Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Poetry in Motion, Day 10 (Sylvia Plath)

This is an excerpt from a Sylvia Plath poster that ran in Amherst, MA.

from I Am Vertical

But I would rather be horizontal.
I am not a tree with my root in the soil
Sucking up minerals and motherly love
So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed
Attracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,
Unknowing I must soon unpetal.
Compared with me, a tree is immortal
And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.

NOTE: If you've been following these, click the "Hunger" link below to see a video interpretation of Billy Collins' poem, along with him reading the work.

Previous BillyBlog Poetry in Motion posts:

from "My Grandmother's New York Apartment" by Elizabeth Alexander (Day 1)
from "A Bouquet" by Bei Dao (Day 2)
"Separation" by W.S. Merwin (Day 3)
"The Groundfall Pear" by Jane Hirshfield (Day 4)
"For Friendship" by Robert Creeley (Day 5)
from "Crazy Horse Speaks" by Sherman Alexie (Day 6)
"Hunger" by Billy Collins (Day 7)
from "Little Man Around the House" by Yusef Komunyakaa (Day 8)
"The Loon on Oak-Head Pond" by Mary Oliver (Day 9)


julia said...

Hey Bill. Have been following your Poetry in Motion posts, and this one caught my eye. It’s interesting that buses and metro trains can not only inspire poetry (Henri Deluy’s last poem in c) ce que tu dis in Les Arbres Noirs springs to mind first, though there are others, I’m sure) but play host to it as well. Was actually in Paris, briefly, and saw some poetry posters in metro trains there as well. Unfortunately, as I’m not exactly fluent in French, I didn’t understand them all, but the idea’s still there. This also reminds me of Billy Collins’ short-lived Poetry 180 program, with which I’m sure you’re familiar, but as a recap involved a poem a day being read over the loudspeaker in schools (one for each of the 180 days in a school year) all over the country. That must have been a refreshing change from the grating voice of my high school secretary’s tedious recitation of the lunch menu and schedule adjustments.)

I would like to ask you, though, how effective you think programs like these are? Do you think that it’s enough to simply thrust poetry into the public sphere, providing little (if any) context for the piece(s)? I’m not sure I agree with the idea that a piece can be entirely self-evident (as no one is ever reading in a vacuum), but I suppose all texts can be read, solely, as texts. Even pieces like, say, The Wasteland. Though I noticed that The Wasteland wasn’t excerpted for this project. Hmm.

Check out my blog at: http://smithereenscenter.blogspot.com/

Tattoosday said...

It is hard for me to gauge the effectiveness of public poetry programs, especially those involving posting them in public places, outside of New York. I can only speak from experience vis-a-vis the subway poems. I see them every day, and will occasionally see riders looking at the posters. I can only guess that, in some small way, awareness of poetry expands ever-so-slightly to the masses.

I have noticed that BillyBlog gets some traffic from people searching these poems out after they leave the subway, based on google searches on titles and/or names and/or poetry in motion/subway in the search query.

Thanks for visiting!