Tag Archives: ModPo

LET’S GET LIT: Babbling towards Baghdad (My First Radio Interview!)

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60s chic

 

I know, I know, I haven’t been around. But I’ve been studying poetry, falling in love lyric essay, being awaken at night by the muse. But now that the semester– and my first year of studying poetry– is over I’m getting busy again. Before I could fully get my foot out the door of the university and into summer vacation (and on the same day that I had a test in American Literature!) I had my first radio interview on “Let’s Get Lit” the TLV1 FM program with journalist and author Ilene Prusher. I was so nervous and as soon as I was done, I started obsessing about how I should have said everything differently! But instead of talking about it, how about you just listen and tell me what you think:

Let’s Get Lit: Babbling towards Baghdad

“American-born, Jerusalem-dwelling poet and polyglot Shoshana Sarah brings us inside the world of her multi-dimensional, multi-lingual poetry. She talks about “Poets of Babel,” a Jerusalem group she founded, and reads from her work.

Plus, a short review of Baghdad: The City in Verse, an anthology of 170 Arabic poems, most of them appearing in English for the first time, in a collection translated and edited by the University of Haifa’s Reuven Snir.”

 

 

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Poets of Babel’s Rebirth: 1 Year Anniversary at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and Beyond

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PoetsofBabel May 30Poets of Babel is metamorphosing into a larger, less familiar creature. It started in my home with only two rules: (1) Read in any language as long as there was someone who understood (bring a friend!) and (2) Everyone participates.

I had to break rule number one very early on. Sometimes there was only one person who spoke the language to be read in, like the time we had a Danish poem about a taxi driver which was quite the experience!  I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it based on a silly rule.

I also learned rather quickly that I did not know as many poets as I thought did. In order to preserve rule number two, I had to loosen my hold on how I believed that should look (as in sharing original works only). Then, many friends started coming reading poems that were not their own, but that touched them, sometimes famous poems, sometimes obscure ones, sometimes a poem written by their family or friends, or a poem from books that were gifts, or books that were borrowed. It brought about even more of a cultural exchange and interesting conversations than I had imagined even though sometimes I was the ‘only poet’ there. Even the Mr., who is ‘not that into poetry’  and had assured me that if he hadn’t enjoyed Poets of Babel, he ‘would have found somewhere else to be,’ had a fancy for reading Baudelaire poems translated into Russian.

“So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be
continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

~“Be Drunk,” Charles Baudelaire

Then I started adding activities that I mostly made-up a few hours before. The non-poets became poets after ‘bobbing for dadaist poems’ in our October meeting,

completing ‘beginnings and endings’ in our January meeting, sending ‘mishloach Valentines’ in February,or going ‘egg poem hunting’ in March.

bobbing for dadaist poemsyou are a carnivalegg huntwriting

I’d never conceived of this idea before taking ModPo, the Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course offered by Coursera which exposed me to “To Make a Dadaist Poem” by Tristan Tzara and Bernadette Mayer’s Writing Experiments.

Now all that is about to change. Poets of Babel is going to celebrate it’s 1 Year Anniversary at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. They liked the idea so much, they want to pilot it as a continuous event! The essence will be the same, poetry and languages, but it will be an entirely different energy. It’s a night with a poetic film (“Howl” based on the poem by Allen Ginsberg this time), poetry readings in different languages (this time we will have poems in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian,German and a trilingual poem!), and a spoken word open mic with a jazzy improv accompanyment.

I’m excited! …and concerned, full of hope and full of wonder. What will happen to the spirit of the event that I had created and enjoyed in my home where I welcomed strangers with Antoine Cassar’s Merħba, a poem of hospitality I cannot read:

“our house is small
yet as big as a world”

at the Cinematheque and really mean it, or

“Welcome to my home, to your home, to our home,
to a home spinning in light,
in dark, in shade,
welcome to a world spinning in the light
which spins in the dark of the blood”

with the fullness of heart that I did in my living room amongst the faces of friends who were and friends who will be circling around me. I fear the intimacy will be gone…and yet. And yet I am reminded of the untitled poem that spawned from the ‘egg poetry hunt’ activity we did two months ago:

Perhaps the great error is believing we’re alone

Death, home, Daddy, love, friendship, the masses

they are all inside of us

the music, the wars, the oceans we’ve been in

they are here

the people we haven’t seen in months

the people we have yet to meet

the games you can eat

the hidden things

they are our rebirth

They are here. The poets who shared with me. The non-poets who became writers in my living room if only for a few moments. The poems we light-heartedly created together. The love that eminated from Merħba each time I read it and as time went on, when we read it together, each chimming in to read a language known. And I have no idea what new hidden things await in this new life for a group that started as a conversation in Tel Aviv, in January 2012.

I will take it all with me whereever Poets of Babel goes, into each reincarnation.

I do hope it goes far.

“In Media Res” or a ModPoetic Collage: On a Vision, a Course, a Liberation, a Block, and a “Way” to “Eunoia”

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“The Flower Pot” (See, Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”)

*(Note to reader: This entire piece is an experiment. It is an exercise in “how,” that is, it’s not so much what I am saying but how I am saying it. I try to explain what ModPo has taught me by using it, drawing on elements from proto-modernism, the edge of modernist poetics, found language, spontaneous prose, The New York school, language poetry, prose poetry, chance, conceptualism, unoriginality, and “Al-isms”.  It’s a ModPoetic collage. If you make it to the end, I’ll appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.)

I looked in the mirror and saw a vision of myself. I was speaking in front of students in an auditorium. I was grading papers…and loving it. I’ll drive the second-hand car, Al.

The Way:

-Notational process- taking observations and putting them together into a poem, “found language,” ‘linguistic observations,”  “a collage of voices,” “no fixed I.” Liberation. I am a collagist. I am a poet. Collage poetry. Ambrosia! Validation. It wasn’t the ‘what’ but the ‘how.’ Freedom. This legitimate how. This how. This.

Antoine Cassar’s Mużajk , an exploration in multilingual verse. Tesserae- one of the small squares of stone or glass used in making mosaic patterns. Pieces of things, what mosaics are made of, what collages are made of, what found poetry is made of, pieces of me, pieces of you as some song or album was titled once. My favorite poet called me Whitmanian before I’d understood what that really meant.

“I am a mosaic,” I told him, “a collage, mixed media. I cannot choose only a piece of me.”

~

I pause in the shower, thinking about energy healing and colors of chakras. I think about how I’d come up with Poets of Babel in the shower. And then: Throat chakra. Communication. Communication.

See it all started with that 7 Chakras massage that I did one stressed day after work–

It all started with that throat chakra stone I chose–

It all started with that lapis lazuli pendant I had made–

It all started with that throat infection that wouldn’t go away for weeks. I might still have it. It didn’t even hurt, it was just there

It all started with–

It all started when we were–

It all started–

It all started when Marcia said, “I can’t believe I’m telling you this, because it almost killed me, but I think you should do a doctorate.” She said, “It would give you a voice and you have ideas that need to be heard.” Communications.

It all started when I got released from my job. Yes, I mean that. No, it’s not a euphemism. Lisa said “Haven’t you ever felt the pain of rejection even though you don’t even want what you are losing?” Yes, Lisa, yes I have.

I’m still not sure if it healed or I just got used to it. The throat, I mean, or my life, or whatever’s applicable at the moment. My Life.

I am plagued by a sense of urgency. Cheryl told me once that I was haunted. My solar plexus hurts right now because I am writing this. The truth of it all made me cry 3 days ago. 7 days ago.

It all started when in the job interview she asked me which position I’d loved the most and I realized that teaching was the only one.

It all started when at the job interview Zohar said, “Why are you looking for things like this? Look at what you’ve done. This is beneath you.” (מה את” מחפשת דברים כאלו? תראי כל מה שעשית. קטן עליך.”)

It all started when I went to see Zohar about doing a second M.A. in Communications with a focus on Poetry and he said “you could go straight to doctorate” and I was alarmed. (“What are you afraid of?” Chana asked me.)

You can’t have a name like Zohar and not be zoher (“shining”). The light was too bright for me to bear. Bare.

It all started when Chana said, “this is the story of your life…you are something in your dreams aren’t you?” And I cried. “Yes.”

It all— Summer said, “I see who are are right now, not who you are going to be.”

~

Until now I have been a

synecdoche

Tesserae is about

finally being ALL of me

in all of my parts and

idiosyncracies

          at the limen

coming out of the penumbra

The Beats.

~

Note to self: Write a Dadaist poem!

It all started when Gwendolyn Brooks said, “Come here and open your mouth!”

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

It all started when–Jack Kerouac’s “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose”

Note to self: Do it! 

I did it.

A-mending.

The Aroma. A poem is a cafe.

Poetics stolen. My thoughts are non-sequitor–

Lunch poems. Coffee poems.

It all started when–prose poetry. My stories don’t have to be linear. These poets give me a freedom I hadn’t known existed before.

A continuation.

“Discontinuity is the way these lives get constructed,” my life, all lives

are translations. 

It all started when–

she asked “Who polices questions of grammar, parts of speech…Whose order is shut inside…” indeed, this is the predicament of culture, the new sentence.

for

We are the anagogy

If you listen you will hear

The language is out there

Use the language that’s already out there

The world is always joined in media res, 

in the middle of things

~

“Go behind the veil,” Alaa said.

for

chronic meanings

“That always happened until one. (day when she woke up.)

She spread out her arms and. (decided to fly.)

The sky if anything grew. (and thus the limits.)

Which left a lot of. (questions…and answers.)

………..

Come what it may it can’t. (stop me.)

There are a number of. (dreams, some say too many.)

But there is only one. (me.)

That’s why I want to.” (do it all.)

Wait. Stop. Reverse that. Ok go on.

“A poet is never just a woman or a man. Every poet is salted with fire. A poet is a mirror, a transcriber.”

A translator.

A poet is the priest of the invisible.

~

All artists, poets, painters, musicians, etc. are translators. They are translators of feeling, moments in time into another medium: into colors and shapes, into notes and harmonies, into words and…words. The poet has the most difficult translation job of them all for it is words that fail us first when trying to capture “that moment in time which is imagistic and not linguistic;” for no “moment” is ever really linguistic, not really. This is why O’Hara would rather be a painter. Few words are rarely sufficient but a picture is worth a thousand–

~By a poet who has tried to paint.

Why I Am Not a Painter.

Why I am not a mathematician.

Why I am not a musician.

Why I am not an astronomer.

Why I am not–

I would play the monochord and demonstrate the octaves of the universe in intervals. ‘You are the beautiful, the stress of mathematics.’

If I were a scientist, I’d be Dr. Frankenstein. Taking old things, making them new. Collaging everything.

Confession: I’ve destroyed books.

~

Though it was the natural choice, I couldn’t do the Bernadette Mayer Experiment.There was too much to choose.

Cage. Mesostics. Chance.

Kerouac’s Compass.

jaCk

Of

Mind

landscaPe

fAce

iS

Set

In this final writing assignment- and perhaps all modest writers would say- we are all jacks of the mind, experimenting with a plethora of poetic writing methods, yet mastering none.

~

Calculated

insertiOns

iMage

Peripheral

releAse

S.

reaSons.

“99% of what you want is not on the radar screen and it will come in ways you can’t even imagine!”

It all started when Hagit, out of the blue, asked me to teach improvisation theater in the camp.

So many signs from the universe. I can no longer ignore–

Release reasons.

~

It all started with what is not a cage

“What we make disappear bespeaks what we wish to be all the more present.”

Hmmm, like the first marriage and that religion?

…like the study abroad in Greece, the State Department internship, the wedding ceremony, the vision personified as Eunoia…

~

raCe

tO

tiMe-race

deeP

lAst

wordS

laSt

the most obscure things have already been said–all you have to do is hear the lyricism. BART. now further than I’ve ever gone before the end of the line. (That was supposed to have been my conclusion.

Oh well,)

I want to remember a day in a poem. this is an act. this is deliberate. go out into the world and describe it… If you listen you will hear. The language is out there. Unintentional intent. Dropping Leaflets.use the language that’s already out there. ambient language. There appears to be an order but this is a remix. Experiments in imitation. Photographer Poet?!!!!!!

~

It all started Via

“They are adept at composing in multiple and mixed media. Indeed, they are so comfortable with ‘cross-platform’ writing that they no longer seem to perceive any meaningful disciplinary boundaries between poetry, music and the visual arts

(because there is none)

~the world is always joined in media res, in the middle of things~

“The divinely ordained right way forward has been lost- but it will always remain and ever has been.”

Because my divinely ordered right way forward has been lost-but it will always remain and ever has been.

Because Anna said the big secret of the universe is a hand me down.

“God is a symbol for something that can as well take other forms, as for example, the form of poetry.” I finally found a God that I can pray to.

~

It all started when Ron said, “There’s not a normal letter up there. You’ve got some ways of being you’re not tapping into.” That was in 2009.

It all–

Poetry is the how.

A doctorate in Communications with a focus on Poetry.

A teaching certificate in Theater.

–started

In media res.

But I’m still speaking hypothetically.

Artistic. Social. I didn’t need the occupational exam to tell  me that.

And yet I did.

“What is blocking you?” Chana asked me. That was on Sunday.

-Devastating disappointment.

-Faith.

I was fearless once.

The siren reminded me of this.

  • Poet & Writer
  • Educator~ teacher, lecturer, professor, speaker
  • Film director
  • Artist~ photographer, collagist, calligrapher…
  • Performer~ spoken word, dancer, street theater…
  • Organization founder/project coordinator/workshop facilitator
  • Business owner

When I love a thing I want it and I try to get it. Abstraction of the particular from the universal is the entrance into evil. Love, a binding force, is both envy and emulation…Between revealed will and secret will Love has been torn in two.”

Jack of all trades, master of none. The sin of the dilettante. Mother advised me to do something practical.

Jack

      of

  the

       mind

Eunoia:  It all boils down to Eunoia– the shortest English word containing all five main vowel graphemes. It comes from the Greek word εὔνοια meaning “well mind” or “beautiful thinking.”

…the meaning of the bees that have followed me every time I plan or talk about Thisindustry, action, communication, and our ability to consciously choose the results we want in our lives. 

A vision, a course, a liberation, a block and a way to eunoia.

There’s nothing left to do but to just do it.

No layoffs in this condensery. For occupation this

It all– Daniel said “Not Impossible.” I dare to dwell in possibility.

“קטן עליך”: Zohar meant “it’s beneath your level.” Eunoia meant “you got this.”

It all started–

“The Way” ModPo Changed My Facebook Posts

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Photo: Truly the highlight of the evening!

Bobbing for a Dadaist Poem, the main activity inspired by ModPo for the Poets of Babel meeting on October 31st, 2012

The Modern and Contemporary Poetry Course, better known as ModPo, led by Prof. Al Filreis and his enlightened TA team, from the University of Pennsylvania, started September 10, 2012. Since beginning the course, not only have I become obsessed with it (I’ve been ‘squeezing’ it in everywhere as Prof. Filreis extolled us to do in the webcast. I was even late to a doctor’s appointment listening to PennSound‘s PoemTalk on “The Way” and the end of last week’s video discussions!) , most of my Facebook posts since have been inspired by it and I’ve decided to pursue a new career path thanks to ModPo and Prof. Filreis: I want to be a professor of poetry!

I just thought you might enjoy “The Way” ModPo has changed my Facebook presence aside from the expected shares on the Poets of Babel Facebook Page.

September 10th I was already sharing:

September 15th:

“I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and
never will be measured.

I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
……………………………………………………………..
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road. ”
~Whitman “Song of Myself”  (46)

September 19th:

September 20th:
  • Michal & Zilpah [two friends in Israel taking ModPo as well; last names deleted for privacy] how are you liking the ModPo Course? I love it- did my essay early! 😛
  • www.coursera.org (just in case folks have been missing the awesomeness!)
  • I ♥ open pronouns.

Cid Corman, “It isn’t for want”

It isn’t for want
of something to say–
something to tell you–

something you should know–
but to detain you–
keep you from going–

feeling myself here
as long as *you* are–
as long as you *are.*
(I used “*” because I don’t have the option of italics for status updates)

September 21st:

  • “Sometimes I’d like to have a beer with the Whitmanians and sometimes sip fine wine with the Dickinsonians”- Loving ModPo!

September 23rd:

September 24th (2 seconds ago):

“I know how furiously your heart is beating.”
~Wallace Stevens, “Gray Room”
…because I do, because it’s my heart that is beating furiously.

~~~~~

[Restarted this post in November!]

October 2nd:

  • “A line distinguishes it. A line just distinguishes it.”
    ~Gertrude Stein, “A Long Dress”
  • “The difference is spreading. ”
    ~Gertrude Stein, “A Carafe, That is a Blind Glass”
  • “Success in Circuit lies” ~E.D.
October 7th:
“The composition is the thing seen by every one living in the living they are doing, they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living is the composition of the time in which they are living. It is that that makes living a thing they are doing.” ~Gertrude Stein
October 13th:

  • “I judge judge”
    -Gertrude Stein, “If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso”
October 20th:
  • To Make a Dadaist Poem by Tristan Tzara « Moving Poems
  • “Forcing twentieth-century America into a sonnet— gosh, how I hate sonnets—is like putting a crab into a square box. You’ve got to cut off his legs to make him fit. When you get through, you don’t have a crab anymore.”–Williams Carlos Williams, in an interview [from Interviews with William Carlos Williams: Speaking Straight Ahead 1976)]

    My sentiments exactly!

  • With more ‘free time,’ I’m two weeks behind in my poetry course!!
    Catching up!

October 21st:

“Come here and open your mouth!”
~Gwendolyn Brooks to Etheridge Knight
October 26th:

“that moment in time which is imagistic and not linguistic”

-Al Filreis
October 29th:

  • “a rueful adieu to experience”
  • “the source of your art is maintained in a place like this”
November 1st:
Had so much fun “bobbing for a dadaist poem” last night at Poets of Babel!!!
November 2nd:
Arranging by chanceTo meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing

~Ashbery, “Some Trees”

November 9th:
“Come what may it can’t.
There are a number of.
But there is only one.
That’s why I want to.”~Bob Perelman, “Chronic Meanings”

November 10th:
“I want to remember a day in a poem”
-Al Filreis on Ron Silliman’s “BART”
November 14th:
“In other words, she is continually reasserting the fact that the world is always joined in media res, in the middle of things. The divinely ordained right way forward has been lost — but it will always remain so, and ever has been.”
~Brian M. Reed ‘Lost Already Walking’ Caroline Bergvall’s Via
November 20th:
If just thinking about it makes me this excited then I guess I’ll have to go for it!
~~~~~
I could write an entire essay on each of these status updates, or on the relationship between status updates and poetry and more about what ModPo has done for me…but I won’t. Not today. I want to just leave it for a while. Let what speaks to you speak to you and ignore the rest. I will not direct it nor interpret it. It was already there and I just ‘found’ it. Now, I “share.”
What will you go looking for?