William Allegrezza – A Celebration of Faculty Research ~IUN~


All right, I’m going to try to read nine poems in eight minutes so
we’ll see how it works out. I have a timer in front of me so this is good. I’ll say something about a few of them but most of them I’m just gonna read, for
example, this first one, it has a title sometimes when I read it, and
sometimes it doesn’t. Title changes, today it’s not titled. The
journey begins when you leave stormy waters and give up hold of the shore. I have no longing to be trapped under clouds and storm. Still divided, waiting,
for the helm to clutch as the storm goes wild and lightning flashes on peaks
turned white. Entrusting the drift, one must be prepared for destruction at sea. These next two are a form that I make the students write in my poetry class, it’s
called Hinna qu; it’s a Filipino American form. Those of you on campus will see the
students wandering around the bathrooms, the vending machines, writing poetry, this
is what they’re doing. It’s one of the easiest poetic forms I know, so I’m going
to read a couple that have done in this. Distances. I grew up dreaming of a Post-Earth people. So, I know about oxygen supplies,
and orbits, density, and matter, but I don’t know how to speak to you about the
most basic of things like love. Lessons. This one I
wrote after my daughter came to me with a broken toy; I thought it was the
beginning of lots of broken things in life, so, here it is, “Lessons.” My daughter
comes to me with a broken plastic toy. “Glue it, tape it,” she says, but I know that
some things, once ruptured, are broken beyond repair. These two are odd little
pieces. These are written as a response to one of Pablo Neruda”s books. He wrote
a book called, “20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair.” These I don’t like reading them in big groups because they’re meant to be
whispered in your ear and it’s kind of awkward this way, but you can imagine me
whispering these in your ear; I can’t really do that, but imagine these as
whispered in your ear. It’s gonna be awkward because I’m
reading into a microphone, but, whisper. Between the story and the shore, the
spider, and the fire smoldering, I come with huge ative nets cast, like dying
seasons and flowers crossed, loved, and then thrown among the Sea’s fragments of
dawn. Always just a step beyond catching you at the point where your body blends
with the air and we fade among the timid harbor dreams. I have said that to live,
we must be ravenous with doing, not stuck with eyes locked on the burn, but now,
overwhelmed, the silence has me in dream. Still whispering. My words, the bells on
the beach, the damp suffering ivy clinging to brick; sometimes they grow
smooth, sometimes catch as they fall, and though I want them to speak past the
anguish into your ear, they are sad. Peopled with breezes turned into dream
hurricanes that drown. From my voice, the lament rises, but memory knocks when I
would call and leads me the long way around
when I would stretch out my hand, and now, I wonder whose words these are that fill
the lines that fill everything? Next one I just told this story to the summer
bridge class that I did. I used to write on my walls in Chicago, I would. I had an
apartment with two bedrooms and one of the bedrooms was just for me to write on
the wall. So, I’d write on the walls and when the wall is all filled up, sometimes
the ceiling too, the walls, I would paint over it and start all over again and I
wouldn’t keep any of it. This is the only poem I kept out of all this. I mean I
wrote, I must have painted over 20 times, this is the only one I kept. A question. Why are the guns always pointed toward Korea? And why are you always here,
reading over my shoulder, disbelieving that I can see shadow turn into shadow
and flowers, and feels, but I have never seen or swift’s over vineyards that
might have never have existed, or if it had been gone thousands of years, or that in
here, daga makes just as much sense as anything I could say now, as if words
themselves can explain why the silence continues to echo, and rooms that I
create, in rooms that I cannot inhabit, except through doing as you were doing
just now. I got three minutes left so I’ll do a couple of these. This is going
to turn personal. Most these I don’t tend to write personal poetry. It might
sound like it; I don’t tend to write it. This one right after I got to IUN, the year
after I got to you IUN I got divorced, so I spent a year writing about
my divorce and working through it and it was based on Dante; which is kind of odd. Where you turn to a divorce, I turned Dante, but this is the first one I wrote on
this piece. It’s that long piece, I’m not gonna read all of it. Number one. In the middle,
to restart the system with flags full and breeze and handles turned full
forward to hear everything crack, tumbling off it’s nicely stacked shelf. Incipit, and so it begins in desire, tracing out a new path from memory, out
of long unused spaces, copied from a dream, in which one awaits a portal for
change or eraser, and hopes, and finds a voice that
repeats in clear rhyme and reason. Alright, so I’m gonna read just two
pieces out of this book. This book came out actually two weeks ago. It’s kind of
surprised, came out two weeks ago, so I’m gonna read this. Might sound odd that I
was surprised, but sometimes books have long shelf lives coming out. First one is
called, “Sybil Leaves.” It’s based on a old Romans story. There was a sybil near
the town of Kamiya, which is near Naples. This shows up in the Aeneid and I like
this story because she would tell the future, right, is what a sybil does, she
tells the future, and she would write the future on leaves, on oak leaves, the story
was, and if a good breeze came in which it would blow away right, so you got lucky
if you catch an oak leaf. Sybil Leaves. We only know what we have forgotten. The
cities pile on each other and it is gone when we speak. Very last one, it’s called,
“The Dance.” It’s about a water buffalo. Water buffalos have showed up in my
poetry for a long time. Had a long-running series where I would wrestle
water buffalos in my poetry, long time ago, so I rewrote that in this
contemporary thing. You might ask, “Why water buffalos?” That’s a good question. The Dance. The water buffalo cried as we fought, and
though I saw, I did not let go as I should, as we should. The water buffalo
cried as we fought hard. The tears were a river through reeds but I did not let go
as I should, as we all should. Thanks.

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