I meant to post this last night, after I'd had all day to think about the poem, but then we went running and I was almost too tired to eat, let alone post something. Anyhow, on to the poem..
'Names' by Fady Joudah
The first poem this week from poem-a-day is 'Names' by Fady Joudah.
You can read the poem here: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/names
According to his biography at Poetry Foundation, Joudah is a Palestinian American physician, poet and translator. His poetry and translations have won several awards. He lives in Houston.
I'd never heard of him until I saw today's poem, which is no surprise, since I can probably count the contemporary poets I know by name on one hand.
This challenge sounded so easy, but now I'm afraid of sounding like an idiot, talking about poetry when I don't really know all that much about poetry.
Well, here goes nothing!
This poem is super short, so you might as well go ahead and read it if you haven't. It's not too obscure; I feel I have some idea what it's about. The first part seems quite clear and is a feeling we all know from one or both sides - dreaming about someone and telling them, or being told you were in someone's dream.
It's my interpretation of the end that I'm less confident about. Joudah is the son of Palestinian refugees, so I'm tempted to use that information to interpret the end, but I'm not sure. Should the biography of the poet factor in to our interpretation of the poem? I'm sure that's debatable. On the one hand, yes, it makes a difference where and by whom a poem was written. On the other hand, the poem stands on its own. Personally, I like to read biographies of the writers I read. I think it's interesting to see how their world influences their writing. In many ways, the two can't be separated at all.
The blood in the last line is a striking image. I'm tempted to look at the last lines in the same way as the last two lines of a sonnet, which usually take in a different direction than the rest of the sonnet, and that is definitely the feeling I get from this one.
Which reminds me, I'm not up on the many forms poems can take. The Wikipedia page for Poetic Forms lists many forms. I'm probably not going to memorize that information anytime soon!
In the end, the beginning of this poem gives me a slight thrill, in that I recognize what he's writing about, but by the end, I feel a little left out, because I'm no longer sure. I can imagine having the same feeling when someone tells me I was in their dream, when I want to understand, but don't, not entirely anyway.
One way to get a better understanding of any writing, but maybe especially poetry, is to read it aloud. Reading aloud reveals the rhythms of the writing, gives more meaning to the punctuation and line breaks - and didn't help me much with this poem. But it's a useful tool.
What did you think of this poem or my very amateur thoughts about this poem?