Monday, March 11, 2013

#62 Guest Poem by Amit Majmudar

From the New Yorker September 17 2012, entitled "To the Hyphenated Poets"--its title perhaps an in-joke for in-the-know denizens of the Poesisphere ... which without a little research on my part I don't quite "get"-- no question though that he's being purely symbolic/metaphoric in his thoroughgoing praise of two-mindedness. I've inserted a guest painting illustrating abstractly what a hyphenated mind might look like –  artist unknown –because that's what is poem is about basically, the problem of AMBIVALENCE==literally and etymologically "two forces"-- holding in one's consciousness two opposing or conflicting attitudes toward a person, a situation, a thing etc. –in its multiform manifestations: emotionally and intellectually--there's a split right there--love/hate, dilemmas of one kind or another, dual complications, rock and a hard place in the popular cliché, difficult choices one way or the other etc. etc. – OF TWO MINDS about one thing or another, and we all have had this experience. here for the poet it's a CREATIVE and spiritually healthy experience, at least in the enterprise of poetry creation – but implied is the healthy exercise for everybody to work through it no matter the outcome. Generally the poet lauds this state of mind as healthy positive happy etc. and is the mother's milk as he puts it for the new generation of ideas born by conflicting ideas in one's head. I quote it now:

Richer than mother's milk
is half-and-half.
Friends of two minds,
redouble your craft.

Our shelves are hives, our selves
a royal jelly,
may we at Benares and Boston,
Philly and Delhi

collect our birthright nectar.
No swarm our own,
we must be industrious, both
queen and drone.

Being too beings requires
a rage for rigor,
rewritable memory,
hybrid vigor.

English herself is a crossbred
mother mutt,
primly promiscuous
and hot to rut.

Oneness? Pure chimera.
Splendor is spliced.
Make your halves into something
twice your size,

your tongue a hyphen joining
nation to nation.
Recombine, become a thing
of your own creation,

a many minded mongrel,
the lines renewal,
self-made and twofold,
soul and dual.

Notice that the poem needs to be READ as well as listened to out loud or in one's head to get the pun in the last line on soul/sole – a very bold assertion at that. The sole whole consciousness of the poet is one of ambivalence always – never ONENESS at all. That is a CHIMERA– as he points out in stanza six. Just what I need: a poem that justifies my entire life ha ha – since I have been two or three minded about everything and nothing throughout my entire threescore and 10 years on this planet.

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