Sunday, September 19

Poem of the week: Tribute to Tishani Doshi Square | Poetry

Tribute to the Plaza

I still like to believe that the square is a human invention. And that tickles me. So when I have a preference for him, I can only say excuse me. “ Josef albers

You loved the square of the square
the hardness of it, its resistance
to symbolism.

But a thousand squares
it is a kind of tenderness,
Don’t you think

Square is earth
it is earth, it is pure, it is prithvi,
It’s all we stand on

there is no ambiguity,
it is perimeter, it is geometry,
It’s where I put my feet, my head

You loved the colors because they lie
because they make you see what you want to see.
You say firm and wild

and I see a saffron bucket,
who is actually my father.
You say warmth and softness

and i see clouds, or is it wildebeest?
Charging in the woods with muscles
I thought they were extinct. Sartorius, gracilis.

Electric storms. No. Alas. Not.
The excruciating flexibility of the door hinges.
All descriptions are pedestrian.

You’re standing on the edge, holding a sign:
This way to Squaredom. And it’s nothing
we understand what square is today –

limited, cornered, conservative.
Instead, draw, draw from these squares
the heavy containment of the earth.

Been sitting there so long waiting
so that the toes make contact. The reliability
earthen. Flows up through the bodies

through heads, to the sky, which is not a square,
baby but the ceiling that’s always been up
and around us, a generous blue cup.

Pura (Sanskrit) – area of ​​the city or temple
Prithvi – Vasto, a Hindu goddess and the name of the earth.
Sartorius, gracilis – two of the three thigh muscles

Interviewed in 2019 by The Guardian, Tishani Doshi said about herself and her cultural heritages: “I have Wales and India, the city and the town, poet-novelist-dancer and many more … No wonder I am so interested in what home means. “This week’s poem is from Doshi’s recently published collection, A god at the door, and it shows that your conscience and imagination are still global travelers. Home is, or would be, where justice and equality reign. Doshi’s poems confront a host of oppressive regimes and political leaders, speaking out with fluent oratory in defense of the powerless.

Homage to the Square is comparatively indirect, a meditative spiral that takes the reader through a dance of images, pausing briefly at various focal points. Still, the poem has a low-key political twist. While honoring Josef Albers, the artist whose Tribute to a Square series gave Doshi his title, conducts a friendly feminist argument with “square” and limits.

The caption cites a interview Albers gave in 1968, a complex and suggestive portrait of the painter’s mind. Doshi may be writing his poem as an epistle to Albers himself, picking up on some previous aesthetic debate that the work has stimulated. It seems that different cultural backgrounds are implicit between the writer and the correspondent.

At first, the “hardness” and “resistance” of the square are emphasized. But the view evolves and the square becomes more malleable. Molded by a dancer’s negotiation with gravity, it is “where I place my feet, my head.” Some of Doshi’s lines seduce the imagination and release it: “But a thousand squares / it’s a kind of tenderness, / don’t you think?”, “You loved the colors because they lie, / because they make you see what I want to see .. . ”Later, he settles on the connections between“ saying ”and“ seeing ”:“ You say firm and wild // and I see a saffron cube / which is actually my father ”. The poet has become an artist of squares.

The images become increasingly unstable, the poem’s eye wanders between the wild nature and the insecure interiors, from the clouds to the wildebeest and the “excruciating flexibility of the door hinges.” In the eighth stanza, no symbol can be established: the poet says “No” to “electrical storms” as well as to “wings.” This could illustrate the inadequacy of the medium, verbal or visual, to represent nature.

It is too simple to see the poem as an argument between divisive symbolic stereotypes, squares and circles. The “square” discovered by Albers is “nothing / we understand what square it is today – // limited, enclosed, conservative”. That stereotype is a timely reminder of the jazz jargon term, adopted by liberated and forward-thinking youth in the 1960s. “Square” or “a square” was the last thing anyone wanted to be, with good reason! !

Finally, the previous statement, “the square is the earth”, extends to a kind of creation myth. The poet orders the recipient to “write” the true content of the squares, which is clay. This clay is personified and personalized: it connects human heads and bodies with the sky. At the end of the poem, the glory of the square has been assimilated to the ubiquitous and amorphous sky, that “generous cup of blue.” The sweetheart in the penultimate line, “darling,” seems like a clue to the identity of the recipient. If the writer addressed Albers as “dear,” he would surely do so with irony. Perhaps a younger brother or a child is the imaginary recipient of the letter-poem? The expansion in the later stanzas of the earlier line, more economical, and the hymn-like increase in tone, suggest a didactic impulse behind the vision of unity in multiplicity.

The tribute to the square is © Tishani Doshi. Used with permission from Wylie Agency (UK) Limited.

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