ModPo: Seven chapters in and flagging a bit

Speeding through ModPo and I could do with a few 36 hour days and/or a better brain.  I seem to be spending more time watching discussions about poetry rather than reading poetry and I am starting to feel like a child at the fairground trying to catch up with the merry-go-round.  One of the disadvantages of a taster course is the pace: so many poets, so little time.  Then again, not enough poems – only one Robert Frost, for example, although it was discussed in detail, and I must admit that I found Mending Wall deflating after the exuberance of Gertrude Stein.  However, when this whirlwind of a course is over, the poems will be patiently waiting – poems that I wouldn’t have known about if it hadn’t been for ModPo.

I was pleased to be introduced to some of the Harlem Renaissance Poets and watching Al Filreis choke up as he recited Incident by Countee Cullen reminded me of the importance and power of poetry.

Moving on to Chapter 7, Breaking Conformity: The Beats,  I enjoyed Howl (Allen Ginsberg) but I became exhausted by the “spontaneous prose” of Kerouac.  I started to long for short lines, lineated stanzas, white space on the page.  (Dear 15 year-old-self who read, re-read, read again and carried in her black jacket pocket On the Road  – sorry XX).

I hated Anne Waldman’s Rogue State – liked the message but her spoken delivery alienated me.  What bliss to be back with the short lines of Robert Creeley’s I Know a Man.  And I enjoyed his use of linebreaks as punctuation in his recordings of the poem.

The chapter ended with the reading and discussion of Incident by Amiri Baraka.  I really admired this poem and the fascinating discussion, led by Al Filreis, that it is an expression of the complexity of incomprehensible violence.

Next week – The New York Poets.

10 comments

  1. I’m also in the course and it’s nice to know that so many of us are sharing similar experiences. We are so distant in physical space and yet so connected in creative space. Or something like that ;). Love your blog! Julie Martin

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  2. And I love your comment! Thank you. It’s a great course and I’m grateful to be part of it.

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  3. You only need 36 hour days? I was thinking 48 would be good. I agree, the discussions are so interesting but I had to cut back a bit in order to find time for sleep! Still, it is a great experience.
    I’ve even managed to write about four poems over the last few weeks (rather than my usual 4 or so per week). Have set aside the 30-day regimen I had planned to follow for October. That will have to wait till November I guess. But it has been great to meet so many like-minded poets, bloggers and poetry lovers!

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    1. Ha! Thanks for commenting. I’m enjoying the course immensely, too. Very pleased to hear it’s all staying on-line for a year – that will give me time to re-visit lots of poems I’ve had to rush through. Only three weeks to go!

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      1. Ummm I know it’s confusing. And we actually still have four weeks left. We are heading for Chapter 8 but only Week 7!

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  4. Josephine Seutter · · Reply

    It can be a bit over-whelming but I am loving every minute of it. I have so many poems that I want to experience with more time. BTW -wonderful first name!

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    1. Indeed! Good to meet you and thanks for visiting. I agree – the course is wonderful.

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  5. Hi, a modpo meetingthe course is like entering a city of poetry but its full of skyscrapers with labyrinthine corridors and doors you open into rooms that lead to more passageways…. I feel as if I’m hanging on to my hat and getting blown along.
    I have elarned such a lot but writing has gone on hold. I think my brain needs time to re-adjust.
    Nice to ‘meet’ you all. Interesting to know what you thought about the poems. I agree…only ONE Robert Frost! (but perhaps he’s not exactly wacky enough!)
    And as for john cage…whew!

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    1. Great to meet another ModPo enthusiast! I love your city of poetry analogy and I’m being battered by those wild winds, too. Thanks for being in touch.

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