Saturday, June 12, 2010

3: Amanda Earl

why am i writing about a banjo, an instrument i cannot play
i play guitar but not very well because you see i am lazy
and then there is the moon, there is always the moon
and it is round like the face of a banjo

thinking is hard work. i can smell wood burning
there is smoke. do i smell toast
no, this is something more rectangular
but also black and not particularly edible
it is only a hearse which sounds like horse
because the title mentions Lazarus
of which there are two in the Bible
and the grave of the speaker who is
perhaps the poet Heinrich Heine
this man Heine wrote verse in the 1800s
unlike Gary Barwin who is writing poems today

in Heinrich’s poem of the same title as the title
of Gary’s poem (and coincidentally the title of this poem)
the speaker was also wretched
perhaps that explains my own wretchedness
or the reason i am lying to you now

i will distract you with a violet
because it turns out that the burning
in my brain was actually a yellow
violet and you can associate a violet
with a woman if you’d like
or if not we can talk for a while
about rhymes rich and poor,
open and closed like doors

and suddenly a list of my body parts
but no mention of genitalia
because there is no polite way
to use genitalia as a metaphor
for doors (entries and exits) or vice versa

and then we have the moon again
it never goes way
except in the daytime
which is a way of forgetting
that often leads to regret
and back to the scent of flowers
that Proust will later change
to a few spongy biscuits soaked in tea

i foolishly ponder the midnight hours
not a song by Wilson Pickett which
also involves a woman but no violets
i suppose the song could be played on a banjo


i decided to write a metapoem, that is a poem about the poem. since Gary’s poem springs from the Heinrich Heine poem, i wanted to join in on the springing and the questioning too, that is the conversation, the ongoing act of artistic inspiration from one creator to the next, Lorca’s Duende at work…

i wanted to play with the notion of the I, the speaker of the poem as well. this is always a fun routine and something you can try at home. it is something i have learned from Robert Kroetsch and am still learning.

the theme of (involuntary) memory and regret in these poems made me think also of Napoleon and Josephine, her violet perfume. Napoleon planting violets at her grave. I couldn’t work that into the poem, alas.

i enjoy the act of grave robbing from the works of the dead or just plain stealing from living writers, then layering and sampling. i imagine an archaeologist sifting through layers and looking for clues about the eras based on the artefacts in these poems. i have always wanted to be Indiana Jones.

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