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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pandora Box #1

Pandora's Box

a new column on poetry by the Western Slope's Poet Laureate

Art Goodtimesby Art Goodtimes  





After

Sometimes
the raw data of doing
just doesn’t jell

until way late
in the canning or
cleaning

or whatever
comes
after

cling peaches
blushing apricots
whipped cream

POEM OF MINE … I’m going to start each month with a poem of my own. I think  this one was in response to a poem of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer – whose May Day and Mother's Day poems appeared  at Telluride Inside... and Out at the start of this month. She maintains a poem-a-day practice, and has done that for several years now …


WELCOME BACK, PB … I’ve had a Pandora’s Box column on & off in Telluride for more years than I want to count. In a number of newspapers, some of which are now defunct. Not surprising, really, in the digital age, when print media is, at best, old-fashioned. Nostalgic … Gaia’s cyberneurons of social media and email are either a crash population taking us into barbarity and the muck of dark matter, or the shining lariats of galactic hope here to teach our dog (spelled backwards) a few new tricks … Whatever your belief de jour about where technology is taking us, the train is underway. And TIO has staked a gold spike on the way to on-line modernity … But, after a couple tries, it seems that my blog is a better fit for this column than TIO. Unlike older versions of PB, this will be a monthly liberal arts and humanities column with an emphasis on poetry, my specialty

PANDORA … Oh, and I can’t jump-start PB without talking about Pandora, again. She was the gal that opened the box that let all the evils out into the world, right? Wrong! … That was Hesiod’s version of the old myths that he wrote up in his Theogonia (Theogeny, or Origin of the Gods) that became the accepted versions of the ancient myths for the Hellenes from the Seventh Century, B.C.E., onwards. And another of his works, Erga kai Hemerai (Works and Days) details his story of Pandora. In Greek the word means “All Gifts”. According to Jane Ellen Harrison, Hesiod’s tale changes Pandora from its original Great Mother goddess archetype into Patriarchy’s first woman, who brings evil into the world by opening her jar (mis-translated as “box” by Eramus in the Renaissance). Robert Graves writes, “"Pandora is not a genuine myth, but an anti-feminist fable, probably of [Hesiod’s] own invention" … So, for me, Pandora’s box is full of all the good things of the world that the Earth Mother gives to us, which is why, as a modern poet, I’ve used her name for my columns -- to redeem her story.

TELLUS … As it turns out, Telluride has two earth goddess figures applied to local places – one the current star attraction town and the other a ghost town, all but obliterated by avalanche and time … Tellus is a Latin term for “Earth” and appears to be an alternate name for the Roman Terra Mater (“Earth Mother”), just as Pandora (All Gifts) was one of the epithets given the Greek Earth Mother … One thing for sure, early miners and settlers in San Miguel Park knew their classics.

KAREN CHAMBERLAIN … Colorado’s Western Slope has been blessed with a number of poetry festivals – Talking Gourds that’s kicked around Telluride, Faraway Ranch and Windy Point on the Uncompahgre Plateau; Sparrows in Salida; and the Festival of the Imagination in Del Norte … While Talking Gourds continues to move around and shape-shift, the Thunder River Theatre Company of Carbondale has started a new tradition to honor the Roaring Fork writer, poet and a teacher/mentor to many, Karen Chamberlain, who passed away this past year … This year’s event was in March in Carbondale, and next year’s will be an event not to miss.

ECO-WAR OR ECO-DANCE?… Such a contrast last month. I was all pumped up to learn about Deep Green Resistance and hear Derrick Jensen speak at Noble Hall at Fort Lewis (Noble Hall named for Sen. Dan Noble, Norwood’s Republican legislator who made it into leadership from the Western Slope – no small feat) … Jensen quoted lots of my favorite writers, including Dolores LaChapelle. He had the “what’s wrong” thing down pat. And I thought maybe he was going to offer some new, innovative strategies for turning our cultural Titantic around, from what appears to be a climate change iceberg and a raft of social injustice follies. But I was greatly disappointed … His talk was Revolution Lite, but it involved violent overthrow of the system, or at least comic one-liners that made it seem so. He talked seriously about taking out dams. Made jokes about AK-47s. Lauded assassinations as a viable method of change … Instead of doing the tough, slow work of building community, he seemed to be impatient to tear it down. He even deconstructed hope, and made it seem a worthless abrogation of personal responsibility … Jensen wasn’t an eco-philosopher-bard, as he’d been billed -- at least not in my book. He was Peck’s bad boy of violent change. A leftish fundamentalist with a stand-up comic’s rhetoric and a willingness to embrace any means necessary to bring the Empire down … A few days before that talk I got to participate in a Community Building mini-conference in Manitou Springs called Off the Couch!, hosted by Concrete Couch and the Community Built Association … There were theater games, trust-building exercises, role-playing, art and sculpture interactive group assignments, and a couple dazzling lectures – one about the amazing work of Umberto Crenca of AS220 in Providence, Rhode Island, who turned a free-for-all gallery idea into a multi-million dollar arts operation based on egalitarianism and populist ideals (like equal pay for all 50 employees, from the CEO to the janitor) and the other about livable urban street design from Dom Nozzi … Saturday’s events were followed by a Gourd Circle Sunday where participants got to share what they’d learned, the connections they’d made, the poetry that was inspired. It was community building at its finest. Not the skirting-the-edge-of-violence that’s made a media icon of Derrick Jensen, but the true skill building and cultural interconnections necessary for the resilience of communities in the face of disaster and change … Make war or make love. Those are the two choices we have in this life. And I definitely come down on the side of the latter.

GOURD CIRCLE POET … Hard not to honor San Miguel County’s new Poet Laureate Elle Metrick, editor of the Norwood Post … Follow her recent work on her blog http://ellenmetrick.blogspot.com

Feeling

It’s so messy
a tangle viney
windy
a tessera of bailing twine
orange session with wine
here, take an end
make words
one more method
a harness for excuses
not to make them look beautiful
make us look beneath
desire
where
stars still guide us
                                           
-Elle Metrick
Norwood

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