So now we have a poem by Barbara Guest, called 20. In some ways, harder than the poems, the kind of programmatic poems we've been looking at. But we're ready for this, I think, okay. So how does the number 20 function? In this poem, how does it function? Now, step back, relax, go with it. Amareese, how does 20 function? >> Well, when I read it, because I was struck by the shift from the number to the word. So I saw it from the sort of childhood anecdote of counting down to losing consciousness when you're trying to fall asleep as a child. >> Counting sheep. >> And then, but, as an adult- >> 20, 19, 18. >> Guest switches it to a word, so I felt like it was counting down to a creative mindset, sort of like, state between dreaming and consciousness. >> Okay, cool, that's a second-level answer, you're famous for these second-level answers. Can we come up with a first-level answer, like, 20 functions how? How does it work? >> Well, like Amareese was saying, 20 is maybe you're trying to write a poem. You're trying to get yourself into the mood, the state of mind to be able to write a poem. So you start with something, and you start kind of associating and free working with something. >> Free association, okay, so there. >> So it's- >> That's the answer I was looking for, free association, right. So 20 is this, it's that. 20 makes me think this, 20 makes me think that. 20 it's not 7, it's not 13, it's not 3. It's not like freighted with automatic symbolism. It's a kind of a non-symbolic number. Classic New York school move, to do association from something that doesn't have automatic associations. Molly? >> That's what I was going to say, so I think it frees it to be much more personal. It's like doing a sea poppy, rather than a rose. Cool. Okay, so when she says, sleep is 20, can we translate that? What's another way of saying that? Sleep is 20, sleep is? >> Maybe like real sleep is sleeping for 20 hours. Or a nap sleep is sleeping for 20 minutes. >> I think 20 is sleep. She's starting- >> 20 is sleep, 20 makes me think of sleep. Sleep is like 20, 20 is like sleep. It's a shorthand to a simile. So I'm thinking of 20, what am I thinking of? I'm thinking of sleep. And then she affirms that, sleep is 20. But then, a little further down you get, it's more like 20 Madison Avenue buses. It, it is what there? Ally, what's it? >> Either the 20 itself, or- >> 20 is more like 20 Madison Avenue buses, or? >> Or the image she's already set up. The thing that you just said. Yeah, keep going, it being. >> Sleep. >> This scenario that I'm trying to, what I'm trying to say. What I'm trying to say 20 is like, that maybe is more like. More like. Better simile, okay, now we're, this is associationalism, right? Now it's like buses. This is great New York school surrealism because you go from sleep and sheep. How do we get from sleep to sheep? Amareese already told us, but. >> Kind of association of sound. >> Well, sleep and sheep right there sound. >> Yeah. [LAUGH] >> Counting sheep? >> Counting sheep, but she's somewhere, either in her memory or present. And that's Granada, Spain, which is maybe a half hour or 45 minutes north of the coast in the southern part of Spain, near the mountains, the Sierra Nevada. And she seems to be there. Maybe it's a Guadalajara like thing, where she's imagining that she's there. And what happens there? >> Well there's a flamenco dancer and there is a goat herd and his wife and- >> [CROSSTALK] A goat herder and a shepherd presumably. There's sheep there. So she's imagining not just sheep of sleep counting down, but she's imagining the sheep of Granada. So then we get to the buses. So you get sheep and buses, right? That's not an easy substitution, right? But the mind can do that, 20 is the splinter swerving. 20 allows us to go where the brain needs to go. It's more like 20 Madison Avenue buses. While I go droning away at my dream life, each episode is important. That's what it is. Okay, somebody translate that. Dave, paraphrase that. >> Well, each episode is important. In a larger sense, this seems like a bunch of different memories colliding with each other. It seems like it's describing that groggy state between consciousness and sleep. And 20 keeps coming back as the association. And all these different episodes just keep coming back. >> That's what it is, it. >> I think it is the process. >> The process of- >> Of thinking like this. >> Of likening. >> Of associating like this. >> Of simile making, of association, of thinking. >> And she says it sequences, each kind of. >> Sequences, capital S starts a new sentence. So it might not be the title of her 20 act drama, but it might be. Sequences, I've got going a 20 act drama. That may be a metaphorical drama, but then she goes into the trope, the metaphor of what? The conceit of what? >> Actors and flowers. >> Yeah, the theater. Actors, flowers, wait a minute. Not just flowers presented on stage, but what kind of flowers now? Her mind is moving. >> The yellow caps. >> Wildflowers. >> Wildflowers gathered, uh-oh, back in Grenada, or Granada, picked by the wife of the goat-herd. Each morning while I slept, uh-oh, she seems to be remembering Emily? >> Some vacation, some time spent in Sierra Nevada. >> Yeah, and every morning the wife of the goat herder brought her flowers. Isn't that a nice memory? Don't you want a memory like that? I do. Under the snow cone, presumably in the word reading she says snow cane. Not sure, I think its cone. One imagines the mountains. Right, so down below the mountains. Yellow caps, so the yellow caps are what? >> Flowers. >> Buttercups maybe. >> Probably the top of the flowers these particular wild flowers. And, but now she does what with the yellow caps? She likens them to? >> Castanets. >> Castanets, Molly, do a little castanet thing. >> [LAUGH] >> So, well, you've got the whole thing going. I just, let's do the flamenco right now. >> Synesthetic. >> It's synesthetic second. That's second level answer. First level answer is that they look like castanets, they're shaped like them. Okay, let's go to synesthesia. What does that mean? >> Synesthesia means kind of a mixing of the senses. So, you have yellow caps like castanets. So, kind of like, the sound yellow caps like castanets. >> Nice. >> That's it. It's kind of staccato, which sounds like the sound a castanet would make. >> Right, and the castanets are percussive, and they're, this is a regional culture reference presumably too, the reference back to the flamenco and to the Southern Spanish scene. I reach into my bouquet half dreaming and count 20 yellow capped heads. And now they flowers clicking 20 times. What do we got there? >> The 20 comes back into it, that's been the thread through everything. And gets combined flowers and castanets and its just all- >> Clicking >> Mm-hm. >> This is the percussion. This is the sound of the Spanish regional culture music. Because they like to repeat themselves, as I do. What does she mean by that, as I do? >> Well, castanets are used in dancing to keep time as the dancer moves. And here we've seen that the 20 recurs in the same way the castanets were as the images move. >> Nice, so association, images, ideas, sequencing through association. Like the percussion, like a percussion of this memory. As I do, as does the morning. Or the drama one hopes will be enacted, how many times? This is a 20 act drama. What drama is she referring to? Uh-oh, I don't know the answer to this and I asked the question. But let's give it a try. Max, what drama? Be large. >> It could, I mean it could very well be any drama, whether it's something, it's a play she's working on, you know, may as well be 20 acts, it could be, it seems sort of arbitrary. It could be 20 acts, 21 acts. >> So, you were thinking of it as an actual drama. Can we go a little larger than that? Molly? >> Her life? >> Yeah, as I do, as does the morning, this is a waking poem in a way, right? This is a coming from half-consciousness to full consciousness poem. This is memory of Spain, of that time in Spain, Thinking dream like, dream like association of 20, 20 this, 20 that. New York, we do come back to New York. This is the morning and the drama one hopes will be acted many times. Could be what Molly? >> Well I feel like she is trying to say that she'll have many, many nights and many mornings and many memories and this. >> This is a long running show, this is poetry that I do, this art, this waking, this life. Acted many times. As even these dreams in similar people's heads. And then, we get a break, then we get the word 20 again or the number 20 and then another break and then castanets. The poem ends with 20 castanets. How does that end? Talk to me almost musically about this or imagistically about this Ally. >> Well it consolidates the entire poem first into the image of the words 20 castanets and you can kind of visualize 20 castanets kind of in a row or in a clump or whatever. But It leaves me with just the sound of 20 castanets kind of chirping away. >> Mm, nice, let's keep going on this, anybody else? >> They're kind of like ultra-condensed. It's kind of like, sometimes you'll get this in a fiction workshop. You have these amazing lessons ending, but maybe you haven't quite earned it yet. So she has to- >> She's earned it. >> She has to earn this like, because great lasts. >> In the fiction writing workshop sense of earned it. >> She's gotta earn that. >> You did the work, but not only did she do the work. But typical of a post-modern poet, and particularly of a New York school poet, following the instruction manual for instance- >> You show the process of working to it. >> You show, you don't only earn it but you show how you got there. And showing how you got there helps you pull off what used to be enough for HD for instance. I say HD because Barbara Guest wrote a wonderful biography of HD and is really interested in the history of images and and referring back to that. And so it gets all of this association with its New York schoolish interest in surrealism and half consciousness. And association gets rendered into this compressed synesthetic image of 20 castanets. That's actually, in a way, the bouquet, right? Gets rendered imagistically, it's also the drama of her ongoing, acted-out, ism, her aestheticism, there it all is. So you get Spain's sound, and a kind of a loving reference to a regional geographic culture that's probably a little more serious and emotional than Guadalajara and the instruction manual. You get New York's active droning and ongoing serial theatricality. And these are merged through the possibility of sleep's dreamy surrealism and associationism and that gets to be presented at the end. Wow, I mean I really like this, but I don't need to push that on you. What do you think? I mean what does this poem do for you? What does it teach you? Ally, say something. >> Yeah, I really like it too. It's such a lovely poem, linguistically, all the way through. And I think that 20 castanets at the end really does service to it because it kind of almost finds a way to substitute music for language. So that you can kind of read it through listening. You kind of stop reading and instead there's just the echo of 20 castanets. >> Nice, yes, very musical in that sense. Max? >> There's something, of course because it's called 20 there's something necessarily mathematical about it, I think it's almost algebraic. And she's sort of balancing both sides of this equation. She's going between Granada and New York. Between these two dream states, associative states and what she gets at the end is that image. That's what the equation results to, 20 castanets. >> Yeah, I love it, this is what happens to people interested in experimental poetry. I'm sorry to pick on my parents, but if I went to my parents and I said, 20 castanets, isn't that beautiful? They'd say well there you go again >> [LAUGH] >> But if I showed them the work that got done to get there, they would get it. I think they would get it, they'd be interested. They're not readers of poetry but they are humans who to be sure. >> [LAUGH] >> They are humans who know how the mind associates. And so let's riff on 20. And then at the end, let's condensed it all to a final way of saying, well that's where I got. Now that New York school is going to show you how I got there and then in itself, like the instruction manual is a way of being, is very interesting. Couple of more final thoughts on this, Molly? >> I think the form of the poem really mirrors the act of falling asleep, where your mind starts to wander but you have the one anchor. She's got the 20, that sort of keeps coming back and gives everything a shape. And then, at the very end, the last two lines I think really sticks is that sort of final image before you fall asleep. Where it all comes together and it's the last thing you remember. >> To me it felt a little bit like you descending the staircase, and that we would start with 20. >> I felt the progression of number to, where to the images, and finally the castanets at the end seem to draw just a sort of thematic unity throughout both the image and the sense. And exactly like Ally was saying. It's that merging, we're left with that clicking sound. That's also an image and a meaning. >> I feel similar to Molly, but I felt like it was waking up and that this so well mirrored that grogginess when you're waking up and your mind's just completely chaos. And then it progresses more and more concretely. [COUGH] And here in the last association, 20 comes in and then it becomes solid with castanets. And then she wakes up. >> I just want to finally just praise a fairly traditional juxtaposition. Sleep is 20, at the beginning. Remembering the insignificant flamenco dancer in Granada who became important as you watched the mountain ridge, the dry hills. There's something really beautiful about that. So first of all, it's somewhat ironizing cause and effect. It's also telling us how images, the sound and image of the flamenco dancer, which is pretty impressive, but insignificant. But only when one understood what the region, when one thought about where one was. There's just something. Why did it become important? There's a connection between human art and sound and body percussion. I guess you could say flamenco is and those mountains. And so she goes back to New York with a new view about why insignificant things hum-colored cabs would take on significance in the larger scheme. This is a little like a step away from them in that sense. And I just also have to say I don't ever apologize for teaching the New York School through the set piece poems such as the instruction manual, The Day Lady Died or Variations on a Theme by Williams. It seems to me, with due respect to them, this is the kind of poem that the New York School gives us, where it's hard, but not finally all that hard. If we just let the association go the way it goes, we're going to get something quite beautiful, and going in several different directions at once.