Friday, September 11, 2009

Possibilities And Associations

black and white photo of Frederick Seidel standing in a home libraryI just read a brief essay on the poetry of Frederick Seidel, and was intrigued. Not owning any, myself, I looked him up online and found the poem excerpted below.

It seems there is a great deal of controversy surrounding both the man and his poetry. Most of it is hinted at, no great detail.

Imagine my surprise also when, along with the pros and cons listed in the essay, I found a strong penchant for word play - after my own heart, as my grandmother would say.

After researching this post, I can't say Seidel will ever rank among my favorites. But I do have soft spot for word play.

For our students it's a way to explore alternative possibilities and associations - to exercise their Language Arts muscles, if you will. I love watching them learn when they think they're not actually working.

from Ode to Spring
by Frederick Seidel

I can only find words for.
And sometimes I can't.
Here are these flowers that stand for.
I stand here on the sidewalk.

I can't stand it, but yes of course I understand it.
Everything has to have meaning.
Things have to stand for something.
I can't take the time. Even skin-deep is too deep.

I say to the flower stand man:
Beautiful flowers at your flower stand, man.
I'll take a dozen of the lilies.
I'm standing as it were on my knees

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