Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Personal Challenge with Margaret Bednar


I was tapped by Marian Kent for a personal challenge.  Write a poem evoking, sited in, or inspired by the bohemian New York City of Patti Smith & Robert Mapplethorpe (late 60's/early 70's).  She gave me a lengthy list of possibilities… but the ending idea is probably what I grasped … "so long as what you write gets its inspiration here".  I must say, the 70's nor NYC are my favorite topics and I never would have written about them if left on my own.  However, I did enjoy the photo archives I posted below this poem.  

"Before Trendy" - NYC 1970

There is a shine to innocence
reminiscent of a perfectly rounded red apple
before the bite, before one negotiates price
above a crime-filled subway

or takes a ride
to New York's Eden
of peep shows & Paradise House
with five tempting Eves.

Boho's a lifestyle
without a thought towards chic,
co-exists beside Bowery bums
sprawled, huddled, & homeless.

Who can afford innocence
when bankruptcy looms
above Brooklyn's "skid row",
stoops filled with glum & jobless?

Musicians stroll, can in hand,
beg a few coins, for that's all it takes
for a toke to escape
from the shirtless among litter

& identity unknown,
chain-smoking corruption
upon Central Park bench,
observing muggings & rapes.

Lower East Side - raw,
unforgiving, an apple tarnished,
sweetness soured, discarded
in Hell's Kitchen

& the dreamers
have not been warned.

by Margaret Bednar, March 6, 2014   Art Happens 365 

"Trendy Lower East Side 2014"  by Chelsea Bednar
HERE is a fascinating blog all about NYC "chronicling an ever-changing city through faded and forgotten artifacts.  Enjoy.

"Museum of the City of New York" - an amazing sight of over 135,000 images and objects of NYC.  Below is a partial image of "Hell's Kitchen" - I don't believe 1970.  To get the full image, you must go to the link above.


18 comments:

Mama Zen said...

Margaret, this is outstanding. If I didn't know you, this wouldn't read as being outside of your comfort zone at all. You've stretched, but haven't bent yourself all out of shape, if that makes any sense. I love it.

Marian said...

I love how you threw yourself right in to this place and time, Margaret. Your conclusion is fantastic: "& the dreamers have not been warned." They really haven't, have they? And Chelsea's sketch is magnificent. I love this post from beginning to end. Hurrah!

Kerry O'Connor said...

So much hangs upon the first line of a poem, and you hit it out the ball park with yours. You have achieved the perfect balance between then and now, hinting, perhaps, that even then the apple was not entirely rosy.

NYC is one of the few cities I have visited in the US (back in the early 80s) and it left a lasting impression upon me. Few cities have identities as strongly felt as that which imbues Manhattan. I have long been fascinated by the writers of an earlier era who made NYC their backdrop: Capote, Kerouac and of course, the poetry of Ferlinghetti - 'A Coney Island of the Mind'.

Your poem is an excellent evocation of place, Margaret. I would never have thought you were writing outside your comfort zone.

manicddaily said...

Ha! Margaret--I lived in NYC in the 70s. In fact I lived around the corner from CBGBs! It was very interesting to see your poem--which I believe is a good poem, but paints a rather dire picture of the City! That said, it's a very vivid poem. I don't know if I'll be able to have time to do this though it was certainly a very important time in my life. I only visited the City in 1970--I believe I moved there in the 79. k.

grapeling said...

The opening and closing lines really complement each other, book-ending the constructed observations of a bygone era in your piece, Margaret. As noted, you've extended yourself effortlessly. And your daughter's sketch contains the vibrancy I've always identified with NYC. Nicely captured ~

Sherry Blue Sky said...

YES!!!!!!!!!!!! Your opening line, a perfect hook, your ending lines, a perfect close, and everything in between redolent of what I know about New York. LOVE the laundry photo (makes me think of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), and Chelsea's sketch is remarkable. Talented girl!!!!! You rose to this challenge and then some, Margaret. You did a great job. I love the whole thing!

manicddaily said...

PS - your photo and Chelsea's drawing are just terrific - k.

Helen said...

Margaret, this is amazing ... Paints a realistic image of The City in 1970. In spite of it all, dreams and ideas did manage to survive ~ that kind of creative energy and talent cannot be denied. Chelsea's drawing is perfect with your poetry .. great job!

Hannah said...

Wow, Margaret! I echo the others...excellent depiction...much enjoyed and thank you for rising to Marian's wonderful challenge to the full! :)

Susie Clevenger said...

Fantastic Margaret, You would never know this is outside your comfort zone...It is written wit passion and authority

hedgewitch said...

Thanks for the portrait of New York, which I happened to visit briefly, in the Sixties, and vowed never to go anywhere near again--your poem hits the highlights of why, but also gives a perspective on a lot of the varied richness that comes with that kind of cultural density. Great job.

Heaven said...

So much energy & vibrancy in your words Margaret ~ I went to NY 3 years ago so your words resonated with me ~ Well done in rising to Marian's challenge ~

Fireblossom said...

I totally agree with MZ's comment. This is so different for you, but it doesn't read like it. Great job!

Isadora Gruye said...

This is stunning work, Margaret. Just reading this made me want to listen to some Talking Heads and stomp through alleyway puddles. You certainly rose to Marian's challenge. Kudos, double kudos!

Margaret said...

Thank you everyone! I'm enjoying Spring Break with 3 of my children and have missed my time away but I hope to come back refreshed ... and tan :). You have made me very happy with your praise and I raise my glass in thanks as I just get back from a night's swim and firework's show.

Lolamouse said...

Margaret,
Not a city person, are you?!! Neither am I, if the city is NYC. I love Broadway and the delis, but the gritty, dirty, obscenity strewn streets that you portray so well are not for me!

Patricia A. McGoldrick said...

Kerry, my haiku is a flashback written into my blog --oops!

Kay L. Davies said...

Margaret, I like this a lot, and love the photo with the laundry. 1970 was not my best year, but I remember the era.
Just popping by Toads to let everyone know I'm alive, and was glad to see a personal challenge, one not requiring my participation.
You and Marian make a great personal challenge team!
K