Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March

I worked on a poem yesterday, well more like struggled with a poem. There was so much I wanted to say. But the more words I added, the worse it became. Nothing of the meaning came through. How could adding more words make meaning more obtuse? But so it was.

Then last evening I did a movie and dinner with my poetry mentor, Diane. She told me that this was the second year she'd been asked to judge a national haiku contest. Each judge was given 500 haiku that had been published in journals and had to choose five. Then each judge was given those five choices of the other judges to rank the top ten. She explained that last year she agonized over the process, afraid she would reject something worthy. But this year she did not agonize and enjoyed it.

Sometime after waking up this morning it occurred to me that maybe less would be more in that poem I struggled with. Maybe haiku would express the imagistic meaning I felt far better than the explanatory lines I kept adding. Maybe what is best rises to the surface when more and more is eliminated. I don't know how well this haiku works for a reader (or judge), but it expresses what I feel about this moment of anticipation in nature. The haiku is an opening, for the music.


March 

stems and sticks upright in snow 
bows at rest, ready 
for a cello to play “suite”




 

28 comments:

  1. Your beautiful haiku, paired with Bach and Yo-Yo Ma. Beautiful, perfect, and "suite.'

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    1. Thank you for your short and "suite" response, George. I had never before seen Yo-Yo Ma's face close up while performing, and I find it very moving.

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  2. i feel your less is more almost as though walking through the woods beside you and opening to the day.

    just yesterday afternoon i made my way through the forest. i didn't know if i could as there are 3-4 feet of standing snow but the tracks ahead of me were frozen enough, that of a previous snowshoer, that if i was careful i could follow. and while the wind stung my face so badly i wasn't sure i could endure, i knew (knew) the sun had changed, had entered the course toward the new season. i felt it on my back and as i worked through the forest, the once difficult and cold wind left me and i had to shed my coat and push up the sleeves of my sweater. this transition between seasons is a pocket of wise quiet that opens just as your poem opens a place in me of attention and reverence.

    xo
    erin

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    1. Thank you for "a pocket of wise quiet" and the image of you running through the forest in it, Erin. I am grateful for these openings and attentions, so grateful to see and feel what is here, and for it to be magnified through friendship with you.

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  3. All in all quite lovely. One of my favourite pieces of music in all the world and your haiku is perfect accompaniment...

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    1. It is an iconic piece of music, yet each time I watch and listen to Yo-Yo Ma play it, it feels like the first time. Thank you for your kind words.

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  4. I always like the spareness and austerity of haiku.
    It forces a clarity and simplicity.
    Yours is quite lovely as is the music.

    I feel it is often a mistake to worry and fuss over a poem that isn't working
    one does a bit better with 'the first fine careless rapture'.....usually.

    Wordsworth's "It is the first fine day of March" says it best ......'put on with speed your woodland dress/And bring no book:for this one day/We'll give to idleness......"

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    1. Elizabeth, your insight is clear and far-reaching, and the quotes sharp and exhilarating. Letting go of the mind, the analyzing mind, is utterly necessary, not just for writing poems, but for living. Of course we need the mind in our rational dialog with the world, but it must be balanced with submission to the heart.

      It seems your trip to Morocco was full of great colors, smells, patterns and flavors.

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  5. Explaining how you got to the haiku was so generous of you! How we come to understand, how we mentor each other, all are part of a process usually frightening. We are a work in progress; so are our curated words.

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    1. How love how you think and express yourself, Rosaria. Thank you.

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  6. Thanks for this insight into the genesis of your haiku, Ruth. I think there's a lot we can take from your tale. 'How could adding more words make meaning more obtuse?' A rhetorical question, I'm sure, in retrospect, but such struggles with mind, pen and paper have us crying out thus in frustration. Then suddenly something other, something tangential, a dinner with a creative friend, perhaps, or a good night's sleep — and the answer comes to us, seemingly out of nowhere, when our brains have relaxed, or been in another place.

    I heard a fascinating programme on the radio this very afternoon about the psychology of thought and problem solving, and how the answers often materialise, not when we are really straining with our brains in forced intellectual mode, but when we are free-associating, or in a state of relaxed awareness, or when we are idly drifting from this to that and not trying too hard. (Just think how crossword clues come to one, or names of places or people or any facts we have temporarily 'forgotten'.)

    Another coincidence: in my post today arrived from Amazon Bashō's 'Narrow Road To The Deep North', packed with travel sketches — and haiku poems.

    Your haiku was a lovely prelude to Bach's own prelude, just as winter snow is a prelude to spring sunshine, and as today is the necessary prelude to the rest of our precious life.

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    1. I am delighted that what came to you on the air waves and in the post was so well synced with my post! It truly makes sense what they said about releasing our brains and letting answers come. It is very Zen, but it is also physiological. I've experienced it time and again with poems, yet I still strain sometimes, forgetful. But maybe the strain is also necessary (as a prelude?).

      Thank you for your beautiful responses, Robert.

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  7. Yes, the season is changing here, too; the first bushes are blooming white in our yard. The earth is the bow at rest ready to play "suite". And Yo- Yo Ma's playing is such a gorgeous accompaniment to your haiku. What a gift.

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    1. Hello, Mary. I close my eyes and picture your land there, so different from here, and also very lovely. (I'd love to visit Italy in spring.) Yes, Yo-Yo Ma's gift is just tremendous, and wrapped in a seemingly kind and enthusiastic personality.

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  8. I like the play on the word "suite".

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    1. Thanks, Maureen, but I did not intend it at the outset. It was a surprise.

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  9. Ruth ... so lovely! I have wandered back to my Rumi blog and then over to visit you. Such a good wandering.

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    1. Thank you for your visits, Jan, and kind words.

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  10. The unintended surprise of "suite" and the close-up of Yo-Yo Ma's face, plus your special time with Diane, have made this all come together as an eternalized moment, Sister. Hallowed.

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    1. Thank you for feeling it with me, Boots.

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  11. I do like the "simple" things:)

    Not sure why but this piece always brings me to tears when I hear it. Sometimes I just can't even listen:(

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    1. Hello, GailO. Your simple things bless me through your eyes.

      I understand about not being able to listen. I am like that with other encounters myself.

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  12. I like your haiku. You know of course that I read it with a French mind, so to me the words that I saw were March and suite. March in French is Mars and “suite” is “following” as in “la suite au prochain numéro” which means to be followed in the next installment. I see that you make the same connection but with music. Funny because suite is a French word but it does not relate to music, it is what they call false friend. So, in March we see the start of a new season, new beginning, and we’ll see what follows – la suite.
    Since you like words, don’t you think that false friends are interesting? Many people don’t know them. For example “library” in French is a “bibliothèque” and “librairie” is a bookstore. Or “location” in French is “to rent” when I looked to get a flat in Paris I looked at “locations” but to find where to rent was “endroit” which is the location of the flat and in addition I had to pay a “caution” which means deposit in French… I think this is why it is so difficult to translate poetry and word games.

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  13. Oh, yes, a stunning poem, a wonderful haiku and introduction to the cello piece - the player's hands are fascinating to watch and I love his expression at the end. Your above post also beautifully describes the March terrain of Michigan. (Petoskey had a snow day from school the first day of Spring! ha)

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All responses are welcome.