April 8, 2009

An HD diversion

So while I'm busy trying to be original and creative for National Poetry Month (yes, I'm trying to actually compse), I've talked about a couple of poems/poets/spoken word pieces I'm interested in or admired. Yeah I snuck it in all sneaky-like, I'll try to keep it up daily or semi-daily. You might have noticed the ah, minority slant too.

So I wanted to include a female poet of color, and I will, but I remembered back to my American Lit II class and how pissed I was that we'd basically gone from talking about Sherwood Anderson to Robert Frost to F. Scott Fitzgerald (which I could have been excited about but he right pissed me off, 'nother post on that later, it's special)--

We skipped right to the end to Ernest Hemingway. Oh we stuck Zora Neale Hurston in there but his delivery of her "simple" short story The Gilded Six Bits was so dismal I just locked it out and mentally went home. As usual.

Why am I mad? The shit we skipped! We skipped over people like HD and Carl Sandberg, I kid you not, basically just cause. Nyarlathotep be praised! I guess I should be glad we're getting nearer to some contemporary reading where he won't have much of a choice but to address the diversity of literature, but after seeing him handle the three people of color we've talked about, I might be taking a 2 week vacation.

So, all that leads me to this poem I picked out by HD. I was skimming through that infamous Heath anthology that's so well-worn by my manicured thumbs for some ideas and I just sort of landed on her. She may not be your favorite poet of all time, she isn't mine either. But I've always felt strangely drawn to her stark, imagist lines. At first glance I always thought they seemed kinda blank because I really enjoy rich, lush imagery--purple prose if you will, in moderation, maybe I even like it too much, but I think I've grown into a bit, you know, I'm not as ready to dismiss it as I was. Isn't that just the problem with a literary career?

Also, y'all know she was a tortured (well, maybe frustrated) bisexual right? I was so happy in 11th grade when someone did a report on her and mentioned that. Just mentioned it, not "omg she was biseckshual scandalous! LOL" she just presented it as information. Maturity, everyone!

Also, for curiosity's sake, if you figure you're interested in learning more about HD but you don't want to bust 30 bucks on a set of books, this American Poems page is a fair place to start, which is also where I drew this poem from. That was bad English but I'm off today.


Why did you turn back,
that hell should be reinhabited
of myself thus
swept into nothingness?

Why did you turn?
why did you glance back?

So you have swept me back--
I who could have walked with the live souls
above the earth.
I who could have slept among the live flowers
at last.

so for your arrogance
and your ruthlessness
I am swept back
where dead lichens drip
dead cinders among moss of ash.

What was it that crossed my face
with the light from yours
and your glance?

What was it you saw in my face --
the light of your own face,
the fire of your own presence?

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