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Having just learned of the death of Malinda Markham last September (2012)

I’m in shock.

 

I knew her from a brief phone conversation (arranged by my husband who

knew how much I admired her poetry) and several email exchanges, which

I’ve cherished.

 

Her work is dazzling, her language a rare combination of idea, immediacy,

metaphor and emotion.  It has inspired my own poetry again and again.

And now with an added poignancy.  I was waiting for her third book to

arrive…but alas, the world and I are left wanting.

 

Sleep well, dear Malinda.

 

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We’ve been meeting now for 17 years.  Norm and I

have been co-directors, choosing the topics for discussion

as well as films to stimulate it.  The success lies in the openness

of all participants, a willingness to express and to listen.  Our

topics range over the whole panoply of the arts, including fiction,

film, poetry, architecture and fine arts.  Our differences are well-

received…though we seem to focus more on intellectual and

subjective input.  Our participants vary in their backgrounds, mostly

professionals in a variety of fields.  That the Forum continues to

engage everyone enthusiastically is gratifying for us all.  I hope

it can serve as a model for others.

Allowing consciousness to move from the familiar, the known, into the unknown as a creative process

Ideas for keeping romantic love in a very long term relationship

On the whole, we in the U.S. speak and write in the English language…with the exception, of course, of those who
have kept native tongues. My consideration here is relative to English, as it is written…most particularly, as poetry.

Of late, I’ve been reading some of the theories and work of what has been called the L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E school of poetry. Obviously, the focus is on the words themselves…not on the poets’ intention, or prescribed meaning.
This is a very interesting approach. It allows the reader to participate in the process…not merely as a passive receiver. It tends to minimize the power the poet is exerting over the reader. In this sense, it becomes a viable political engagement. We are not being TOLD a narrative or simply given a description. We are being asked to
bring our own consciousness to the process. I like the word “engagement”….it suggests involvement and even a kind of responsibility for our own part in what’s going on. Another aspect of some Language poetry is its digression,
leaping from one focus to another, abruptly…so that the mind is called on to find connections in what appears to be disparate. Here is a language poem:

JOE

JOE

It was written by Robert Grenier, who looked on language as a visual construct. The interpretation given by Bob Perelman is that it is a call. How do you see it? I see it as rounded letters ending in a rigid one. Meaning?
A pleasant memory of a man named Joe. Or…the evocation of all the Joes in the world. So, is language a game?
Perhaps it is. The most important factor to me is that in an effort to communicate accurately we often misinterpret. Language poetry by focusing on the words themselves heightens awareness of the multiplicity of meaning…or meaninglessness…in what is said, or written.

Was Wallace Stevens an early language poet, without portfolio?

“The truth in a calm world/In which there is no other meaning…”

Does language give us meaning…or the other way around? Poetry has long been thought of as a kind of refuge…a sort of psalm or hymn….to assure the restless, vulnerable psyche. It may well be that, but I like to think of it as something more: a challenge to think as an independent thinker. That demands creativity on the part of the reader as well as the poet. Whether language poetry is an answer or not, I cannot say, or whether I particularly enjoy reading it. I do like the challenge, which also says, Meet me on your terms. That is more democratic than what passes for democracy in the world.

My heading really says it all. Living in the NOW doesn’t mean I can or want to do away with memory…or even anticipation…but it does mean, to me, not carrying over old emotional baggage that destroys this now.

It, of course, means being conscious of what that baggage is. Anticipating the negative is a carry-over and makes this now bleak and fearful.

We’re all human. So what else is new? (Ooops, that remark lost me a longtime friend). Our own self-interest is primary…even when we are extremely altruistic and seemingly selfless. So that the love I give and love I receive are both life-preservers.

The recent death of my much-loved daughter has challenged me in many ways to practice what I preach. I do grieve for the shut down of her accomplished and much appreciated life. She deserved many more than her 63 years. My emotions fluctuate from feeling unnerved to feeling sad to feeling calm. Those are my NOW…but I know (anticipate) that these emotions will level off, despite the continuing sadness…and that helps my moment.

In relation to that, there are lines which have stayed with me for many, many years and speak to this very subject:

“Life gives us moments, and for
these moments we give our lives.”

The most imprtant, and often difficult trick, is to experience fully those moments we are given…without contamination. Yes, the contamination can be the moment itself, because it’s a lived experience, but it destroys the gift. I refuse to give over to that destruction…for myself, and for those who love and care for me…or even for the world at large