Monday Morning

Keith-carter-nevermore-1948

Another yawned,

another gazed at the window:

…The blaze of promise everywhere.

~ Mark Strand, from “Always; For Charles Simic” in Collected Poems

 


Photo: Nevermore – by Keith Carter (1948), USA – Source: keithcarterphotographs.com (via Your Eyes Blaze Out). Poem: via 3quarksdaily

Intense Rendezvous: An eye blinks, a muscle shifts, a hand reaches up to turn the page.

arnold smulders

Christian McEwen, World Enough & Time, Chapter Six: Intense Rendezvous – The Joy of Reading:

Compared to drawing and carving, the making of pots, and the weaving of baskets, reading is a relatively recent human accomplishment, dating back no more than fifty-two hundred years. Unlike speech, which is acquired by easy osmosis, reading is not something that comes naturally to most of us. Instead, it must be learned, slowly and painstakingly, by each successive generation. The eye works its way across the page in little jumps, known technically as “saccades,” pausing at intervals like a frog on a lilypad, in order to ingest the next new word. As science writer Simon Ings explains, “The eyes literally cannot see stationary objects; they must tremble constantly in order to bring them into view.” Whereas listening is relatively fast (one needs only a hundredth of a second between sounds in order to distinguish them), looking takes far longer (one needs at least a tenth of a second between two images if they are not to blur), and reading takes longest of all, requiring a full quarter second for each individual word. Reading, then, involves a considerable amount of work. Literate Greeks and Romans preferred to have their books read aloud to them by slaves, and Saint Augustine was actually startled when he first saw Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, reading to himself in silence. “When he read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart explored the meaning, but his voice was silent, and his tongue was still.”

∴ ∴ ∴

Such reading is especially effective in the case of poetry, which by its nature has much to do with slowing down. The poet Mark Strand writes of the pleasure of “reading the same thing again and again, really savoring it, living inside the poem.” Because there’s no rush to find out what actually happens, the reader can luxuriate in the texture of the words themselves. As Strand explains, “It’s really about feeling one syllable rubbing up against another, one word giving way to another, and sensing the justice of that relationship between one word, the next, the next, the next.” [Read more…]

Hopper & Shirley: Morning Sun

morning-sun-edward-hopperedward-hopper-morning-sun-1952

“In Hopper’s paintings we can stare at the most familiar scenes and feel that they are essentially remote, even unknown. People look into space. They seem to be elsewhere, lost in a secrecy the paintings cannot disclose and we can only guess at. It is as if we were spectators at an event we were unable to name; we feel the presence of what is hidden, of what surely exists but is not revealed. By formalizing privacy, by giving it a space where it can be witnessed without being violated. Hopper’s rooms become sad havens of desire. We want to know more about what goes on in them, but of course we cannot. The silence that accompanies our viewing seems to increase. It is unsettling. It weighs on us like solitude. “

— Mark Strand, Hopper


The first image is Edward Hopper’s 1952 painting titled Morning Sun. The second, is a screen shot from the film “From Shirley – Visions of Reality” where Austrian Director Gustav Deutsch has recreated 13 of Hopper’s better-known paintings with images that bear an uncanny cinematic recreation of Hopper’s works. Hopper’s paintings are brought alive by the film, telling the story of a woman, whose thoughts, emotions and contemplations lets us observe an era in American history. Shirley is a woman in America in the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and early ‘60s.” (Phaidon)


Credit: Mark Strand Quote and inspiration: To Escape From a CommonPlace of Existence

 

I find them evenly lit

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NY Times: Mark Strand, 80, Dies; Pulitzer-Winning Poet Laureate:

Mark Strand, whose spare, deceptively simple investigations of rootlessness, alienation and the ineffable strangeness of life made him one of America’s most hauntingly meditative poets, died on Saturday at his daughter’s home in Brooklyn. He was 80. Mr. Strand, who was named poet laureate of the United States in 1990 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1999 for his collection “Blizzard of One,” made an early impression with short, often surreal lyric poems that imparted an unsettling sense of personal dislocation — what the poet and critic Richard Howard called “the working of the divided self.”…“He is not a religious poet on the face of it, but he fits into a long tradition of meditation and contemplation,” said David Kirby…He makes you see how trivial the things of this world are, and how expansive the self is, once you unhook it from flat-screen TVs and iPhones.” Reading Mr. Strand, he said, “We learn what a big party solitude is.”…To critics who complained that his poems, with their emphasis on death, despair and dissolution, were too dark, he replied, “I find them evenly lit.”

He has too many favorite poems to share…so I have shared links to short excerpts, morsels, to enable you to feel the genius of this man.

  • Luminism: “And though it was brief, and slight, and nothing / To have been held onto so long, I remember it…”
  • Black Maps: “…A scar remembers the wound.” 
  • The Guardian: Why do I love what fades?”
  • The Triumph of the Infinite“All I could hear was my heart pumping and pumping.”
  • The Coming of Light: “..Even this late it happens: the coming of love, the coming of light.”
  • Dark Harbor: “…Sending up stars of salt, loud clouds of spume.”
  • The Continuous Life: “…You are slipping away with nothing completed, nothing / To prove you existed.”
  • Not Dying: “…On windless summer nights I feel those kisses…”
  • Sleeping With One Eye Open: “…We all have reasons for moving. I move to keep things whole.”
  • Lines for Winter: “…Tell yourself in that final flowing of cold through your limbs that you love what you are.” 
  • The Remains: “…The hours have done their job. I say my own name. I say goodbye.”

Credits: Photo – jrbenjamin.com

All I could hear was my heart pumping and pumping

icicles,sun,sunset,sunrise,winter

I got up in the night and went to the end of the hall.
Over the door in large letters it said,
“This is the next life. Please come in.”
I opened the door.
Across the room a bearded man in a pale-green suit turned to me and said,
“Better get ready, we’re taking the long way.”
“Now I’ll wake up,” I thought, but I was wrong.
We began our journey over golden tundra and patches of ice.
Then there was nothing for miles around,
and all I could hear was my heart pumping and pumping
so hard I thought I would die all over again.

— Mark Strand, The Triumph of the Infinite


Mark Strand, 79, was born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. He is an American Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blizzard of One. This passage is an excerpt from his new book titled “Almost Invisible” which is comprised of whimsical, prose-style dramas that explore the receding vista of life while posing eloquent, riddle-like conundrums about the human condition. Sometimes appearing as pure prose, sometimes as impure poetry, they are like riddles, their answers vanishing just as they appear within reach. Fable, domestic satire, meditation, joke, and fantasy all come together in what is arguably the liveliest, most entertaining book that Strand has yet written.” (Source: Amazon.)  Find the book at this link.

Credits: Poem – Fables of the Reconstruction. Photograph: “Fire & Ice” by Steve Taylor via Elinka. Thank you
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