* a revisit, prose poem thoughts, & thanks

Footnote – James Schuyler

 

The bluet is a small flower, creamy-throated, that grows in patches in New England lawns. The bluet (French pronunciation) is the shaggy cornflower, growing wild in France. “The Bluet” is a poem I wrote. The Bluet is a painting of Joan Mitchell’s. The thick blue runs and holds. All of them, broken-up pieces of sky, hard sky, soft sky. Today I’ll take Joan’s giant vision, running and holding, staring you down with beauty. Though I need reject none. Bluet. “Bloo-ay.”

Tiny_Bluets

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about James Schuyler’s “The Bluet” which he references in the prose poem above. I just discovered the above poem in a prose poem anthology I’m reading for my exams. I marvel at how much of Schuyler’s human fascination comes through in both his poem and “footnote.” The added information here, both of pronunciation (I’ve been saying it “blue-it” as in I really blew it with that pronunciation) and of Mitchell’s artwork, adds layers to Schuyler’s ongoing meditation on the bluet. Both in lyric and in prose, the flower is turned over, “running and holding” for both Schuyler and reader.

Earlier this week, I posted about the release of my collection Everything We Think We Hear (available for purchase on Amazon). In discussing the project with friend and poet John Sibley Williams on Facebook, I found myself realizing something about the ambition of the project in its turns between prose poetry and microfiction. At one point, I wrote:

So much of what we do in a poem, prose or lineated, is about what’s unspoken, while microfiction lends itself to more narrative completion. The most apt metaphor I can think of at the moment is those jeans and hoodies that come pre-scuffed up and torn, a narrative holding but frayed.

There’s a great quote from Robert Frost about poetry books where he says that if a book of poems has 25 poems, the book as a whole should stand as the 26th. This quote has long been an inspiration behind the strategies I use in putting a manuscript together. This quote also points to the way projects can have pockets of the same idea, varying shades of the same color. In the spirit of Schuyler’s takes on the bluet, I hope variations in form and intent work out an added layer to the reading experience in Everything We Think We Hear.

Thank you to all who have reached out with kind words and good wishes on the recent publication! Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy or plans on doing so (you totally should)! And lastly, thank you to John for getting my brain thinking 🙂

Happy bluet-ing!

Jose

P.S. After all that, it’s still a painting command in my head: “blue it!”

* youthful counting with W.S. Merwin

I remember when I came across this week’s poem in 2008.

I was living another life on a street called Olive. The newsprint of the journal I was subscribed to at the time was never more precious, seemingly perishable, as when I read and later copied out this lyric by hand.

I knew then the poem was doing more than I could see.

The lack of punctuation echoed what I had then read and reread of Robert Frost, how he felt the language and phrasing of speech should guide as it does here. Also: how Frost could fill in a fifty character telegraph message with one sentence and no need for punctuation.

The other thing I catch now that I didn’t then is how the poem is worked out in ten syllable lines. I have been doing this kind of syllabic counting for years, but rarely have I caught others in the act. Makes  me want to go over so many poems again and reread them with sharper eyes.

Which is the hope, really, of youth: to sharpen.

Over time, I’ve seen that one does not necessarily sharpen, but things do: memories especially.

Merwin’s last line here is for the ages.

* not so insta-gram *
* not so insta-gram *

Youth – W.S. Merwin

Through all of youth I was looking for you
without knowing what I was looking for

or what to call you I think I did not
even know I was looking how would I

have known you when I saw you as I did
time after time when you appeared to me

as you did naked offering yourself
entirely at that moment and you let

me breathe you touch you taste you knowing
no more than I did and only when I

began to think of losing you did I
recognize you when you were already

part memory part distance remaining
mine in the ways that I learn to miss you

from what we cannot hold the stars are made

 ***

Happy mading!

Jose