Poetry Writings & Readings

LINC-66E: Cloud-Based Tools
Instructor: William Cavada
Fall 2020, Foothill College

By Peter Y. Chou

Preface: LINC-66e Assignment 3: (Page 3) Careers: Images of your current career; Images that represent your future careers. Composed "Peter the Rock" (page 1) with links to my hobby (Enlightenment) and favorite web site, KDFC's Classical Music. Composed "My College Journeys" (page 2) on Learnings at Columbia, Cornell, Brandeis, Stanford, and Foothill College. Mentioned leaving Biochemistry career for love in poetry. This is my current and future focus— making poetry readings and writings to enhance and enlighten our daily lives. I've taught students to write poems in CPITS (California-Poets-In-The-School) program (1991-1996). Honored to have my "Valentine Mints" cast in bronze near San Francisco's Ferry Building. I'm quoting four poets who have inspired me— Rumi, Dante, Basho, and Emily Dickinson. I'm sharing videos of four poets whom I had classes— Kenneth Koch, Robert Pinsky, Robert Bly, Kay Ryan.

Writings of Four Poets Who Inspired Me—

Syria 1574, Jalal al-Din Rumi
25 Syrian pound, Multicolored,
issued Sept. 25, 2005, a joint issue
with Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan
to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the birth of
Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207).

Rumi writes and whirls—
his joy of light dancing
from wheat to bread
to you.

Mevlana Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-1273)

God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flower bed.
As roses, up from ground...

Part of the self leaves the body when we sleep
and changes shape. You might say, "Last night
I was a cypress tree, a small bed of tulips,
a field of grapevines."...

Tatatumtum tatum tatadum.
There's the light gold of wheat in the sun
and the gold of bread made from that wheat.
I have neither. I'm only talking about them,

as a town in the desert looks up
at stars on a clear night.

Rumi, "Unmarked Boxes"
translated by Coleman Barks,
The Essential Rumi (1995), p. 272

Sufi Dancer; Whirling Dervish;
Rumi founded the Mevlevi Order
of the Whirling Dervishes (Photos; Story)

Mexico C308,
Dante Alighieri by Raphael
Mount Parnassus, Vatican
2 peso, henna brown,
issued Nov. 23, 1965

Dante shares with us
the bread of angels while
soaring up to the stars.

Dante at Wisdom Portal

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Paradiso, II.1-12
(Translated by Allen Mandelbaum)

The waves I take were never sailed before;
Minerva breathes, Apollo pilots me,
and the nine Muses show to me the Bears.

You other few who turned your minds in time
unto the bread of angels, which provides
men here with life-but hungering for more—

The "bread of angels" is cited in Psalms 78.25 "Man did eat angels' food" and Wisdom 16.20 "You gave them the food of angels". In his Notes to Paradiso II.11, John Ciardi writes: "The bread of angels is the knowledge of God. It is by that, Dante says, that we are able to live, but no mortal man can grasp enough of it to become satisfied, the Divine Mystery being veiled from man." Dante writes: "Blessed are the few who sit at the table where the bread of the angels is eaten." (Convivio I.1.7). On his ascent to the stars, Dante says none has made such a journey. So he invokes Apollo, god of poetry as pilot and guide. He asks Minerva, goddess of wisdom to fill the sails of his ship, and the nine Muses to help him navigate to "the Bears" (Ursa Major & Ursa Minor, where the Pole Star resides).

Portrait of Matsuo Basho
by Yosa Buson (1716-1784)

Basho sounds like a frog
croaking before plopping
into the pristine pond.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

The original Japanese:

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

Translation (Alan Watts):

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:

30 translations of this haiku

In Kawazu Awase (1686), the haiku master Basho writes: "Go to the pine or bamboo if you want to learn about the pine or bamboo. Leave your ego behind, otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn. Your poetry comes naturally when you have become one with the object. When you plunge deep into the object, you'll see a hidden glimmering there."

Rilke did this on Rodin's advice, went to the Paris Zoo and
wrote his in-seeing "Panther" poem ("First Poem in Paris").
Commentary on Basho's frog haiku. Basho's The Complete Haiku (2008).

United States 1436,
Emily Dickinson
8¢, Multicolored, greenish,
issued August 28, 1971

Emily whispers
to the bee and butterfly
who inspire her poems.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Poem 111 (circa 1859)

The Bee is not afraid of me.
I know the Butterfly.
The pretty people in the Woods
Receive me cordially—

The Brooks laugh louder when I come—
The Breezes madder play;
Wherefore mine eye thy silver mists,
Wherefore, Oh Summer Day?

— Thomas H. Johnson,
    Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
    Little, Brown & Company, Boston, 1960, p. 53

Emily Dickinson Celebration. Dove of Discovery; Emily's Poem 48.

Readings of Four Poets Whom I Had Classes With—

Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch, (1925-2002)
The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006
Koch was my Freshman English Professor at Columbia, 1959-1960; He wasn't published then, but became a well known poet of the N.Y. School. He taught children to write poetry in NYC; inspired my CPITS teaching. Koch asked the class to memorize Dylan Thomas's poem "Fern Hill". It was the hardest homework, more difficult than any chemistry or physics homework at Columbia. When he gave a reading at SJSU, he signed his book "To Peter, my former student."

Kenneth Koch
reading "To You"

Robert Pinsky
(born 1940)
Robert Pinsky (born 1940)
I was fortunate to participate in Robert Pinsky's Stanford Poetry Workshops (Jan. 10-March 14, 2007). I was happy auditing his class, but he wants me to do all the work, submitting poems to be critiqued. He was three-time U.S. Poet Laureate (1997-2000). His "Favorite Poem Project" engaged many students into poetry. I enjoyed writing Poetry Anthology for his class. Four poems written for Pinsky's Wokshops— "Maguari Stork" (1-24-2007); "Small Talk: Desperate Students" (1-31-2007), First Poem in Paris (2-14-2007), "What a Soap Box Taught Me About Sage and Sin"
(2-27-2007) Pinsky's Stanford Poetry Reading (2-28-2007) and Poetry Colloquium (3-6-2007).

Robert Pinsky
reading "Shirt"

Robert Bly
(born 1926)
Robert Bly (born 1926)
Attending Bly's Stanford Poetry Workshops (April 2 - June 4, 2008) was a pure delight. More men came, regarding Bly as a father figure. He'd stay after class consulting with them on their problems. Bly gave us 10-minutes writing exercises in claas. He liked my poem "The Aha Moment" (5-6-2008). Bly signs his Hafez book "For Peter— With thanks for his many gifts and gestures and joyful thoughts— Robert Bly, May 28, 2008" Bly's Stanford Poetry Reading (5-7-2008) and Poetry Colloquium (5-20-2008).

Robert Bly
reading "Winter Poem"

Kay Ryan
(born 1945)
Kay Ryan (born 1945)
Didn't read any Kay Ryan poems until she came to Stanford. She told us “I've never taken or given a Poetry Workshop. Instead of bringing poems for class critiques, you'll turn in essays 'Conversations with Kay'.” Here are the Kay Ryan Workshops (Jan. 27-March 9, 2010). Essays written: What Makes a Poem Lasting? (2-2-2010), Poetry & Prayer (2-9-2010), Nonsense Rhymes in Mother Goose (2-23-2010), Galen Strawson: Narrative & Episodic Minds (3-2-2010), Poetry Day (3-9-2010). Kay Ryan's Stanford Poetry Reading (2-23-2010) and Poetry Colloquium (3-2-2010). Kay was awarded Pulitzer Prize & MacArthur Fellowship (2011).

Kay Ryan
reading "Bait Goat"

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P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (11-17-2020)