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Friday, March 25, 2016

Cooking with Tender Buttons Food: Milk. (subpoem 6)

THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           FOOD
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           Milk
WORD COUNT (Total)……...-                111
STANZA(S)............................-             7
THE LEADER........................-           THE STEINY ROAD POET
CO-LLABORATORS.............-           MODPO STUDENTS/THE BUTTONS

“Milk.” is the sixth subpoem of Tender Buttons section 2 Food. There are two Milk subpoems and this is the first.

Among the topics discussed for this subpoem were: what happened at the first Thanksgiving celebration; hardship, afflictions/ illness; pregnancy & birth; games—golf & guessing; measurement; food & wordplay; history of golf, and the settlement movement.


MILK.

A white egg and a colored pan and a cabbage showing settlement, a constant increase.

A cold in a nose, a single cold nose makes an excuse. Two are more necessary.

All the goods are stolen, all the blisters are in the cup.

Cooking, cooking is the recognition between sudden and nearly sudden very little and all large holes.

A real pint, one that is open and closed and in the middle is so bad.

Tender colds, seen eye holders, all work, the best of change, the meaning, the dark red, all this and bitten, really bitten.

Guessing again and golfing again and the best men, the very best men.


Did you notice all the words with the letter o? …It's a kind of beholding, a seeing with awe, no?” Karren Alenier


FROM SETTLEMENT—HARDSHIP & ILLNESS

Subpoem 6 “Milk” elicited lots of different thoughts on what it was about. Karren Alenier began the conversation by saying that “Stein connects ‘Milk.’ to ‘Cranberries.’ with the word settlement” and continued:

Hardship seems to be a big theme in this subpoem. Being sick with a cold makes me think of that early Thanksgiving where the settlers were suffering from starvation until they got some help from the native Americans and then things changed.”

The implication is that hardship points to the first Thanksgiving celebration.

Teri Rife further explored the issue of illness:

“As to the colds. From "Sugar:"
The line which sets sprinkling to be a remedy is beside the best cold. [stanza 8 of subpoem 6 “Sugar.”]

“And in this subpoem we have:”
A cold in a nose, a single cold nose makes an excuse. Two are more necessary. [stanza 2 of subpoem 6 “Milk.”]

Tender colds, seen eye holders, all work, the best of change, the meaning, the dark red, all this and bitten, really bitten. [stanza 6 of subpoem 6 “Milk.”]

“So, it seems that perhaps a bug has gotten into the system (‘bitten, really bitten’) and the result is a cold:  a cold IN a nose and a cold nose, both (two are more necessary.)  I love the fact that makes an excuse sounds so much like ‘makes an achoo!’ And the word necessary sounds rather sneezy, too.

“This bite, making the skin dark red, may be from a flu bug, or a love bug, or a writing bug (akin to a ‘travel bug’—something which cannot be ignored.  If the love bug which has bitten Stein has given her tender colds (the kind which induce her to write TB), then I can see the meaning of all this:  the best of change, all work, maybe even seen eye holders (spectacles?).  Also, Alice would Tend-her colds, would she not?”

Mary Armour added:

... all the blisters are in the cup

“And I find myself with slight repugnance thinking of the old medical tradition, found in the Victorian medical practice Stein would have known, of cupping boils or blisters. Cupping and blistering were ways of excising infection, cupping worked by creating a suction on the skin. Pus coming out as a milky fluid? And the blisters in the cup, the skin blistering from application of the heated cup.”

STEIN’S MEASUREMENTS

Talking about cups brings up measurements—Stein always the scientist is never far from measuring things. Here’s Alenier on this subject:

“Measurement comes into play in this subpoem with these words:
increase and change
cup and pint
very little and all large

“There are also contrasts:
sudden and nearly sudden
open and closed

MAKING BABIES & OTHER GAMES

Changing directions Alenier also commented about a pregnancy and birth theme:

“These words and phrases make me think of pregnancy and birth of a baby:
milk
egg
constant increase
Two are more necessary
nearly sudden very little and all large holes
a real pint
the dark red (maybe bloody show?)”

Seeing connections between “Sugar.”, “Cranberries.”, and “Milk.”, Rife noticed that “the blisters, sudden, red and bitten (teeth & dog—the monster's back).  And guessing is a game, just as golf is.

While Alenier saw the return of the monster, she said this:

“Babies can be little monsters especially as they start to get teeth and don't know the power of teeth.

“If you look at Stanza 6, it begins with the word tender:”

Tender colds, seen eye holders, all work, the best of change, the meaning, the dark red, all this and bitten, really bitten. 

“As we have previously discussed, the book title Tender Buttons could be referring to belly buttons and because this long poem is about the marriage troth between Gertrude and Alice that includes having babies—these babies are Stein's books, I think ‘Milk.’ is particularly about babies.”

BLISTER AS BALLOON OR PREGNANCY BUMP

Catching up on Mary Armour’s comment about blisters, Alenier countered:

Blister as bubble, as in balloon where that leads to ideas floating out of the cup of Stein's head!

“Also blister as the pregnant bump and this goes with the bubble-balloon of creation-imagination.”

COOKING FOOD/WORD PLAY
These comments led to Rife moving from blisters to cooking:

“The bump—both baby and writer's!

“Been thinking about blisters and cooking (burns) and blisters and working (rubbing).  Pressing too hard on your writing instrument results in a dark red blister/bump.  (I speak from personal experience.)  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

“As to various food items and cooking, I've been looking at white egg (egg white), cabbage, goods, and stolen (stollen?) and lots of words associated with the cooking process implements & the measurements Karren mentioned above (pan, cup, pint, (pot)holders), and chemistry (settlement, constant increase, blisterssudden and nearly sudden, very little and all large holes, the best of change.)

“It seems there might be another instance here of the word play with double o's in words (cooking, cooking) coupled with a phrase like "seen eye holders." Are the double ee's in seen the representatives of the two eyes in the holders?  Fun.

“There are pairs of words in the "Cooking" sentence.  1) Cooking, sudden, very little (holes) and 2) Cooking, nearly sudden, all large holes.  Does this refer to rising time prior to baking the stollen resulting in a more or less airy bread structure? The ingredients of stollen include milk, eggs, honey (sugar), yeast, all sorts of dried or candied fruits—all the goods? And is there more word play with all the goods and so bad?  You don't want to put the milk from the pint that has been opened and closed so much that it has gone bad.

“But where does the cabbage fit it?  Eggs and cabbage cooked together do make a good dish, and there is such a thing as a cabbage soufflĂ©. There are some physical features of the cabbage plant that relate to language in this subpoem:  parts that are ovate and cup-shaped leaves.  This seems rather flimsy, though.

“Who are the best men?  Are they the men Gertrude admires—men she would have stand-up for her at her wedding to Alice?”

To this, Alenier asked,

“Did you notice all the words with the letter o?
colored, constant, cold, nose, two, more, goods, stolen, cooking, holes, one, open, closed, so, holders, work, golfing

“It's a kind of beholding, a seeing with awe, no?”

Rife crooned:
OOO, the o's.  Especially the holes, since o's literally look like holes, don't they?  And "hol(e)-ders"--beholders, as you say.”

Alenier pushed back:
I'm thinking about those holes and what goes in them. 

“At the end we have golfing and men. white golf ball in the cup. Men with their pen is applied to the pap-[h]er! Hehe!”

Rife mused:

“Ah, yes. I should have gotten the white ball in the cup. That's what the golfers say they're doing. The genius is re-thinking (cooking is the re-cognition between: 1) sudden and nearly sudden, 2) very little and all large holes) language and the very best men are on the golf course, occupied with chasing around the little white ball!”

Alenier rejoined:
“Nice, Teri, that connection about the cooking-re-cognition to these balls.

“Now that makes me think that Stein is making fun of men who are chasing their balls! Hehe! Also men protect their anatomical balls with a cup, no?”
In a more serious mood, Alenier said,
“Something that occurred to me is that ‘Milk.’ is one of two and the first category in the FOOD table of contents

“I think this makes the tie to conception—baby, mother's milk, Stein's book babies—all that much stronger.”

Steiny thinks given all the o’s and the holes, maybe we should be asking how much can the reader swallow?

Steiny will end by adding notes (collected from Wikipedia) on golf and the Settlement Movement.
GOLF

1900—Golf is played at the Paris Olympic Games. Twenty-two participants took part (12 men and 10 women) from four countries who competed in 36-hole individual stroke play events for men and women. The women’s Olympic champion was Margaret Abbot (USA) and Charles Sands (USA) was the men’s champion.1901 The rubber cored Haskell ball is introduced. It changed the way the game was played. The Haskell ball travelled farther than the old gutta-percha ball and cost considerably less because it could be mass produced. The game’s popularity surged in response.

1904—Golf is played for the second time in the Olympic Games in St Louis. Only men’s competitions were staged. (A team event of 36 holes stroke play won by the United States of America’s team and an individual event was won by George Lyon from Canada).

THE SETTLEMENT MOVEMENT
The settlement movement was a reformist social movement, beginning in the 1880s and peaking around the 1920s in England and the US, with a goal of getting the rich and poor in society to live more closely together in an interdependent community. Its main object was the establishment of "settlement houses" in poor urban areas, in which volunteer middle-class "settlement workers" would live, hoping to share knowledge and culture with, and alleviate the poverty of, their low-income neighbors. The "settlement houses" provided services such as daycare, education, and healthcare to improve the lives of the poor in these area

The most famous settlement house in the United States is Chicago's Hull House, founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr in 1889 after Addams visited Toynbee Hall within the previous two years. Hull House, though, was not a religious based organization. It focused on providing education and recreational facilities for European immigrant women and children.[2] Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, founded in 1894, Friendly Inn Settlement House, founded in 1874, Henry Street Settlement, founded in 1893, Hiram House, founded in 1896, and University Settlement House, founded in 1886 and the oldest in the United States, were, like Hull House, important sites for social reform. United Neighborhood Houses of New York is the federation of 38 settlement houses in New York City.[5] These and other settlement houses inspired the establishment of settlement schools to serve isolated rural communities in Appalachia.[c By 1913, there were 413 settlements in 32 states.[6]

In 1910, Louise Marshall founded The Cabbage Patch Settlement House with the help of her community, church, and family. Named for the Louisville neighborhood where it was originally established, The Cabbage Patch was formed in the spirit of Christian love as a safe haven for children in the neighborhood to play, grow, and learn. The Cabbage Patch quickly grew, gaining continued support from the Louisville community.

The Buttons Collective discussed Hull House in “It Was Black, Black Took.”



Participants: Karren Alenier, Mary Armour, Teri Rife

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Cooking with Tender Buttons Food: Cranberries.

THE BOOK ..........................-           TENDER BUTTONS
THE SUBBOOK ...................-           FOOD
THE SUBPOEM ...................-           Cranberries
WORD COUNT (Total)……...-          154
STANZA(S)............................-             6
THE LEADER........................-          THE STEINY ROAD POET
CO-LLABORATORS.............-           MODPO STUDENTS/THE BUTTONS

“Cranberries.” is the fifth subpoem of Tender Buttons section 2 Food. Dominating the conversation among the Buttons Collective was how sonic these stanzas are. Major themes explored in this discussion were: the American holiday of Thanksgiving, settlers coming to America, racial issues, the seasonal transformation of fall (fall colors), visual art, song (sea shanties, nursery rhymes), and word play. This discussion is followed by some meaty afterthoughts.

CRANBERRIES.

Could there not be a sudden date, could there not be in the present settlement of old age pensions, could there not be by a witness, could there be.

Count the chain, cut the grass, silence the noon and murder flies. See the basting, undip the chart, see the way the kinds are best seen from the rest, from that and untidy.

Cut the whole space into twenty four spaces and then and then is there a yellow color, there is but it is smelled, it is then put where it is and nothing stolen.

A remarkable degree of red means that, a remarkable exchange is made.

Climbing all together in when there is a solid chance of soiling no more than a dirty thing, coloring all of it in steadying is jelly.

Just as it is suffering, just as it is succeeded, just as it is moist so is there no countering.

When I hear GS read aloud or read her lines or phrases or words aloud, they make sense without making sense. The rhythms make sense. Sound is important in Stein as is an inherent musicality.” Mary Armour

THE LINK BETWEEN SUGAR & CRANBERRIES

Teri Rife began the discussion by seeing the word chain as a connection between “Sugar.” and “Cranberries.”.

Isn't it interesting to see that nice old chain from ‘Sugar.widening right into ‘Cranberries.’?  A nice link from one subpoem to the next.  And, after all, the nice old chain in ‘Sugar.’ was absent, laid by—because it was in ‘Cranberries.’?

A nice old chain is widening, it is absent, it is laid by. [stanza 18, “Sugar.”]

Karren Alenier thought this was an excellent point and asked if Rife saw there is sauce in ‘Sugar.’.

A separation is not tightly in worsted and sauce, it is so kept well and sectionally. [stanza 5, “Sugar.”]

Rife answered:

Oh, yes...sauce there and jelly here.  And we're basting, too.  Very Thanksgiving-y.”

THE BEGINNING OF THANKSGIVING

Based on stanza 1, the conversation turned to the American food holiday with Alenier responding:

Could there not be a sudden date, could there not be in the present settlement of old age pensions, could there not be by a witness, could there be.

“That sudden date could be the creation of Thanksgiving, a real thanks giving because they were starving in the cold weather in that settlement, maybe hoping to just make it to old age, no? Maybe hoping to be a witness in history. At which point we change from could there not be to could there be—affirming life.”


Then Alenier asked:

Did you know cranberries, blueberries, and concord grapes are the only native fruits to America?”

ESSENTIAL AMERICANNESS

Rife said she didn’t know and Mary Armour launched into a meditation “that essential ‘Americanness’” in Gertrude Stein:

A remarkable degree of red leaps out at me. Cranberries vivid in jelly or sauce?

“Thinking of the sea, I feel as if reiterations and assonance are how Stein lets herself down into a poem, as if looking around her domesticity and enumerating, echoing, sliding from one syllable to the next.

“Karren and Teri, we've talked before about that essential 'Americanness' in Gertrude Stein, her awareness of all that is good, bad, patriarchal, wholesome, restrictive about being American, about writing America down in Paris.

“And it isn't a stretch then to think of the 'remarkable exchange' that is Thanksgiving, the gift of a turkey, the celebrating of not family but Gertrude's own kin (not her brother, not American Fathers) but Gertrude and Alice as Americans abroad.”

SEA SONGS & LINK TO THE SEA

Alenier remarked:

“Mary, maybe her stream of vocalization is akin to singing sea chanteys. The red akin to the sailor's ruddiness.”

Alenier then saw a big topic forming relative to cranberries evoking things American:

“It occurs to me after thinking about the cranberry connection to America and the emphasis that Mary gives to that essential 'Americanness' in Gertrude Stein that the entire set of stanzas points to European settlement of the United States. I’m going to post these stanza explications separately to see if anyone wants to add to what I am saying.

“I already discussed Stanza 1 with its pointing to history (date, old age, witness) but also grounded in the here and now (present settlement).”

In stanza 2, Alenier sees settlers sailing to America.

“Stanza 2 opens with what sounds like a sea chantey (shanty) a song— Count the chain, cut the grass, silence the noon and murder flies. Words like chain, undip, chart make me think of the sea—anchor chain, dip—referring maybe to a wave in the sea, chart—the way of navigating either by the sea markers or the stars.

“I see this stanza as the way the settlers get to America. They take inventory of the chain (both the anchor’s chain and the things that chain them to Europe) so then they must baste (wet the path) undip the chart (get things stable without waves). But it is hard trip and there is an onslaught of vermin like flies that assail them. In the brightest light (noon) they must quiet (silence) those who would stop them and cut ties with the land (cut the grass) where they hail from.”

SHEEP DIP

Rife replied with an association to “Mutton.”:

“I can't help but think about sheep dip, too. The sheep cut the grass and the dip murders blow-flies. Back to ‘Mutton.’.

PAINTING DIVIDED INTO 24 SPACES

In stanza 3, Alenier simultaneously sees a connection to a painting under construction and the King of England dividing up land in America.

“Stanza 3 Cut the whole space into twenty four spaces and then and then is there a yellow color, there is but it is smelled, it is then put where it is and nothing stolen refers to the land of America. I’m not sure why she specifically points to 24 spaces but I see it as painting of the land divided into pieces, something like what the King of England did in parceling out acreage to his loyal followers. The people receiving the land smelled it out, scoped it out, and then legally took possession (nothing stolen).”

NURSERY RHYME CONNECTION TO STANZA
Here, Rife got excited, referring both to stanzas 2 and 3:

“Whoa—check out another song to go along with that sea shanty.  From Wikipedia”:

The rhyme's origins are uncertain. References have been inferred in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (c. 1602), (Act II, Scene iii), where Sir Toby Belch tells a clown: "Come on; there is sixpence for you: let's have a song" and in Beaumont and Fletcher's Bonduca(1614), which contains the line "Whoa, here's a stir now! Sing a song o' sixpence![1]

“A common modern version is”:
Sing a song of sixpence, A pocket full of rye. Four blackbirds, Baked in a pie. When the pie was opened, The birds began to sing; Wasn't that a dainty dish, To set before the king? The king was in his counting house, Counting out his money; The queen was in the parlour, Eating bread and honey. The maid was in the garden, Hanging out the clothes, When down came a blackbird And pecked off her nose.[1]


“Related to the final stanza, too?
Just as it is suffering, just as it is succeeded, just as it is moist so is there no countering. 
That pie is successful (entertaining) but those poor birds are no doubt, suffering.”

TREATISE ON SOUND

Armour jumped in to reinforce the aural nature of these stanzas:

“Teri, Karren, this opens up such a 'fruitful' line of thought!

“When I hear GS read aloud or read her lines or phrases or words aloud, they make sense without making sense. The rhythms make sense. Sound is important in Stein as is an inherent musicality. I was thinking last night about how she composed her piece on Picasso/Napoleon while walking on a beach listening to the waves breaking on the shore. And how she was fascinated with her dog Basket lapping water from his bowl. This again is that self-soothing hypnagogic side of GS—the same way she enters an altered state through murmuring words or words as sounds, or that insistent repetitive mimicking of lovemaking, just following the sensual sounds and rhythms into sleep or ecstasy.