Friday, January 11, 2019

I Wish I'd Written This

Happy New Year, dear readers!

As a special treat on this first Friday post of the year, Sanaa Rizvi who blogs at A Dash of Sunny is my guest, with a wonderful poem to share with us and some very thought-provoking remarks about it. Sanaa, of course, is well-known to us as an extraordinary poet herself, a regular participant at Poets United and a Contributor of prompts at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. Here is her gift for us today. Many thanks, Sanaa!     – Rosemary

************


The Salt Stronger
By Fred Marchant

I have seen the legislators
on their way,
the jacketless men
in mid-winter who will cast
their votes like stones for this war.

Men who have to cross the street
through slush
and over gutter, their cuffs
now vaguely blued with a salt
that dries in dots where it splashes,

and mingles with the finely
woven cloth
of the chalk-stripe suits,
the soi-disant practical men,
you can see them now tiptoeing,

now leaping, balletic, windsor-knotted,
fragrant
and shaved,
they pass, they pass
the window of the Capitol Deli

wherein I am writing to my friend
in Baghdad,
he a “witness for peace,”
a poet who for years has wondered
what good poetry is or has been or does.

I compose today’s answer from here,
saying,
I think of poetry
as a salt dug from a foreign mine
that arrives like a miracle in Boston

as pellets to break underfoot
and melt
the dangerous plated ice
and cling to the acknowledged lawmakers,
to stay with them in their dreams,

to eat at the cloth and reach down
to the skin
and beyond the calf
into the shin. I think the soul
is equivalent to bone, and that conscience

must hide in the marrow,
float in the rich fluids
and wander the honeycomb at the center.
There, and not in the brain,
or even the heart is where

the words attach, where they land
and settle,
take root after the long
passage through the body’s by-ways.
Just think, I write, of how some poetry rolls

off the tongue, then try to see the tongue
in the case
that faces me, a curious,
thick extension of cow-flesh
fresh from a butcher’s block, grainy and flush.

I think that if my tongue alone could talk
it would swear
in any court that poetry
tastes like the iodine in blood,
or the copper in spit, and makes a salt stronger than tears.

From The Looking House (Graywolf Press, 2009)
Available at Amazon along with his other books.


















One word. Wow! Words aren’t enough to describe just how powerful, evocative and stunning this poem is in its portrayal of depth, emotion and sincerity towards the power of poetry.

Fred Marchant is an American Poet, and Professor of English and Literature at Suffolk University in Boston.  He is also the Director of Creative Writing Program and The Poetry Center at the University.

When I first read this poem I was completely blown away, and the first words that came to mind were ‘I Wish I’d Written This.’

How many times have we been asked about the significance of Poetry? How many times have we come across those who are skeptical of its power to create a difference. As a Poet I feel that it’s necessary to speak and to voice our opinion upon this matter.

This poem was probably written during difficult and dire times and belongs to a completely different era but when you think about it, it is still as relevant when we examine it and think along the lines of government and politics.





Fred Marchant began writing poems in his second semester at Providence College in 1964. His love for Literature makes me recall my time and my days when I dived into the subject due to love and admiration of an English Professor.  You can learn more about him in the following interview:



We come back to the question addressed in Marchant’s poem, “what good poetry is or has been or does,” which is what grabbed my attention and the exquisite manner in which the Poet answered.

Let us create a hypothetical situation where we are asked the same question. How would we reply? How can one possibly do justice in terms of making the other person feel and realize its worth? How do we maintain hope? How do we yield power?

Exactly how do you instill passion for poetry in someone who is or not a writer or a poet?

I strive to answer this question to this very day and wish I possessed the flair and ability which Fred Marchant has.  You can feel the passion, the hope and intensity in his poem as he speaks of poetry that ‘rolls off the tongue,’ how many of us agree with that statement.

Fred Marchant's poetry collections include Said Not Said (2017), The Looking House (2009), Tipping Point (2003), and Full Moon Boat (2000). He is also the editor of Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, 1937-1947 (2008), a selection that focuses on the work done while Stafford (another fine American poet) was a conscientious objector during World War II.

I hope you guys loved his poem as much as I did and look forward to hearing your thoughts.




Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

32 comments:

  1. I’m not usually attracted to 'political' poetry but this poem by Fred Marchant (who is new to me, so thank you for the introduction Rosermary and Sanaa) is subtle enough for me to appreciate. I like his use of metaphor and simile, for example the ‘the jacketless men / in mid-winter who will cast / their votes like stones for this war’ and ‘I think of poetry / as a salt dug from a foreign mine / that arrives like a miracle in Boston’. My favourite lines are:
    ‘the words attach, where they land
    and settle,
    take root after the long
    passage through the body’s by-ways’
    and
    ‘… poetry
    tastes like the iodine in blood,
    or the copper in spit, and makes a salt stronger than tears’.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they are wonderful lines. I also love these:

      I think the soul
      is equivalent to bone, and that conscience

      must hide in the marrow,
      float in the rich fluids
      and wander the honeycomb at the center.

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much, Kim 😊 so glad you enjoyed it 💞

      Delete
  2. Thank you again, Sanaa, for choosing this wonderful poem, speaking so eloquently about its effect on you, and introducing us to Fred Marchant (whom I didn't know of before, either.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure, Rosemary 😊 Thank you so much for having me as a guest here. I enjoyed contributing this week!💞

      Delete
  3. A wonderful post Sanaa & thank you for the introduction to Fred Marchant. The man breathes poetry. Wow! Closing lines are so intense!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Sumana 😊 so good to see you! I too fell in love with the closing lines💞

      Delete
  4. WOW! indeed! The DELICACY of this poem, in expressing its theme - the impact of poetry - is amazing. I love the thought of the poem entering the body, making its way past the heart and lodging in the brain, perhaps making incremental changes in th thoughts of the reader. Thank you, Sanaa, for this poem, which I otherwise would have missed. I love the communication about poetry between Baghdad and Boston, love a poet who is a "witness for peace", as I think so many of us are. This was such a treat to read.

    I am intrigued by the questions you pose, Sanaa. I often feel powerless to "do anything", faced with the challenges the world is dealing with (or not dealing with) right now. But this poem reaffirms that words DO have the power to change THOUGHTS, to bear witness, to stand firm, to oppose and resist, to inspire, to encourage, and to support. The poet demonstrates that his lines, penned in a deli to cross the sea, then bouncing back to you and me, DO have some impact in the world. Thank you so much for this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you SO much, Sherry!💞 I am so glad you loved the poem and that it moved you as much as it moved me! 😊

      Delete
    2. Yes, Sherry, this is a needful reminder in times such as we are living in, when it is all too easy to become disheartened.

      Delete
  5. How did I manage to live so long without knowing this amazing poem? Maybe because I've avoided the longer poems until recently. Now though, the title has meaning, the power he describes is palpable, and I believe those who are skeptical will feel it/poetry eating into them and seasoning their life. His poem does just that. Thank you! You are a powerful thinker.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Susan 😊 I feel this poem serves as a voice on behalf of everyone who bears love of poetry!💞 Never again shall there be question upon its worth.

      Delete
  6. Excellent poem share. The poem awes me, makes me think and feel. "What good poetry is or has been or does" -- that definitely is a central question! I had never heard of Fred Marchant. I want to read more of him. Thank you for your introduction to this fine poet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure, Mary 😊 his poetry is nothing short of inspirational! I am glad I came across his work online💞 so glad you liked it!

      Delete
  7. A stunning piece of writing that closes with an echoing impact. Thank you for this share Rosemary and Sanaa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Wendy 😊 so glad you enjoyed it💞

      Delete
  8. Amazing, thought-provoking poetry. Thank you both for sharing it with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading, Sara 😊 so good to see you!💞

      Delete
  9. Sanaa, I find I can't give a definitive answer your question as to how to instill a passion for poetry in someone who doesn't already have it. Taking them along to a dynamic performance or slam might be a way! I tried it with my late husband Andrew when we met and he said he didn't like poetry all that much. 'You don't know what poetry is!' I told him (after asking a few leading questions). It blew his mind, which was my idea, and afterwards he did have some appreciation of poetry but nowhere near my own. One dear friend still can't 'get' free verse; he is a musician and for him things have to have regular rhythm. I suppose that getting poetry (our own or anyone's) out into public awareness as much as possible might eventually help to break down people's ignorance and prejudices. (I think the way it has been taught in schools has often done great harm. Hopefully that is changing, but not fast enough.) Then, perhaps it doesn't matter if we don't reach all hearts, so long as we reach some? I have another friend, a poet of course, who believes that every poem written changes the energy of the world in favour of poetry. When I say I can't answer the question, I think what I really mean is that Fred Marchant has answered it so well, THAT is the definitive answer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely agree, Rosemary!💞 There will come a time when poetry and its passion will melt even the coldest of hearts in the world. We just need to be patient. 😊

      Delete
  10. Thank you Sanaa for this powerful and thought-provoking poem. The question "what good poetry is or has been or does" is sometimes difficult to answer because poetry is highly subjective. Yet we all know what good poetry is or does. How as readers it moves, informs, and entertain us. And more importantly its impact in the world. "The Salt Stronger" is one of those good poems. It made me reread, ponder and I agree...I wish I'd written this.

    Many thanks Rosemary for your continued work in elevating the significance of poetry.

    All the best to you both.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Khaya 😊 so glad you enjoyed it!💞

      Delete
    2. Oh, I love what you say about poetry here, Khaya! And about this post; thank you.

      Delete
  11. Hello, sorry for commenting twice. I wasn’t sure if my previous comment posted correctly. If not, I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading this poem and learning about the poet. I’m new to reading this blog and I appreciate the work and detail that went into this post, especially the supplemental information. I learned so much from the video reading and commentary. Hope to stop by regularly and read more great poetry. Love the idea of sharing it like you have done here! It helps me to discover poetry I might not otherwise have found.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Sophia, and thanks for posting it a second time, as you were right – it didn't come through on your first attempt. We'd love you to come back and read some more; we have a variety of goodies to share during each week. If you wish to participate with your own poetry as well as read other people's, you are very welcome to join our Blog Roll.

      Delete
  12. Thank you so much Rosemary and Sanaa. The questions you pose, are hard to answer...but maybe it isn't up to the poet, for us, it is just to write.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "I think the soul
    is equivalent to bone, and that conscience

    must hide in the marrow,"

    I think there in lies your answers Sanaa. One has to be absorbed by the miracle that is poetry. You either then feel and be empowered in some way or just not so.
    This is an absolutely amazing find Sanaa.
    Thanks for an intriguing post Sanaa and Rosemary

    Much☺love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Gillena 😊 so glad you enjoyed it!💞

      Delete
  14. Sanaa, thank you for bringing to our attention such a beautiful poem.
    i liked the structure of the poem, the number of lines in the stanzas, the length of each line. and that last strophe just blew me away with its power.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Lee San 😊 I too was blown away by the impact of the closing stanza!💞

      Delete