On Thursday, February 10th, I attended Gioia’s poem reading at the student center. He has written three poem books and will be a professor of poetry and public culture as of fall 2011. As a traditional poet, Gioia uses his poems as a way of remembering and preserving memories. He expressed that poetry is a very “odd art at the moment.” Although poetry is peculiar at the moment, there is not one single culture where anthropologists have been unable to find the existence of poetry. The poem comes from the writer’s expression of speech, hearing, and rhythm. Behind whichever technique the writer may use lays a unique description of who they are, where they come from, and where they hope to go.
Before Gioia began to read, he emphasized the significance of beauty. He described it as temporary and divided ones reaction to beauty into three steps. The first step is stopping, and as you see the display of beauty in front of you, everything suddenly slows down. The second is absorbing the pleasure that we have gained by witnessing the beauty. Third, is by having this experience, we begin to see something about it that we normally would not have known or could have easily forgotten. Lastly, it is gone.
The idea of poetry, especially for Gioia, is to capture that second and third phase and to put it all on paper in a way that can also satisfy others. The problem with today’s technology and media is that it cuts off culture from the beauty of art, so they stuff themselves with things that temporarily satisfy, but don’t make a deep enough connection. If one where to find relation with a poem, they may allow it to address them in a way that they could see things that others normally would not see.
After attending the Gioia event, I was able to make a connection to the readings this week: Happiness, God’s Grandeur, and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” In Happiness, Jane Hirshfield pinpoints the many gifts that God has to offer in life and how one must embrace those gifts in order to be fulfilled with happiness. Throughout the poem, we see the authors struggle to find happiness by her use of the terms hopelessness, desperateness, and loneliness. By incorporating this negativity, she is sharing that she too has had a hard time finding happiness and it is a process that for some, can be more difficult than for others. Once she is able to grasp happiness, she holds onto it and applies it to everyday life. This poem reminded me of Gioias idea of finding that inner beauty, in this case happiness, and embracing it in some form rather than just throwing it away.
In God’s Grandeur, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, not only the powerful presence of God is portrayed, but also the dismay of the speaker in reaction to men who refuse to appreciate the life that God has provided them with. Instead of embracing Gods authority, they have chosen to abuse it. The form of an Italian Sonnet mirrors the speakers thought process. While the speaker is confused as to how not everyone could embody the grace of God each and everyday, he is able to assure himself that while others fail to do so, he will stay true to what he believes. Although I was unable to sense the incorporation of faith and God in Gioia’s poems, his idea of embracing beauty into everyday life is similar to the speakers idea of embracing God in everyday life because to him, faith and the presence of God is what’s beautiful.
In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find, written by Flannery O’Connor, A family goes on a trip to Tennessee, end up in an encounter with fugitives, and sadly in the end are killed. In this story, the grandma actually reminded me of Gioia. While at the reading, I was captured by his emotion and hand gestures, and as I read this story, I couldn’t help but see the grandma with just as much enthusiasm and ability to capture ones attention as Gioia had. Throughout the short story, there is an interest in what makes a “good man”. Even though the grandma is anticipating running into the Misfits the entire time talking about all of the harm that they are capable of causing, but when she is actually face to face with the man, she begins to tell him all of the good that he is capable of. This proves that although someone may not have the best past, there is always time to change. Similar to this idea, Gioia promotes that while we may be stuck in the lifestyle of “stuffing ourselves with things that will only temporarily satisfy,” there is always time to change this lifestyle by grasping the beauty that passes through everyday life.