Wednesday, March 4, 2009

layer by layer

Another foot of snow buries spring even deeper here in New Hampshire. I'm watching my potted tulip bulbs with longing, willing the green shoots to stretch. This is the season of literary deadlines for grants and conference submissions. Maybe the snow will melt as I push through the paper piles.

Our poetry group unpacked Donald Hall's "Mount Kearsage" last night. I love Donald Hall and remember years of reading Ox Cart Man and The Man Who Lived Alone.

Listening to the poet's reading on CD, we heard so clearly the assonance of repeated vowel sounds that create "Mount Kearsage's" near rhyme. Hall's personal connection to the mountain facing his front porch is visceral. He talks to it, calls it "you." Images of porch rocking and physical descriptions of the mountain balance its ephemeral qualities obscured by haze. The immortality of the mountain is in tension with the poet's own mortality.

You can hear Hall read his poem at the Library of Congress website.

"Mount Kearsarge"

This week we will transpose the structure of "Mount Kearsage" into a poem about our own strong images. The goal is to discover a response to them we may not have considered before - to unearth the qualities that make these images everlasting to us. Layer by layer, we will try to "write thick."

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