Our Class

Our Class

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bison, by Lucy Vernasco

I am a bison. My kin spreads over vast grasslands, feasting upon the plains. We gentle giants trudged over endless terrain, leading migration, distributing our remains. Our waste meant we existed. Our humps over hills, bouncing matted coats. We carried our horns, our crowns, our royal lineage. When one was lost, he was honored fully. We could see, hear, and smell every part respected. We could see the smoke rise from the triangular formations in the distance. Witnessed our brother’s spirit flee to higher lands. The sounds became different. Now of calls we had never heard before, animals we had never encountered. We were pushed aside by a so-called civilized society. We were rusted teakettles at a bottom of a Goodwill donation box. Our remnants had been washed away by weather, replaced by the iron tracks. How can mass slaughterers call themselves civil? We were followed by our friends, followed by coal smoke, pushed to corners. Bang. Bang, bang. They gave us a label that says saved. They say fences keep us alive.  They haven’t been in fenced-in playpens since they were five years old. 

Here is Jessica Burton's Animal Poem

I am a field mouse. My combined two ears are as big as the rest of my body. From this, I can hear your shallow breathing two rooms away. My nose twitches every time I smell something; it allows me to see that it works. On the end of that nose are my whiskers. I can fit into any size opening that is the size of their diameter so that sly fox outside will never catch me because I have places to flee to that the fox will never see. But, seeing is my thing. I hear and see it all; I'm an observer. Before I take action, I notice my surroundings, check the coast until it's clear. I'm better at surviving than all of the things I've seen because they're all gone, but I'm still here. I can hear and see all that you do, but you will never see me, never know what I am thinking. That is how it is and will always be.

Here's Brandon Pleake's Animal Poem

The Hypocrite

I am an owl.
I gaze upon the cool forest night
and alight
upon a lowly branch.
My eyes
luminescent in the darkness
are guiding lights along the deer-trodden paths.
I am wise, omniscient.

A priest peers out into the congregation, surveying the wooden pews for the next distraught wife who will unburden her prurient shame by a peck of lipstick upon his neck in the nocturne hours of confessional.

My wings spread wide
My feathers flutter.
I pounce my prey
and sleep with another.

Here is Erin Palm's Theory Poem

The number of seashells you have collected is the exact number of relationships you will have. James said he has just three seashells. He has had a total of three relationships. Stacy has seven and is still looking for the perfect shell, which is to say she still hasn't found Mr. Right. Mary has somewhere around twenty--needless to say--she gets around. Todd doesn't collect seashells, which isn't surprising since he still lives in his mother's basement collecting Star Wars figurines. My sister had just one seashell, and she told me she loves putting her ear to it and listening to it all the time. She's happily married to a very talkative man.

Here's Rachel Brown Theory Poem from Class

Your favorite food has the qualities of your future spouse. Sarah’s favorite food is dark chocolate; her husband Mark is a little bitter, but he is good for her heart. JoAnne’s favorite food is apple pie; her husband is an old Army veteran. Will’s favorite food is watermelon; his wife Michelle is sweet, but there’s not much to her.

So I tried this theory with my daughter. Her favorite food is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Her boyfriend is pretty bland, but her best friend Sam holds her together when she starts to crumble.

Anne Waldman and Ambrose Bye pictures by our very own Anne Gouty :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Videos of Waldman performing/reading/talking about her work





Some Excerpts from Manatee/Humanity

Key Excerpts from Manatee/Humanity

Consider our exile, depravity in a strange laboratory
Is it a cosmic contest
who is the most backward barbaric bellicose greedy
psychopath?  page 5

Tell how the meaning of sentience as in
the ability to experience suffering
makes us all kin  page 6

All particles reflected exposed rehearsed
by a magnanimous sunny disposition to survive—
devour, destroy yet survive! or…?  page 6

I said I would intone my litany of curiosity  page 7

A head just barely “on”
held by a gorgeous scarf
of rainbows & galaxies  page 7

one tries curling up inside of
why if and why  page 13

the saint in me
light rails of
imperceptible emotion  page 17

seeing is always “seeing as…”
as “art educates perception”  page 21

& she wondered
what animals must be sacrificed to the colonization of time?
to the colonization of cities
colonization of oceans?
of planets  page 31

first you have the “dissolution” sequence: earth, water, fire, wind, & space
then the “generation” sequence: wind, fire, water, & space  page 35

Anne Waldman Notes

Key Terms for Understanding Anne Waldman’s book Manatee/Humanity

1.                   1. Buddhism: a religion, originated in India by Buddha  (Gautama) and later spreading to China, Burma,   Japan, Tibet, and parts of southeast Asia, holding that life is full of suffering caused by desire and that the way to end this suffering is through enlightenment that enables one to halt the endless sequence of births and deaths to which one is otherwise subject.
2.      Kalachakra: the wheel of time

3.      Tantra: a stream of continuity or thread of one’s own mind, which continues through lifetimes.

4.      Mind/Consciousness: a radio always turned on and “primordial pure light”

5.      Time: a measure of change with no beginning or end, only cycles in the wheel of time

6.      Liberation: consciousness found after removing one’s self from the cycles of time

7.      Interconnectedness: the Buddhist view that all life-forms are interrelated through their evolutionary history and that animal and human minds are both participants in reality.

Some Book Review Links







Due Dates for Essays

Maile Meloy: February 2
Simon Armitage: February 23
Nicole Krauss: March 8
Linda Gregg: March 29
Jhumpa Lahiri: April 12

April 17, 19, 24, and 26 are Presentation days.