Sunday, December 02, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

Shortly after being appointed United States Poet Laureate in 2001, Billy Collins created a website,   to give young people "the notion that poetry can be a part of everyday life as well as a subject to be studied in the classroom.  On the website, I ask high school teachers and administrators to adopt the program by having a new poem read every day -- one for each of the roughly 180 days of the school year -- as part of the public announcements," either read over a PA system or in school assembly or in each class.  The idea was that students could hear poetry daily without feeling it was something to be "studied," just enjoyed for the pleasure it brought.

Those poem have been collected into two wonderful paperbacks edited by Collins, called, "Poetry 180" and "180 More." They feature a wide variety of new voices, all brought together in two volumes, so you too can have a poem a day. This one is from "180 More" and is by David Graham.

The Dogs in Dutch Paintings

How shall I not love them, snoozing
right through the Annunciation?  They inhabit
the outskirts of every importance, sprawl
dead center in each oblivious household.

They're digging at fleas or snapping at scraps,
dozing with nobel abandon while a boy
bells their tails.  Often they present their rumps
in the foreground of some martyrdom.

What Christ could lean so unconcernedly
against a table leg, the feast above continuing?
Could the Virgin in her joy match this grace
as a hound sagely ponders an upturned turtle?

No scholar at his huge book will capture
my eye so well as the skinny haunches,
the frazzled tails and serene optimism
of the least of these mutts, curled

in the corners of the world's dazzlement.


Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Great post and poem - thanks Ann!

Anonymous said...

What is Lou doing with that young college girl?

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Hey Anon, how're you liking the weather here in North Carolina?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 1000 hrs. You should just self-immolate now. Not a clue!

Alon Perlman said...

My doggerel about dog poems.
Let sleeping dogs be,
best left expressed,
in swirls of oils and tempura.

This particular poem did not do it for me, didn't make me perk my ears, salivate or wag my tail. Very wise, clever, but yet, somewhat predictable and trite to my taste.

This is what Graham posted in a pre-ramble for the “Dutch masters” poem
“My apologies for missing yesterday. When you leave for work at 6am, rush home right afterward to walk your dog before heading 45 minutes away for book club, not to return home until 9pm… you go to bed instead of posting a poem. Anyway, I’ve gained a new appreciation for dogs after getting one a year ago (has it been a year???). My adorable little pooch is currently curled up in her bed. Alas that I have not the talent to paint her like the Dutch masters!”

There is a nice photograph of his dog in the post.

So, I checked David Graham out further and (though he has let his links expire), he has quite a few works extant that did appeal and ring real to me. One category that jumped out in a cursory review would be “remembering girls in bars”. He also is sometimes self referential to the art and his subjects reflect his role as a teacher, kind of like many poems in the Collins 180 project itself= teaching poetry in the language of poetry.
This one combines two themes
And this one is just pretty amazing
Pretty fun.
And I also happened to serendipitously chance on a great poetess, quoted without attribution, while looking up David’s dog’s poem-
Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Alon Perlman said...

The brute force, the raw power.

Zovi offers
Flag shopping stranger
provides you an encircling
You apostrophize b supplicate product,
upstairs button.
Feed your mailing discourse, your home,
mewl allows you living soul.
On touching your close by, your doorstep.
Zovi adversary gain its stirring tries.
your shopping coin of the realm.
Get beyond everything.

From the archives of ”Gained in translation”