Friday, January 25, 2013

The Hollow--and not so hollow--Women

Poetry Week continued yesterday.  I met with a group of friends at work to read our poems that we wrote in response to T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" (I originally wrote "The Waste Land"--now that would be ambitious!).

I am so impressed with us.  I admit my bias, but I am still impressed.  One friend closely followed the structure of Elliot's poem, down to the subject matter of each section and the line breaks and syllables.  Wow!  She had marvelous images of scarves and prayer beads/threads and the loneliness of modern life:  a cafe offers free wi-fi so that we know we are not abandoned.

Her poem led to an interesting discussion of voice, particularly our digital voices and our voices created by vocal chords.

My other friend created a life size cut out to go with her poem.  She collaged images on the cut-out and put them on both sides.  She's got a great idea for an installation art piece.  Wow.

And I wrote the longest poem I've ever written, "The Hollow Women."  In some ways, it, too, felt like collage:  3 poems put together (but composed to go together for this assignment) along with chunks of prose that I'm using in a short story that I'm writing. 

We had a brief digression where we talked about university libraries that we have known and loved.  My current version of an academic life disappoints me in several areas:  the lack of a really good library is one of them.  I'd love a bucolic campus, but that's nowhere to be found in South Florida--every school campus is depressingly ugly down here.  It's easier to live without that when it's nowhere to be found, but other aspects of South Florida life delight.

I try to stay focused on the good aspects of my academic life here.  I have friends who write poetry and fiction and who delight in gathering periodically to read it.  I work with a great group of colleagues who are capable and self-directed.  I'm given lots of flexibility with my schedule, and my creative pursuits are encouraged by my boss.  I don't have to use personal leave to do professional development.

Still, yesterday I was surprised by the bubble of longing that surged up when we talked about libraries.  How I miss good libraries!

One friend's poem quoted Beckett.  Mine paid homage to James Joyce's Ulysses with the last chunk of the poem, which I'll put here for your Friday pleasure:

I am not the Messiah, not the Messiah, not the Messiah.  I cannot save you.  The chosen one is coming, but I cannot lace his sandals.  I am not the Messiah, not the Messiah, not the Messiah.  I eat what you would never choose, locusts and wild honey and bean husks and loneliness.  I am not the Messiah, not the Messiah, not the Messiah.  Do not look to me.  I am not the star shining in the east.  I am not the Shadow.  But neither the Messiah, which I am not, I am not, I am not.

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