Friday, April 18, 2014

Heads-Up: Progressive Poem, Proust and Poetry

A few quick heads-up: I'll be contributing the 19th line (of 30) to the 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem tomorrow, right here at The Drift Record. Today you can drop by Irene Latham's blog,  Live Your Poem  to see how it's raveling (as opposed to unraveling) so far, but don't forget to come back tomorrow to the Drift Record (and to a different blog every day in April - there will be links provided) to watch how the poem rolls forward. I see from Irene's contribution today that she's left me awash in mystery. It could become a riddle...but how will everyone solve it? Do we even want to solve it? Irene's right....mystery is a nice place for a traveler (even a jellyfish traveler) to float for awhile

If you want to read my post about All Things Proust, head over to the blog I share with my critique group, Books Around the Table. Nothing like a little Proust (or maybe I mean a lot) to make you do one of the following: 1) fall sleep (literally), 2) pull out your hair and curse (usually metaphorically), or 3) ramble once again out into the world, alert to life's charms (that's basically how I'm feeling.) Thanks, Marcel.

And if you want to see some recently published poems of mine, check out the online literary journal, Numero Cinq (stick around afterwards and explore some of the other writing there - it's fascinating.)

Robyn Hood Black is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today. Head over there to see what other people have posted.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Poetry Friday: On Knots and Gardens

Knot Garden - Sudeley Castle near Winchecomb, England
April is the cruelest month? I don't think so - not by a long shot. 

In Seattle, all the cherries trees are blooming, ditto the daffodils; little chickadees and even littler nuthatches are chirping and cheeping away at the birdfeeders around town. Neighbors see each other working in their yards - we say hi and catch up with all the neighborhood news. April, cruel? No.

February  - now that's cruel: drippy and gray, and grayer, and grayest, averaging only about nine hours of daylight every 24 hours (which means 15 hours without) and all the deciduous trees just tangles of aggressively bare branches. We huddle in the house.

By the beginning of April, though, those same branches are covered with blossoms; by the end of April with sweet, dazzling leaves. We begin to remember that the sky is blue from time to time, and that there is something called color - yellows and pinks and greens, oh, my!

In honor of gardens everywhere, I'm going to post one of my own poems, the only one I have with a garden in it (oh, that's not so - I can think of another one, but it describes our yard and shed in December - definitely not an April feeling....)

The garden in my poem is Italian. I began to think of writing the poem after standing in the stairwell at the Villa Medici in Rome and being transfixed by the gardens outside. Later, I went to Tivoli, and that was that - the poem came. All around Italy there are examples of the Italian Renaissance garden - many include knot gardens. A knot garden is a special kind of space - tremendously constrained in some ways, symmetrical, orderly, beautiful. Still, it's playful. I tried to catch both those aspects. [The columns look a little wavier than they do in Word.] Here it is, with an explanation about how to approach it below: 

Knot Garden

Order      and   dis-                    order    and   dis-
order       and   blessed            order     and   dice
martyrs  and   missed             rollers   and   ditched
turns       and   moist                rulers    and   torched
gardens  and   molto               portals  and   porpoises,
grazies   and    sotto                 putti      and   dormant
voces      and    grottoed          popes    and   duomos,
vaults     and    golden             doves    and   the forno’s
altars     and   cloven               loaves   and   cell-phoned
satyrs    and   cleavage,           lovers   and   losers.

How to read it: I tried to echo the restrictive nature of the knot garden design by making two sections on each side of a central larger "path" which runs down the middle. You start by reading the stanza on the left - the three-word lines - with the words of the "rows" on each side of the "and" chiming off the one before it. It's not really rhyming...more like morphing...finding some key sound and changing it, the way an echo changes the original word.. For example, the second "row" on the left reads dis-/blessed/missed/moist/molto/sotto/grottoed/golden/cloven/cleavage. I think each of the four rows (the and's are not really "rows" - they function the way a little lavender hedge does in a real knot garden) is fairly successful at that. There are also rows across for each stanza, and if you read across this way (for example, if you read "Order and dis /order and blessed / martyrs and missed / turns and moist / gardens and molto / grazies...") it actually all makes sense. You can't read all the way across - that is,  you can't "jump the path" that separates the two stanzas of the poem-garden, but once you're finished with one "side" of the garden, you can go back up to the top and continue reading down the other "side." It's a puzzle-garden, in some ways - at least that's how I felt when I was putting it together. But I hope the effort behind it disappears, and that it reads as knotted but graceful. It was hard to grow this particular garden - but most gardens require a little planning, a little digging, some dirt under the nails, some water, some waiting, some effort, don't they? If you would rather plant a knot garden than write a poem about one, here's how.

By the way, I am suddenly reminded of something that's also knotted but graceful: If you haven't yet seen Paolo Sorrentino's La Grande Belleza (The Great Beauty) then definitely rent it (it's out on DVD now) and watch. It won this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Film and it is a WONDERFUL movie - the hero drifts and winds his way up and around and back, the music does the same, as does the camera, the Tiber River, the daylight, the nightlife, and life in general.  The writing is witty and intelligent, the actors (the great Toni Servillo) perfect, and the cinematography takes your breath away.  And if Rome ever got into your bloodstream - or if you've ever longed to be adrift or be a flaneur in the city -  this movie will give you the fix you need.
Still from La Grande Belleza
 Here's a long and languid montage of scenes from it - especially lovely is the scene of the children running in the garden. An Italian Renaissance-style garden, in fact. Gardens, everywhere, gardens.
Head over to Amy VanDerwater's blog, The Poem Farm, to see what other people have posted for the first Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Poetry Friday Tra-La to SPRING!!

to the 
Guess what? 
It's spring! 

I'm so happy to be hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up today - it's the first full day of spring. O, oh, oh, lovely, glorious, yahoo, hooray, spring, spring, SPRING! I feel like bursting into song just as if I were in a Broadway musical. "Oh, what a beautiful morning...." (only it's Seattle, folks, so maybe it's raining?) Still, I am so, so ready for the cherry trees to pink up, the skies to blue through, the tulips to bloom. As e.e. cummings wrote: 

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window, into which people look (while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here) and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and from moving New and
Old things, while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there) and

without breaking anything.

                                e.e. cummings

Photo by Keren Fisher

Now, down to business. If you have a Poetry Friday link to share, please let me know in the Comments section below by naming your site and giving me the URL for Friday's post.  I'll round things up periodically -  morning, noon and night. Happy spring, everyone!

Night Owls 

Steven Withrow is playing with animal names over at Crackles of Speech. 
At Gathering Books, Myra Garce-Bacsal pairs up a video of Tracy Chapman with a poem ("Woman Work") by Maya Angelou, in honor of Women's Month. 

Heidi Mordhorst is competing in the "March Madness" Poetry playoff and offers us a link to her poem (her fellow competitor is Linda Baie!) over at my juciy little universe.

At Teacher Dance, Linda Baie has a poem by Joyce Sutphen, plus a link to the March Madness playoff (where she competes with Heidi Mordhorst!) 

Look through BJ Lee's Blue Window for her March Madness playoff poem (assigned word: "fungibility"!!)

Robyn Hood Black welcomes spring at Life on the Deckle Edge with March's Student Haiku Poet of the Month, Marisa Schwarz.

Catherine at Reading to the Core shares an original poem inspired by a painting and Laura Shovan's Pantone Poetry Project.

At Alphabet Soup, Jama offers up some "poesy and posies a la Emily Dickinson" as well as Emily's recipe for Rice Cakes. In addition, you can follow Jama's "Contact Me" link to send her an email if you're interested in signing up for her Poetry Month Kidlitosphere project.  

Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference has posted a lovely poem by John Philip Johnson called "After the Changeling Incantation."

Okay, that's it for tonight. I'll do another round-up about 10:00 tomorrow morning (PST.) 

Ten More at Sun Up!

Laura Salas talks about how books change as we write them and how they can change us - she's the guest author on Kirby's Lane, the blog of author Kirby Larson. (Is that you standing on your head, Laura?) 

In response to the Two Teacher's Slice of Life writing challenge (a poem a day for a month!) Cathy over at Merely Day by Day has posted an original poem titled "The Line Between." 

At Author Amok, there's a fascinating explanation of the Welsh form called the "englyn," with examples in both English and Welsh - all courtesy of guest geographer/poet Michael Ratcliffe. And don't miss the Celtic music video. 

Tara Smith celebrates spring, too, at A Teaching Life - she's in with an original poem for the Slice of Life Challenge. 

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes is part of the March Madness madness, too, and posted her Round One poem at Today's Little Ditty .  

Irene Latham looks at Jon Muth's HI, KOO! over at Live Your Poem.  

There's Madness everywhere! Check out Buffy Silverman's Round One poem for the March Madness competition - that's over at Buffy's Blog

Doraine Bennet at Dori Reads delights us with a beautiful poem by Emily Dickinson (how wonderful, the idea of March being out of breath when it knocks at the door!) 

From the perspective of his March Madness poem this year, Matt Forest Esenwine looks back at his contribution from last year - that's at  Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme

Jeannine Atkins at What I'm Reading reviews an interesting new verse novel by Mariko Nagai. 

And a Mid-Morning Baker's Dozen! 

At Poetry Time, Charles Waters posts his fifth entry and fills it generously with three original poems, whetting our appetites with one from the Poetry Friday Science anthology,  one in competition at March Madness and one inspired by his first time on a jet ski!

Liz Steinglass's response to John Green and Sarah Urist Green's video project, The Art Assignment, is a poem that builds itself literally from the feet up (fantastic - how did she do that?) Head over to her website to see it. 

An original poem for the March Madness competition - "Perpetual Motion" - is up at Donna Smith's blog, Mainely Write. (Oh, I have a grandson who fits that poem to a T. ) 

The energetic Diane Mayr provides us with a trifecta of Poetry Friday posts: the first at Random Noodling (about poetry therapy),  the second at Kurious Kitty (a poem by W.B. Yeats) and the third at Kurious K's Kwotes (a quotation from Yeats.)

Vanissa and Matthew, both age 10, are the stars of Margaret Simon's post today, about using new words, over at Reflections on the Teche. 

Another star, this time only five years old - Nicolas's "drawn notes" of Hamlet and Ophelia. Check it out at Kortney's One Deep Drawer.

Emily Dickinson is definitely coming in on the springtime breeze! Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect has "Dear March" arriving at her door today.

Little Willow offers up a piece of Margaret Widdemer's "Song" over at Bildungsroman.

Ed DeCaria, who started the annual March Madness madness, reflects on what's been learned from the first four matchups over at Think, Kid, Think.

Over at All About the Books, Janet S. features Betsy Franco's A Curious Collection of Cats (with marvelous illustrations by Michael Wertz.) 

We get an acrostic poem this week from Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy. Mahalo to you, Joy!  

Lorie Ann Grover waxes poetic about the Palouse hills of Eastern Washington over at On Point, and she reviews Peek-a-Zoo! by Nina Laden at readertotz

Jone shares a Poetry Pairing at Check It Out. And don't miss the sign-up link for Jone's Postcard Poetry Project, now in its sixth year. 

And a Few More Drift in on the Spring Breeze...

Mary Lee Hahn helps us usher in the weekend at A Year of Reading with an original poem that goes perfectly with our Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast:  "Pancakes" (Yummm...)

Over at Semicolon, Sherry offers us one of the five Lucy poems written by William Wordsworth. I felt sure Wordsworth would make an appearance for the first full day of spring! 

And Amy Ludwig VanDerwater posts an original poem in response to one very original gift: a pine cone.  You'll find it at her blog, The Poem Farm. And congratulations, Amy, on winning the Cybils Poetry award this year - Forest Has a Song is a lovely book!!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Poetry Friday: Nelson Bentley's ZERO TIDE

Whidbey Island Beach
I've put this poem up on the Drift Record before, and I'm in the mood to post it again. Favorites are favorites, and the sun is out today, the sky is blue, tomorrow rain is coming, and I'm thinking "Quick, quick, get out for a walk on the beach." We won't be having zero tides any time too soon around Puget Sound...well, there's a pretty nice -1.5 on April 18th (mark calendar, Julie)...but a walk anytime on any beach is fine with me.  As for zero tides - there is nothing in the world like walking on a beach that will be far under water later in the day. If doing that sounds like something out of a fairy tale, well, that's what the marvelous real world is like.

Zero Tide 

I walked from our cabin into the wet dawn
To see the white caps modulating in,
The slow wash of the word in the beginning:
Wind on the bowing sedge seemed from Japan.
A cloud of sandpipers wavered above the dune,
Where surf spoke the permanence of sun.
Back inside, I sat on my son's bed
Where he sweetly slept, guarded by saints and poets,
Oceanic sunrise on his eyelids;
I whispered, "Sean, get up! It's a clamming tide,"
And thought of chill sand fresh from lowering waters,
Foam-bubbled frets across the hard-packed ridges.
"Sean, it's a zero tide!" From a still second,
He came out of the covers like a hummingbird.
"Don't wake up Julian." In the pale blue light
He dressed in whirring silence, all intent.
Along the empty coast the combers hummed:
Sleepy gulls mewled in the clearing mist.
My wife and baby slept folded in singing calm,
Involuted by love as rose or shell.

                                                 - Nelson Bentley

Be sure to follow the link right there to Wikpedia's entry for Bentley, and try to find his books. He was a fine professor and a poet who brought his heart to the page - well worth reading.

The Poetry Friday round-up today is being hosted at Rogue Anthropologist.  Head over there to see what other people have posted. And next week, I'll be hosting right here at The Drift Record!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Poetry Friday: William Stafford's Muse

Last week I participated with four other writers in a panel at the Associated Writing Programs conference in Seattle. The title of the panel was "Calling the Muse," and panelists (Laura Kvasnosky, Zu Vincent, Debby Dahl Edwardson, Kiara koenig and I)  were asked to address not only the idea of a "Muse" in general, but how a writer moves from inspiration to application. In my opinion, if you are out in the world, and you are curious and attentive, then the Muse has done her/his/its job, and the rest is up to you. I found a short poem to read by the late William Stafford which basically says what I had to say, but more economically and elegantly, and I thought Poetry Friday readers might like to see it, too - so here it is!

When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand. 

                 --William Stafford
The. Poetry Friday round-up today is being hosted Margaret over at Reflections on the Teche
Head over there to see what other people have posted.