Our Class

Our Class

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A review of Linda Gregg's visit AND two poems by our own Tom Curr

Linda Gregg: “Seeing” – Her visit to Butler University of April 1st and 2nd.
By Tom Curr
Gregg’s passion is ‘the image’. Her writing lives in the details that create each person’s small, individual world. Gregg highlights the art of ‘seeing’ as a precondition for all forms of art, for, in her own words from her from her visit to Butler University, “There’s a bridge between the artist and the world.” Her issue is that poets can have ideas, memories and feelings, but when they write their poems they often see them as metaphors rather than simple details.
            She said that it is important to start with a poem’s content rather than its packaging because it is the small details that help to construct the larger images, which, in turn, help to inspire a depth and a message and build the rounded poem. Gregg said that “Language is 15,000 years old but seeing is 3 million years old;” thus highlighting the gravitas of noticing details - a skill which will inspire language.
            Poetry is all about staying “centered” according to Gregg. Whether that be in love, in nature or in spirituality, the concept is to focus indiscriminately, undistracted, on the perfect particulars that will let poetry “dance you in to faith”. Indeed, Gregg explained why artists wear dull colors, often black, so as not to find themselves a distraction, “If a painter wearing a red jacket, the red will get in the way of the painting.”
            Gregg also spoke about the construction of a poem. She explained how poetry comes out of a life lived and yet still shapes lives, for that is the power and majesty of language. There are opportunities in poetry to take on massive subjects, questions of life and death; of love and hate; war and peace. Gregg explained how that you can surprise yourself and learn something if “you take on a subject large enough that you don’t dominate it with your intelligence.” She spoke lovingly of the personal sense of discovery writing poetry can bring. She told of how when writing her poem “The Grub’, as soon as she took her fingers off of the keyboard she burst in to tears as she realized the weight and power of language; however, in a moment of particular relevance to me, she warned that poetry isn’t all plain-sailing saying that “Being a poet is like being a long distance runner. You’re not always going to be shit hot, you’ll have your good and your bad days.”
            Linda Gregg spoke to me because of her apparent ‘free spirit’. Her acknowledgment of ‘time over money’ is a message of almost biblical proportions in my family. Her story about how she spent as much of her youth as she could trying to avoid getting a job and living on Greek islands for very cheap spoke volumes to me. I’ve never understood why people spend the most precious times of their life preparing for the future. By working towards a retirement you are, to my mind, working to savor the times you are too old to enjoy fully. I’ll be happy with having enough to survive on and it seemed that was how Linda Gregg felt, so that was interesting to me.
Love In Desperate Times
I covered the manikin in skin.
Stitched it so that it fitted snug.
Stood back to admire my handy-work
then pumped the manikin
full of blood.
I gave the manikin some clothes.
Crafted artificial bones
and lungs,
used clay to make a mouth and nose
and added breasts,
and a womb,
so as to let our children grow.
I built the manikin a heart.
I filled in the valves and made it dark
but able still, to pump the blood.
The manikin could not reject my love.

-       Tom Curr.
Waiting Room.
It sat upon the window sill. Discolored by the sun.
As you sat in your chair. Weighed down by love.
It watched as you grew older and as its shell grew faint.
It watched as death drew nearer. It joined you in the wait.
The little tortoise ornament that suffered in the sun.
That watched as you grew older. Weighed down by love.

-       Tom Curr

No comments:

Post a Comment