Posts Tagged ‘Maya Angelou’

Nini Bennett. Carl Sagan: Oor sterrekunde en poësie

Friday, February 18th, 2022

 

Carl Sagan

 

Die Amerikaanse sterrekundige, ruimtewetenskaplike, kosmoloog en skrywer, Carl Sagan het bekendheid verwerf vir onder meer sy wetenskaplike navorsing oor die moontlikheid van ekstraterrestriële lewe – maar dis met sy televisiereeks, Cosmos: A personal voyage dat hy verewig is as huishoudelike naam. Kykers sal Sagan onthou as die sjarmante en welsprekende aanbieder, kenmerkend met ’n mosterdkleurige corduroy-baadjie en bypassende rolnektrui. Dink ’n mens aan hierdie intellektuele reus, dan dink jy aan die wyse waarop hy komplekse begrippe op byna hipnotiese wyse kon kommunikeer en selfs verromantiseer. As wetenskapkommunikeerder per excellence het Sagan kennelik nié binne die konvensionele begrensings van tradisionele vakgebiede gedink nie. Hy was skrywer, medeskrywer of redakteur van meer as 20 boeke en 600 wetenskapgeskrifte, maar word ook onthou vir sy populêre wetenskapfaksie soos The dragons of Eden: Speculations on the evolution (1977), Broca’s brain: Reflections on the romance of science (1979) en Pale blue dot: A vision of the human future in space (1994). Sy roman, Contact (1985) is verwerk tot film. Sagan het sy kennis van die ruimte- en die geesteswetenskappe gedeel met leke- sowel as akademiese gehore. Ten spyte van kritiek deur sommige tydgenote dat hy slegs op die popularisering van die wetenskappe gefokus het, het hy ’n reuse bydrae gelewer tot wetenskaplike bewusmakingsveldtogte. Inteendeel: as wetenskapkommunikeerder was hy ook betrokke by die ruimtesendings van die Mariner-, Pioneer- en Voyagerreekse. Hy het gedien as voorsitter van die komitees wat die Goue Plate aan Voyager 1 en 2 in hulle onderskeie ruimtesendings vergesel het. Die Voyager Goue Plate is in 1977 aan boord van die Voyager 1 en 2 gelanseer. Laasgenoemde plate bevat klanke en beelde wat lewe op planeet aarde verteenwoordig: musiek, natuurklanke, groeteboodskappe uit 55 antieke en moderne tale, sketse, foto’s en selfs ’n stemboodskap van president Jimmy Carter. Die doel van die Goue Plate was om met buiteaardse wesens te kommunikeer – en volgens Sagan sou die Voyager-ruimtetuie net ontdek – én die plate gevolglik gespeel word – as ’n gevorderde ruimtereisende beskawing daarmee kon kontak maak.

Sagan het in 1960 sy PhD in sterrekunde en astrofisika aan die Universiteit van Chicago verwerf. Sy latere navorsing handel onder meer oor stofstorms op Mars en die oorsprong van lewe op aarde. Hy was eers werksaam as professor aan die Universiteit van Harvard alvorens hy die grootste deel van sy lewe as professor in sterrekunde aan die Cornell-Universiteit deurgebring het.

Sagan is bekend en geliefd om sy buitengewone taalvaardighede: nie net was hy ’n veelsydige wetenskaplike nie; hy was ook literêr begaafd. “He was, quite simply, the best science educator in the world this century.” Só beweer Yervant Terzian, wat op ’n stadium die hoof van Cornell-Universiteit se departement sterrekunde was. Sagan word onthou vir sy besondere poëtiese aanslag as wetenskapkommunikeerder. Nie alle wetenskaplikes beskik oor die vermoë om hulle kennis oor te dra nie, maar Sagan staan kop en skouers bo sy tydgenote uit. Die tweede helfte van die 20ste eeu was “die goue eeu” wat gekenmerk is deur kosmiese ontdekkings en Sagan was waarskynlik die verteenwoordiger van dié tydsgewrig. Hy het in sy leeftyd sowel as postuum ’n magdom toekennings vir sy werk ontvang, onder meer die Pulitzer-prys vir niefiksie vir The dragons of Eden in 1978.

Ander wetenskapskrywers wat wetenskapfaksie as poëtiese prosa aanbied, is byvoorbeeld die ekoloog en marienebioloog, Rachel Carson met haar blitsverkoper Under the sea wind: A naturalist’s picture of ocean life (1941), of die bosboukundige, Peter Wohlleben se wetenskaplik-poëtiese besinning oor bome, The hidden life of trees (2015). Ek het oor die interseksie van hierdie lewenswetenskappe en poësie in die volgende blogs geskryf:

 

https://versindaba.co.za/2018/10/25/nini-bennett-blou/?fbclid=IwAR2Gh2krO7FEwvFiX209doom8krTFW9KffIJyLqltCGaNynVM6xHjGsuNWE

asook

https://versindaba.co.za/2018/07/27/nini-bennett-die-taal-van-bome/?fbclid=IwAR0v6wg8z0pBY7oV5-Ptq_UjDqYy46zu5iIKPRbeK4TYYfoSjnON_b3-cdY

 

’n Afrikaanse voorbeeld van so ’n wetenskaplik-poëtiese narratief is Die groot gedagte: Abstrakte weefsel van die kosmos (1998) deur Gideon Joubert, ’n werk wat bekroon is met die Andrew Murrayprys en die Insig-prys vir Afrikaanse niefiksie. Joubert put mildelik uit die wêreldletterkunde en poësie – en slaag daarin om ’n sinvolle simbiose tussen die twee velde te bewerk.

Iewers in die argiewe van die internet het ek egter die volgende besondere artefak ontdek: ’n insetsel uit ’n ou skoolkoerant, geskryf deur die 15-jarige Carl Sagan. Dit was ’n moeitevolle proses om die stukkies vergeelde papier te vergroot, byeen te bring en oor te tik om sodoende ’n teksrekord van hierdie waardevolle berig te skep.

Dit is die jaar 1950 en die bron is Wawawhack, the Rahway High School Student Newspaper Vol. VI.:

SPACE, TIME AND THE POET

 Carl Sagan

 

It is an exhilarating experience to read poetry and observe its correlation with modern science. Profound scientific thought is hardly a rarity among the poets. Often a scientist will pen a verse to clarify his meaning. Although far from profound, the following anonymous stanza is typical:

“Twinkle, twinkle, great big star,

Astronomers know just what you

     are.

The self-same stuff is space be-

    tween,

Its atoms rare and quite un-

    seen.”

Rapidly approaching reality is the dream of space travel-flight to other planets. This flight will be accomplished by rockets with huge fins for stabilization in atmosphere. Observe this prediction of Alfred Lord Tennyson:

“For I dipt into the future…

Saw the heavens fill with com-

merce, argosies of magic sails.”

The commerce Tennyson speaks of is obvious, for the other bodies of this solar system have much the same chemical composition as the earth. Edgar Allan Poe may be taken literally:

“Where can it be

This land of Eldorado?

‘Over the mountains

Of the Moon…”

Then, someday, man will venture beyond this planetary system, through “A dark illimitable ocean, without bound,” (Milton) to the planets of the other stars. One wonders what Helen Hunt Jackson meant by:

“Who knows what myriad colo-

    nies there are

Of fairest fields, and rick, un-

    dreamed of grains

Thick planted in the distant

    shining plains

Which we call sky because they

    lie so far?

Oh, write of me…

‘Emigrated to another star’!

Many have questioned Man’s right to the universe, as expressed by T.S. Eliot:

“Do I dare

Disturb the universe?”

They feel as Karl Jay Shapiro does:

“Look and remember. Look upon

    this sky:

Look deep and deep into the

    sea-clean air,

The unconfined, the terminus of

    prayer.

Speak now and speak into the

    hallowed dome.

What do you hear? What does

    the sky reply?

The heavens are taken; this is

    not your home.”

They feel interstellar travel is merely:

“…drifting….

Toward the impossible,

Towards the inaccessible

Towards the ultimate

Towards the silence

Towards the eternal…”

                               – John Gould Fletcher.

When the time comes, however, there will be those who will stand up and say with Robert Frost:

“They cannot scare me with

    their empty spaces

Between stars – stars where no

    human race is, and ex-

    plore the cosmos,

Star over star, a larger lovelier

    unknown heaven beyond

    the known!”

     – George Cabot Lodge.

And then, in the far-distant future, will come the end of the earth. In the famous lines of T.S. Eliot:

“This is the way the world

    ends –

Not with a bang but a whimper.”

The great contemporary philosopher George Santayana had his own concept of the matter:

“…the patient earth, made

    dry and barren,

Sheds all her herbage in a final

    winter.

And the Gods turn eyes to some

    far distant

Bright constellation.”

By now, after journeying through space over the galactic hub and through time to the terminus of our puny planet, we must be impressed with a feeling of Man’s utter insignificance before the universe. Then, we turn to the work containing perhaps the greatest poetry – the Bible – and humbly inquire:

“When I consider Thy heavens,

    The work of thy fingers,

The moon and the stars, which

Thou hast ordained;

What is man?”

 

Suggestions for further study:

  1. Poems – William Butler Yeats
  2. The Pocket Book of Verse – Speare
  3. The Collected Verse of T.S. Eliot
  4. Poems – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  5. Poems – John Donne
  6. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam – Fitzgerald
  7. On the Nature of Things – Lucretius
  8. Paradise Lost – Milton
  9. Poems – George William Russell (“A E”)
  10. The Bible

 

 

Die jong Sagan

 

Dit is onmiskenbaar die stem van Carl Sagan, ’n seun met ’n droom om iewers in die toekoms ’n sterrekundige te word. En of die leser verras, geamuseerd of verwonderd staan voor die lees van die stuk: dit is duidelik dat Sagan die liefdesverhouding tussen die wetenskappe en poësie as jongeling reeds gesnap het. Hy was besonder belese en kon op daardie stadium reeds sy sterrekundenarratief deur die bril van poësie bekyk. Die leser het deernis met sy leeslys vir voorgestelde studie wat die Bybel as finale bronverwysing lys. Die latere Sagan sou ’n veldtog teen bygeloof en magiese denke by wyse van geïnstitusionaliseerde wêreldgodsdienste (en skyngodsdienste, byvoorbeeld die New Age-beweging) voer. Dis interessant om te noem dat die skrywer se fassinasie met die kosmos allereers, vóór sy studiejare gevorm is deur die poësie van groot digters, die musiek van die sfere, ’n residu wat lewenslank teenwoordig sou wees in sy werk. Die bloudruk van die latere Sagan blyk duidelik uit hierdie berig.

Reeds in die begin van die ikoniese televisiereeks, Cosmos: A personal voyage maak Sagan gebruik van ’n gedig in die vorm van ’n inkantasie of towerspreuk teen tandpyn. Hy merk op dat ons voorvaders die mees geringe of alledaagse gebeure in verband gebring het met kosmiese verskynsels. ’n Poëtiese en magiese voorbeeld is die onderstaande vers, “’n Inkantasie teen die wurm” soos dit gebruik is deur die Assiriërs 1000 jaar v.C. Die spreuk begin met die oorsprong van die heelal en eindig met ’n kuur teen tandpyn. Die gode Anu, Ea en Shamash is teenwoordig:

 

After Anu had created the heaven,

And the heaven had created the earth,

And the earth had created the rivers,

And the rivers had created the canals,

And the canals had created the morass,

And the morass had created the worm,

The worm went before Shamash, weeping,

His tears flowing before Ea:

‘What wilt thou give me for my food,

What wilt thou give me for my drink?’

‘I will give thee the dried fig

And the apricot.’

‘What are these to me? The dried fig

And the apricot!

Lift me up, and among the teeth

And the gums let me dwell!

Because thou hast said this, O worm,

May Ea smite thee with the might of

His hand!

 

’n Artikel soos dié sou nie volledig wees sonder om te verwys na Sagan se “Pale blue dot” nie. Op 14 Februarie 1990 is die laaste foto’s van Voyager 1 ontvang toe dit na die aarde teruggekyk het op ’n verstommende afstand van 5,9 miljard km. Dit het ’n grysblou kolletjie ingesluit. Hierdie besinning oor die aarde is seker een van die mooiste odes wat ooit oor ons planeet geskryf is. Hier volg ’n uittreksel:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Carl Sagan het talle digters geïnspireer. Sinoniem met “Pale blue dot” is die humanitêre gedig, “A brave and startling truth” wat Maya Angelou vir die vyftigste herdenking van die Verenigde Nasies geskryf het. Sagan se besinning en die foto van Voyager 1 het gedien as impetus tot dié gedig – en beide tekste resoneer as ’n soort triomf ten spyte van die nietigheid van die mens op aarde.

 

Maya Angelou

A brave and startling truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet

Traveling through casual space

Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns

To a destination where all signs tell us

It is possible and imperative that we learn

A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it

To the day of peacemaking

When we release our fingers

From fists of hostility

And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it

When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate

And faces scooted with scorn are scrubbed clean

When battlefields and coliseum

No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters

Up with the bruised and bloody grass

To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches

The screaming racket in the temples have ceased

When the pennants are waving gaily

When the banners of the world tremble

Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it

When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders

And children dress their dolls in flags of truce

When land mines of death have been removed

And the aged can walk into evenings of peace

When religious ritual is not perfumed

By the incense of burning flesh

And childhood dreams are not kicked awake

By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it

Then we will confess that not the Pyramids

With their stones set in mysterious perfection

Nor the Gardens of Babylon

Hanging as eternal beauty

In our collective memory

Not the Grand Canyon

Kindled into delicious color

By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe

Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji

Stretching to the Rising Sun

Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,

Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores

These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it

We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe

Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger

Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace

We, this people on this mote of matter

In whose mouths abide cankerous words

Which challenge our very existence

Yet out of those same mouths

Come songs of such exquisite sweetness

That the heart falters in its labor

And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet

Whose hands can strike with such abandon

That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living

Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness

That the haughty neck is happy to bow

And the proud back is glad to bend

Out of such chaos, of such contradiction

We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it

We, this people, on this wayward, floating body

Created on this earth, of this earth

Have the power to fashion for this earth

A climate where every man and every woman

Can live freely without sanctimonious piety

Without crippling fear

When we come to it

We must confess that we are the possible

We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world

That is when, and only when

We come to it.

– Maya Angelou

 

Verwysings:

https://blogs.loc.gov/catbird/2014/01/space-time-and-the-poet-sagan/?fbclid=IwAR0bD1pFlGBf_J9gSUnbfUeoc-1oVEMZDdLpiASCv3Zz7hg_35YLbDymyOU

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan?fbclid=IwAR3HJ4gjL2ovjJnbbKbIcWCOpITXw_tz0wjSLXUwKVD1GgI-pvd_C0zpA24

https://archive.org/stream/Cosmos-CarlSagan/cosmos-sagan_djvu.txt

https://theconversation.com/scientists-and-poets-are-more-alike-than-you-might-think-116326?fbclid=IwAR3-QDyuUH0TKFYj4F9wRT5I9PWRRfOPGYwmC0e-9q3-iY-qOuPVPQFrUY8

https://www.loc.gov/static/collections/finding-our-place-in-the-cosmos-with-carl-sagan/articles-and-essays/carl-sagan-and-the-tradition-of-science/sagans-youth-and-the-progressive-promise-of-space.html?fbclid=IwAR1ySDHealzCjujnn4jdWt-DBC_DXwMhlvRwk1z0du4d4KZ_bcnuR32rZ8E

https://www.loc.gov/resource/mss85590.002/?st=gallery&fbclid=IwAR0JS1CWojQ9cNYt_yD9Px35_6NV-78Wh2SjZ4UkLy8Ck8OepfGKNhp2tM8

https://reneeriley.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/poetry-a-brave-and-startling-truth/?fbclid=IwAR1nZUSvSnI6qa6ECNbmV5hIv3LmRcLdHAtI03nmbkNtso2aFYJAeJTIe_8

Nini Bennett. Presidente en hulle poësie

Friday, February 19th, 2021

 

 

Die jongste wêreldnuus aan die poësiefront is die 22-jarige Amanda Gorman se voordrag van haar gedig, “The hill we climb”, tydens die presidensiële inhuldiging van Joe Biden, die 46 ste president van die VSA op 20 Januarie 2021. Gorman het in haar hoedanigheid as poet laureate opgetree. Dié begaafde jong digter, ’n inwoner van Los Angeles, was in 2017 die nasionale jeug-poet laureate. Sy is tans ’n sosiologie-student aan die Harvard-universiteit. Gorman is tot op hede die jongste digter wie dié eer te beurt geval het. Demokrate soos John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton en Barack Obama het ook poet laureates tydens hulle inhuldigingsplegtighede gehad. Gorman sluit, met haar 5-minute lange gedig, aan by haar ikoniese voorgangers soos Robert Frost, Maya Angelou en Elizabeth Alexander. Maar net twee weke voor hierdie historiese dag het gewelddadige Trump-ondersteuners die Capitol in Washington DC bestorm met vlae, pypbomme en galgtoue. In Gorman se gedig doen sy ’n oproep tot nasionale eenheid, besinning en verandering – met die troos dat Amerika se demokrasie wel seergekry het en tydelik “vertraag” is, maar steeds ’n baken van hoop is wat nooit sal verdwyn nie. Die waarderende tweets het onmiddellik ingestroom, onder meer van Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton en die aktivis en politikus, Stacey Abrahams. Gorman se debuut, The one for whom food is not enough het in 2015  verskyn.

Tyd vlieg inderdaad, en ’n mens dink onwillekeurig aan die dag toe Donald Trump ingesweer is as president, op 20 Januarie 2017. Met dié verskil: Trump het nie ’n poet laureate gehuur nie. Nee, hierdie president het dae nadat hy sy amp aanvaar het, ’n liriek, “The snake”, tydens politieke byeenkomste voorgelees – dieselfde liriek wat hy (heel dreigend) tydens verkiesingsveldtogte gelees het. In sy nuuswekker vra Louis Esterhuizen, na analogie van ’n berig in The Atlantic, tereg waar die digters tydens Trump se inhuldigingseremonie was – en of die tradisie van poet laureates dan net ’n gebruik is wat Demokrate aanhang?  https://versindaba.co.za/tag/presidensiele-inhuldiging/?fbclid=IwAR0_O_VNJcDeh58L4I4m6PpOG3BB4Su2V7fa9rzff63US5eK0OiT8SkCAEo

Wys Trump sy misnoeë met bestaande en gerespekteerde protokol só? Wel, dít is dalk lig gestel. Trump het net een (gunsteling) “gedig”, wat inderwaarheid ’n liriek is, genaamd “The snake”, soos reeds genoem. En die voormalige prez sélf het dit tot vervelens toe voorgelees. Die verdraaide vertolking van die liriek was ’n waarskuwing aan die burgery oor die gevare verbonde aan onwettige immigrante, maar die teks kan ook as metafoor van Trump se presidensie gelees word. Dit handel in kort oor ’n vrou wat ’n slang, wat buite verkluim, in haar huis inneem en versorg. Die slang pik dan sy weldoener met ’n dodelike gif. Die liriek is oorspronklik in 1968 deur Al Wilson geskryf, en volgens die burgerregte-aktivis, Oscar Brown dui die lied op die viering van die swart kultuur en gepaardgaande die verwerping van rassisme. Brown se (oorlewende) kinders het Trump gewaarsku om die liriek nie te te demoniseer nie, waarop Trump onderneem het om die voordrag daarvan te staak – maar hy het steeds voortgegaan.

 

 

Geen poet laureate vir Donald Trump nie: hy het gesorg dat hy die kollig opeis, hý alleen, op verskeie geleenthede. O, en het hy dit nie geniet om sy ‘bangmaakgedig’ te lees nie!  Eers sal hy sy leesbril opsit, ernstig, outoritêr, en met groot fanfare begin lees terwyl hy huiwer voor die argaïese en fleurige taalgebruik in die liriek-vers. Mens kan sien hoe hy die naderende klimaks van die slangfabel geniet…met ’n donker, dramatiese stem stuur hy af op die selfverduidelikende kadens, en die gelaaide stilte ná die voorlesing laat die volle implikasie van die verradelike slang vir eers by sy luisteraars insink.

 

The snake

 

On her way to work one morning

Down the path alongside the lake

A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake

His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew

“Oh well,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”

“Take me in oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

 

She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk

And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk

Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived

She found that pretty snake she’d taken in had been revived

“Take me in, oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

 

Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried

“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”

Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight

But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite

“Take me in, oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

 

“I saved you,” cried that woman

“And you’ve bit me even, why?

You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”

“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin

“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in

”Take me in, oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,“ sighed the snake

 

Joe Biden se gunsteling digters is van Ierse afkoms, waarskynlik omdat die president self van Ierse herkoms is. Hy het deur die jare by herhaling die Nobelpryswenner, Seamus Heaney, aangehaal, wat terloops ook Bill Clinton se gunsteling digter is. Heaney se werk leen hom wonderlik tot politieke toesprake, het Biden per geleentheid gesê.

 

History says

Don’t hope on this side of the grave

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.

 

(Soos aangehaal uit Heaney se 1991-drama, The cure at Troy.)

 

Maar dit was egter William Butler Yeats se gedigte wat die jong Biden voor die spieël geresiteer het om van sy hakkelprobleem ontslae te raak – ’n raakpunt wat Amanda Gorman met Biden deel, want as kind het sy ook gesukkel met ’n spraakprobleem. As jy leer om bewus te raak van die uitspraak van woorde, raak jy ingestel op die fynere nuanses van klank; dit het my voorberei vir my rol as storieverteller en voordragkunstenaar, het die jong digter bevestig. Gorman se styl herinner aan die performance poetry ter plaatse, en na my mening kan die digter en die gedig tydens die presidensiële inhuldiging nie van mekaar geskei word nie. Die gedig kan ook as ’n soort kanonisering van performance poetry gesien word. Gorman se manier van lees/voordra is besonder ekspressief. Hier volg die volledige gedig:

 

The hill we climb

 

When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade

We’ve braved the belly of the beast

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace

And the norms and notions

of what just is

Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours

before we knew it

Somehow we do it

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed

a nation that isn’t broken

but simply unfinished

We the successors of a country and a time

Where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one

And yes we are far from polished

far from pristine

but that doesn’t mean we are

striving to form a union that is perfect

We are striving to forge a union with purpose

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

but what stands before us

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms

to one another

We seek harm to none and harmony for all

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious

Not because we will never again know defeat

but because we will never again sow division

Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

And no one shall make them afraid

If we’re to live up to our own time

Then victory won’t lie in the blade

But in all the bridges we’ve made

That is the promise to glade

The hill we climb

If only we dare

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded

But while democracy can be periodically delayed

it can never be permanently defeated

In this truth

in this faith we trust

For while we have our eyes on the future

history has its eyes on us

This is the era of just redemption

We feared at its inception

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter

To offer hope and laughter to ourselves

So while once we asked,

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was

but move to what shall be

A country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold,

fierce and free

We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation

Our blunders become their burdens

But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy

and change our children’s birthright

So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,

we will rise from the windswept northeast

where our forefathers first realized revolution

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,

we will rise from the sunbaked south

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

and every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

 

Die presidensiële inhuldiging met die versoenende tema “America united” was ’n rasende sukses. Die navrae het dadelik ingestroom: wanneer, en waar is Gorman se werk te koop? Binne dae het Gorman se  prenteboek, The change we sing asook die bundel, The hill we climb, wat September vanjaar verwag word, na die boonste twee plekke op Amazon.com opgeskuif. En ja: Die jong digter is ambisieus – sy het in ’n onderhoud met die New York Times genoem dat sy in 2036 gaan terug wees as presidensiële kandidaat.

 

Verwysings

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/politics/a35253095/joe-biden-seamus-heaney-irish-poet/?fbclid=IwAR02Qtc2bLSNXopd5Cal1jegCEpiiCZhlkjat8xpHM5ZgEgrgn2VIhPIFsY

https://www.irishpost.com/news/donald-trump-recites-controversial-poem-the-snake-during-rally-196725?fbclid=IwAR2zGhmKCdFxHNqJB0wpmek0ANIf4K9ANH5-itaGTAFErgplt89ce8AJ9u8

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/20/politics/amanda-gorman-inaugural-poem-transcript/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3UaLUUQ6zObm8GAL44T1j2QjkVXFOyH0HuEHHPrMdistTNyCjy4dQH5_w

 

Nini Bennett. Digterlike bloudrukke

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

        

Die hoofkarakter in Stieg Larsson se Millennium-trilogie het ’n onuitwisbare indruk op die hedendaagse zeitgeist gemaak. Die Sweedse aktrise Noomi Rapace vertolk die rol van ’n swaar getatoeëerde Lisbeth Salander in die 2011-film, The girl with the dragon tattoo. Selde was daar so opwindende protagonis soos Salander in moderne fiksie – sy is ’n kuberkraker en ly aan Asperger-sindroom; beskik oor ’n fotografiese geheue; is afsydig, biseksueel, onafhanklik, avontuurlustig en wraaksugtig. Sinoniem met die karakter is ’n tatoeëermerk van ’n draak op haar rug: dit vorm deel van Salander se ikoniese beeld.

Alhoewel die gebruik van tatoeëermerke 5000 jaar oud is, beleef ons die afgelope dekade werklik eers ’n tatoe-renaissance. “Waar het jy daardie mooi tatoe gekry?” skerts ’n vriendin van my onlangs. En sy antwoord laggend haar eie vraag: “Twaalf jaar vir messteek in Pollsmoor.” Dit som in ’n sekere sin die stereotipering, en sy tweeling, vooroordeel, jeens die dra van tatoeëermerke op. Studies rondom die aanbring – en die sielkundige dryfvere – rondom tatoeëermerke word gereeld geloods; dit is veral ’n gewilde onderwerp binne die populêre sielkunde. Hierdie bevindinge moet egter met omsigtigheid benader word. Die dae wat tatoes leuenverklikkers was vir ’n individu se promoskuïtieit, kriminele, verslawende of emosioneel labiele gedrag, is lankal verby. Tatoeëermerke is stadigaan besig om hulle sosiale taboes, wat bloot veldiep is, af te skud. Soortgelyk aan die mites rondom die terugspeel van langspeelplate wat kwansuis obskure, bose boodskappe bevat. Vandag is tatoeëermerke waarskynlik niks meer as ’n teken van selfekspressie of mode nie. Om Johnny Depp aan te haal: “My body is my journal, my tattoos are my story.”

Die woord “tatoe” is afgelei van die Tahitiaanse woord “tatu”, wat streep of vlek beteken, en behels ’n vorm van liggaamsmodifisering waar naalde gebruik word om ink onder die opperhuid aan te bring om die vel se pigment te verander. Die simboliese waarde van tatoes verskil van kultuur tot kultuur en van individu tot individu. Tatoes is onder meer tekens van liefde, assosiasie, stam en etnisiteit, beskerming, dapperheid, godsdiens, rang of seksualiteit. Die nagatiewe konnotasies verbonde aan tatoeëermerke is deels te wyte aan die volgende historiese faktore: (1) Keiser Konstantyn die Grote het in 330 n.C. die tatoeëering van gesigte verbied, terwyl die Tweede Konsilie van Nicea in 787 die tatoeëering van enige deel van die liggaam as ’n heidense praktyk verklaar het. (2) Slawe en gevangenes is met tatoes ‘gemerk’, byvoorbeeld die identifikasie van Jode in konsentrasiekampe deur die Nazi’s, asook die gesigstatoeëermerke wat die Zhou-dinastie in China aan gevangenes en slawe aangebring het. (3) Die negatiewe assosiasies rondom tatoes het later jare van China na Japan oorgespoel. Seevaarders, op hul beurt, het tatoeëerkuns na Europa gebring. ’n Mens kan vandag net jou kop skud oor die ondergrondse ateljees van daardie jare, die angs en die opwinding oor die verbode yk…en die onhigiëniese toerusting wat plek gemaak het vir moderne bio-elektriese werktuig en ’n groter toleransie jeens individualiteit. Baie ateljees is egter steeds laatnag of deurnag oop, omdat voornemende kliënte ná ’n partytjie of ’n paar drankies (waarskynlik heel impulsief) besluit om ’n tatoeëermerk te laat aanbring.

Die joernale van idividue se lewens verskil inderdaad: so sal die narratiewe van hulle liggaamskuns ook verskil. Literêre tatoes is al lankal nie meer ’n nuutjie nie, maar die aanvraag na boek- of poësietatoes het vinnig begin toeneem. Nadat ek honderde fotobeelde van literêre tatoeëermerke bekyk het, het ek tot die volgende gevolgtrekking gekom: literêre tatoes bestaan uit ikoniese tatoes, wat vir die individu ’n subjek of simbool rondom ’n vers of boek beliggaam; en literêre tatoes kan bestaan uit aanhalings, hetsy reëls uit ’n betrokke boek of vers, asook die hele vers, of ’n kombinasie van grafika en aanhalings.

Voorbeelde van ikoniese literêre tatoeëermerke    

Die gesig van Ernest Hemingway:

Die groen lig in The Great Gatsby:

Die vyeboom – en die siening rondom keuses – is geïnspireer deur die onderstaande gedeelte in Sylvia Plath se roman, The Bell Jar. Plath is ’n gunsteling onder vroue as dit by die keuse van literêre tatoeëermerke kom.

“…I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

Literêre tatoeëermerke: aanhalings en verse

Valentina Tagliabue het die hele Annabel Lee van Edgar Allan Poe op haar rug laat tatoeëer. Tydens ’n onderhoud op Contrawise. org vertel sy meer van die ervaring:

“The tattoo took me about eighteen hours, divided into three days plus one more afternoon to redo some letters. The font is called litos script. Why did I want the entire poem on me? Because my first love in this life is poetry; because when I met the brilliant works of Poe – his novels but especially his poems – they burned my soul so deeply that I wanted a sign of this feeling forever engraved also on my body. The whole text, because you never should break a poem in half or more: all, or nothing.” Tatoeëerkuns van Poe se werk is veral gewild onder aanhangers van die Gotiese subkultuur.

Klik gerus op die volgende skakel om die bekende  Annabel Lee te lees:  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44885/annabel-lee

Hierdie dame het die volgende aanhaling uit Charles Bukowski se vers op haar ribbes laat tatoeëer.

all theories

like clichés

shot to hell,

all these small faces

looking up

beautiful and believing;

I wish to weep

but sorrow is

stupid.

I wish to believe

but belief is a

graveyard.

we have narrowed it down to

the butcherknife and the

mockingbird

wish us

luck.

Die man in die onderstaande foto het ’n fragment uit Allen Ginsberg se vers, America, op sy arm laat tatoeëer.

Klik gerus op die skakel om die hele gedig te lees. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49305/america-56d22b41f119f

En vervolgens Robert Frost: die immergroen Stopping by woods on a snowy evening.

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

*

Die gewilde Maya Angelou, soos die refrein, “Still I rise”, op hierdie vrou se arm getuig:

Still I rise

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Onderskeidend is natuurlik die betrokke individue en tatoeëerkunstenaars se vertolking van gekose literêre tatoes. “There is a bluebird in my heart that / wants to get out” van Bukowski word onder meer verbeeld as ’n anatomiese hart met ’n gevange voëltjie voel binne-in, of bloot net grafika van hierdie blou lyster. Die grootte en lettertipe, en die spesifieke lokalisering op die liggaam speel ’n intieme rol in die subjektiewe interpretasie van die idee of beeld. Die draers van literêre tatoes is diskreet in die keuses van hulle kuns (en verkies meesal net één (literêre) tatoe; smaakvol, en aggressie is opvallend afwesig.) Oor die redes vir hierdie liggaamskuns kan ’n mens lank spekuleer. In baie gevalle funksioneer die tatoeëermerke as ’n herinnering aan ’n moeilike tydperk in die persoon se lewe: die tatoe “merk” die persoonlike swaarkry as ’n liminale gebeurtenis, wat op sy beurt dien as tipe trofee vir die persoon se deursettingsvermoë. Hierdie herinnering dien dan as motivering om sterk of moedig te wees later. Die rol van die sosiale media lei tot nabootsing in die keuse van tatoes onder verbruikers, soos dit blyk uit die voorbeelde wat ek bekyk het via Google Image, Tumblr, Pinterest en Instagram. Die koste verbonde aan ’n tatoe, asook die beskikbaarheid van goeie of bekwame tatoeëerkunstenaars, is deurslaggewend in die finale keuse. Die populêre kultuur van die dag beïnvloed eweneens mense se sienswyses (byvoorbeeld Harry Potter), alhoewel aanhalings van Shakespeare steeds gewild blyk te wees. Sommige literêre tatoes signalleer bloot aangename herinneringe, soos die voorliefde vir Alice in Wonderland-tatoeëerkuns. Om die woorde van ’n vers te laat vervlees, of om ’n bloudruk daarvan op jou liggaam te ets vra vir diéper bepeinsing as ’n tatoeëermerk wat terloops na ’n verloopte partytjie bekom is.

Verwysings:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/swim-in-denial/201310/if-tattoos-could-talk

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems

Nuuswekker. Waar was die digters met die presidensiële inhuldiging?

Thursday, January 26th, 2017
Maya Angelou tydens die 1993 presidensiële inhuldiging. (Foto: Mark Lennihan / AP)

Maya Angelou tydens die 1993 presidensiële inhuldiging. (Foto: Mark Lennihan / AP)

Nou ja, uiteindelik het die stofwolke in die Amerikaanse draadkamp tot kalmte gekom na die opstootjies rondom pres. Donald Trump se verkiesing tot president en sy inhuldiging ‘n week gelede. Nou vra The Atlantic in ‘n onlangse berig héél tereg waar die digters dan was, want nie minder as vyf vorige presidente het ‘n digter van statuur gehad om ‘n spesiale vers tydens hul inhuldigingseremonie voor te lees, te wete: John F. Kennedy (Robert Frost), Bill Clinton (Maya Angelou), Jimmy Carter (James Dickey) en Barack Obama twee keer: eers Rita Dove, en met sy tweede inhuldiging: Richard Blanco.

Toevallig was al vyf dié voormalige presidente Demokrate. Dit wil dus voorkom asof Trump, en by implikasie die Republikeinse Party, téén die gebruik van ‘n inhuldigingsgedig besluit het.

Volgens The Atlantic se berig, die volgende: “The lack of poetry may seem like a break with precedent, or it may seem especially telling given news that Trump intends to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities […] But in that fact alone—the fact of presidential poetry as a partisan tradition—is a reminder of America’s cultural divides. In the weeks after the election, many Americans turned to poetry for guidance and comfort, as my colleague Megan Garber has chronicled. Now, Leslie Lawrence at WBUR’s website suggests that anyone yearning for some verse on Inauguration Day might want to revisit the works of Walt Whitman. (From Song of Myself: ‘Whoever degrades another degrades me.’)”

Vir jou leesplesier volg Maya Angelou se gedig wat sy tydens Bill Clinton se inhuldiging voorgelees het.

Geniet die naweek wat op hande is.

Louis

*

Inaugural Poem

 

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.

The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers–desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours–your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

 

© Maya Angelou, 20 Januarie 1993