Monday, January 16, 2012

Mondays Poetry Review

Hello all my fellow poetry readers. How is the wonderful month of January finding you? While most of us in the Northern hemisphere are still being held in the icy grip of Jack Frost, there is nothing like a great poem to warm the heart and occupy the mind.

For your perusal on this fine winter day I have selected a work by Kay Ryan. First a little background on this writer...

She worked as a part-time remedial English teacher for over thirty years at the College of Marin in Kentfield, California, Ryan published her first major book of verse, Strangely Marked Metal (1985), at the age of forty. Since then, she has published seven additional volumes of poetry,

Kay Ryan was just named the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her supple, spare poems in “The Best of It” [Grove Press, 2010], a collection of new and selected work. Ms. Ryan, who also served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2008-2010.

Here is a Kay Ryan quote that I absolutely loved:

"I never, ever worry about poetry or its survival because it’s the very nature of a poem to be that language that does survive. Poems are even better than tweets – they don’t require any electronic equipment. They can lodge right in your brain. They are by nature short. You don’t even have to remember all of them — you can remember just a phrase. That can be something you can turn to in any emergency, good or bad. You’ll pluck out a little group of words, just maybe a phrase, and that’s exactly what poetry is for. It’s for the things that really last. Because it lasts."

So without furthur ado, here is a selection from the works of Kay Ryan:

Poetry is a Kind of Money

Poetry is a kind of money
whose value depends upon reserves.
It’s not the paper it’s written on
or its self-announced denomination,
but the bullion, sweated from the earth
and hidden, which preserves its worth.
Nobody knows how this works,
and how can it? Why does something
stacked in some secret bank or cabinet,
some miser’s trove, far back, lambent,
and gloated over by its golem, make us
so solemnly convinced of the transaction
when Mandelstam says love, even
in translation?”

I was intrigued by the unfamiliar name Mandelstam so I had to find out who that was and why did Kay Ryan refer to him/her in this poem? As it turns out, Mandelstam was a Russian poet known for his sparse use of common words such as love, preferring other terminology to express the sentimeni instead.Another note of interest is that Mandelstam and his wife Nadezda lived one of the most moving love stories of the 20th century. They were together for 19 years before Stalin had him murdered. Nadezda memorized her husband’s poems, fearaful of their destruction if they were found on paper. While on the move herself, afraid of arrest she kept them alive in her heart and when the politival climate became more favorable, she committed them to paper once again, salvaging them from oblivion.

The poem above as well as many other gems can be found in this book:

Thanks for stopping by for this weeks Bluebell Poetry review and stay warm everyone!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very interesting article! I will follow your themes.
Can I subscribe to your posts on Twitter or on your Facebook profile?