Sunday, February 24, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #34

This week I thought I would share with you this unique poetry anthology, A Year In Poetry, which I've had out of the library since just after Christmas and will have to send back this week. Published in 1995, it took the editors over seven years to compile. Their concept was to find a poem for each day of the year in which its day was intricately related to the poem.

In some cases the poem was dated with its day. In many the poem commemorates an historical event--a battle, a birthday, a death, a holiday, or a news-worthy event like the first moon landing July 20, 1969. There are many for which the events are personal as in the birth or death of a child, the sparking of the muse by seasonal cues, nature's varied language or cultural rituals (as in Hart Cranes Broken Tower inspired by the ringing of church bells at dawn on January 27, 1932) or the beginning or ending of love as in the case of Marilyn Hacker's February 25 which is a Dear John letter though it begins "Dear Bill.'.

The one for January 4 commemorates the electrocution on that date in 1903 of Topsy the elephant who had killed

"..... an idle
Hanger-on at shows, who, given to distilled
Diversions, fed her a live cigar."
I'm not sure whether the author, George Bradley, was writing this at the time or many years later for after a graphic description of Topsy's execution he asks
"Would you care to see any of that again?
See it as many times as you please,
For an electrician, Thomas Edison,
Has had a bright idea we call the movies,
And called on for monitory spark,
Has preserved it all in framed transparencies
That are clear as day, for all the day is dark.
....
And so is shown to posterity,
A study in images and conduction,
Sunday, January 4th, 1903"

The poem for today, February 24 is by Jane Cooper and is titled Hunger Moon it begins
"The last full moon of February
stalks the fields; barbed wire casts a shadow."
it is dated 1967 and a footnote from Cooper tells us that the full moon in February 1967 was on the 24th and that the New York Times had recently related that the last full moon before the equinox was known in the Midwest as hunger moon because, while it was still too early to plant the food laid up from the previous harvest was running out.

Cooper's poem is about much more than physical hunger.

There are a plethora of moods, nationalities, eras and poetic forms represented in this anthology which makes it a good overview of the art form of poetry for a newbie like me. Yet should sit proudly on the shelf of the most prolific and experienced of poets.

5 tell me a story:

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