Paterson, Poetry & William Carlos Williams

Directed by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and featuring actors Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani, “Paterson” is a quiet lyrical movie about day-to-day life and work and poetry and art.  There is in the film, between the characters, some discussion concerning the New Jersey poet, William Carlos Williams, who wrote the poem entitled “Paterson.”  This poem “Paterson” was initially published as an 85 line poem in 1927, and Williams later expanded it into a five volume work.

“Poet, artist, and practicing physician of Rutherford, New Jersey, William Carlos Williams wrote poetry that was experimental in form, ranging from imagism to objectivism, with great originality of idiom and human vitality. Credited with changing and directing American poetry toward a new metric and language, he also wrote a large number of short stories and novels. Paterson (1946–58), about the New Jersey city of that name, was his epic and places him with Ezra Pound (his friend) of the Cantos as one of the great shapers of the long poem in this century.”

(from “About the Author,” two Google “Books” webpages – years cited as 1969 and 2004)

The Hunter

In the flashes and black shadows
of July
the days, locked in each other’s arms,
seem still
so that squirrels and colored birds
go about at ease over
the branches and through the air.

Where will a shoulder split or
a forehead open and victory be?

Nowhere.
Both sides grow older.

And you may be sure
not one leaf will lift itself
from the ground
and become fast to a twig again.

–William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) from Collected Earlier Poems, pub. 1938

SourGrapesWCW        TheEarlierCollectedPoems           Paterson

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
firetruck
moving
tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

–William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) from Sour Grapes: A Book of Poems, pub. 1921

428px-Charles_Demuth_-_Figure_5.png    “I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold,” painting by Charles Demuth, 1928
(owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC)

 

 

 

Montage

“Montage” is a long ago song that for some reason left an imprint on my mind.  It was when I was a teenager that I heard it in the movie “How Sweet It Is” starring James Garner and Debbie Reynolds who portray a married couple who become chaperones to a group of teenagers, including their adolescent son, on a trip to Europe.  While this song’s pop melody and catchy lyrics peaked my interest, it’s actually taken me some years to actually track it down.

From what I’ve read recently it is believed that songwriter/composer/singer, Jimmy Webb, was asked to write a song specifically for this movie “How Sweet It Is” (released in 1968) and this is how the song “Montage,” was created.  The version here is sung by the group “Love Generation.”

Montage

“It was written on my mind like the back of an envelope rehearsed
and very carefully in reach,
Like cool cucumber noncommittal speech,
That I wrote while hanging out down at the beach.
And I shivered from the cold of the ice in my granite heart,
Knowing that you didn’t have a prayer,
And then I rang the bell and you were there.

And darling, then your face was full of me,
And then your eyes were, too.

And I knew that you knew that I knew
That you knew that I knew that you knew
That I knew that you knew that I knew.

I regained my self control and I tried to close my big fat mouth
Before I love you fell out on the floor,
I didn’t feel like Batman anymore,
I hit my funny elbow on the door.
And then your brother asked if I had money for a haircut,
And the pimple on my neck began to hurt,
Suddenly I wished I’d changed my shirt.

And darling, then your face was full of me
And then your eyes were, too.

And I knew that you knew that I knew
That you knew that I knew that you knew
That I knew that you knew that I knew.”

—Jimmy Webb (born, 1946)

the-love-generation-montage-from-how-sweet-it-is-i-knew-that-you-knew-imperial                       MontagePicardy

Robert Creeley — a poet

RobertCreeleyPoetApril2017

On this, the day after the final day of National Poetry Month (April 2017), a poet who wore more than one hat (in that he was affiliated with more than one group of American poets in the 20th century) is Robert Creeley (1926 – 2005).  He was considered among the Beat poets in the 1960s to be a contemporary, and prior to this, when he was a teacher at Black Mountain College when it existed in the 1950s in North Carolina, he was regarded as one of the “Black Mountain Poets.”  Later in the 1980s, and until his death in 2005, Creeley forged his own way, breaking away from the solely spare style he’d been known for, while still creating a distinctive style.  He is also considered influential in shifting poetry from depending on history and tradition as being sources of poetic inspiration and giving instead the ongoing experiences of a person’s life more significance.

I was introduced to Robert Creeley by a friend who gave me a miniature book about him entitled “Robert Creeley Autobiography.”  It turns out this small book is a reprint of Creely’s autobiography that appears in the resource “Contemporary Authors, Autobiography Series,” Volume 10 published in 1989.

I would like to read more of this poet – he is considered fairly prolific and also wrote prose and essays as well.

OLD STORY

Like kid on float
of ice block sinking
in pond the field had made
from winter’s melting snow

so wisdom accumulated
to disintegrate 
in conduits of brain
in neural circuits faded

while gloomy muscles shrank
mind padded the paths
its thought had wrought
its habits had created

till like kid afloat
on ice block broken
on or inside the thing it stood
or was forsaken.

–Robert Creeley, 1994

Mary Norbert Korte, a woman poet

 dance in a loving ring
(for Hilary Ayer Fowler)

Stop
and pattern becomes
feet like drops of
purposive water
their plash deliberate tone
to accompany their each
measure

Stop
and edge becomes
sharply rounded leading
what is the after of our
going before
not bound to arms but
mastered

Stop
and song becomes
sings itself through figure
of arms and feet
so lastly we know
with delight overtaking caught
movement

the dance of realised pattern
on the live edge
of fitting song.

–Sister Mary Norbert Korte, 1965  (this poem appears in the anthology 31 New American Poets, pub. 1968)

Eddie Mae the Cook
Dreamed Sister Mary Ran
Off with Allen Ginsberg

The halls long dark hard
enough to have survived
the ’06 Quake where survival
was measured by the sound of
Mother Superior’s Rosary Beads
she dreamed
the cooks dreamed the other nuns
dreamed impossible dreams of silver
visions pelagic noises in the
groaning night
Dreaming was a mission she could not
renounce night as a place to see
all freedoms looming ahead
like a sweet dragon like
a cross with its circling tail

She ran away in everybody’s dreams
calling out like a booming flame
running running into the lines
of bards & lions lovers & birds
running with her arms out wide
into the bright flapping dark

(A true story about a dream really dreamed by the cook at the
St. Rose Convent after Sister Mary Norbert Korte attended the
Berkeley Poetry Conference)

–Mary Norbert Korte, 1988

MaryNorbertKorteYoungWoman                                                     MaryNKorte.jpg
Born in 1934 in the San Francisco Bay area, Mary Norbert Korte was from a strong Catholic
family.  This devout upbringing led Korte to enter the convent after graduating high school
in 1952.  As a nun she furthered her education, earning a Master’s degree in the specialized
field of Silver Latin.

In 1965, Korte awakened to another calling when she attended the Berkeley Poetry
Conference and heard readings by poets Robert Creely, Jack Spice, Charles Olson, Robert
Duncan, Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsburg.  She discovered she felt as at home among the
Beat writers as she did in the convent.  Within a few short years Korte left the convent as
her passion for writing and political activism grew.

Korte was one of the original Poet/Teachers for the California Poets in the Schools
program.  Twenty years ago, in the mid 1990s, she stopped teaching in the Schools
program and shifted her energies into environmental concerns by becoming the
Environmental Director for Coyote Valley Tribe in northern California.  To support herself
Korte began teaching at a California Indian reservation.

Regarded as one of the few women of the Beat Generation, Korte’s publications include Beginning of Lines (1968), Hymn To the Gentle Sun (1967), and Mammals of Delight (1978.)  Among the anthologies that include Korte’s poems are Remember Our Fire:
Poetry by Women
 (1969), 31 New American Poets (1968) and Poems Read in the Spirit of Peace & Gladness (1966).  Today she lives quietly and writes extensively in the Redwood Forest in Mendocino County.

HymntotheGentleSunPoetry                 31NewAmericanPoets                      ThrowingFirecracksOuttheWindowWhenMyExHusbandDrivesByMNK

 

Mary Norbert Korte’s biographical information is taken from the following web page:
http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/4729

 

 

 

A snowy night…

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

— Robert Frost (American poet, 1874-1963)   Published in the collection New Hampshire (1923).  This volume of Frost’s poems is a Pulitzer-prize winning collection.

snowynightquartermoon                         220px-newhampshire

“Don’t Think Twice” – Movies borrowing Bob Dylan songs and lyrics

Most of the literate world is aware at this point that songwriter musician Bob Dylan was recently awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.  For those who don’t follow the news regularly there was some concern in the days following the announcement that Mr. Dylan couldn’t be found because he hadn’t formally commented about receiving this honor.  Finally he did respond publicly saying that receiving the award was “amazing, incredible.  Whoever dreams about something like that?”  It’s been reported that Mr. Dylan won’t be attending the awards ceremony, however, in Sweden on December 10 as he has another commitment at this time.

In the aftermath of Bob Dylan being the recipient of this award, I was reminded about seeing earlier this autumn two recent film titles that are lines lifted from Bob Dylan songs.  It made me realize how much his music has permeated our cultural consciousness.  These very recent films are entitled “Complete Unknown” (2016) and “Don’t Think Twice” (2016).

I began to wonder how many movies have borrowed their titles from Dylan songs through the years.  Here is a list of some films (as well as a few TV series):

“Forever Young” (1992)

“Corrina, Corrina” (1994) (Dylan didn’t write this blues/country song – his cover of it is well known)

“Just Like a Woman” – Three movies with this title since the late 1960s: 1967, 1992 and 2012

“A Simple Twist of Fate” (1994)

“Like a Rolling Stone” (1994) – Japanese film

“If Not For You” (1995) – TV series that ran 8 episodes

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (1997) – German film

“All Along the Watchtower” (1999) – TV series that ran 6 episodes

“Tangled Up in Blue” – Three different full length films have been made with this title.  Their respective years of release were 2004, 2009 and 2011.

“Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast” (2005)

“Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan” (2006)

“Blowin’ in the Wind” (2007)

“One Too Many Mornings” (2010)

“My Back Pages” (2011) – Japanese film

I’m actually leaving out innumerable short films and individual television episodes (from a wide range of TV series) whose titles also borrow from Dylan’s repertoire.

Epilogue

In spring 2016 Rolling Stone magazine published this list of the 100 best Bob Dylan songs. Here is the online link: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-greatest-bob-dylan-songs-20160524

And in providing some commentary in regard to these songs, writer/director Cameron Crowe states “Dylan’s stuff continues to inform every generation – it just lives and lives and lives…”

The Life of Pi

Disclaimer:  I’m afraid this isn’t going to be an objective review of a book.  I think, with the risk of sounding like a cougar or a kook or both (& possibly fickle), I’ve fallen in love with the central human in the novel The Life of Pi, the young man known as Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi).

This novel, by author Yann Martel, won a number of awards when it was first published, and it has also made its way on to high school reading lists and read by book clubs so I’m not the only reader who’s been swept up (swept away) with this character and his tale of survival.  For me it wasn’t until the latter pages of this story that I realized how emotionally wrapped up I had become with Pi and his story.

Full disclosure: In light of how I feel about cats, both big and small, I believe this aspect of my personality and emotions was also tapped while reading this story.  At one time in my life I had a cat I named “Tiger Moon.”  At another time in my life I had a cat whose survival and my ability to take care of this animal became very very important to me.  I also believe that meerkats are fascinating creatures.

Here is one of my favorite passages from this novel Life of Pi:                                                            “There were many skies.  The sky was invaded by great white clouds, flat on the bottom but round and billowy on top.  The sky was completely cloudless, of a blue quite shattering to the senses.  The sky was a heavy, suffocating blanket of grey cloud, but without promise of rain.  The sky was thinly overcast.  The sky was dappled with small, white fleecy clouds.  The sky was streaked with high, thin clouds that looked like a cotton ball stretched apart.  The sky was a featureless milky haze.  The sky was a density of dark and blustery rain clouds that passed by without delivering rain.  The sky was painted with a small number of flat clouds that looked like sandbars.  The sky was a mere block to allow a visual effect on the horizon: sunlight flooding the ocean, the vertical edges between light and shadow perfectly distinct.  The sky was a distant black curtain of falling rain.  The sky was many clouds at many levels, some thick and opaque, others looking like smoke.  The sky was black and spitting rain on my smiling face.  The sky was nothing but falling water, a ceaseless deluge that wrinkled and bloated my skin and froze me stiff.

There were many seas.  The sea roared like a tiger.  The sea whispered in your ear like a friend telling you secrets.  The sea clinked like small change in a pocket.  The sea thundered like avalanches.  The sea hissed like sandpaper working on wood.  The sea sounded like someone vomiting.  The sea was dead silent.

And in between the two, in between the sky and the sea, were all the winds.

And there were all the nights and all the moons.

To be a castaway is to be a point perpetually at the centre of a circle…”

I finished reading this book last nite and today am realizing I miss Pi.  Some characters have the ability to draw the reader in and Pi, for me, is one of them.

lifeofpi               Life-Of-PiImage2.png

 

Elvis, liking his music (& also a movie about him meeting Nixon)

Elvis!   I was too young to understand what all the fuss was about when I was growing up – I grew up on the Beatles and the first wave of the British Invasion bands that followed and Elvis just seemed corny and out of date to me.

Then one nite, in the mid 1980s, I heard a song sung live by a local rock band in the city where I was living at the time.  This song was pure rock n roll, up tempo and very danceable – it dazzled me like a meteor roaring across the sky (to make my own corny metaphor).  Afterwards I asked someone in the band who wrote this song and the musician looked at me oddly – it’s an Elvis song.

After that I began to take an interest in this American icon of rock n roll.  Within that year I watched the film performance of his 1968 Las Vegas concert.  I began to realize Elvis contributed quite a repertoire of very likeable rock n roll songs to contemporary music.  While I didn’t make it a mission to seek out any other specific songs per se, I definitely had a new respect for Elvis Presley and his music.

Now recently I saw the movie “Elvis and Nixon” released in Spring 2016 starring actor Michael Shannon as the King of Rock n Roll and actor Kevin Spacey as the President.  It’s based on the real life meeting between Elvis and Nixon that took place sometime in  Dec 1970/early January 1971.  The film takes its premise from an infamous photograph of the two of them shaking hands when they met at the White House.  No one knows what their conversation, however, was actually about.  The movie extrapolates on this meeting by additionally focusing on friends of Elvis who possibly accompanied him to the White House when he traveled there and also on Nixon’s aides who (in this film version anyway) encourage Nixon to go and ahead meet this visitor, Elvis Presley.  “Elvis and Nixon” is ultimately kind of quirky and fun and possibly of interest to Elvis fans.

Anyway here is the song that made me like Elvis!

 

Lynda Barry — hello again

This week I ran into an old friend, Lynda Barry, at least it felt that way, however I’ve never
actually met this woman.  For some time in the mid-1980s to early 1990s I knew this writer/illustrator from her comic strip “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” that was published in the back pages of a free local weekly alternative newspaper located in the city where I was living.  Barry’s unique sensibility seemed to capture the minds and hearts of my peer group at a time when venturing further and further into adulthood and its responsibilities we found there weren’t many reliable guideposts to lead us.  Lynda Barry helped soothe in an odd way somehow our adult laments.

Before this recent encounter with Lynda Barry I had a few years ago worked with children in a library and purchased Ms. Barry’s book “What It Is” with the hope that an interested child would find this book inspiring.  The day a boy chose it from among the other art and illustration books in the children’s collection I was secretly happy both for him and its creator.

Now, this week, I saw in the Sunday New York Times Book Review (7/31/2016), filling an entire page, a Lynda Barry comic strip has appeared.  “When Heidi Met Carrie: Scenes from the Book I Needed When I was 12” is something you hoped this friend would create (and she has done so without your knowing you need this).  It’s good to see you again, Lynda Barry!

MarlysAdviceonLife                      PoodleWithaMohawkLyndaBarry

America

A video clip of “America” from the musical film version of “West Side Story” – music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  The Broadway production of this musical was first performed in 1957, and the movie was released in 1961.  This musical about the Sharks and the Jets, rival gangs in NYC, is based upon the play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare.