Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Geometry of Poetry

     Some poems lie around for A LONG TIME waiting for me to pick them up.  Or I pick them up and put them down in a special place and then place something else on top of them.  Such is the case with Janet Kirchheimer's "The Geometry of Poetry" -- several years ago Janet and I corresponded and then I didn't follow through with posting her poem.  And now, this week, I am working on a paper for Bridges 2017 -- a math-arts conference to be held in Waterloo, Ontario at the end of July -- and my working title is the same as the title of Janet's poem.  AND, this coincidence helped me to FIND her poem to give you to enjoy.
     I first read "The Geometry of Poetry" by Janet R. Kirchheimer online in Poemeleon -- and her work also has appeared in many other journals, anthologies and websites. She is currently producing AFTER, a film that explores poetry written about the Holocaust.  Thanks, Janet, for this poem with its mathy comparisons.
The Geometry of Poetry    by Janet R. Kirchheimer  

You know how it is, you leave your workshop, and x comes into your head and you have to write about it, but y keeps popping up too and no matter how you try, y won’t go away and you try to turn y into x and now you feel like you’re back in 10th grade geometry, trying to prove something like angle a = angle b, and you can’t remember any of the theorems, and you think using a ruler would just be a whole lot simpler, but the teacher won’t pass you if you do that, and y is still getting you off the point of x, and you wish you had a tape recorder because the thoughts are coming so fast, but you’re walking up Columbus Avenue, and it’s ten o’clock at night and all the stationery stores are closed, and you’re six blocks from your fourth-floor walk-up, and you’ll never make it back to your apartment without forgetting most of the words, when you spot a Starbucks and go in, find a table, but not one near the window so you won’t get distracted, and you need to start writing immediately so you take off your hat and gloves, but leave on your coat and knapsack, sit down, and try to get back to x, but there’s y popping his head in, “hey, what about me – I’m far more interesting than x,” so you give in and start to write about y and then y tells you that he would never say such a thing, and you tell him that you’re the one writing, but y says that this is his reputation on the line, and you realize that you’re in the middle of Starbucks arguing with a letter of the alphabet, but this is New York City, and no one is paying attention to you anyway, so you stick to your guns and tell y to keep his big mouth shut, and you try again, but now you can’t remember what you were trying to write about in the first place, and x and y aren’t speaking to you anymore, and you’re hot because you’ve still got your coat on and your back hurts from your knapsack, and you realize your poem isn’t going anywhere, so you get on line, order a double cappuccino and head home.

Thanks, Janet!

1 comment:

  1. After I posted "The Geometry of Poetry," Janet let me know that the poem had been a Pushcart Prize nominee back in 2007. Congrats for that, Janet. And keep on loving geometry!