The Rangeley Tuesday Breakfast Group (which actually meets at the Gingerbread House in the yet smaller town of Oquossic, ten minutes up hill) convened this morning to participate in a conversation about “New Eyes: From Order To Chaos And Back Again (And Again).” This erudite and over-accomplished group usually tackles scientific, philosophical, economic, and political topics; this was the first to address any of the arts. As you can imagine, I felt it to be a daunting task!
I pre-distributed poems by Agee, Kunitz, Yeats, Symborska, and cummings, with the question of how each author had set out to catch the reader’s attention and produce the “new eyes” result. I also included a tiny poem of my own, “Spring Sunlight,” in which a shape-shifted line results in this effect. A great deal of time was spent with the members batting around the Agee poem, “No Doubt Left. Enough Deceiving,” a brilliant hybrid poem from the 1930’s (!) beginning with five lines of bald, shocking prose before returning to rhymed ABAB form. We talked about breaking rules – how one has to know the rules and consciously choose to break them for a reason – after which I read my “Please Submit A Brief Bio,” almost all of which is a massive associative sentence, a violation of academic bios for sure. I distributed some copies of other poems that broke rules, including “Flying Poem,” by Caro Williams in the June issue of ArtAscent, a journal I praised as both beautiful and exciting.
We concluded with an exercise in which each person was to write a one-sentence description of anything – idea, living thing, object – whatever, and then write a question about it. My example was a description of a orange-breasted robin, followed by, “Why do we call him red?” After doing that for about 3 minutes, I asked them to play with their creations – break up the words, or lines, add pictures, drawings, making their writing eye-opening to others. Several were delighted with their results and shared them enthusiastically. In fact they were terrific!
What fun to see these serious-minded scholars get into poetry, see the correlations with music, art, and even creative thinking. I was so glad I had the nerve to do it – and now back to the peace of the canoe and my pad and pen.
By Marian Kaplun Shapiro
ArtAscent Art & Literature “Red” and “Unknown” Issues Distinguished Artist