Sunday, September 30, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Carolyn Forche says you must read a book of poems from beginning to end in one sitting.
Anthologies might be better for hallway reading. Between each bell, I stand guard outside of my classroom--to let students know that I do read constantly, a variety of things, and to remind those hooligans that starting a fight in the J pod is not an option because a teacher is there at all times, a silent reading sentinel.
And I've read Best American anthologies sporadically; for a while, I wanted to start at the beginning of the story series and read straight through, especially because it's a gorgeous way to meet a new voice, but I found myself disappointed at the end, wanting some gems to stand out but only found stones.
There were two that clambered out of the din of the hallways for this recent anthology, and I read them back to back (perhaps this is why reading in one sitting is wise--it does not change my attitude as a reader much; I'm likely to be as receptive to the beginning as the end): Maya Rosenberg's "If I Tell You You're Beautiful, Will You Report Me?: A West Point Haiku Series," and Natasha Saje's "F." I read the contributor's notes on both and was surprised at how very different their backgrounds were: I was instantly jealous of Rosenberg, younger than me, whose only publishing credit ended up in this anthology; Saje, a professor, with meaty credits to her name. Perhaps this is why being voyeuristic isn't always the wisest as a reader--peering into the secret lives of the authors. I am tainted by jealousy or respect, but when I read the words, I didn't know who, just what--beautiful language, words and phrases that I could taste on my tongue.
Sometimes I worry that I am not a very good reader of poetry, that I cannot recognize a good poem when it is in a form that does not always appeal--sometimes highly experimental or highly formal poetry frustrates me, even if it's from a master. Sometimes poems written in sparse language don't catch my attention. I love poetry that is in love with language, that uses figurative language well, that I can hum in my head long after reading it. I like poems that I can taste on my tongue, that reveal the world up close and brave. I love poems that beg to be framed, to be read again and again, to be that worn piece of paper I carry in my wallet.
Of course, much poetry needs a second chance--to read a second time, when the voices are quiet in the hall, or in our head, and we can spend time with the poem, invite it over for dinner, hold hands in the park. Returning to poetry. Again and again.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I love the image Stephanie creates of her daily poem: she prints it out, hangs in somewhere, to dry, before she sends it off to Laressa. The poem exists, meditates, prepares itself to move on.
In other exciting news, I will contribute a review to CutBank's poetry blog. This will be a first for me--a review that counts more than the space of my own blog, where each word matters, and I will live and breathe a book, as what I will say goes beyond the flippant reaction of a singular reader. I want to do well by this magazine and by the poet--honesty, consideration, interpretation.
Happy Wednesday, all. Tomorrow, a prompt, and more on a cold dissipating. (Sleeping through the night, no waking up in confusion, staring at the clock and into the darkness, my nose a snaked faucet, desperate for relief.)
Monday, September 24, 2007
It's week four of the school year, and I'm trying to keep balance: a teacher, a person who is applying to graduate school, a person who is finishing a Master's in Education, a person who is learning how to be a wife, a partner, a person who gets enough sleep every night.
It's quiet and peaceful in the fall. There is still a little energy left from the summer, and autum storms are rolling in. Tonight, the sun disappeared early, giving way to lightning and subtle thunder. The dogs were anxious to return inside, sopping wet, and I took an afternoon nap, hoping to sleep off some of this sick.
It's only Monday; this week will drag its feet. But we will all manage to find ourselves at the other end of it, small steps in learning following.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
For today's Thursday prompt, you are to write an epistolary poem, meaning a poem as a letter. It can certainly be fictional; write it as a persona poem, write it to yourself, write it to a lost lover, write it to an object. But make sure this poem is a direct address--one in which you are composing to someone or something else.
More on epistolary prompts here.
Some examples here.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
- A sixteenth century mathematician lost his nose in a duel over his love for Molly Sutton, and wore a silver replacement for the rest of his life.
- Molly Sutton can sleep for three and a half years!
- In 1982 Time Magazine named Molly Sutton its 'Man of the Year'.
- The only planet that rotates on its side is Molly Sutton.
- Molly Sutton can be found on a Cluedo board between the Library and the Conservatory.
- Two grams of Molly Sutton provide enough energy to power a television for over twenty-three hours!
- To check whether Molly Sutton is safe to eat, drop her in a bowl of water; rotten Molly Sutton will sink, and fresh Molly Sutton will float.
- It can take Molly Sutton several days to move just through one tree!
- The blood of mammals is red, the blood of insects is yellow, and the blood of Molly Sutton is blue.
- About 100 people choke to death on Molly Sutton each year.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
2. In a friend's blog, she mentioned "Metro Island" heating. She wrote, "The sun from the previous day is absorbed into the metal, concrete, and other surfaces around the city and then released into the night air, making it an entire eleven degrees cooler twenty five miles from the city."
Friday, September 14, 2007
"We live and work in a city that sits where the Arabian Desert meets the Persian Gulf. Such a location makes for a climate of intense heat and humidity. Occasionally, we even see fog, unusual in a desert. More often, though, the air is heavy with sand and dust, blotting out the sun and reducing the cityscape to something two-dimensional, without depth, without relief. It can make for a world that seems somehow less than alive.
Enter diode, teeming with “poetry that excites and energizes. . . . poetry that uses language that crackles and sparks.” We set out to find poetry that creates an arc between writer and reader, an arc that hums with the live current of language. We believe our first issue does just that. We bring you poetry from well-known poets such as Chris Abani, Bob Hicok, Suzanne Frischkorn, Rick Barot, Jake Adam York, and Peter Jay Shippy, but also from some poets you may not yet know but will be pleased to discover. We express our deepest gratitude to all of them.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
And I'm currently reading this blog, from beginning to current. Teresa was in a workshop I took this summer with Carolyn Forche, and her writing reminds me of something you could crawl into--the hide of a skinned animal, the flesh of a fruit. She is raw and completely aware of her surroundings.
I stumbled upon a poem called "I Am Thinking of My First Deer," which is such a wonderful way to enter a poem, and in honor or in reaction, I wrote my own first draft of a poem I think may live to a revision called "I Am Thinking of My First Bee Sting," where I hope will eventually find a way to juxtapose the beauty and vanity of my grandmother with destruction and protection. It's not doing that yet, but I think, for me, first drafts can do two things: they can simply be an enjoyable way of drooling thoughts onto the page, or they can be the seed of something, and you can see it happening right there (or maybe see it right there a little while later). I think I've known the first drafts that might live on; some first drafts have done little in the way of changing just yet, and others, like the one I wrote today, have a long, long way to go, but I'm excited to see where it will go.
This is something I'm struggling with the most right now: revision. How do you know when to revise? How do you even approach it? MDB used to tell us we needed to wait months sometimes to revise a poem as we needed that distance; Carolyn Forche told us a poem has a certain shelf life in a poet, and at some point, the poem does expire. I'm torn between wanting to let the poem percolate and being afraid of it molding over when I thought I could let it set for a while.
With all that said, today's prompt is to write a poem that is either titled "I Am Thinking of my First _________" or has an opening line this way.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
by Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.
The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.
What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.
If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
As you already know, I have begun sending poetry out again on a randomly regular basis. And I've really begun to immerse myself in regular meditation and exploration of poetry. I used to breathe poetry, devour it for breakfast, snack on it in Lind Hall, sleep with it in my bed; and there was that day, in Winona, when I realized, you cannot truly eat poetry. (So when I am asked the question, "Why did you become a teacher?", I say truthfully, "Because I love literature and want to pass that passion on," but I do not mention the seed beneath that sapling: Because I needed to make the rent and this was the only way I could think to do it. And even deeper: Because I failed myself.)
Oh, I don't know if this is really true. You won't get a full recap of my first week as the likelihood of being discovered is even higher this year, but I will tell you this: I have left that building each day, joyous. My days start rough, but quickly turn, and I celebrate the lessons I've been able to teach, celebrate the students I have in my classroom. There's a really wonderful mix--from the freshmen in the ALC to the seniors in the Brit Lit class. It's going to be a good year indeed.
But all of this doesn't mean I'm not going to turn away from my momentous search for putting poetry at the forefront of my life. Perhaps I won't be accepted into an MFA program; I won't allow that to close the world of poetry off to me forever. But I do know this: I need to dedicate more time to the written word in my life, to read good books, to not waste time.
And in this, I have begun the practice of sending poetry out into the world again. And one will appear in a few weeks in a place where you can read it.
As you already know, my friend Eireann has started the fabulous Yes Press with Brian (so artistic) and Zach (so talented). And my poem "Harry Houdini" will be their October poem: what I can only assume is Eireann's was August, and Shana Youngdahl, someone I am just getting to know through a small community of poetry we have erected (the blocked blog linked above--we have some shy folks, including me, I think) contributed the September poem.
And I must give you a side note here: Eireann has rejected me before, so don't think she had pressure to take me just because we are friends or because we commissioned Brian to make our wedding invites or because Zach was in a spring poetry group with me. Okay, okay, maybe they did. All the same, you can purchase a subscription to the poetry postcard broadsides here or buy them individually as well. The last were available September first, so I can only assume Harry will arrive October first--I'll sing out when it does, however!
And happy weekend to all, now that weekends mean so much again.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
These were not actually purchased from the website, but from a one in ten auction, honoring the mother of Eireann Lorsung. (Her mother suffered an aneurysm and this auction then helped with the medical bills.) You can purchase your own dictionary (or other ephemera) necklaces at The Foundling.