Dec 6, 2009

Women in Art and Poetry - 2

You can enlarge any photo on any Banjo52 post by clicking on it.


"Daystar" by former poet-laureate Rita Dove pairs up nicely with "Aunt Hannah." Everyone I know has heard, or spoken, thoughts similar to the speaker (named Beulah). "Daystar" comes from Rita Dove's 1986 book Thomas and Beulah.

"DayStar" By Rita Dove |

I cannot find an online version of Adrienne Rich's "Woman-Right" (see my note at end about copyright), but I hope everyone will try to locate it. A short poem, it strikes me as a perfect companion to the painting "Burnt Out," above. The images and actions in the poem more or less outline widely accepted differences in the mindsets of women and men (for one thing, we men like to measure). Now that science has verified some of these contrasts--admittedly in broad, sweeping, stereotyping terms--Rich seems prescient (her poem from the mid-1970s predates, I think, later scientific announcements about male and female brains).

In the potential pathology about what's at stake in gender conflicts, Marge Piercy's "The Friend" takes things up a notch. How extreme is her exaggeration--in a metaphorical effort to make a point, don't you think? And why title the poem "The Friend"?
The Friend by Marge Piercy

Just yesterday at this site, we saw three reputable poems by three reputable poets, all modern males, perceiving women in a way that seems well-intentioned. In fact, Richard Wilbur's "Piazza di Spagna" seems to me a kind of apotheosis of the girl in Rome. Even so, might each poem justifiably be called an objectification of a woman?

And are today's three poems--all by women--more accurate than the men's poems in their portrait of American women, at least as they were prior to about 1990?

I realize that these questions invite misleading stereotypes and distortions; whatever Dove, Rich, and Piercy are saying, there will be exceptions by the dozen. But might it be instructive to discuss with someone of the other gender the character, the extent, and the purpose of any hyperbole you find here? Do these six poems and four nineteenth century American paintings (two on Dec. 1, plus today's) describe the core of any gap that remains between the genders? Six poems and four old paintings won't say it all, but are they speaking something like a truth? A kernel?

It's the holiday season. Be gentle.

(Again, by the way, if someone knows how I can resolve my worries about copyright issues, please let me know. Feeling obliged to put only links in my posts, rather than entire poems, unless the author is long dead, seems a rinky-dink game that only fourth-tier lawyers and bitter, bitter authors or their descendants would want to play. But I'm not going to waste my time engaging with them. And what is fair use anyway? It's not as if I'm passing these off as my work. Are they afraid I'll make millions off their or their granparents'? work? If a few of my readers buy a book by one of the poets I cite, how is that poet damaged? Litigious America is disgusting. Happy Holidays. Make sure those mittens you buy are properly copyrighted.).


Brenda's Arizona said...

I haven't read the poem links yet - but I wanted to comment on your despair of copyright infringement. I totally agree and I tend to cross the line, hoping my citation is acceptable enough. Until the 'cease and desist' letters come banging at the door, I occasionally risk too much quoting.

I'm gonna bug my betters at work (graduate school library) on their interpretations. Our library is very strict, so I am sure my findings will be exactly what you say. Sigh...

Banjo52 said...

Thanks Brenda. I look forward to any info you find. In the meantime, I suppose two sighs are better than one. I'm really not sure how concerned other quoting bloggers are or should be.

Anonymous said...

Read two of the poems -- they certainly whine. I just want to tell these women -- get some guts.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Consensus is a snippet of a poem with citation to source is ok... but not the whole poem/not whole lyrics, etc.

So you think two sighs will keep us out of trouble? sigh... I'm going to start counting how old my poets are before posting their stuff. Older is better, in this case.

PJ said...

I use poems in my posts and always give author credit. If I've used a photograph I give credit or it's through creative commons. Lyrics and poems are found all over the internet and no one seems to be prosecuting, I think they're happy for the free publicity. It's when someone makes money off of it (music) or plagiarizes that they object, and rightly so.
Couldn't find the AR poem, you're right, nowhere to be found.

PJ said...

I'll tell you what I think about the poems and that they only have meaning for me through having had a child. It changes everything, like that it can take 20 minutes to make a cup of tea - in the microwave. That I once walked into the shower fully clothed because my son threw up on me and it was easier to just turn on the water and rinse us both off without getting undressed first. And being connected to someone through a child will make you crazy. I think they're talking about the intensity relationships create in ordinary settings.

Lovers' Lane