Friday, November 28, 2008

Tea-Time: Mumbai

The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai on fire after terror attacks
Photograph: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty

Tea-Time: Atomic Age
           by-- Joanne de Longchamps

Afternoon. Create the delicate hours
With measured murmurs. Thrust thin towers
Of conversation; white spires pricking air,
Frail cities of sound, pale minarets,
Ringed with the fine, dry mist of cigarettes.

Play piano, notes like apples, round
And firm with pink delicious sound
Called wizardly from vast, invisible trees.
(Eclipse the vision of our bitter fruit,
Wind-blasted orchard and the poison-root.)

Sip amber, plucking courage from a tray.
Speak love or art. Revive the wilting day
And close a quiet curtain to efface
Impatient whines of anger, idiot-feet,
A monster loose along the peaceful street.

I was a student of Joanne de Longchamps at the University of Nevada, Reno, in the early 1970s. Creative writing/poetry. One semester. I didn't apply myself, budding alcoholic at a party campus. She was blond and beautiful. The students in the class, about 20 around one long wooden table, seemed brilliant. A poem written by one of them remains a favorite of mine to this day. One Monday Ms. de Longchamps came to class with stacks of our poems. She told us she and her son, Dare, had spent the weekend at their cabin in the Sierra foothills, that he had pored over the poetry, had selected one poem, had told her "this moves me." It was mine. I remember the exchange of my poem from her hand to my hand. I remember her approving smile. (I may follow this post with that poem during the weekend.)

I discovered Joanne de Longchamps again when I looked for poetry to include in a post about Pyramid Lake in Nevada. My search found her book Torn by Light: Selected Poems. A description of it online says:

This collection spans the entire writing and artistic career of a gifted collage artist and poet, widely regarded as Nevada's foremost poet of the 1960s and 1970s. Sadly, she died in isolation in 1983 and was quoted as saying "Nevada hardly knows me."

In reading this
short bio of de Longchamps I once again lived my sorrow for her when the news of Dare's suicide was released to the community. He ended his life at their cabin in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

* * * * * * *
An excellent Wall Street Journal World personal view article of the Mumbai attacks ends with these lines.......
Joe Biden was right, Barack Obama will face an international test in the first six months. South Asia looks to be that test.



Lily Hydrangea said...

Part of me wants to read the poem de longchamps wrote about her son & part of me doesn't. do you happen to know the title of it?

Jennifer said...

A few impressions from this post -- one, I would love to read your poem, the one that Dare selected; two -- Joanne de Longchamps sounds like a true artist, and one that lived for art, even in the face of personal difficulty; three -- her husband has the same first name as my son (it isn't a common one).

Thanks for highlighting this talented poet. The poem does fit the event, doesn't it.

a little bird said...

incredible poem... beautiful.

happy thanksgiving.

Elizabeth said...

oh wow - photo and poem. I would love to read your poem as well.

Lydia said...

I am not sure, but I think it's "Letters to Dare." In an anthology of poems of mourning (online) she is referenced with that one and another "Poems for the Dead,24"
Tonight I ordered the book TORN BY LIGHT from Amazon. I hope the poem will be in there and I'll email you about possibly sending a scanned copy of the poem to you.

One, I feel silly posting my poem because it is extremely simple. Not an earth-shattering example of angst or beauty, but really plain. But because Dare chose it as his favorite from the stack I may put it out there in his memory.
Two, she was how you described her. And yes this poem seemed to fit now.
Three, wow it sure isn't a common name - I think it's a wonderful name.

Little Bird,
I agree. Thanks for being here.

Yes, that photo took my breath away and broke my heart. As the poem certainly did. Please read my comments to Jennifer above concerning my poem.... :)

Lisa Allender said...

What a startling way to "see" Mumbai, and to "hear" this poet! You really MUST post your poem, Lydia.
a side-note:
I got chills when I saw you mentioned a suicide. I cannot explain the exact nature of my "chills", but I know a young woman having a hard time of it currently, and we are all frightened of what she may do. I'd want to read the poem from that poet-mother to her son,hoping to glean insight.

Lydia said...

I ordered TORN BY LIGHT and will check first off for her poem about Dare. Lily (above) may want me to scan a copy of that poem, so I'll email both of you for addressses. Your friend is a concern. I had a cousin suicide when he was 27 back in the early 80s; it was horrible. Oregon's Sen. Gordon Smith (the only R that I voted for, but he lost this time) and his wife lost their college-age son to suicide and, as a result, he was responsible for a suicide prevention bill that became law and that carries his son's name. Check Amazon for REMEMBERING GARRETT by Gordon Smith. There is a "look inside" thingy there.

Please see my comments to Jennifer concerning my poem. It's not even that good; it just appealed to Dare de Longchamps in that time and place.....

Mainframeguy said...

Nice poem, nice post.

Of course it makes me very much want to read that poem you wrote which Dare selected, so please do post it!

Blogrolled and feeding on you for my poetry needs now!

Lydia said...

Thanks for visiting, commenting, and following my blog. Having just visited both of your blogs I feel honored! (I did post the poem Dare liked next post and, as you'll see, it's very simple fare.)



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