david pichaske | 3 poems

16 06 2008

Poetry Dispatch No. 241| June 15, 2008

Poems for the Father #5
David Pichaske
in celebrations of Father’s Day, June 15, 2008

On my small shelf of poetry books devoted entirely to “father” this one, THE FATHER POEMS by David Pichaske, is among my very favorites–a book I open throughout the year and discover yet something else I needed to know about fatherhood. It’s also a favorite because I pursued the possibility of this collection, having read only a few of the individual poems, and happily, proudly, finally published a limited edition in 2005. They deserve a wider, appreciative audience, simply because they are so damn good. They speak to our age, our time, the role of parents on our own families. In fifty-five pages, twenty-seven perfect poems, David Pichaske covers the entire spectrum of the father experience, with heart, humor, and head. I especially love the last poem included here, “Opinions and Facts”—where the poet brings in the Grandfather’s voice as well. Norbert Blei

Teach Your Children Well

“and feed them on your dreams”
—Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Can tell you only what I have come to know:
clean, black cut of new-paved road
(always north and always uphill)
flanked by yellow beans and khaki corn;
behind, hollow moon dragging her sullen face
toward dark tangle of the Yellow Medicine River
(cottonwood, deer, fox, and pheasant);
ahead, flame of northern lights, aurora borealis,
and, always, firm distance of the pole star.

The Raised Fist of the Father

“I am speaking of heights more than fathers,
though the two tend to go together.”
—David Allen Evans

We have seen him only in the briefest moments,
distanced, silhouetted against the setting sun.

His head is thrown back, his mouth open
in a cry of anger, pain, or exaltation,
his fist clenched in admonition, defiance, or joy.

His hair is full, the body without sex,
that of a Sioux warrior or the young Christ.
The clothing is indistinct, and
the voice too remote to be understood.

Perhaps it is the surprised cry of the soldier
felled by a sniper in Iraq or Vietnam.
Perhaps it is a cry of triumph,
at Marathon or after the last game of the World Series.
Perhaps it’s a warning: do not come where I am.

Sometimes we hear in it nothing more than a toast,
in French or Gaelic,
in a Montmartre cafe or a Dun Loaghaire pub.
Maybe this is Martin Luther
hammering his theses to a church door.

Perhaps this is Pete Townshend,
throwing the neck of a broken guitar to fans.
Perhaps this man is singing or dancing,
or possibly he is just sore at his kids.

Maybe he’s drunk or unsteady, or
has twisted his ankle and is falling backwards.
At this distance, who can tell?

Perhaps the fist is not a fist, but a waving hand;
perhaps the voice is not a cry, but a call.

Opinions and Facts

“We’re learning about opinions and facts.
This is very hard stuff.”

—Megan Pichaske

You’re darned tootin’.
Half the teachers at my school
wouldn’t know a hawk from a handsaw
whichever way the wind was blowing.
Feelings pass for ideas these days,
and ideology masquerades as truth.
Put that down for a fact.

Scientists usually get things right:
organic chemistry is not “how I feel.”
The speed of light is not “gender biased.”
The etiology of AIDS is not “homophobic.”
And the athletes—they understand:
You kick this ball into that net.
Throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball.
It wasn’t post-colonial racism blocked your spike,
Not the patriarchy blocked that free throw.
These are facts a smart girl knows.

Here’s a few others:
Megan Pichaske is the smartest kid
in the whole second grade.
Matthew Pichaske rocks.
Addison Pichaske rules.
Your mommy and daddy love you.
God exists—without qualms.
You can’t argue with an ideologue,
because they’re not very smart.
Put these down as facts.
Your grandpa told you so.

from THE FATHER POEMS, David Pichaske, Cross+Roads Press, PO Box 33 Ellison Bay, WI 54210, $10





carl sandburg | father to son

9 06 2008

Poetry Dispatch No. 238 | June 9, 2008

Poems for the Father #2

in celebrations of Father’s Day, June 15, 2008

Father to Son by Carl Sandburg

A father sees a son nearing manhood.
What shall he tell that son?
‘Life is hard; be steel; be a rock.’
And this might stand him for the storms
and serve him for humdrum and monotony
and guide him amid sudden betrayals
and tighten him for slack moments.
‘Life is a soft loam; be gentle; go easy.’
And this too might serve him.
Brutes have been gentled where lashes failed.
The growth of a frail flower in a path up
has sometimes shattered and split a rock.
A tough will counts. So does desire.
So does a rich soft wanting.
Without rich wanting nothing arrives.
Tell him too much money has killed men
And left them dead years before burial:
The quest of lucre beyond a few easy needs
Has twisted good enough men
Sometimes into dry thwarted worms.
Tell him time as a stuff can be wasted.
Tell him to be a fool every so often
and to have no shame over having been a fool
yet learning something out of every folly
hoping to repeat none of the cheap follies
thus arriving at intimate understanding
of a world numbering many fools.
Tell him to be alone often and get at himself
and above all tell himself no lies about himself
whatever the white lies and protective fronts
he may use amongst other people.
Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong
and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.
Tell him to be different from other people
if it comes natural and easy being different.
Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives.
Let him seek deep for where he is a born natural.
Then he may understand Shakespeare
and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov,
Michael Faraday and free imaginations
Bringing changes into a world resenting change.
He will be lonely enough
to have time for the work
he knows as his own.

From THE PEOPLE, YES by Carl Sandburg


Some
selected Carl Sandburg recordings and books:

abelinc4.jpgalways4.jpgcowboy4.jpgd43564.jpgflatro4.jpgfog4.jpgfs3094.jpggreat4.jpgnewsong4.jpgsings4.jpgspotli4.jpgtc20034.jpgsongbxx4.jpgsongb2a4.jpgdalessi4.jpg

strichblack.jpg

Carl August Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American poet, historian, novelist, balladeer, and folklorist. He was born in Galesburg, Illinois of Swedish parents and died at his home, named Connemara, in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

H. L. Mencken called Carl Sandburg “indubitably an American in every pulse-beat.” He was a successful journalist, poet, historian, biographer, and autobiographer. During the course of his career, Sandburg won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln: The War Years) and one for his collection The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg.

During the Spanish-American War, Sandburg enlisted in the 6th Illinois Infantry, and he participated in the landing at Guánica on July 25, 1898 during the invasion of Puerto Rico. Following a brief (two-week) career as a student at West Point, Sandburg chose to attend Lombard College in Galesburg. He left college without a degree in 1902.

Sandburg lived for a brief period in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during which he became a member of the Social Democratic Party and took a strong interest in the socialist community. He worked as a secretary to Mayor Emil Seidel, the first socialist mayor in the United States.

Sandburg met Lilian Steichen, sister of the famed photographer, Edward Steichen, at the Social Democratic Headquarters. Lilian (nicknamed “Paus’l” by her mother and “Paula” by Carl) and Carl were married in 1908; they would go on to have three daughters. Sandburg moved to Harbert, Michigan. From 1912 to 1928 he lived in Chicago, nearby Evanston and Elmhurst. During this time he began work on his series of biographies on Abraham Lincoln, which would eventually earn him his Pulitzer Prize in history (for Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, 1940).

In 1945, the Sandburg family moved from the Midwest, where they’d spent most of their lives, to the Connemara estate, in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Connemara was ideal for the family, as it gave Mr. Sandburg an entire mountain top to roam and enough solitude for him to write. It also provided Mrs. Sandburg over 30 acres of pasture to raise and graze her prize-winning dairy goats.

Much of Carl Sandburg’s poetry, such as “Chicago”, focused on Chicago, Illinois, where he spent time as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and the Day Book. His most famous description of the city is as “Hog Butcher for the World/Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat/Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,/Stormy, Husky, Brawling, and City of the Big Shoulders.”

Sandburg
is also beloved by generations of children for his Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons, a series of whimsical, sometimes melancholy stories he originally created for his own daughters. The Rootabaga Stories were born of Sandburg’s desire for “American fairy tales” to match American childhood. He felt that the European stories involving royalty and knights were inappropriate, and so populated his stories with skyscrapers, trains, corn fairies and the “Five Marrrrvelous Pretzels”.

Sandburg was awarded a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Performance – Documentary Or Spoken Word (Other Than Comedy) for his recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic.

Here is an incomplete list of books and anthologies published by Sandburg:

  • * In Reckless Ecstasy (1904) (poetry) (originally published as Charles Sandburg)
  • * Incidentals (1904) (poetry and prose) (originally published as Charles Sandburg)
  • * Plaint of a Rose (1908) (poetry) (originally published as Charles Sandburg)
  • * Joseffy (prose) (1910) (originally published as Charles Sandburg)
  • * You and Your Job (1910) (prose) (originally published as Charles Sandburg)
  • * Chicago Poems (1916) (poetry)
  • * Cornhuskers (1918) (poetry)
  • * Chicago Race Riots (1919) (prose) (with an introduction by Walter Lippmann)
  • * Clarence Darrow of Chicago (1919) (prose)
  • * Smoke and Steel (1920) (poetry)
  • * Rootabaga Stories (1920) (children’s stories)
  • * Slabs of the Sunburnt West (1922) (poetry)
  • * Rootabaga Pigeons (1923) (children’s stories)
  • * Selected Poems (1926) (poetry)
  • * Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (1926) (biography)
  • * The American Songbag (1927) (folk songs)
  • * Songs of America (1927) (folk songs) (collected by Sandburg; edited by Alfred V. Frankenstein)
  • * Abe Lincoln Grows Up (1928) (biography [primarily for children])
  • * Good Morning, America (1928) (poetry)
  • * Steichen the Photographer (1929) (history)
  • * Early Moon (1930) (poetry)
  • * Potato Face (1930) (children’s stories)
  • * Mary Lincoln: Wife and Widow (1932) (biography)
  • * The People, Yes (1936) (poetry)
  • * Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939) (biography)
  • * Storm over the Land (1942) (biography) (excerpts from Sandburg’s own Abraham Lincoln: The War Years)
  • * Road to Victory (1942) (exhibition catalog) (text by Sandburg; images compiled by Edward Steichen and published by the Museum of Modern Art)
  • * Home Front Memo (1943) (essays)
  • * Remembrance Rock (1948) (novel)
  • * Lincoln Collector: the story of the Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln collection (1949) (prose)
  • * The New American Songbag (1950) (folk songs)
  • * Complete Poems (1950) (poetry)
  • * The wedding procession of the rag doll and the broom handle and who was in it (1950) (children’s story)
  • * Always the Young Strangers (1953) (autobiography)
  • * Selected poems of Carl Sandburg (1954) (poetry) (edited by Rebecca West)
  • * The Family of Man (1955) (exhibition catalog) (introduction; images compiled by Edward Steichen)
  • * Prairie-town boy (1955) (autobiography) (essentially excerpts from Always the Young Strangers)
  • * Sandburg Range (1957) (prose and poetry)
  • * Harvest Poems, 1910-1960 (1960) (poetry)
  • * Wind Song (1960) (poetry)
  • * Honey and Salt (1963) (poetry)
  • * The Letters of Carl Sandburg (1968) (autobiographical/correspondence) (edited by Herbert Mitgang)
  • * Breathing Tokens (poetry by Sandburg, edited by Margaret Sandburg) (1978) (poetry)
  • * Ever the Winds of Chance (1983) (autobiography) (started by Sandburg, completed by Margaret Sandburg and George Hendrick)
  • * Carl Sandburg at the movies : a poet in the silent era, 1920-1927 (1985) (selections of his reviews of silent movies – collected and edited by Dale Fetherling and Doug Fetherling)
  • * Billy Sunday and other poems (1993) (edited with an introduction by George Hendrick and Willene Hendrick)
  • * Poems for children nowhere near old enough to vote (1999) (compiled and with an introduction by George and Willene Hendrick)

source





robert hayden | those winter sundays

8 06 2008

Poetry Dispatch No.237 | June 8, 2008

Poems for the Father

Father’s Day, June 15th, is one week from today. In celebration and memory of ‘the father’ I thought it appropriate for Poetry Dispatch to devote this entire week to poems about “Dad” in all his guises, complexities, relationships in the family.

You can’t write to any depth or read anything worthy of thought and concentration without running into the age-old story of dear old dad. Literature abounds with “fathers and sons”—fathers and daughters as well. There’s love; there’s conflict; there’s admiration; there’s hate; there’s forgiveness; there’s guilt; there are things one should have said and never did; there’s the absence of a father; there’s the father one becomes with little to go on but the father who was yours; there’s the father who lives only in memory and, perhaps, comes back to visit only in dreams. Ah speak, memory… Norbert Blei

P.S. Everyone should have a favorite father poem, own a book of someone’s poetry with a father poem he loves, an anthology of poems devoted to the father. Every poem on Poetry Dispatch this week will be identified by the title of the book in which the poem appears and whatever source information that may be available, should the reader be so inclined to seek out a gift copy for—the father, the son, the daughter, the grandchild, himself/herself or the family.

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

from FATHERS, A Collection of Poems, Edited by David Ray and Judy Ray, St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999, $10.95

Robert Hayden (August 4, 1913 – February 25, 1980) was an American poet, essayist, educator and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

Born as Asa Bundy Sheffey, Robert Hayden grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Born to a struggling couple, Ruth and Asa Sheffey (separated before his birth), Hayden was taken in by a foster family, Sue Ellen Westerfield and William Hayden, and grew up in a Detroit ghetto nicknamed “Paradise Valley.” The Haydens’ perpetually contentious marriage, coupled with Ruth Sheffey’s competition for young Hayden’s affections, made for a traumatic childhood. Witnessing fights and suffering beatings, Hayden lived in a house fraught with ‘chronic angers’ whose effects would stay with the poet throughout his adulthood. His childhood traumas resulted in debilitating bouts of depression which he later called “my dark nights of the soul”.

Because he was nearsighted and slight of stature, he was often ostracized by his peer group. As a response both to his household and peers, Hayden read voraciously, developing both ear and eye for transformative qualities in literature. He attended Detroit City College (Wayne State University), and left in 1936 to work, for the Federal Writers’ Project, where he researched black history and folk culture.

He was raised as a Baptist, but converted to the Bahá’í Faith during the early 1940s after marrying a Bahá’í, Erma Inez Morris. He is one of the best-known Bahá’í poets and his religion influenced much of his work.

After
leaving the Federal Writers’ Project in 1938, marrying Erma Morris in 1940, and publishing his first volume, Heart-Shape in the Dust (1940), Hayden enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1941 and won a Hopwood Award there.

In
pursuit of a master’s degree, Hayden studied under W. H. Auden, who directed Hayden’s attention to issues of poetic form, technique, and artistic discipline. After finishing his degree in 1942, then teaching several years at Michigan, Hayden went to Fisk University in 1946, where he remained for twenty-three years, returning to Michigan in 1969 to complete his teaching career.

He died in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1980, age 66.

Hayden was elected to the American Academy of Poets in 1975. From 1976 – 1978, Hayden was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the position which in 1985 became the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Hayden’s most famous and most anthologized poem is Those Winter Sundays, which deals with the memory of fatherly love and loneliness.

Other famed poems include The Whipping (which is about a small boy being severely punished for some undetermined offense), Middle Passage (inspired by the events surrounding the United States v. The Amistad affair), Runagate, Runagate, and Frederick Douglass.

Hayden’s influences included Wylie, Cullen, Dunbar, Hughes, Bontemps, Keats, Auden and Yeats. Hayden’s work often addressed the plight of African Americans, usually using his former home of Paradise Valley slum as a backdrop, as he does in the poem Heart-Shape in the Dust. Hayden’s work made ready use of black vernacular and folk speech. Hayden wrote political poetry as well, including a sequence on the Vietnam War.

On the first poem of the sequence, he said, “I was trying to convey the idea that the horrors of the war became a kind of presence, and they were with you in the most personal and intimate activity, having your meals and so on. Everything was touched by the horror and the brutality and criminality of war. I feel that’s one of the best of the poems.”

Bibliography

  • * Selected Poems by Robert Hayden. NY: October House 1966.
  • * Words in the Mourning Time: Poems by Robert Hayden. London: October House, 1970
  • * Angle of Ascent: New and Selected Poems by Robert Hayden. NY: Liveright, 1975
  • * American Journal: Poems by Robert Hayden. NY: Liveright Pub. Corp., 1982
  • * Collected Prose: Robert Hayden. Ed. Frederick Glaysher. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 1984.
  • * Collected Poems: Robert Hayden. Ed. Frederick Glaysher. NY: Liveright, 1985; rpt. 1996.

source








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