Monday, October 03, 2005

Jenny Browne in xconnect

Here's another one for you from xconnect: writers of the information age vol. 6. Pick up a copy of this book; there is such a great variey of poetry in there.

This one is on page 17, and is written by Jenny Brown:


Why not iron your dream
on a T-Shirt
or wrap your face
round a mug that steams, be seen
and heard?

Remember the big history book
with a picture of Alexis St. Martin,
the flap of his stomach lifted
by Doc Beaumont to show
how he digested the latest news
and his wife's potatoes.

Now I have a new recipe
I want to try but I need
a spring-form pan, I need
to remove the sides
of my own life, get a little
more visibility. I am whispering

my plan to the man sitting
next to me, but his ears
are pierced.

Jenny Browne

Stanley Kunitz states that one should end a poem with an image "and not explain it." Browne does exactly this. What is the power in using this technique? What do you think is the significance of a listener with pierced ears?


MB said...

Stanley Kunitz is (was?) very wise. I am glad to know this tidbit from him.

I like this poem for its humor, its self-deprecating wryness, and the twist at the end which kept me thinking a while.

Pierced ears =
Ear-piercing sound (i.e., he won't hear anything else)
He's a rebel against the norm and won't understand getting more visibility
He's busy making his own statement, working his own visibility

What did you think, Amy?

GK said...

If you want to see more of such imagery, check out WS Merwyn's poetry where you'll find extensive use of images that you can't completely pin down with the logical brain.

To me, pierced ears --->

so many people are so busy working on their visibility that it's pretty hard for you to get their attention so as to increase your own visibility.

Amy said...

Hi moose and gilbert:

Thank you for the insightful comments! The one thing you both brought up was that the man with pierced ears may be working so hard on getting his own exposure that he cannot listen to someone else. I think that's a great way to interpret that image--how competition for visibility impedes communication.

I suppose I was struck mostly with the idea of the ears being stopped up; like the many people running around with Ipod headsets, oblivious to the sounds and conversations around them. So maybe the speaker is trying to sell herself, but the audience is so inundated with advertising that they can't hear her. Something like that.

Amy said...


Stanley Kunitz is thankfully still with us, living in Provincetown, Massachusetts. This summer, he celebrated his 100th birthday. He is still very much involved in the Fine Arts Work Center in P-Town.

MB said...

Very glad to hear it, Amy. I know he won't be with us forever, but I do believe the world needs souls like his.

Anonymous said...

Only one of the reasons I regularly visit here and delve back into posts I haven't read from before I discovered you, is for the wealth of varied information you offer.

This is an entirely different type of piece. The last line struck me hard, for my Master's degree is in Audiology so to read of seeing and hearing in this manner is intriguing.