Monday, May 15, 2006

More from the half read library, and turmeric

I was reading Adrienne Rich's collection of essays, What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics. I thought she gave a very cogent summary of issues around form:
"Poetic forms - meters, rhyming patterns, the shaping of poems into symmetrical blocks of lines called couplets or stanzas - have existed since poetry was an oral activity. Such forms can easily become format, of course, where the dynamics of experience and desire are forced to fit a pattern to which they have no organic relationship. People are often taught in school to confuse closed poetic forms (or formulas) with poetry itself, the lifeblood of the poem. Or, that a poem consists merely in a series of sentences broken (formatted) into short lines called "free verse." But a closed form like the sestina, the sonnet, the villanelle remains inert formula or format unless the "triggering subject," as Richard Hugo called it, acts on the imagination to make the form evolve, become responsive, or works almost in resistance to the form. It's a struggle not to let the form take over, lapse into format, assimilate the poetry; and that very struggle can produce a movement, a music, of its own."
Last night's dinner was Saffron Chicken. Very smooth, complex sauce, bright yellow from the turmeric, thickened, and slightly crunchy, with ground almonds. An excellent recipe which can be made well ahead of events and heated up when needed.

Turmeric may be the new snake oil. In recent years it has gained new currency as an anti-arthritis wonder food under the name of its active ingredient, curcumin. Long used as a food colourant and fabric dye (though it fades), it has been reported to be an anti-inflammatory and an anti-cancer agent; a cure for jaundice, indigestion, kidney stones, dysentery, sexually-transmitted diseases, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, stomach and liver ailments including Crohn's and inflammatory bowel disease; even a preventative for Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular problems, and a treatment for poor vision. Externally it is used to heal sores and inflammations, including itching, Herpes, psoriasis, chickenpox and smallpox; as a depilatory, a cosmetic and to counteract aging processes. And as we saw in the movie Water, you can rub it on hotheads to cool them down!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comment from Adrienne Rich. I think it's valid to retain an awareness of this issue when writing poetry. I don't work in form at all ( occasionally when playing around) but I can imagine it would be tempting to give up the poetry for the form. And as for free verse, (which I use) sometimes it does feel like so many sentences broken down. Ideally it is very rhythmic language but then some novels are very poetic.

10:13 p.m.  

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