I am the guest blogger this week over at Best American Poetry and am feeling a bit like a fraud since I’m not a poet, at least not since the angry-histrionic adolescent years of poems about boys who won’t give me the time of day, printed in font size 14 in comic sans or some other curly girly font and center-aligned down the page. Hm, actually in college there was a brief period of doing slam poetry on themes of an Asian Diaspora ravaged by post-colonial ambivalence and cultural imperialism but that period is really best left forgotten too. I am, however, an avid consumer of poetry and have bookshelves at home filled with poetry collections and chapbooks, half of poets you’ve all heard of and half of poets you’ve probably never heard of.
I’m trying to think of when I first learned about the Best American Poetry series, and it turns out I can’t seem to remember a time when I was aware of literature and not aware of BAP. I read it in high school, college, and even recall sending a letter to David Lehman directly one time about a decade ago telling him I felt the BAP series didn’t include a fair representation of Asian American poets. The current series has been much better, I think, about diverse representation.
This week BAP is letting a tarot reader (me) run loose on their blog (http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/) and here’s what’s going to happen:
Nothing new here if you’re a tarot enthusiast. I talk about W. B. Yeats and his influence on Pamela Colman Smith as she illustrated the Rider Waite tarot deck. T. S. Eliot is also given a mention and I pull out the cards he references in “The Waste Land” and try to do a reading with the cards. I conclude by citing poet and tarot practitioner Richard Palmer. I did a quick review of one of his books not too long ago. (2/03/14 LINK)
Poets often turn to mythology for metaphors and through these metaphors reveal what is in their unconscious. I explore Eavan Boland, John Keats, and Edwin Arlington Robinson, poets who may not have had any direct links to tarot but who wrote poetry that resonates with tarot imagery because, I contend, poetry and tarot come from the same source. Tarot is essentially a book of poetry that calls upon mythology as metaphors that help lead to personal revelation. For contemporary examples of such synchronicities, I cite Ed Bok Lee and Henry W. Leung. (2/04/14 LINK)
I make the proposition that nonfiction is writing from a state of consciousness, and is embodied in The Sun card in tarot; fiction is engaging our subconscious and is about the journeys of our astral bodies, embodied in The Moon card; and poetry comes from the unconscious. Poetry is The Star card and the poet is the angel figure depicted on the card. (2/05/14 LINK)
David Lehman started the Best American Poetry series in 1988 and is also the editor of several other important poetry anthologies, e.g., The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (Scribner, 2003), among others. For fun, we share a quick four-card tarot reading that was done for David. (2/06/14 LINK)
I devised a tarot spread that poets and writers can use to help them gain insights into their writing projects. I contend that you don’t need to know a thing about tarot interpretation to use this spread. Just enter a trance-like state and let the symbolism on the cards guide you. Basically, what tarot practitioners refer to as intuitive reading. However, the spread can also be used by professional tarot readers to help poets gain different perspectives on their working projects. Poet Amy Glynn then lets me demonstrate application of the technique by reading tarot for her current project, a collection of poetry. (2/07/14 LINK)
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Benebell Wen, Guest Author at Best American Poetry, February 3-7, 2014 (Introduction, http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/02/benebell-wen-guest-author-february-3-7.html)
“Poets and the Tarot,” February 3, 2014, http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/02/poets-and-the-tarot.html
“Mythology and Metaphor: The Kinship of Poetry and Tarot,” February 4, 2014, http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/02/mythology-and-metaphor-the-kinship-of-poetry-and-tarot.html
“Using Tarot to Understand Literature as States of Consciousness,” February 5, 2014, http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/02/using-tarot-to-understand-literature-as-states-of-consciousness.html
“A Tarot Reading for David Lehman,” February 6, 2014, http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/02/a-tarot-reading-for-david-lehman.html
“Reading Tarot for Writing,” February 7, 2014, http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2014/02/reading-tarot-for-writing.html