a reliable friend in poetry

Slide1

A good, solid friendship is a lot like poetry; that kind of thing that is difficult to fully appreciate until one really, and often accidentally, benefits from it, and then, it becomes worthy of headline news and daily study.

Poetry on friendship,  however, is often over-loaded with too much sentiment, and like too many sweets, can hide the goodness that should be there – in fact, it can make a poem feel like it lacks substance – and that should never happen when writing about a friend.  Having and being a good friend is not just sweet but essential to healthy, human success.

In this week’s poetry video on the lyw channel, we celebrate poetry that values reliable friendship — friendship that not only provides sweetness, but protein, good fatty acids, and bitter healthy greens. This video is also a great way to balance the poetry on war and strife that was discussed in the last blog on this site.

Slide2Creating a video compilation of poetry on friendship, even in fragments, was a challenge.  Most of what I found on the internet was of the greeting-card variety — very generic and easy to apply.  Poems on friendship, like other ‘sentimental’ poems, are the hardest poems to write well because of the over-abundance of sentiment, similes and the need to explain in prose.  i.e. ‘I love you because you’re great… etc., etc., etc.’

Now I realize my ideas of what makes a great poem is not universal.  As well, poetry found on-line, on any subject, is limited.  However, it makes me sad that I found more great poems on the subject of war than great poems on friendship, in my biased internet research.

Slide3I began crafting this video with Maya Angelou’s, ‘A Conceit,’ for its warmth balanced with strength and clarity.  Then, I invoked a little T.S. Eliot, as well as a fragment from one of my favourite friendly poets, Robert Burns, even though I have difficulty understanding his Scottish English.  It is easy to understand his warmth, vitality and poetic eye for what he values most in his life.  He aims his poetry very specifically and with a robust heartfelt vigour.  I also featured a sample from Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market poem.  Although this poem doesn’t directly address friendship very often, the heroism in the poem is an act of profound love and friendship.

Thank you for reading this blog.  Please click on the link to enjoy the latest video compilation on the lyw Youtube channel celebrating of poetry on friendship:

I would also like to invite poets to submit poetry celebrating a friend or friendship to this blog site, ‘a reliable friend.’  It is an old blog site that was originally created to celebrate a friend arriving at her 40th birthday and reinvented in an effort to continue building an on-line library of poetic friendship strong enough to hold any kind of front-line.

lyw

 

 

 

 

Image Sources:

Three Red Rambutan Fruit Trees Are Hanging – http://www.hbr-online.com/2014/10/tiga-buah-rambutan-merah-tergantung-di-pohon-pid-124.html

“Die landschaft mit den drei baeumen” by Rembrandt – http://www.reproarte.com : Home : Info : Pic. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Die_landschaft_mit_den_drei_baeumen.jpg#/media/File:Die_landschaft_mit_den_drei_baeumen.jpg

Arthur Rackham illustration of ‘the Goblin Market’: c/o https://www.pinterest.com/pin/237142736598747301/

… a small piece of poetry can sometimes march

 

painting: "Charles Leslie - Landscape" by Charles Leslie (British, 1835-1890) c/o wikipedia

painting: “Charles Leslie – Landscape” by Charles Leslie (British, 1835-1890) c/o wikipedia

Watching the news, reading Hemingway and most non-fiction tends towards that factual quality that says: take it or leave it for what it is.  And when the news is unpleasant, it can leave one feeling a little helpless.  And when such a story meets a great poet, this combination can be an effective vehicle for delivering uncomfortable truths.

Like the news, a poem can inform a reader on all the realities of our day but with a lot more empathy. A great poet can make a news story, the poet’s story.  A great poem invites readers to make the poet’s story, their story – if for just the moment of reading.  Thus, this kind of news can be quite powerful.

Painting: "Magdalen with the Smoking Flame c1640 Georges de La Tour" by Georges de La Tour c/o wikipedia

Painting: “Magdalen with the Smoking Flame c1640 Georges de La Tour” by Georges de La Tour c/o wikipedia

Some of the best poems ever written are about the ugliest subjects such as war, hatred and other such human sorrows and evils.  My purpose in this blog is to attract more readers to poetry not disturb them away, however, since we explore the best qualities in poetry I think this less sunny side must be touched on a little bit.

Langston Hughes was the first poet, in my research, to pull me in this direction.  While his work is very soulful and searching, his poetry is also very politicalfor lack of a better word.  I don’t think he crafted himself that way as a poet.  His life was simply submerged in political and social circumstances and he let that out in his poetry.

painting: James Ward - Gordale Scar c/o wikipedia

painting: James Ward – Gordale Scar c/o wikipedia

Deeper into this research, I found two incredible poets who wrote amazing poetry about war. It was late at night. I was alone in front of my laptop.  I fell into the war poetry of Miklós Radnóti and Wilfred Owen and it felt like the world stood still.  The poems are disturbing but I can honestly say I am grateful to be disturbed by this work, especially the postcard series from Miklós Radnóti.  Not only did he write powerfully but he gave the raw story about his circumstances, while still retaining his humanity and helping me feel my own even when reading about such a horrible time in our history.  I’m being deliberately vague.  If interested, please find the full poems.  They are uncomfortable, though.  His poems brought me closer to that time in history than any film, book, teacher or documentary I have experienced on that subject.  And they are very short poems.

If this blog has peaked your interest, please check out this week’s ‘poetry appreciation’ video on Youtube, … a small piece of poetry can sometimes march, which is a short collection of fragments from brilliant war and political poetry, with a fitting intro from one of Dylan Thomas’ famous poems.  I took care to exclude anything that was too graphic or depressing.  The purpose of this video is not to disturb anybody but to suggest that some poems, some poets – like some subjects – may be worth being disturbed by and to invite readers to seek out these poems, as well as other poets that have the skill to tell our harder stories.

Also, if interested in exploring other art forms that were inspired by social/political circumstances, please check out:

  1. ANPO: Art X War – a 2010 documentary film directed by Linda Hoaglund. This film discusses the post-war American military occupation in Japan through the eyes of visual artists.  http://www.anpomovie.com/
  1. The Wasteland – an uplifting documentary of an artist who goes to Rio de Janeiro’s largest landfill site to create portraits with garbage aided by local garbage pickers. http://www.wastelandmovie.com/
  1. Also please check out Andrew Graham Dixon’s art documentary series on Russian Art where he features the courageous work of the Wanderers. It was available online but unfortunately I was unable to find an active link. He’s prominent on YouTube. I imagine it will become available again soon.