Courtesy of Dog Star NYC
In PHILADELPHIA POETRY, Leonard Gontarek selects and introduces some of our city’s most praiseworthy poets. For September, Gontarek discusses the work of Iain Haley Pollock.
If a poem really could give voice to our doubts, hopes, anxieties, joy, here in the city, in Philadelphia, what would it look like? A poem that authenticates us, that articulates us. A poem that gives the exact weight to the story of our lives, with the perfect music in the background, at the right volume. I think it would sound like this:
Violets for Your Furs
Garbage men in this city
don’t see fit to put the garbage
in the garbage truck, and in the streets
the dented bottles and cans spin
and roll like the gait of a man
clutching a brown-sacked beer
in his hand. The discount grocer
on Girard sells week-old cuts of pork
and tins of black beans a day
from expiry. And the antique dealer
by the bus stop hawks one-eyed
dolls and green vases. I haven’t once,
in three years, seen the store open
for business. In Dancing Girl with Castanets,
the model for the figure’s head, Gabrielle
Renard, is posed with rouge on her cheeks,
a garland of indulgent red flowers
in her hair. She looks bored.
And I know this boredom
from Rhea Humphries’ eyes in school
when I told her I love you. I can’t figure now
why she never protested in the hall
when I’d stare so brazenly at her tits.
As for the girl’s body, for his gaze
Renoir never paid Georgette Pigeot,
arms bared by a diaphanous traje
de flamenca more Hellenic than Iberian.
Will I always want something
other than what I have? Which is to wonder:
who knows if I ever loved Rhea? Probably not,
as maybe the young can never love,
or not the young as unbroken as I was.
Let’s just agree Gabrielle, let’s just agree
Georgette, I went about it all wrong.
The garbage men are back, darlings:
Bottles and cans cries the heart,
bottles and cans. Bottles and cans
cries the heart, bottles and cans.
Whether you’re a teacher or a student, when September comes — so does English class! Need a pep talk, a fresh perspective, or a glimpse of beauty? Well, we’ve compiled several poems to keep you sharp on the bus, in the hall, or in front of the blackboard (or is it smart-board now?). If you have a favorite back-to-school poem, share it with us in the comments, on Facebook, or hit us up on Twitter!
INTRODUCTION TO POETRY
by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
When Brave New Voices — one of the most stellar youth poetry events in the country — came to Philadelphia in July, APIARY’s Fyodor Badkhen was sure to attend. Looking to find out who you really are? Writing poetry can certainly help. Of course, we don’t have to tell you that!
Imagine this: Hundreds of people from across the country coming together to learn how to expose their innermost spirit so that they can perform, perfect, and excel in one of the most courageous art forms: poetry.
This is the Brave New Voices conference, a country-wide event anticipated by many aspiring poets. On a Thursday last month, more than 400 young people swarmed the frigid halls of the Temple Student Center for a set of workshops designed to instruct the participants in the acutely vulnerable art of baring their souls to the outside world, releasing all of their rage, joy, and sorrow for all to see.
“People need to find their voice, one way or another,” said avery r. young, one of the workshop instructors. “Poetry is a way of getting that voice.”