I enjoyed the continued emphasis our recent presenter Debra Pieri placed on creative license and personal mythology in relation to storytelling. As a writer and instructor of compositional English, this student knows the importance of avoiding plagiarism, crediting sources, etc. He has found enough personal-source experience to be able to take a multitude of public-domain tales and interpret them in modern ways.
When writing a poem for a manuscript entitled “Not Heroes,” this author explored Inuit throat singing as an avenue for exploring both cultural dislocation and survival, as shown below:
INUIT THROAT SINGING ON THE EIFFEL TOWER, 2010
And though the missionaries
forbade this ancestral song to part our lips
like a willing kiss
under penalty of death,
They could neither learn nor master
the rhythm and breathing
their cinched minds translated into
the filthiest of couplings.
Their bones soon curved into the snow,
the buttresses of ruined cathedrals,
their unseeing blue eyes
open plates on which rested
the bread of The Last Supper.
They would never know,
nor would we even
on heaven’s sunny plain
explain to them
that the singing was a game we played
to pass the time while husbands
plied the floes to hunt for walrus;
that not every thing
that swayed or breathed in unison
meant an eager body rose
like this tower of iron
to please the waiting body
And the city, spread beneath us
as we sang and held
each other, turning slightly
in the night breeze,
the missionaries remembered
with its whores and wine,
its lucre and divine
curse of judgment,
lay beneath us like a scrolling
set of waves
tinted with moonlight.
The distant din of traffic
a pod of seals
laughing unafraid (53-54).
(Link to video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDOfCvaR0bg)
Interestingly, Ms. Pieri related at the beginning of her lecture that she became a natural storyteller in the Appalachians in the natural absence of household men, similarly to when Inuit women usually composed these elaborate songs.
And while this author is not convinced that there is no such thing as a coincidence, he did compose during class breaks a poem for his unpublished manuscript “Here We Go,” which addressed the idea of bees, a topic which the lecturer examined during the course of the day.
THE MAN IN THE TINFOIL BEANIE
Six and seven eighths. No Velcro strap for fitting.
Smooth off the roll.
Elastic band from a party hat.
Etched with a fingernail: 9/11.
The metal from my fillings hums on certain days
like a bee hived in my mouth.
Its little ideas of darkness,
its compound eyes,
its drafty cage and wonderment
as it swivels to admire
the uvular chandelier (38).
"Inuit Throat Singing on the Eifel Tower" first appeared in the journal Snapdragon in Fall, 2015.