Poetry, an Awareness of the World

“When I speak of poetry I am not thinking of it as a genre. Poetry is an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality.” -Andrei Tarkovsky, filmmaker

Our Notae this month feature examples of a poetic awareness to the beauty of the world. Whether it is a majestic view of Earth from 300,000 feet or the subtle pitch variations in the scream of an endangered lemur, this poetic way of relating to the world is fundamentally human. Our eyes may need some retraining to see more poetically, as a Bible scholar argues in a book review below. Finally, don’t miss out on reading some truly great poems from the late Robert Bly, who just passed away this week, RIP.

“The Most Profound Experience”: William Shatner Speaks After Blue Origin Flight by NBC News

“I hope I never recover from this, I hope I can maintain what I feel now….it’s so much larger than me and life.” says William Shatner in a stunned speech immediately following his spaceflight into orbit with Blue Origin. Shatner, was offered a seat on Jeff Bezos’ rocket a month ago, and after the trip, he is now the oldest person (at 90 years old) to have entered space (or, dare we say it: boldly gone where few men have gone before?). He has a lot of beautiful things to say about the experience — this clip from NBC is well-worth the entire listen.

“Madagascar’s Got Talent: Lemurs That Sing With Rhythm” by Sam Jones for The New York Times

Scientists have been exploring rhythm and other musical qualities in animals for decades. We are accustomed to thinking of birds in conjunction with singing, but…lemurs? It is almost unheard-of in the mammal kingdom, outside of humans.

The endangered lemur species known as the Indri indri in Madagascar has just been found to use regular rhythm and pitch to communicate to one another. This is not only fascinating it its own right, it also provides us with clues to the evolution of human beings’ relationship to music.

“We can infer things about when, and how, we acquired certain key aspects of musicality, like our ability to move to a beat or coordinate our pitch with others’,” said Aniruddh Patel of Tufts University. Read more about their findings at check out this video of the lemurs singing.

“Book Review: Enjoying the Bible by Matthew Mullins” at Mere Orthodoxy

“Reading for information alone rarely produces the emotional responses that come while listening to one’s favorite song or entering a literary world. That kind of engagement requires a more poetic approach. Poetry, writes Mullins, is “the ideal form for retraining Cartesian eyes” because “it requires us to develop that emotional/experiential end of the reading spectrum” (10).” This book review at Mere Orthodoxy highlights Dr. Mullins’ winsome call to read the Bible “with our guts” as we might read a poem.

“For now you are the standing one.” Robert Bly, remembered at the Minneapolis Star Tribune by friend and fellow poet Thomas R. Smith.

Read Smith’s tribute to the great poet and then enjoy some of Bly’s best poems over at the Poetry Foundation.

Poetry Out Loud Minnesota Finals at the FItzgerald Theater. Desdemona was the MC, and Robert Bly (Minnesota Poet Laureate) read several of his poems at the end. Two of the 18 competitors were from Morris and both made it to the last round of 6; Alex McIntosh placed 4th and Thomas McPhee placed 6th.
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