Monday, April 16, 2012

Here coffin that slowly passes, I give you my sprig of lilac...

- "Prais'd be the fathomless universe, for life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious, and for love, sweet love- but praise! praise! praise! For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death."

- Lucille Clifton's poem, "September Songs, A Poem in Seven Days,"I think mirrors some of the themes of "When Lilacs Last..."  Clifton refers to the happenings of 9/11 and the sorrow that surrounds it but juxtaposed with the motifs of fear and death is the birth of her granddaughter Bailey.  She describes the feeling of hatred being outweighed by the all consuming love for the wonderful birth of life in her family. She acknowledges that she knows no one is exempt from death and sadness but that in spite of the violence in the world there still remains love and beauty and new hope.

- "and I am consumed with love for all of it
the everydayness of bravery
of hate of fear of tragedy
of death and birth and hope."

- I also found a similar tone Robert Creeley's poem, "Ground Zero."  The poem is short and sweet but he touches on the themes of ever-continuing life and the fact that everyone is headed for the same inevitable fate of death.  Everything that exists now is only temporary, as were the twin towers, and everything that will exist in the future will only be temporary.  We must all accept this and live anyway because we are only given one chance and regardless of what happens in any one moment in time we will all ultimately turn to dust.

- "Persist, go on, believe.
Dreams may be all we have."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Project Possibility

I thought that for my project it would be interesting to explore some of Whitman's other work other than "Leaves of Grass."  After spending so much time with "Leaves of Grass" I'm curious about his other writing and seeing the evolution of his work outside of the edits of "Leaves of Grass."  I thought that it would also be interesting to write an original poem either directly based on a piece by Whitman or maybe framed after one of his poems.  In one of my other poetry classes from a previous semester we had to choose a poem that we had studied and liked and them write our own poem using that one as a template.  I enjoyed the project because with the framework already laid out it made room for creativity in other areas.  I thought it might be fun to choose a piece by Whitman for a project like this and sometimes I find that when working off of another poet's work I am able to discover something about my own writing and put an original twist.

Whitman in Mass Culture and Modern Media:

     Before I had closely read the work of Whitman I was always aware of him as a poet and a figure that has continued to influence people over the course of a century.  When we first discussed Whitman appearing in modern contexts what initially came to mind was the Ginsberg poem "A Supermarket in California."
      This semester I am also taking a Bob Dylan class where we analyze Dylan's body of work from the start of his career in the 1960's.  In addition to studying Dylan we also delve into the work of the Beat poets, Ginsberg being a prime example.  In his poem "A Supermarket in California" he directly addresses Whitman throughout the poem and I thought it was an interesting synchronicity to come up between my courses.
     "What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon...I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys."

I feel like I hear references made in shows and movies all the time to Whitman himself or his poetry but one that i remembered was from an episode of "Friends" when Joey is dating a woman named Charlie who is out of his league in terms of intelligence and education.  She is suggesting activities for them to do on their date and she mentions a museum exhibit showcasing the letters of Whitman.

These were the most recent references I could think of but when searching online for other instances of Whitman included in mass culture i found that he had been mentioned on many other shows and movies I've seen such as "Six Feet Under" and "The Twilight Zone."  It seems that Whitman's reputation as a writer lent for the credibility of institutions that used his name of image such as the Walt Whitman Hotel in New Jersey.  I think that we will continue to see Whitman appear in mass culture, and now that I've taken this class the reference won't go over my head!