Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Last Buffalo: A Response to David Wojnarowicz's Falling Buffalo Photograph

     Since “Eschewal: Response to Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World” I have the first trial of writing from an image.  The image is Untitled [Falling Buffalo] by David Wojnarowicz.  I chose the image for a visual analysis paper I am writing for my one art history class, “Downtown in the 80’s.”  Recently his film “Fire in My Belly” was removed from Washington DC’s Portrait Gallery, creating quite a controversy.  Falling Buffalo is austere by comparison to much of his other work.  The drama of the scene is very captivating and it is perhaps one of my favorite of his works.  The poem is as follows:

The Last Buffalo

The last buffalo are falling
from the ragged west. 
Our mouths went dry
watching them dumbfounded,
for we knew there was something
beyond gravity pulling their bodies,
how they spiraled, turned,
how their hooves flailed,
their heads reared to the sky. 
Those wild dark eyes,
did they see
the clarity of blue that day? 
Did they smell the adrenaline off each other? 
Did they feel anything
when their bodies first touched
the trees below? 
One by one they toppled – those weighty,
cumbersome bodies. 
They were all we had left. 

     It is a first draft and I put it together from a free-write rather hurriedly and haphazardly.  Hopefully I will get to have time to revise it and be able to post a more finished product later. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Post Work-Shop

The other day “To Drown” went through workshop.  Professor was generous with compliments.  She said it was “careful.”  I don’t know why, but I was so flattered by the comment.  I love work that seems very aware and economic with language, and yet appears effortless.  To be tentative and intuitive are both crucial in poetry.  I often find that my classmates have little to say about my work, and whether it is good or bad, it unnerves me a little.  But thankfully Professor always has some insight that gets to the very core of the poem. 
The feedback:  I had discovered this the night before the workshop, and pointed it out to the Professor.  She quickly agreed.  The first three lines create a off-kilter mixed metaphor.  The more I read without those first lines, I like the opening so much more:  “It came over me once…”  One of the criticism was the indentation.  Ever since France, I have felt more liberated to with line breaks and indentations.  I had been reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of Mind, and there is a great intuitive flow to his indentations to his poems.  It goes back to the idea that visual aspect of poetry is quite compelling, the way the words fall on the page lends to the rhythm, the cadence of the work.  The other main criticism was at the end of the poem.  The transition between the drowning imagery with the flight imagery was too sudden or drastic.  She said add another “beat.”  I need to “say something,” as she put it, not some flowery description but to actually say something to work as a catalyst for the final stanza.  I almost always agree with her comments, and this may be a possibility for the next Artemis submission.  I’m excited to say there are a number of poems I’ve written since France that I may want to send off. 
I have been trying to crank out more writing, but it’s been difficult.  I will hopefully have a revised draft of “To Drown” coming soon.  Also I know I haven’t been following the initial purpose of all of this, but I think in order to help invigorate my “creative constipation” as it were, I will turn to the visual from which to work.  Until then. . .

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Poem for the Dreary Winter

The whole winter break came and went with no entry.  Back home I had little access to Internet, something that proved to be more refreshing than frustrating.  So now, I am making up for it and find myself at the computer more than I’d like. 
I will be brief, only leaving you with a poem I have written more in celebration of breaking through a creative block I’ve been suffering through.  I am taking my final poetry class at college and find myself more out of sync than I remember.  This is still a rough draft, prior to work-shopping, so a final draft is well on its way.  Until then. . .

To Drown

The slightest touch
            can break
the skin. 
It came over me once:  skin,
bed, walls
            writhing, wading. 
                                                I was sinking. 
It seized me,
this knotted weight
keeping me from the surface.

Above the bed sheets,
the dim contours
of shifting furniture stood, 
            holding my breath
                                    just over my lips,
The underwater voice
            pinning me
                                    sounded so distant
in its low animal moans. 

That cry – the last
part that belonged
to me – escaped:
                                    from the belly, it struck
the throbbing darkness. 
Like a wounded dog,
                                                a yelp
quickly muffled by his hand
and he pulled me
How strange,
            the frantic
                        of bedding – that feathered sound – reminded me
of flight.