Tag: Writing

Found Poem: Lessons


***

Nothing was next to enough.
Rubbed the wrong way
was comfort.
Most of all,
conquered worlds prepared her
to live her life
a burned queen
wearing pearls.

***

This set of wonderful found poems in Thrush inspired me to go looking for my own.

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Happy birthday, Lucille!

Lucille’s mother was a gifted poet with only an elementary school education. Her poetry was offered publication but Lucille’s father wouldn’t allow it and forced her to burn the poems in the fireplace. It’s said Lucille never forgot it and I’m sure it shaped much of her own poetry. About the incident, she wrote a poem called “fury”:
“her hand is crying. / her hand is clutching / a sheaf of papers. / poems. / she gives them up. / they burn / jewels into jewels.”

She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for two separate books in the same year: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (1987), and Next: New Poems (1987). She won the National Book Award for Blessing the Boats (2000); the 2007 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize; and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America in 2010, just before her death.

When I discovered Lucille’s work I felt energized. Her messages of empowerment and self-love are lessons every one of us should take to heart and put into practice. How great it must have been to hear her read in person. 


Photo via The New Yorker

My Poem on Postcards: Support Small Presses!

Atomic Theory Micropress has printed up my poem “Bravado” on postcards, with art by Jon Butterworth, for purchase on their website. I am thrilled! It never occurred to me that it might be possible for my words to fly around the country (world?!) in this way. Proceeds from the postcards will help Atomic Theory finance the publication of their limited edition handsewn chapbooks. If you love poetry, small press, and/or the art of bookmaking, please consider purchasing a postcard or two.

Support poets, support art, support small presses!

Poetry Wonderment

One night in April I stumbled on the  livestream of a poetry reading program on Twitter, put together by Maria Popova, named The Universe in Verse. For over an hour and a half I listened in wonderment to a clatch of beautiful poetry read by some wonderful writers. Now the program is available as a video which I’ve posted here along with the playlist. I loved the whole thing but especially the readings by Diane Ackerman and Tracy K Smith. I hope you’ll find some time to listen to at least some of the readings. It will inspire you, I promise! Read more about the evolution of The Universe in Verse here

Playlist:
“Planetarium” by Adrienne Rich from Collected Poems: 1950–2012 (public library), read by Janna Levin

“My God, It’s Full of Stars” by Tracy K. Smith from Life on Mars (public library), read by the poet herself

“Power” by Adrienne Rich from The Dream of a Common Language (public library), read by Rosanne Cash

“The Venus Hottentot” by Elizabeth Alexander from Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990–2010 (public library), read by the poet herself

“Cosmic Gall” by John Updike from Telephone Poles and Other Poems (public library) read by Brandon Stanton

“We Are Listening” by Diane Ackerman from Jaguar of Sweet Laughter: New and Selected Poems (public library), read by the poet herself

“On the Fifth Day” by Jane Hirshfield, read by Emily Levine

“For Oliver’s Birthday, 1997” by Steven Jay Gould, published in On the Move by Oliver Sacks, read by Billy Hayes

“Euclid Alone Has Looked” by Edna St. Vincent Millay from The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay (public library), read by Sam Beam

“Jane Goodall (1961)” by Campbell McGrath from XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century (public library), performed by Sarah Jones

“The Habits of Light” by Anna Leahy from Aperture (public library), read by Ann Hamilton

“Address: The Archaeans, One Cell Creatures” by Pattiann Rogers from Wayfare (public library), read by Jad Abumrad

“Pi” by Wisława Szymborska from Map: Collected and Last Poems (public library), read by Maria Popova

“The Mushroom Hunters” by Neil Gaiman, read by Amanda Palmer

NaPoWriMo 28/30: Drained

Ran out of steam
Slid off the sunbeam
Curdled the cream
Lost the dream
Thought I could
Turned into dead wood

***

Prompt via NaPoWriMo.net: Write a poem using Skeltonic verse.

This is how I was feeling about NaPoWriMo this morning, lol. Two more days! (Although I believe I have one make up poem to write. Have to check on that.)

NaPoWriMo 17/30: Eve of a Cold Moon


Eve of a Cold Moon

So briefly, so briefly –
a few days of awareness, then
you were gone. Still, there’s a space
for you that no other ever filled,
the abandoned home of a whisper-life
not ready for a world such as this.

***

Prompt via NaPoWriMo.net: Write a nocturne. In music, a nocturne is a composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound. Your nocturne should aim to translate this sensibility into poetic form.

Writing With Poet Fida Islaih

On Wednesdays at 6:00 pm Poet Fida Islaih facilitates a chat for poets called #PoetteerChat on Twitter. I’ve been participating for a couple of months and have enjoyed chatting and getting to know other poets. Two weeks ago Fida had poet Nicole Gilotta, author of Eat This Poem, as a guest on the chat. (Transcript here.) I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about her book and the inspiration for writing it, so much so that I invited the other participants to join me in writing a collaborative poem about food. I’d always wanted to do a collaborative poem and the subject piqued my interest. Fida took me up on my offer and following is the result of our collaboration. I highly recommend PoetteerChat and hope that you’ll join us! 


Bread

Bread is a part of every meal
and Monday mornings
were for bread-making.
My five-year-old self

would sit at the big, worn
kitchen table and watch
Grandma’s hands
as they expertly kneaded

and rolled the dough, grabbing
the edge, folding it to the center,
then pushing it down
with the heels of her palms,

gradually turning the pale round
disc until all edges met
in the middle, over and over,
her fingers flexing, arms relentlessly

churning like waves on a shore.
I’d watch as she chatted
and sometimes sang,
a merry-go-round of domesticity,

a goddess of the kitchen,
until time to rest the well-worked
globe in a bowl in the corner.
Later, the whole house was filled

with the smell of freshly baked bread.
We sat around the dining room table,
I tore off a piece of pita to dip in hummus
as we waited for the main course.

On the flip-side,
I tore off a piece of flatbread
to scoop up some curry.

Bread owns no culture yet
belongs to every culture.
A staple of life,
bread is universal.

———

Tomorrow begins NaPoWriMo and I’ll be attempting to write a poem every day via prompts from NaPoWriMo.net. Wish me luck! 

Brain Dump

I began working on a CNF piece a few months ago based on an interaction I had with a woman in the jury lounge when I was called up for Federal jury duty. The first three paragraphs flowed out easily. The next couple came weeks later. Now I can’t stand the thought of going back to work on it at all. There are memories of the aftermath of Katrina interspersed and I just don’t want to think about it. It’s Spring, new beginnings, a time of optimism. The thought of revisiting that time is just abhorrent. Hopefully, this is just a temporary aberration and I’ll get to it again soon.

I had a day last week that was just like the song “Mamma Said”. Isn’t it funny how you know as soon as you get up in the morning it’s gonna be one of those days? When a  bug flew up my nose on my morning walk, I just knew it.

*****

Yesterday I spent part of the afternoon  just lounging in a reclining chair on the patio watching squirrels. We suspected there was a nest in the fan palm and now I’m pretty sure there is. I watched three small squirrels and one larger one as they ran down the fenceline into the pear tree, then the magnolia, then the fan palm,  then did it all over again, over and over. The little ones did, anyway. The larger one, the mamma I think, stayed lower in the pear tree so that every time one of the little ones got too close to the ground, she barked and ran it back up the tree. I remember those mamma barks from when I was a kid.

I had a couple of vivid dreams last week during which I commented to myself (in the dream, yet not) that this would make a good poem. Once, I woke up and wondered why the words that just seemed so spectacular in the dream were so mundane in reality. Has that ever happened to you? Naturally, upon full awakening I didn’t remember a single word I’d dreamed. Drat.

*****


I’m reading The Odd Woman and the City by Vivian Gornick. I read about it in a piece about books about New York. It’s a  memoir of her life in NYC and she’s really good at describing the characters, places, and moods  that make up her urban  world and friendships.The stream of conscienceness style of her writing is very interesting to me.  I especially like this passage:

As I saw myself moving ever farther toward the social margin, nothing healed me of a sore and angry heart like a walk through the city. To see in the street the fifty different ways people struggle to remain human—the variety and inventiveness of survival techniques—was to feel the pressure relieved, the overflow draining off. I felt in my nerve endings the common refusal to go under.

 Yep. That about sums it up.

*****

The photos in this post are from the #photoblog365 project I’m doing on Instagram.

Publications: Blue Fifth Review & Writing in a Woman’s Voice 

My poem “Fractured Journey” is published in the Winter Quarterly of Blue Five Notebook/Blue Fifth Review. I’m so happy to join the talented writers in this wonderful edition. Big thanks to editors Sam Rasnake and Bill Yarrow who are outstanding poets themselves and have been so generous to me with their encouragement and advice over the years. 

In December my poem “2 Worlds” was published in Beate Sigridddaughters wonderful journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice. I have great respect for Beate and the tireless work she does promoting women’s writing. I’ll never forget the surprise and elation I felt when she selected me as a finalist for the 15th Glass Woman Prize. Beate is a wonderful and sensitive writer and I recommend keeping an eye open for any of her publications, as writer and editor.

And, yes, I’m back! 

Women Online: Great Reads You Shouldn’t Miss

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I LOVE this tweet by Kelli Agodon, writer and co-founder of Two Sylvias Press who has a great twitter feed. Just had to share. Anyone who writes poetry has had a version of this wonderment in their head at one time or another. But, thing is, if you’re born to write poetry your really don’t have a choice. I wrote when I was very young then didn’t for years and years, only coming back to it in my mid-30’s but it was always in my head. Fragments, bits and pieces, phrases….it was always in there because it’s just how I think. So, no. Absolutely no, we are not wasting our lives writing poetry. The following poems written by some of the best women writers around are some of the best examples why.

The Gods’ Funniest Home Videos by Rachel Kessler in Pank.

She’s the kind of ghost who would taste so sweet. What god hasn’t tried to put her in his mouth and suck her down to the core?

The Southern Girl’s Guide to Getting Your MRS Degree by Allie Marini in Drunk Monkeys.

if all else fails, remember that other thing I told you about sweet tea: if you forget to add the baking soda, or if you squeeze the teabags, it can get mighty bitter. bitter tea—even if it’s sweet tea—can hide a lot of things, just like any good wife who follows all the rules.

Bare Bones of It by Tabatha Stirling in Feminine Collective.

I used to crack jokes about you to
make my father like me better. They
were cheap shots, Babycham insults.

Nuclear Family Warfare by Jane Noel Dabate in Rattle.

The women in my family
paint their lips red
in a school teacher’s correcting pen.

Although this is primarily a post about poetry I couldn’t not steer y’all to the following two essays. They are both amazing in different ways. They will both make you think and, maybe, shed a tear or two. Do not miss reading these words.
It’s a Man’s World by Maureen Langloss on her blog.

The multiplicity of bullet points in a single month, drawn from church and state, school and home, corporation and playing field, are like bricks overhead—caving in over my body, stoning me, crushing me, obliterating me. I feel personally wounded, bereaved. I have always been a person of hope and faith that things would get better for women, that together we would make a more equal, less violent world. But today it finally dawns on me, at age 45, that things don’t always get better. In fact, they get worse. And those stones that are crashing in over my head are inside me now. Festering, growing moss. They are the stone my body has internalized, that my heart has become.

Light & Darkness
How Sharon Olds brought me back to writing by Maggie Smith on The Poetry Foundation.

Turning to Sharon Olds, to poems such as “Prayer During a Time My Son Is Having Seizures,” gave me the permission and the courage to write my most intimate, vulnerable, and direct work yet.

I’ve read some pretty wonderful fiction online lately, too, so I’ll try to get a post up about that soon.

Life is a freight train and it’s bearing down fast. Take care, y’all.

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