Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hello again my fellow Bluebell readers.

How is your merry month of March? Spring is busting out all over as though nature has some poetry of her own to share. A feast for the senses as lavish as any poet ever imagined!

In my research to find great poetry for us to discuss here I have noticed that many times a particular poet will have served at one time as the United States poet laureate.

That made me wonder who was this years poet laureate and I am so glad I checked because the year ends for this years poet in May, so I almost missed it.

The nomination and title bestowed of Poet Laureate is a high honor. There are very few formal duties but it does provide notoriety of sorts and a chance for the poet to highlight a cause or platform they hold dear.Many countries appoint Poet Laureates and even some states within the US appoint their own. In some countries it is their duty to write "officially" for the government. This is not the case in America, although they are certainly free to write something if they choose.

So without further ado let us meet this years Poet Laureate!

Phillip Levine.

A native of Detroit Michigan, born on January 10, 1928, Levine worked a number of industrial jobs, including the night shift at the Chevrolet Gear and Axle factory, reading and writing poems in his off hours. Those early memories are echoed in his works, many of which are immortalized in his poetry. Viewed as a narrative poet, Levine shines at making the grit and grime of the factory seem lyrical and full of gracefulness. One such example is the poem "Coming Close," in which he presents a "quiet woman" standing for hours before a polishing wheel. But who is she, really? Levine asks. "You must come closer to find out.."

"Coming Close"

Take this quiet woman, she has been
standing before a polishing wheel
for over three hours, and she lacks
twenty minutes before she can take
a lunch break. Is she a woman?
Consider the arms as they press
the long brass tube against the buffer,
they are striated along the triceps,
the three heads of which clearly show.
Consider the fine dusting of dark down
above the upper lip, and the beads
of sweat that run from under the red
kerchief across the brow and are wiped
away with a blackening wrist band
in one odd motion a child might make
to say No! No! You must come closer
to find out, you must hang your tie
and jacket in one of the lockers
in favor of a black smock, you must
be prepared to spend shift after shift
hauling off the metal trays of stock,
bowing first, knees bent for a purchase,
then lifting with a gasp, the first word
of tenderness between the two of you,
then you must bring new trays of dull
unpolished tubes. You must feed her,
as they say in the language of the place.
Make no mistake, the place has a language,
and if by some luck the power were cut,
the wheel slowed to a stop so that you
suddenly saw it was not a solid object
but so many separate bristles forming
in motion a perfect circle, she would turn
to you and say, "Why?" Not the old why
of why must I spend five nights a week?
Just, "Why?" Even if by some magic
you knew, you wouldn't dare speak
for fear of her laughter, which now
you have anyway as she places the five
tapering fingers of her filthy hand
on the arm of your white shirt to mark
you for your own, now and forever.

When asked what he has tried to use this year as Poet Laureate for, Levine reply's:
"There's a great deal of American poetry that's hardly known and that should be known. As a poet who didn't get published for a long time, I know what it's like to not to be read. The other thing I'd like to do is reach out to readers. I would like to bring attention to the kind of people I've written about."
And that we whole heartedly commend Mr. Levine for since that is the exact intent and purpose of Bluebell Poetry also. So dear readers, it would appear that we are in good (and incredibly talented) company wouldn't it?
So until next time we meet, keep reading and creating your own spring wonders in words.


1 comment:

Taylor said...

lovely post.