pools. And not too far away, hot springs bubbling from the red earth.

The eighth jar: carrying my then small first born I go walking through the acreage where my cabin sits at the top corner. It is spring, the honey scented bells of the madrone flowers are dropping from the trees, making little pools of whiteness under the red barked limbs. The trilliums, three cornered, surprising, light up the darkness of the woods. I am following the sound of water, knowing where one spring bubbles from the roots of a century old baylaurel tree, but hearing water sounds further on, mirrored by the water sounds of the mating ravens. The raven sound is like water being poured from narrow jugs. My baby smiles at the sound of it. As I stop for breath I notice the ferns thickly clustered at the steep hillside near my path, and there I see the pure, clear water gushing over white stone.
The bluegreen bit of rock I pick up is a bird point, a tiny arrowhead. I sit a long time thinking about the hands that made that point, and the families that walked here, and paused to sip the clear, sweet water flowing on and on.


At March 27, 2006 10:10 AM , Blogger marlyat2 said...

These are lovely... I can imagine that you might turn them into a series of poems, although I like them just the way they are!

I have read your favorite books lists, but I'm wondering what poets you like now. Palgrave obviously gave you a
'treasury," and you loved Tennyson. Who do you read now?

At March 27, 2006 11:06 AM , Blogger jarvenpa said...

My most common response to "who are your favorite poets" is "I like poems, not poets" but this isn't quite true I might like poems better though, and am always looking for poems that really--make it--for me. (I get more inchoherent and incapable of spelling when discussing poetry).
You are asking about contemporaries, though, right? I have admired WS Merwin's work since I first encountered it a long, long time ago; he goes new places with each book and poem, but seldom disappoints me. I have a love/hate relationship with Adrienne Rich's work, and also with Mary Oliver's (I loved Oliver's when I first encountered it half a lifetime ago, but am getting used to her stylistic tics to the point of annoyance). People keep dying on me, so those I think contemporary are parted from us--but I do like a lot of poets in translation (Neruda, first encountered through Merwin's translation; used to carry the little book with me). John Haines does some nice things; I like Li Young Lee (may not have the Li/Lee things right), I am always interested in what Maxine Kumin is up to, likewise Herbert Morris, though I haven't seen any of his work in a long while.(oh dear god, don't let him be dead). I've followed some of the Language school with interest (these days people on your coast rage about them, but I knew some of the group back in the early 70's when they were innocent and playful; some on my coast still have some of that magic). Living as remotely as I do I don't get into the Poetry Scene thing, but I do frequently glance through current lit mags seeking interesting little bits. Or long ones.
Do you have favorites to recommend?

At March 27, 2006 1:05 PM , Blogger marlyat2 said...

Let me see if there's anybody not on your list whose poems I'm especially fond of--anybody in particular who you might not know so well...

I'm fond of Charles Causley (died in 2003, I think it is), who comes out of an older tradition of ballad and formal poetry. He was from a Cornish workingclass background and had not been severed from the "singing school" of poetry.

I like his poems for children as well, and they're often easier to find (in illustrated collections) than his collected poems. And they often have a wonderfully fantastical air. Definitely not just for children. I have his earlier collected poems in a very pretty paperback from Godine.

Dana Gioia said something about him being "the most unfashionable poet alive." Now I suppose Charles Causley is "the most unfashionable poet" recently alive. He was, I believe, a friend of Ted Hughes.

I'm interested in Kathleen Raine, an English poet who called Yeats and Blake her masters, and I often dip into her "Collected Poems" (from Counterpoint.) I didn't know a thing about her until a few years back when I read an essay by Tom Disch in his "The Palace of Indolence." (Essays on poets and poetasters, he subtitles it, I think--or something in that spirit.) I regret not writing Kathleen Raine to tell how much I enjoyed finding her poems, because she died not long ago.

At March 27, 2006 2:11 PM , Blogger jarvenpa said...

I also like Kathleen Raine; will seek out your Charles Causley, whose work I do not know. Godine does some of the loveliest books out, I think.

At March 27, 2006 5:26 PM , Blogger marlyat2 said...

He's sometimes hard to find--took me forever to get a copy of my own.

Yes, I love their books. My first book was a Godine, and it is very much a little treasure, lovely and thoughtfully designed. David Godine gave me a copy of it "in undress"--showing how it's all put together--in a little bound case. It's cunning, and a great show-and-tell item.

At March 27, 2006 5:46 PM , Blogger jarvenpa said...

Ah, but your search was probably before the internet--I think I will have some Causley in hand quite soon; the bits I have found online have been lovely indeed.

At March 27, 2006 6:39 PM , Blogger marlyat2 said...

Actually I did search online, but at that particular moment all the copies were sky-high... And the newest collected must have been bought by people who don't want to give it up! But maybe he has settled down by now.

At April 01, 2006 11:44 AM , Blogger Em said...


Totatly unrelated to your post as I just wanted to say Hi to you!

At April 01, 2006 11:51 AM , Blogger jarvenpa said...

Hi Em--still fluttering those long lashes?


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