“How to read a poem” by Mr Blair Mahoney on World Poetry Day #tenminutetuesdays

To celebrate World Poetry Day, Mr Blair Mahoney talked about “how to read a poem” today as part of our Ten Minute Tuesdays series at recess.

He started with the poem “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins:

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Mr Mahoney encouraged us to enjoy the poem without having to understand all of it.

“The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-

dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding

Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,

As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding

Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding

Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here

Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion

Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,

Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.      

Mr Mahoney read “Cartoon Physics, part 1” by Nick Flynn after he talked about poems sometimes having personal meaning for people at different times of their lives.

Children under, say, ten, shouldn’t know

that the universe is ever-expanding,

inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies

swallowed by galaxies, whole

solar systems collapsing, all of it

acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock

only he can pass through it.

Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds

should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,

ships going down—earthbound, tangible

disasters, arenas

where they can be heroes. You can run

back into a burning house, sinking ships

have lifeboats, the trucks will come

with their ladders, if you jump

you will be saved. A child

places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,

& drives across a city of sand. She knows

the exact spot it will skid, at which point

the bridge will give, who will swim to safety

& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn

that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff

he will not fall

until he notices his mistake.

 

After sharing some tips for reading poetry out loud, Mr Mahoney read out “In the Park” by Gwen Harwood, demonstrating paying attention to punctuation and run-on sentences.

She sits in the park. Her clothes are out of date.

Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt.

A third draws aimless patterns in the dirt

Someone she loved once passed by – too lateto feign indifference to that casual nod.

“How nice” et cetera. “Time holds great surprises.”

From his neat head unquestionably rises

a small balloon…”but for the grace of God…”They stand a while in flickering light, rehearsing

the children’s names and birthdays. “It’s so sweet

to hear their chatter, watch them grow and thrive, ”

she says to his departing smile. Then, nursing

the youngest child, sits staring at her feet.

To the wind she says, “They have eaten me alive.”

 

Thanks to Mr Mahoney for his engaging session and expertise. Thanks to all who came; I’m sure you got the most out of ten minutes of your recess on World Poetry Day.

10 minute Tuesdays have started!

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This year the library is running short topical sessions in the GLC at recess on Tuesdays. About 10 minutes long, the topics are varied, so we’re certain you’ll find something of interest. As a special consideration we are permitting food to be eaten during this session.

We kicked off the series last Tuesday with my presentation on “How to Spot Fake News” which was well received (as far as I could tell) – something we hear a lot about these days, sadly.

These sessions will sometimes take a lecture-style format, and other times they will be more interactive. They will all be short and sweet so please come and sample.

Next Tuesday March 14 we have a session from Ms Morton on “What’s your goal? Setting your study goals.

On March 21 we have “How to read poetry” by Mr Mahoney

On March 28 Ms Morton is running a session on “What’s the difference between homework and study?

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