Thursday, November 29, 2007
I've read poems that resemble grocery lists.
I've read poems that appear as want ads.
I've read very clever poems as Q&As.
Here is this week's prompt: Take a conventional form, one that belongs truly to something else, something mundane, or something prose might claim as its own, and write a poem. Think table of contents, think mapquest directions, think memo, think text message, think interview, think health care plan. Think beyond the patterns of every day poetry and reinvent the patterns of every day rhetoric.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Hope your Thanksgivings were good, full of rest, full of good food, full of family, full of making, maintaining, returning to peace.
Monday, November 19, 2007
-- Paul Celan
Thursday, November 15, 2007
How do you use words for something you love so passionately--something so big, something where words are the most important? I don't know how to explain the feeling I have when I am driving home after my Thursday Intermedia workshops.
Full, this is true. I am still writing in my head. I realized how I would put together that Autobiographical Sketch for UC-Irvine (curses, they want a personal statement and an autobiography?) (Of course, others want me to write a piece on how I will contribute to diversity on the campus. And other topics.)
Full, I think of lines of poems. I dream up how I might jigsaw words into little poems, snippets I sketch out in my notebook as I drive. I should pull over, I know. And Husband, long ago, bought me a tape recorder for just such instances. What I really need is a laptop--a way to quietly spool out the thoughts in my head onto the page. Composing poems in my head. They drift out so quickly, like cotton candy fluff, drift away, forgotten.
This is some kind of cruelty though.
If asked, "Why poetry?" I would fumble the question. I would say something about loving the compact form, the precision and choice of words, the reflection on humanity, the capturing of a small moment. All these messy words to describe something so perfect, so small.
I might mention how I love small things: little knick knacks you can put into the palm of your hand, works of art; I always pick the splinters of chips or slivers of cake, a collection of food already divided; I love those small, tender moments, the glance, the quiet reflection of the world around us, the way his hand fits into mine.
But I don't really know how to explain why poetry makes my body sing, makes me feel more alive than any other, pleases me as we dissect language and discuss the importance of one word, one arrangement, one line break. I just know, I just feel.
Monday, November 12, 2007
For I have been accepted into the Palm Beach Poetry Festival.
I didn't expect it to happen; I had simply applied in practice for graduate school, with only a vague hope of going. I applied long ago, thinking I wouldn't get in, but I'd have the methodic practice of application. Palm Beach was a kind of pipe dream, I suppose, and I get the impression it's gotten a great deal less competitive, now that it has more funding and can open up to more workshops, but nonetheless, I am grateful for the opportunity, especially given the topic of my own workshop, which is addressing revision (so much needed for me).
My principal has given me permission to go, open arms, which is so wonderful. She was open in the same way to the Intermedia program as well, when I had to miss an hour and a half of parent-teacher conferences. I am glad for this kind of support, especially when it takes me away from the classroom in the very last week of the semester.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
My own style is free verse, as is the majority of poets writing today. Thus, the line break becomes crucial, the word choice and stanza break imperative to meaning. I have dabbled in form before, and I appreciate those contemporary poets who can sink into tradition and heritage and manage to create a decent rendition of a sonnet, a villanelle, a cinquain.
And there are the haiku, the small breaths, the puffs of poetry, that can cause the intake to be so startling.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
There are two people who surface in my poetry the most--a close girl friend of mine, who happens to be incredibly bright, a scientist, and full of personality. Her life explodes, making nature as metaphor easy.
I also have been working a series of poems that focus much on Alzheimer's. My grandfather, a professor of Education, has recently been institutionalized, and I have been a distant witness to the progressive movement toward dementia. These poems also drawn in the devotion of my grandmother, his wife of sixty three years and her own experiences in trying to maintain that love and dignity at the ends of their lives.
This is my prompt for you this Thursday: Write about your family, but don't go for the easy poem, the one about a parent or a sibling. Try to find someone in your tree, maybe branching even farther out from grandparent, to someone who has a story to tell--maybe write it as a persona poem, maybe as someone discovering a story, maybe simply a narrative. But tell a story from the annals of your own family history.