The Michigan Daily -Monday, October 30, 1989- Page 11
Poets awash with ambiance
BY JAY PINKA
POETS Peggy Moller and Charles Ordowski
Will meet on the stormy and serene waters of lit-
erary exploration. Ordowski, who sailed among a
pod of killer whales in Washington, and Moller,
*ho taught at the University of Pittsburgh's
"fSemester at Sea," shared ideas at the Falling
Water Bookstore writers' workshop.
But "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop
to drink" is neither poet's motto. Both Moller
end Ordowski often drink from their surround-
#ngs, using them in their poetry. Moller,
strapped like Ulysses to the mast of a ship, feels
the inexorable call of exotic lands like Greece
Nvhere she plans to translate Greek poetry into
Fnglish. Moller mentioned that Americans are
ignorant of the Greek poet who recently won the
Nobel prize. Moller wants to make Greek poetry
accessible to English speakers; her allusions to
i he classics reflect her fascination with the coun-
"And I follow you with half halting steps/
Through the streets of memory/ With only your
ace before me/ Gazing out in serene sleepless-
* ess/ Some unforged mask of Agamemnon/
Looking out across years/ Through a hall of mir-
Moller's masters studies focused on
''Wordsworth, Tennyson and the Bardic Tradi-
iion." While at the University, creative writing
professor Richard Tillinghast encouraged her in
Oer work. Her horizons, expanded by her time at
*ea, gave her the conviction to cross language
"You get a sense of connection you don't get
from maps and globes," says Moller. "The world
has never seemed so whole." Moller commented
on the community experience she had when she
and her shipmates could feel the heat, "the heavy
dryness," of Tunisia as they sailed past the coun-
Moller spends a lot of time studying music as
a French horn player in the Michigan Marching
Band. Her work with music reflects on her em-
phasis on rhythm in poetry.
"Auditory quality is just as essential as imag-
istic element," says Moller. "Without rhythm,
it's not really poetry... there has to be tension."
Think of the tale of Echo and Narcissus. Nar-
cissus eternally admires his own image in the
water, and Echo reflects back whatever is said to
her. The rhythm of the echo, combined with the
magic of the image, create poetry - and what
could be a better title of Charles Ordowski's
June-published book than Echoes and Images?
The book shows a more intimate approach to
writing than Moller's.
"I'm drawn to themes of nature and things
that happen around me to people that I know,"
says Ordowski. The poet, who works as a librar-
ian for Ford Photographic, also took a workshop
at Falling Water on "Finding Your Voice as A
Writer." His poems can reveal the beauty of the
people around him or encapsulate a moment in
nature. In one poem, he caresses the tenderest
elements of a friend, who, during a pregnancy,
asked him to write a poem about her. This poem,
threaded with flower imagery, didactically con-
nects being born and giving birth. He concludes
by calling the woman a "child of the rose." And
Ordowski does his research.
"I've never known her to throw flowers
away," he said.
Ordowski is concise in creating mood through
the contrast of the following lines, published in
The Writer's Magazine, June of 1988:
"it was a night/ in earliest winter/ a film of
ice/ sheathed the lake/ its waters beneath/ darkly
asleep/ when/ under a moonless sky/ for a mo-
ment/ a shadow danced/ on the fragile surface/
Ordowski created this poem in a workshop ac-
tivity in which writers' picked phrases out of a
hat. Denise Dumars called the pocm minimalist
and praised it: "A study in precision... the
shadow is the only thing that moves... and even
then it only moves for a moment. So the poem
can be seen as a still photo until the shadow
moves, making it into a motion picture."
Ordowski also believes in seeing the largeness
of the world. He travels to the rainforests of
Washington, and this summer he taped a diary on
microcassette of his "cruise" on a "zodiac" boat
with 12 people through a pod of spouting orcas.
It is often in transit that Ordowski writes, and
with considerable spontaneity.
"I have written whole poems... in the car
from home to work," says Ordowski. He con-
cludes with a water metaphor: "The words cas-
cade... I have to grab a piece of paper" to write it
PEGGY MOLLER and CHARLES ORDOWSKI
read at the+
Guild house (802 Monroe) tonight at
Continued from page 10
ument. And for the irony which im-
bues the lyrical twists of MacDonald
and partner Barbara K's bleak prairie
harmonids with moments of doubt-
ing genius, all their predictability is
Still, stuff like "Standard White
Wesus" is the kind of easy-target-
bashing which brings on cynical
critics with knives sharpened, and
MacDonald watches his steps;
"Authors and critics," he advises in
Count to Ten," "Do your home-
work, get the facts/ Before you point
' WANT TO REALLY
Send a PERSONAL!
The Daily Classifieds
the poison pen." Those who do look
in deeper will find sympathetic sen-
timents running throughout Mac-
Donald's portrayal of down-and-
outers which suggest a extra mean-
ing - a healthy acceptance that he,
too, has missed his chance at the
"Wheel of Fortune." "Your time's
not wasted/ ...Your big invest-
ment's/Gonna pay off someday," he
pleads the criminal of "Don't Give
Up on Me"; one could easily imag-
ine an impatient Copeland on the
end of the line.
While Edge of Allegiance' s
sparse, folkish sound is less engag-
ing than the funk/blues/hip-hop
rhythms and island guitar which
spiced the excellent Eden Alley's
take on moral confusion in the wake
of Jim and Swaggy, the record's
lonesome Hank Williams drawl
evokes a heartland emptiness which
sets an appropriate, if hook-starved,
background throughout. This is the
MacDonalds' humble home turf, and
if they're happy "living on the B-
side of life," I'll b content indeed to
follow them alang on their blue
highway aroundj she pop charts' blaze
of glory - wherever it leads.
TIMBUK3 performs two shows
(7:30 and 10:00 p.m.) tonight at the
Ark, 637 S. Main. Advance tickets
flies solo mission
He didn't write "King of the Road" and he doesn't do ads for credit cards.
This Roger Miller plays keyboards, plays them in ways others are prob-
ably scared to. Formerly of Mission of Burma and currently of the exper-
imental Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Miller is heavily into distortion, de-
lay and all sorts of other neato effects; he dubs his style "Maximum
Electric Piano." Musician magazine called him "the bastard son of John
Cage and Jimi Hendrix". He'll play tonight at the Heidelberg - things*
should get started at 10 p.m. or so.
SOCIAL WORK DAY
Friday, Nov. 3, 1989 3-6 PM
Amphitheatre, 4th Floor,
Alumni, professors, and administrators will
speak on career opportunities in social
work and University of Michigan programs
" Masters in
*Ph.D. in Social Work
and Social Science
FOR MORE INFORMATION 764-5330
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