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Storytelling and the Interconnectedness of Being: Examining the Less-Than-Commonplace in Debra Pieri's TGI Lecture "Personal Mythology"

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,
we remember.

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
calling.

And the city, spread beneath us
as we sang and held

each other, turning slightly 
in the night breeze,

that city 
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author is not convinced that there is no such thing as a coincidence, he did compose during class breaks a poem for his unpublished manuscript “Here We Go,” which addressed the idea of bees, a topic which the lecturer examined during the course of the day.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.

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