Chris Rice Cooper

Chris Rice Cooper
Chris on July 28, 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Poetry Anthology On The Sea of Humanity . . . .

Chris Rice Cooper 

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Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke’s Poetry Anthology Let the Sea Find its Edges:
“The Edges of The Human Spirit”

The poetry anthology Let the Sea Find its Edges http://www.lulu.com/
shop/michael-fitzgerald-clarke-and-and-friends/let-the-sea-find-its-edges/paperback/product-21240064.html consists of an anthology of poets focusing on the sea and 101 sonnets by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke https://www.facebook.com



Christina Murphy in the forward “Prooemium” describes the poetry collection as “a volume of poetry that explores the philosophical, metaphorical, and psychological implications and meanings of the sea.”
Murphy further writes:  “The original core of Let the Sea Find its Edges began as the 101 sonnets Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke wrote in exploration of the sonnet form and also the sea as metaphor.  Upon the completion of the sonnets, Fitzgerald-Clarke invited a number of his poet friends to write poems that also used the sea as a key image.”

As I read this poetry collection I noticed that the majority of the poems do not mention the sea literally or metaphorically.  I asked Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke via an email interview what his definition of the sea is and how all of the poems in this collection apply to his definition of the sea.  His response is italicized in blue below :
“For me, the sea is a symbol, in the broadest, most expansive way.  I see it as, in part, an element (along with fire, earth and air), in part a representation of Carl Jung's (far right) collective unconscious, in part an expression of the universal feminine, and more.  I've heard it said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the bottom of the ocean.
Ocean.  Sea.  They have a similar cadence with me.  The main distinctions I'm latently mindful of are that seas can be landlocked (the Dead Sea, the Caspian Sea, and so on), they can be part of an ocean, but an ocean can't be part of a sea.



The genesis of the book is that I set myself to pen one hundred sonnets in twelve months.  Initially, the sea theme wasn't articulated.  A Canadian friend coined the book's title some way in, from a line in one of the sonnets, and for reasons of her own.  Yes, my sea symbolism has the risk, in this context, of being near-infinitely elastic and losing meaning.  I acknowledge that, and the contrast of yin and yang, each being different yet intrinsic.
So, yes, in practice the poems didn't need to mention the sea.  I trusted in the Unconscious. (right, "More" by Edward Tomek 1971) I believe that poetical meaning is not always known to the poet as they write.  I wish my works to allow as many levels as a reader can find.
I am an admirer of the Surrealists. (left Andre Breton, founder of the Surrealist Movement) The order of the sonnets was determined from a lucky draw by my friend Irina.  Yes, a numbering of 1 to 100 in conventional order was an obvious way to do it, but I believe that in our waking dream, the "randomness" of the book's order is a manifestation of the Unconscious.  The book as published allows the reader to enjoy these synergies, or not.  I myself almost always will read poetry books randomly, not from cover to cover in order. (Below "The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dali)



As the book evolved -- I shared the sonnets on e-mail as I penned them -- it seemed a good idea to have some of my literary friendship group contribute their take on it.  At the writing's conclusion (other than the “Prooemium”) it was my call to have the two parts in their published order.  Some of my friends and contributors felt it would be best to have my work first.  I felt that I didn't want my friends' work to be seen as an afterthought.” 



In the prose poem “Let the Sea Find its Edges" (page 5) Gaetane Burkolter describes the sea as being a stranger to herself in a foreign land.

The sun, the air, the water, the food, the people, the very ‘way we do
things round here’ are all so different from what I have known for more
than three decades.  So different from what I imagined, too.  I started to wonder not whether I knew this place, but whether I knew myself.




       In “Boundaries” Glenda Ferguson describes the sea as the moody person trying to seek his or her outermost limit or highest expectations.

So where are the edges of the sea?  Just about anywhere the sea decides
its edges will be, depending on its mood.  I see this as a metaphor for
people, our goals and aspirations and our interactions with each other.
An edge can be considered a boundary – something that defines a space
and time occupied by a person, a mind, a heart.  But are these
boundaries constant?  Are they finite?  I would argue that people are like
the sea, constantly seeking to find their edges.

In the next to the last stanza she gives advice to the individual how they should handle the sea within themselves and within other people.

                   So perhaps we should approach others as we do

the sea – with some expectations based on our past experiences (after
all, the sea is always the sea – it is the edges that change) but realising
that the boundaries we think of as encompassing others may have
changed and we need to keep an open mind and an open heart

Glenys Dawn McIver (August 2, 1949 – November 16, 2015), in her poem “Let The Sea Find Its Edges" (Page 14), describes her dying self as literally the space between the continents that shift erratically.  She is the sea, the space between the continents; and the shifting continents are her boundary – always changing – but always the boundary of death. 

My hospital life is between continental plates which are shifting fearfully,
hit me with jagged edges, but do not submerge me.  There is nothing
labeled “joy”, but I can see some patterns I call acceptance, fear, relief,
terror. They may also be pearls and sea glass. 

       McIver yearns to see the sea but due to her illness she cannot.  Even still the sea is still within the boundaries of her brain where she is able to remember the sea’s waves like sparkling jewels.  She then compares the jewels of the sea to her sick body and the medicine that does not seem to be working properly.

Organs of the body find their new equilibrium.  The nurses call my drug
“Gem” and while meditating I see a golden jewel.

In the last stanza McIver differentiates the sea from the ocean; finds the strength to see the sea through Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke’s 101 Sonnets; and finds the wisdom to see the sea as a peaceful place for her to inhabit, even after death.

I read Michael’s sonnets and try to imagine the whole of the ocean, but
the word “sea” brings me back to a smaller, more gracious expanse.
There are inland seas as well as those of the ocean.  They find their own
edges, as will I.

It is important to note that the moon determines the tides and gravitational effects of the sea, the ocean. (above, attributed to George Grie. FU) In Thom the World Poet’s poem “Let The Sea Find Its Edges" (Page 17) the sea is in the belly of the speaker of the poem and the moon calls this sea into a journey or experience of new self-identification. 

water sloshes in my belly
wishing release.  As soon as free
rushing through earth to sea
Moon calls me.  Eye follow tides
to some waved beach.  Sap and return
Learn movement and form
Time as a measurer of itself alone
Stones later with this brief life’s barometer
eye drink oceans sans salt as soda and as cola
Sugar dissolves.  Slat sweats deserts.  I am this planet.

      
Dennis Thomas’s “Cutting through Time” which could be described as a flash prose poem, is an example of Fitzgerald-Clarke’s definition of the seas as applied to the Unconsciousness of Carl Jung.

In the poem parts of the sea separate from other parts of the sea which results in an earthquake type of experience described as flames, water, celestial activity, vegetation affecting every sense of the human mind until there is death or reincarnation into a perfect nothingness in the form of rosy beads dissolving in the speaker of the poem’s hand.  In the end this perfect nothingness is the new identity of the sea now reincarnated into fireflies shining in the speaker-of-the-poem’s hand over the expanse of the Zodiac or sky or space.  The turbulent fragmented sea is no longer turbulent but calm and full of light in the darkness of the turbulent.  It is almost a paradox – how can a hand of shifting turbulence hold fireflies at peace?  

Crossed stage, flames burning so bright, subjugation in ideals moor
quivers, water, in breathing tides, starts above, muddle, perfect transit,
night cancellation, reborn, in luminous mirror, as tides blow in
vegetation pleasure, odd smell, lush, renewal, nostrils quiver, incense
home, instance smell, night change, recedes, deepens, fragments of
wisdom, old days lost inside slide, rosy beads, dissolving in my hand,
fireflies, flooding, in darkness, in a shifting zodiac.



       The second portion of the book consists of 101 sonnets by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke.  In “Sonnet 18 for Roby” the speaker of the poem is watching the people he cares for suffer and then helps them heal through spiritual means.
       Then the speaker of the poem walks along the harbor and studies the reflection in its waters.  The reader is not told what the speaker of the poem sees.  Could it be a reflection of himself?  A reflection of the sky?  Or the heavens? Or the people he cares for? All we know is that as he studies these reflections he experiences a spiritual freedom.     
       With this spiritual freedom the speaker of the poem is able to offer spiritual assistance to his fellow man.  It is this spirituality that enables him to open many cages and free his fellow human man. 
       The speaker of the poem then describes himself as a boat that produces its own light – and this light reflects “waters of self” a new identity that includes all who share in this spiritual realm
This poem could have been in the voice of the four fishermen who Jesus called to be His disciples:  Peter and his brother Andrew; and brothers James and John.  (far left, "The Call" by Jorge Orlando Cocco Santangelo)   

Sonnet 18
       for Roby

I listen and I offer.  Sydney is a cornucopia
or a nightmare of chance; your lives are
known to me because your cards were dealt
adversely – as another hand is played, I help
you heal, knowing life will play many more
roiling tricks; for which my gift to you is spiritual
centredness; equanimity.  As I walk in the bright,
sultry evenings, I watch the reflections on the harbor,
and drink in its freedom.  I have opened many cages;
helped nourish many to wholeness, and they all are
with me now, invisible connected companions.
It is only when my head is upon my pillow that
I merge beyond human connection:  I am a boat,
I am many lights shining up the waters of self.



       In “Sonnet 20” the speaker of the poem prays for those who cross his path, mostly strangers he sees in a mall; and he asks God if he can meet the people he prays for in Heaven.  This prayer makes all of us a part of this great ocean and its unlimited boundaries; and it makes us realize that in the poetry world and the spiritual world there are no strangers.

Breath.  Love.  Breath.  Love.  Dear God of many strange,
wondrous things, thankyou for each stranger
on our multifarious, Earth,

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