Over and over it yammers, gets answered at some distance, yammers once again as though it had thought of something new to say. The ceiling fan strains to comfort me as I kick the sheet off, tug it back up, kick it off again. The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln. The capital of Kansas is Tope caw caw caw caw caw cawcawcaw. At the window now I see them all, some stock still, others milling like early arrivals at a yard sale, the kind who pound your door before you get the chance to set anything up.
I turn to face the bed, the hallway beyond. How can she still be sleeping! Every book is the very best the author can create at one point in time. Mine represents thirty-five years of pretty steady study and Engagement in the craft of poetry. How do you approach a book of poems? I study the cover art which may be very pleasing in itself. I encounter the typography and overall production somewhat passively, I must confess, then advance to the back cover or fly-leaf blurbs. Biographical material about the author may be of interest, depending on our critical tendencies.
Some readers may sample poems in the various sections of a volume. Being locked into narrative tendency, I find it best to start at the beginning. Infrequently I start at the end and work backwards. This may be out of laziness or contrariness. With more lyric poems it may matter very little. Those obsessed by puzzles, games and mystery novels may try to figure the reasoning behind poem groupings in the sections of the book and the naming of these sections.
They may or may not succeed. It probably will not matter. Like the poems, like our children for that matter, we do not own the books we write. They pass through us, but they belong to the world for better or for worse. No, say others: it is taught more and better than ever before, and written more as well. What makes poetry novel and irreplaceable in the creative arts? It follows tradition. With great concision it conveys mystery and surprise.
It liberates imagination from the shackles of story. These features will be found in prose fiction, memoir and biography as well, but there is something uniquely primordial in poetry that will never be attained in any other form. Poetry will live on as long as language survives. You will find many more examples in this book. They are yours. Hopefully, they will touch you, and above all please.
Bruce Pratt's Boreal. An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music. I am a relatively happy person, in fact, more so than I have been at many times in my life, and am writing more poetry now than at any point save for my late teens when I churned out reams of stream of consciousness prose and poetry without stopping to consider whether or not it was any good.
It is also fair to say that I am a bit of an accidental poet, as I devote more of my time to short fiction. This has led friends and students to ask me whether I consider myself a short story writer who writes poems or a poet who writes short stories. I answer honestly that I am at a loss to see what the difference is. All writing is a mixture of ego and inspiration tempered and humbled by grinding hours of revision and doubt.
One per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration, as the saw goes. My friend, the songwriter and novelist, Bill Morrissey, points out that a musician may get ten or fifteen years to gather enough good songs for a first album, honing them over time in the clubs and bars while discarding the duds and polishing the gems, but once the album is released, faces the daunting task of creating another dozen songs in the next year for the follow up recording.
A poet who manages only two or three poems a year risks being forgotten between books. For me, songs came in bunches, and I find that poems and stories do as well. What is important to me is to always have work in progress, regardless of the genre. I may work on new poems and stories the same day, or on revisions of each almost simultaneously. My greatest fear is to have nothing in the works. I find the prose and poetry processes to be similar. The main difference is that short stories begin with a character or characters, while poems spring from smaller moments, more concise visions.
In this way poems tend to come to me like stream of consciousness or interior monologue, one spark leading to another. Poetry gives me an outlet or opportunity that contemporary fiction allows me less frequently, and that is to explore lyricism. Contemporary poetry embraces vocabulary with a fonder zeal than contemporary short fiction.
One need only read the vacuous slice of life prose that clogs the pages of the few national rags that still print fiction to see what I mean. It bores the hell out of me. Working on poetry makes me a better fiction writer, more concise, more evocative, and from fiction I have learned the importance of structure, which, I believe, improves my poetry.
Lately, I have been trying to put to good use some advice I learned from Baron Wormser. He says that he often reads poems that seem unfinished, as if the poet were content to get enough of the job done to get on to the next thing. An emptiness is left behind.
I am endeavoring to learn how to stay with the task to the end. In short, I am delirious to be here and grateful to Antrim House for allowing me into such a grand and accomplished family. Jocelyn Sloan's Geisha. This is a portrait of Jocelyn Sloan painted by Ann Scoville when she and her husband Pete Scoville were in Rochester during the 's, when Pete was affiliated with the University of Rochester:. And here is a letter Jocie Sloan wrote to the editor-publisher of Geisha, during the days when he and she traded poems at East Avenue.
In it are some interesting stories about her youth, and of course the spontaneous style of the letter is very Jocie. Bob Jacob's Perspective. I have noticed that some people shy away from the word "hospice" because of what it represents to them. Yet in reading to literally thousands of hospice patients and their family members over the past seven years, I have learned that they are filled with love and sometimes humor. Many openly share that love and hard-earned wisdom in the poems presented in Perspective.
The poems also provide an inside look at hospice life, in particular the work of nurses and volunteers. Hopefully this poetry collection will help attract others wanting to further that remarkable work, which is repeated at hospice locations everywhere. Propped against pillows, extremely thin and frail, motionless except for her pale blue eyes which follow my approach to bedside to ask if she would like to hear some loving words, and as I lean in close a barely heard yes. I read "Just For Today," a poem which prompts us to ask God's blessings and mercy one day at a time.
She nods, whispers, "Beautiful. Sensing one more poem might be her limit I read six lines by Raymond Carver ending with his fulfilled wish To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth. I lean forward to hear her soft words say, "I used to stand in front of a mirror and ask for that. I gently hold her hand as she catches her breath. Divorced him 20 years ago. Haven't seen him since. She closes her eyes, sighs. I ask if I may kiss her. She smiles. The street I was raised on in Queens, New York City was an arrow going nowhere, a street of laborers, and blue collars making the rent for two story railroad flats.
Not a car in sight in Elevated trains, subways a way of life. We children in Public School understood life's basic foundation. You want something? Go earn the money for it. The lucky ones like me had aunts, uncles, grandparents within walking distance, always there, human bricks, their lives a constant struggle, but their arms always open.
And therein lies the secret which I had to learn but is now totally understood after traveling the world, owning small cars, big fancy cars, small houses, big houses, even a lovely inn:. Jim Pearce's Slant Light. Since this is a seminar, I will treat the following as a lesson on where the poetry in this book came from.
The only point that I am trying to make is that we should see clearly, within ourselves, the wellsprings from which our poetry comes. So I share what I have always known are the roots that form a basis of my approach to life and poetry. If you should ask me where my spiritual home is, I would have to say the vicinity of the Ohio Valley around Steubenville. This is where both of my parents came from and where some members of my family still reside. From time to time poetry was quoted at the supper table along with discussions of politics, etc.
Likewise, I remember a long conversation that my mother, grandfather and I had that stretched to 2 A. But home for me is not a place; it is who and what. Home is my wife, Janet, my family both biological family and married-into family and my old friends: some still here, some gone from sight.
Finally, it is in the words of the English language that I find a lasting home.
I revel in the sounds, cadences and the rich tapestry of my language: the golden lode of flexible, free form, always changing everyday language of America. At 72, I know that the souls I hold so close and I, myself, will soon travel down the swift river. But by this river I plant this book showing that I was here, that I loved life and mainly saw the light that dwells in its admitted great darkness.
From my parents and other family, I also see it in a somewhat jaundiced or slant way. Here I lay my analysis: usually not of me or my feelings but of what I see in life and how I see it always analyzing says my wife. The poems following are as varied as a paint store. A number reflect a great joy in the material world around me i. Joan Kunsch's Playing with Gravity and new work.
Here are some scribbles for a seminar-in-progress, though in my opinion I sound like a ballet teacher pretending to know something about being a poetry teacher. I think that whatever I do in poetry is instinctive, not knowledgeable. I have to let it possess me. I want to help others to get closer to poetry, but can only say this: read and write constantly, don't miss anything that goes on around you, observe with energy and put your whole imagination into whatever you are doing.
Help others to find something of themselves in what you are doing. And re-write, make your poem more direct, try to omit anything that is not strictly necessary. Often the renovation of a draft is as exciting a process as the initial writing, or more so. In order to rewrite, we need the gifts of distance in time, from the first draft ; of an editor or two whom we trust deeply; and of time, enough time to plunge ourselves into the writing and forget other influences and circumstances of life.
About translations… Translating poetry comes almost more easily to me than translating prose. I have never studied translation, but came to it as though it were inevitable, a part of my life's joy. The construction of individual words in Norwegian seems poetic all by itself. Interrelationship between dance and poetry: The best dance is cleared of all unnecessary movements. There is a clear line, a certain momentum, an elegance unless the role calls for other qualities.
Likewise in poetry, all unnecessary words should be eliminated to dart straight to a mood, a moment, a relationship, a revelation. I believe that poetry is the highest form for use of language, and dance is the highest form of human movement. As a choreographer, I have not often produced a ballet based on words without music; however, "CantaNeruda" was one such work, premiered in New York City and also performed in Binghamton, NY.
Interrelationships among dance, poetry and music: Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess" had appealed to me for a long time as a source for choreography when I heard a piece of music that showed me scenes from the ballet-to-be, and also showed me how the young Duchess died, and what happened after her death. Night blizzard horizontal in its seventh hour hurtles north to south.
In a parallel dream or memory it is night in Istanbul. From a small restaurant balcony two friends gaze out over a plaza, where in pools of light beneath the lamp posts white-robed dervishes whirl a prayer spun through the night by humans in harmony with snows and with planets. Reflected on rain-glistened paving stones, lamplights of old Norway seem to float on their posts along an allee lined on either side with slender bare trees.
Up before first light I manage to stand still and pray before springing out in leggings and goose down under chill clouds to face a new landscape. Today adrenalin replaces breakfast because the dog team is waiting with yips and whimpers of trekking joy. As six Huskies bound forward the sled leaves the ground. It is now one can be sibling to spruce and the daytime moon, now the glaciers are family members, soon wolverine and bear might appear.
Brewed over a bonfire in snow, java runs like black lightning through the veins. A Howleluia tonight: Aurora Borealis. These are the most significant elements that influence my writing: a sense of connection with, and understanding of the natural world, and the numinous kinship I discover between "science" and poetry. I frequently draw metaphors from the world of nature. Attributes of its fauna, flora, and the dynamic interplay of life with environment provide me with subject matter directly, but also with imagery that I use in poems having focus elsewhere.
I am not an urban poet, because that is not my habitat. My writing stays within the frames of reference that are real to my own experience of them. I am not a "feminist" poet, and one will only infrequently read a political poem among my collections. This is not to denigrate any of the preceding, but only to say that my passions lie elsewhere. What reaches deep into me is: the poignancy of transience, the excitement of nature's inventiveness and profusion of expression, the mutability of all beings, myself included, and the implications of relationship.
Leaves unfurled within my veins when I first learned the properties of chlorophyll: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen configured 'round a ring whose center is magnesium. This society summer-dances along every twig, springs in tussocks, spreads platters green on ponds for frogs to squat upon, is harvested by vegetarians everywhere. Yet replace that atom central to each ring--magnesium, with one of iron and conjure hemoglobin-- the pigment running red in us. From The Comstock Review. Her second book, The Burning Bush Antrim House, , is a collection of essays and poems exploring the natural world in lyrical language and luminous vision.
Amid poems of tree and flower, we watch a marriage unwind, a new lover tease desire from river, wind, and flower. And we are caught up and transformed by these earthy, transcendent poems that glory in the beauty of our natural world and our responsive, desirous bodies. Now we have Stirring Shadows Antrim House, with its poems recounting the darker side of the world and its peoples. She relates and contrasts these to the wonders of the natural world.
She is a true visionary and a strong necessary voice in the poetic world. His ashes, urned, rest upon a sturdy catafalque. Three sober youths stand alongside, each facing, across this bier, another like himself, dress-uniformed. Outstretched between them, the flag held taut— not the slightest tremble when twenty-one volleys crack the air, not the slightest tremble when Taps floats from an invisible bugle.
First triangle pressed lovingly upon his chest. Triangle in-folded again, again and yet again upon itself. His white-gloved palm strokes smooth each slightest wrinkle— his gesture, a tenderness for all who lie here, and will lie here. The stretched flag glides slowly from the hands of young Marines into that grave, gathering triangle.
Borne to the widow as if it were a child, the swaddled flag from bended knee, offered up. Refugee in our American kitchen, she recalled sour cream veal paprikas and exquisite tarts of apricot and prune; yearned for paper-thin palacsinta stacked with sweet pot cheese and yellow raisins, while her hands smoothed crocheted doilies over our maple table—doilies I watched unfurl their twined hearts and paired doves from the white thread wound past her fingers.
She spoke of aunts, uncles, cousins gathered at a Circassian walnut table furnished with crystal, antique silver, and Sabbath candles. I see again the tent stretched at noon over our guest room four-poster, and my old, otherworld grandfather, Nagyapa, lie down within that magic shroud, resting his congested heart while the tall, oxygen cylinder clicks time. Nagyanya wore a wide-brimmed hat, silk shielding skin white as pear blossoms. Spring —resurrected light was mellow on our kitchen table.
My father and his father listened to words of revelation from London. Nagyanya rocked in her chair, hearing her son translate ashen discoveries, the living dead. I feel like the Tin Woodsman, needing a shot of oil. My mom lived until she was eighty nine. As she entered her eighties, she fretted over the changes she saw in her physical appearance: skin becoming wrinkled instead of firm she called it prunish and the appearance of spider veins on her slender ankles. She retained good eyesight all her life, but became increasingly hard of hearing in her last fifteen years.
She resisted wearing a hearing aid. Mom and I were buddies, only twenty years apart in age. She lived in a country home and loved the world of nature. She and I were birdwatchers; often we strolled together through the nearby groves and meadows. We both delighted in the spring return of warblers, oriole, and tanager. Each April, we both sought to hear the clear ringing song of the Louisiana Waterthrush. I walk once more with you, mother, along this dirt road thirty years familiar, skirting pasture and woodlots.
The in-your-face maples have lost grip on scarlet and flame. Oaks bring out vintage burgundy, distillation so deep, its reds seem to glimmer into black light. Preceding us, a progression of flushes-- juncos and whitethroats disturbed from breakfast on poison-ivy berries-- and we slow our pace even more than your arthritis demands, so their alarms may be muted. Then you stop. About us, the small bustle of birds.
Pish-pish, pish-pish you whisper, and they come up from bushes, weed margins. Between us a prayer suspends, ambiguous as cobwebs not yet defined by dew: May you go like this, flutter of downy woodpecker at your breast, ruby-crowned kinglet's d-jeet in your ear. Now my once-taut integument pleats, sags, pouches, and lavender stencils my ankles.
Cheryl Della Pelle's Down to the Waters. In the quiet of winter, I had the opportunity to take an eight-week poetry workshop with seven other ladies. We met weekly at St. Michael's Church here in Litchfield. Jennie Mathieson, the pastor, kindly opened her doors to us and joined in the workshop as well. The thrill of writing new work was evident each week. Everyone embraced the assignments with enthusiasm and we all could barely wait for our turn to share.
We were given prompts by Nancy Miller, our facilitator, such as "death", "work", "surprise", etc. Winter's drear seemd to disappear and wa-la! Winter writing is a perfect way to celebrate the new year, new life and to give the winter blues a kick! Here is some of what I wrote:. Just when winter has quelled you and you stop knowing the word surprise an icy wind blows all night bringing to a half-buried raspberry patch three mylar balloons half-collapsed that have escaped the party like naughty children hopped up on cake.
Under snow slowly melting subterranean ovules in a dream-state held in suspension in the mind of the earth become restless. Flowering is the thought. Above-ground glory owes everything to the darkness to watery time and this unruly upward surge. Truman Capote said work not love is the most beautiful word.
With that in mind I order a darling, a dream Japanese pruning saw from a high-end tool catalog and count the days like falling leaves until the box appears on autumn's doorstep Packaging litters the linoleum floor and there inside the ravaged box lies the perfectly conformed casing like a hard exoskeleton with a dangerously honed saw red-handled and ready ensconced which I unsheathe and lock into position all 7 inches of blade bearing its teeth dying to bite into limbs and fell straight-backed saplings.
Matt Harris. Overload by Joyce Meyer. Annoying follow-up calls asking me when I will buy more of my own books. It maketh me to lie down on the sofa. Anna, I'm Taking You Home.
I fold the blade back, click it into the case and clip the saw onto my belt. I head for the woods like it was my birthday, cut like butter across the grain, know the backwards pull is the one with the most cut, let the tool work for me a woods woman on the trail who needs to make fire before dusk. Regardless of your belief system, be it religious, philosophical, scientific, or idiosyncratic, we live in a world that at times affirms our beliefs, at other times grinds them into grits.
Which I prefer with cheese and topped by an egg fried in bacon grease, over-medium. Heck, if we're honest, we ourselves, from time to time, carry on our own arguments with the things we believe, even though for x number of years we have built lives based on those very beliefs. My four Antrim books constitute a loose but disciplined conversation between what is I hope an open mind, my mind—a mind shaped by particular experience and beliefs—and the Psalms, a text regarded as sacred by at least two of the world's religions, Judaism and Christianity.
A text I grew up reciting or chanting in hundreds of religious services before I chose to stop attending them. In a way, my entire poem Antrim sequence is an extended ekphrasis, a long poem reflecting upon and turning attention back to a singular collection of art: really old, Middle Eastern song lyrics-in-translation I cannot read Hebrew for which we have lost the original tunes.
More important than how to classify the sequence, the three-year process of drafting the poems—from Psalm 1 to , a poem a week—allowed me hear, learn, quarrel with, and be formed by those texts all over again. Whatever you may believe, likely there's a tradition of art, literary or otherwise, that has evolved from the essential elements of your belief system.
Here's how I approached the task, beyond setting the goal of a newly drafted poem per week. I commend the approach as a potentially fruitful methodology, whether what you end up writing is an extended sequence or a brief lyric. Because an encounter with the sacred whether the Upanishads or Origin of the Species or Dr. Seuss or Leaves of Grass summons all of who we are to the encounter, I decided to lump my "all" into three "horizons" on which I would try to establish simultaneous attention and then bring that attention to the drafting process; the horizons being 1. The weekly process would begin on Sunday mornings with silence.
Having marshaled my all albeit never altogether wholly , I would then engage the week's Psalm, reading it slowly and, in the first day or two, again and again, journal in hand. I ruled out no possible direction for the emerging new poem. I worked with whatever I could collect by midweek and composed from the mess of imprecise thoughts and images something I could return to later when the drafting was done.
Sometimes a poem's connection to its triggering Psalm was evident; other times, well On the best of weeks I'd have a draft saved before going to bed Friday night so I could give the project a rest on Saturday. Then on Sunday morning I'd drop into silence and begin again. As a method, this may not work for you.
Heck, reading the poems of the sequence you may conclude that it didn't really work for me either. On the other hand, the discipline was extraordinarily valuable. It not only carried me over a major midlife career change but served to return me to the beauty and struggle of my faith.
Which, really, is not such a bad thing. Marilyn E. The primary genesis for Silk Fist Songs was losing a beloved father and older brother within a year and a half of each other, at age 88 and 57, respectively. In the Towers fell, my father fell. He died exhausted in May five years ago. While Dad sickened, the world outside swirled with anthrax scares, terrorism threats, and build-up to the Iraq war that staggered and demoralized us. At this time, my brother, Ken, a postman, hard-working father of two draft-age sons, suffered an intense recurrence of hereditary Crohns, an intestinal disease that had first flared up in and almost took his life after his tour in Vietnam in the late sixties.
He steadily worsened through all of and Later, he was diagnosed with cancer. He died tragically of Crohns and colon cancer in December My family was often subject matter. It was a bewildering corporate world I entered in and I was not ready. As a young person, writing helped me make a refuge and to negotiate the long process of developing a self against the pressures of an organization which simultaneously alienated yet, bizarrely, worked as a ground for much needed self-growth.
I had to see myself challenged and mastering life. Writing poems was a way of strengthening and hearing my own voice. For twenty years, I wrote mainly with no audience but the silent witness in beloved books. When I left Cigna in , I searched out other local poets and conferences and entered an exhilarating world of real life writing souls. I had to write it, save it, study it.
I saw their essence in a phrase, a hand gesture, a reminisence. Memories haunted me; images, patterns from the past came to the surface to be relived. Sometimes, unprecedented honest moments happened between us. Insights I could barely handle. Looking back on this now, I see it was a process of letting go, of reckoning up unfinished understandings. I needed to try to understand them before I could ever relinquish them if I have. I also had to understand myself. What kind of girl was it that my husband found in when he met me?
How did I get that way? How was I formed? By whom? Who was I now? Who would I become, without these men in my family, their supportive and challenging presences and voices? I felt I had to re-bond with them on some new footing. I lived backwards into time, wrote constantly, often in tears. A passionate momentum carried me. I searched memories, old photos, pulled out poems written long ago, revised them in light of the now wrenching experience of loss. Mourning has been the process of building a work of art that I hope is a testament to my love as well as a claim to my own character.
These compilations I drafted became the core of the book that Rennie McQuilkin helped me finish. In my forties, when I was attempting to shift from a long career in insurance to a life in poetry, I felt an inner clash. I wrote many poems trying to come to grips with this ideal, taking its measure, its full "weight" as legacy, both in terms of its hampering burdens and its positive gifts. What follows is a series of thoughts on particular poems, accompanied by ways of approaching those poems and possibly using them as springboards for your own writing.
This poem recounts a brief and subtle drama with two forces clashing in silence. Can you characterize each force and the nature of their conflict? What does the final image call up for you in your life? Idea for writing: Review old photos. Notice the clothes you were in. What were the subjective feelings of being inside those clothes? Describe those feelings and relate any memories that come back to you. In each poem, what can you intuit about the inner character from the depiction of actions?
What implications of relationship reverberate beyond the task at hand? Idea for writing: Make a portrait or self-portrait by describing the step-by-step operations of a daily task. Include details that can be seen as idiosyncratic to the particular doer. Close observations may allow you convey the essence of someone. How do your sympathies fall, facing each of these dramatic speeches? Idea for Writing: Invent a dramatic monologue, employing words and style of voice from someone in your own life or from history. Let a one-sided conversation imply the circumstances of the scene, setting, and situation.
How many senses are drawn upon in this poem? Do the images conjure insights about the experience and the characters? Idea for Writing: Put yourself back in a physical place and describe an experience there using details from as many senses as you can. Allow the reader to relive it with you and primarily let the sensory images speak for themselves. In each poem, define the oppositions coming into stark encounter. How does each confrontation resolve? Use third person narration, or narrate by directly addressing the other party—and follow, as you choose to, the stages of the show-down to the resolution or non-resolution reached.
What part does each play symbolically within the larger themes and narrative progression of this book? Idea for Writing: Find an object around the house, new or possessed many years. Describe it in detail. Let broader associations of the object flow out of the physical description, minimizing direct statements of its meaning.
Some poems depict an outing of two or more characters, e. Pinpoint the details of the setting and actions that carry awareness of a new vantage. Idea for Writing: Have you witnessed or felt a similar transformation in a new setting with someone? Let details of the setting carry the discovery of a perspective change. This is one of the thrilling aspects of my work as a poet and educator.
It is also part of my creative process. Again, many of the poems in this collection are a response to that question. I could have gone on much longer, but at that point the poem was beginning to make itself known. In the classroom, I frequently jot down comments the students make and included many of their voices in this performance piece. Then write. Sometimes the sun takes hours to shut down; I go slower.
In that expansion of a celestial tilting, I go slower. The Milky Way pushes its light years hulk once around each several hundred million years. From birthday to ceremony, season to remembrance, time alters its spaces. And the ducks cross Canandaigua Creek as they did when I was ten, counting them in their single line. The series starts with the fiery enormity of the visible sun and moves to the known but invisible hulk of the galaxy, then to the pedestrian nano event of days and repetition of seasons, and on to the ducks in a row crossing the inconsequentially named Canandaigua Creek.
Relativity occurs in the presence of the line of ducks with the light years pushing their hulks across the infinite universe. My neighbor has no children; she finds things to do. No one at my house misses me. This afternoon we plant radish seeds between her cold-frame box and the cellar door.
We dig up dots of earth and crush them into powder. Will the seeds disappear and never grow? Seeds need rain, but I'm afraid of rain when it rattles my attic bedroom window and lands just short of me. It seems okay to do without rain, but she explains rain matters and how to make do with what you have as you grow. Simplicity and clarity are the essential elements leading to statements of complex truths in poetry.
I tried to incorporate in that little story of planting radishes the various and opposed conditions of bland fact, of loneliness, of fear, of magic and of love. Bad luck crosses each path, even an open field. Grief meanders ahead; ill fates become sealed. Pain waits atop its web. Pray you can unravel a bandage, a row, a knot, a myth, or a battle. The triolet form in which a key line is repeated three times works well for communicating one point. The form proves that what is true combines all the clarity of what is brief and the complexity of what is obscure.
The best one can do is hope to survive the inevitable collision with disaster. I sometimes think I wasted my life trying to write poems. I wonder are the poems good enough to justify what I didn't do with my time and talents. I think I would have been good in a number of professions. And helpful. Then I think I have been provided a certain grace, or solace, to bear with all else life brings, providing I honor the gift I think I have. He asked the parrot what its name was. Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls. It happened again the next week!
The following Sunday, he watched as the offering was collected and saw an elderly woman put the distinctive pink envelope on the plate. This went on for weeks until the pastor, overcome by curiosity, approached her. How much does he send you? The village pastor was known for his weakness for trout. He loved trout and he loved to fish. The next day one of his members presented him with a fine string of fish.
The minister hesitated, gazed appreciatively at the speckled trout. And he accepted the gift. A few more definitions for words near and dear to the hearts of Christians everywhere:. Bulletin : 1 Something to read during the sermon; 2 a fan used in churches without air conditioning; 3 your receipt for attending church. Choir : A group of people who sing loudly enough to enable the rest of us to lip-sync all hymns.
Recessional hymn: The final hymn of a Church service; this hymn is usually the quietest of all hymns because so many parishioners have already left before it is sung. A cat and a mouse died on the same day and went up to Heaven. Three boys are in the schoolyard bragging about their fathers.
My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon. And it takes eight people to collect all the money! Johnny was on the way to church when he stopped by the corner store. An old man was on his death bed, and wanted to be buried with his money. He called his priest, his doctor and his lawyer to his bedside. I trust you to put this in my coffin when I die so I can take all my money with me. At the funeral, each man put an envelope in the coffin. The lawyer was aghast.
Three men died in a car accident and met Jesus himself at the Pearly Gates. If you tell the truth I will allow you into heaven, but if you lie…. Hell is waiting for you. I never cheated on my wife. Not only will I allow you in, but for being faithful to your wife I will give you a huge mansion and a limo for your transportation. A couple hours later the second and third men saw the first man crying his eyes out.
An elderly woman had recently died. Having never married, she requested no male pallbearers. In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service, she wrote …. After church, Johnny tells his parents he has to go and talk to the minister right away. They agree and the pastor greets the family. Johnson, a businessman from Wisconsin, went on a business trip to Louisiana. He immediately sent an e-mail back to his wife, Jean. Unfortunately, he mistyped a letter and the e-mail ended up going to a Mrs. Joan Johnson, the wife of a preacher who just passed away.
Bulletin— 1 Something to read during the sermon; 2 a fan used in churches without air conditioning; 3 your receipt for attending church. Choir— A group of people who sing loudly enough to enable the rest of us to lip-sync all hymns. Recessional hymn— The final hymn of a service; this hymn is usually the quietest of all hymns because so many parishioners have already left before it is sung. After a very long and boring sermon the parishioners filed out of the church saying nothing to the preacher. The pastor was thrilled. Well, it reminded me of the Peace of God because it passed all understanding and the Love of God because it endured forever!
This minister just had all of his remaining teeth pulled and new dentures were being made. The first Sunday, he preached only 10 minutes. The little boy was helping his mom around the house, and he left the broom on the back porch. His mother was cleaning up the kitchen when she realized that her broom was missing. She asked the little boy about the broom and he told her where it was. She then asked him to please go get it. A policeman pulls over a car full of nuns.
Silly me! Thanks for letting me know. At this point, the officer sees the other nuns in the car shaking and trembling. A man wanted to be buried with his money.
On his death bed, he called his pastor, his doctor and his lawyer to his bedside. A businessman was in big trouble. He had put everything into his business, and now it was failing. It was so bad he was even contemplating suicide. As a last resort he went to a priest and poured out his story of tears and woe.
Open the Bible; the wind will rifle the pages, but finally the open Bible will come to rest on a page. Look down at the page and read the first thing you see. That will be your answer, that will tell you what to do. A year later the businessman went back to the priest and brought his wife and children with him. The man was in a new custom-tailored suit, his wife in a mink coat, the children shining.
The businessman pulled an envelope stuffed with money out of his pocket, gave it to the priest as a donation in thanks for his advice. The priest recognized the benefactor, and was curious. The choir director became peeved when a buzzing insect distracted the singers during practice.
When it landed, she promptly squashed it. Two pastors were riding very fast on a motorcycle. What if you have an accident? Three people are not allowed to ride on a motorcycle. A Pastor in Florida lamented that it was very difficult to get his message across to his congregation. Jesus made a quick return to earth for a visit. He came upon a lame man, had compassion on him, and healed his leg.
Further down the road, Our Lord came upon a blind man, had compassion on him, and healed him. A little further down the road, Jesus came upon a man sitting on the curb sobbing his heart out. Jesus asked him what was wrong. An Irishman goes into the confessional box after years of being away from the Church. On the other wall is a dazzling array of the finest cigars and chocolates. Then the priest comes in. An unmarried guy decides life would be more fun if he had a pet.
So he goes to the pet store looking for something a bit unusual. He finally settles on a talking centipede, the kind that really does have a hundred legs. The next day being Sunday, he decides to take the centipede to church. A few minutes later he tries again. A tiny, bug-like voice comes out of the box. To prepare for his talk about global missions, the speaker had brought an inflatable globe the size of a beach ball. Misfortune struck when minutes before the talk his globe sprang a leak and deflated. An elderly couple were killed in an accident and found themselves being given a tour of heaven by Saint Peter.
Here is your oceanside condo, over there are the tennis courts, swimming pool, and two golf courses. As Bill was approaching mid-life, not only was he going bald, but he also had a large pot belly. The last straw came when he asked a woman co-worker out on a date, and she all but laughed at him. Determined to change his life, he joined a gym, started eating right, and got an expensive hair transplant and new clothes. Six months later he asked his female co-worker out, and this time she accepted.
All dressed up for the date, looking better than he ever had. Is that you? A guy goes to a zoo and sees a gorilla with two books. The gorilla looks confused. One of the books is the Bible, the other Darwin. The guy asks the gorilla why he looks confused. It was just before Christmas and the magistrate was in a happy mood. A Sunday School teacher decided to have her 2nd grade class memorize Psalm 23, one of the most quoted passages in the Bible. She gave the children a month to learn the chapter. Although he practiced and practiced, he could hardly get past the first line.
The day came for the children to recite Psalm 23 before the congregation. The little boy was nervous. The visiting preacher was really getting the congregation moving. It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most generous givers in our church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed Someone Else would make up the difference. Someone Else was a wonderful person; sometimes appearing superhuman. Were the truth known, everybody expected too much of Someone Else.
I was forced to wash as a child. There are so many kinds of soap I could never decide which was right. I used to wash, but it got boring. I only wash on Christmas and Easter. None of my friends wash. People who make soap are only after your money. You know who he thought you were! Peter, and off flies the first priest. Peter, and the second priest disappears. They went to the nearest church, but only the janitor was there. When he stopped, he found the mower was purring nicely at idle and the seller assured him it ran great.
Satisfied, the preacher brought the mower home. But the next day he pulled the starter rope again and again, but it would not start, no matter what he tried. Finally he called the seller and accused him of deception. Several weeks later the pastor bumped into him again. This time the man wore a pair of kakhi slacks, penny loafers and a buttondown shirt. I looked so dang good I decided to go to the Episcopal Church instead. Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again.
He responds that he has faith in god and god will give him a miracle. With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grant me a miracle and I have been let down.
They were to bring their letter back the following Sunday. Wish you could have been there. Who was the greatest financieer in the Bible? He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation. Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible? She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet. When they saw a buck, all three of them shot at the deer simultaneously. But only one shot struck the buck, and an argument broke out on which of them had actually made the kill. A game officer came on the scene and, after examining the buck, settled the matter.
The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program. He then removed it from his shirt for the lad to examine. She holds the bulb and the world revolves around her. One to hold the diet cola and the other to get her accompanist to do it. One to change the bulb and three to pull the chair out from under her.
Other monasteries, they knew, had opened bakeries or wineries. Being English, however, they decided to open a fish-and-chips restaurant. The establishment soon became very popular, attracting people from all over. The flowers arrived and Joe read the card. The assisting minister asked what they were for.
Hip hip, hurray! The good news is that I am back. Tell them our lawn mower is broken. The choir sang beautifully and the Pastor preached the word of God profoundly. The congregation shouted and danced praised unto God. They had a really exciting time in The Lord. On the way home, the youngest son said. Pleased and surprised, her parents asked her why she came to that decision. Because he wanted to use the jokes again, he requested the reporters to omit them from any accounts they might turn in to their newspapers.
Several days later he returned. He sat down. How about you? The priest tops his 7 iron and dribbles the ball out a few yards. Read less. There are better things to do with your time. Forget dieting. Stop exercising. Waste of time. Watch more TV. Procrastinate more. Drink more alcohol. Start being more superstitious. Spend more time at work. Stop bringing food from home.
There are plenty of fast food restaurants. Take up a new habit. All three? I dreamt last night that I died and went to hell. He knew these men, his most trusted and valued friends, would quietly help him. The second pastor said that he too, had a secret vice — gambling. The third pastor confided that lust was a really big issue for him.
The fourth pastor announced that he also had a problem: gossip. Have faith — the Lord will watch over you. Only three people turned up to hear him preach. The pastor folded the note without reading it, then maintained a vigil until the wife arrived. On the day he arrived at the prison, he was greeted by a large group of prisoners waiting to hear him.
Then he would ask the blessing. However, his pride was quickly turned to humility…. The treasurer rolled her eyes. She carried the bill about the house and was seen sitting on the stairs admiring it. I managed to get a good job working for a pool maintenance company, but the work was just too draining. After many years of trying to find steady work I finally got a job as a historian until I realized there was no future in it. My last job was working at Starbucks, but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind.
It all became clear when the visitor realized the door was to the nursery. I anointed my skin with oil, My gas tank runneth dry; Surely my trailer shall follow me all the weekends of summer, And I shall return to the house of the Lord this fall. A: Only one — any more than that and it might seem like an ecumenical activity. Q: How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb? Q: How many Unitarians does it take to change a light bulb? A: Two. One to write a solemn statement which will affirm that: This light bulb is natural, a part of the universe, and evolved over many years by small steps.
And we seek for each light bulb the fullest opportunity to develop itself to its full electrical potential. Q: How many missions magazine editors does it take to change a light bulb? Q: How many atheists does it take to change a light bulb? Q: How many Quakers does it take to change a light bulb? A: Ten to sit around in a circle until one feels an inner light. Q: How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Thirteen — one to change the bulb and 12 to sit around talking about how much they miss the old bulb. Q: How many creationists does it take to change a light bulb? Q: How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb? A: If God has predestined the light bulb to shine, it will change itself. Q: How many Brethren does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Change? What is this change you speak of? Q: How many campfire worship leaders does it take to change a light bulb? A: Just one, but soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. Control yourself! I got religion!!! Choir: A group of people who sing loudly enough to enable the rest of us to lip-sync all hymns. Recessional hymn: The final hymn, and usually the quietest of all hymns because so many parishioners have already left before it is sung.
Ushers: The only guys in the church who still do not know the actual seating capacity of a pew. Relics: Older members who still remember when to sit, stand, and kneel during worship. Peter explained. You were a real pane. While on the operating table she has a near death experience. During that experience she sees God and asks if this is it.
God says no and explains that she has another 30 years to live. Upon her recovery she decides to just stay in the hospital and have a face lift, liposuction, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, etc. She even has someone come in and change her hair color. She walks out of the hospital after the last operation and is killed by an ambulance speeding by. They humanely trapped them and released them in a park at the edge of town. The Lutherans had the best solution. But then I got to be 95, then , then So I figured that God is very busy and must have forgotten about me …..
He said He wanted them to list everyone who had ever been born and all the good and bad things that each had done since the beginning of time. They all said they could do that and so they sat at their keyboards for hours, then days and weeks. Finally they were almost done when there was a power failure in heaven and the computers all went off. Only seconds later the lights came back on and all the computers started to re-boot. There was much crying and gnashing of teeth and pounding of keyboards as this happened.
Down at the end of the table sat Jesus with a big smile on His face. Why was Jesus smiling amongst all this dismay? Jesus Saves! The man agreed, and the pastor came back that afternoon with the clothes. I looked so durn good I went to the Episcopal church! Matthew So she looked it up.
If it rains, it will be held in the morning. The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession. A cookbook is being compiled by the ladies of the church. Please submit your favorite recipe, also a short antidote for it. The senior pastor will be away for two weeks. The staff members during his absence you will find pinned to the church notice board. Please use the back door.
Ushers will eat latecomers. Please bring your husbands. The vicar is on holiday until the 27th. Local clergy will be celebrating on the Sundays when he is away. Bradford was elected and has accepted the office of head deacon. We could not get a better man Are you 45 and getting nowhere? Why not consider the Christian ministry? It maketh me to lie down on the sofa. It leadeth me away from the Scripture. Less public examples of social issues are also subject matter here. Domestic violence is a recurring theme, as are the losses of jobs and homes, and the various forms of post-traumatic stress of soldiers returning from war.
Presumably these are the dates of composition, and any dates omitted are dates on which Portolano was not inspired to write. Several dates are represented by multiple pieces. A few of the poems reach back into history for their subject matter, including a poem that imagines Dr. This arrangement by date explains what might otherwise seem to be unusual sequencing choices. The coyotes are not interested in the human being and give him no reason for his fear of them. They proceed to a golf course where they hunt rabbits to take back to their young.
Though many of the poems emphasize loss or suffering, others present poignant and caring moments. If was an important year in terms of public events, these poems tell us it was also a year of wide-ranging personal emotions. One of the great strengths of a Charles Portolano poem is that it is timely. Far too often, poets produce works that are good but not for this moment.
Portolano does not disappoint the reader with his most recent book, The little, lingering, white, lies we allow ourselves to live with. The poems are topical, precise, and timely. The little, lingering, white, lies we allow ourselves to live with is a collection for the moment, this moment, this here-and now.
Ours is not an era where the poet can silently and poetically reflect on the joys of a quiet stream moving through a meadow. This book also includes scenes of travel from his retirement. The sense of discovery—of a new place, of a new lover, of a new season—transports the reader fluidly from line to line, poem to poem in this collection, the way water moves in and out of the imagery in the poems.
Each poem is written in free verse, most without rhyming, and the line length varies with ease, sometimes shifting into prose poetry. The first three sections introduce themes used as images in the last three sections, while the middle section transports the reader from reflections on leaving a place, settling in a new one, to traveling somewhere else. Potent reassessments emerge when unlikely threads are woven together. This friendly daybook serves up pocket wisdom, starting with "Truth" and concluding with "Celebration.
Go dig in the dirt. Walt Whitman was one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century, whose mysticism, lyricism, and great heart made him beloved by many. They worked their way into my body. I have gone back to many of her poems and found more of the otherness they possess; her use of animals —— fox, geese, deer, pelican, dogs and horses et al —— helped me to understand more.
Their sweetness ruins me; their mixture of pain and pleasure terrifies me, because what she writes about is truth, and truth is almost indefinable, since everyone has his own history and beliefs; everyone feels he has right on his side. This is foremost a book of poems about all living things and all things that have lived. It concerns reconciliation, an accounting. The narrative thread is in the weave of their forms: incantations, allegories, concrete prose poems, stories; all done with the feel of an artist who uses the broad sweeps of her brush to create a pastiche that is both historical and personal, fictional and fantastical; a certain cursive movement of language that entices the reader.
Follett allows the travelers in her poems to act out their own tales in their own ways and gives the reader the sense that the characters, real and imagined, are receptive and reflective, and most of all vulnerable. She is acutely aware that her prophetic words make it difficult to answer the questions she poses. Follett gives her poems a voice that is direct and wry. The collection is a journey through its six sections. I found that by putting the section titles together, one discovers an overview of this work that can be read as a coda, as follows:.
This is the enemy. This, the invincible foe. The poet says, violence is wasteful, terrorism is wasteful, both are wrong. And from section to section there are several weaves —— i. In this book Follett attempts and I believe, succeeds to take a new approach to the longstanding questions and their answers, about all our longfelt and heartfelt needs. By any standard, the poems as they face each other from one page to the next are fascinating; they exude wit and humor, suffering and endurance, courage and tenacity.
What they do not evince, from first poem to last poem, is cowardice. How to call this home. Mindy Kronenberg, Editor mailto:cyberpoet optonline. This collection is difficult in the manner of much modern poetry; much indeed of the very best. It recalls styles practiced by poets like Pound or Ashbery: elliptical, fragmented, personalized, ambiguous, with missing referents, elusive meanings and seemingly random geographical or temporal settings.
But if poetic abundance is an indication, Mr. He swims out to steal fish from gulls, gill-netters and pleasure boats. Who will want me now? Keeper of rock, oasis in space. And we close as the father, standing in the cockpit of a warplane over the Aleutians , exults in his freedom: you leaned into the ear of the pilot a low whistle, a sigh, a breath, laughing on the air. Hopefully the foregoing is sufficient to give the reader some of the flavor of this highly idiosyncratic poet. There are many poems that sing the sensations of childhood.
I can confidently recommend Moonlight in the Redemptive Forest as both a notable instance of postmodern style and an extraordinarily rich quarry of poetic invention. No compass is needed to walk through Michael Daley's forest. The way may be difficult, but only through the indirect light of the moon. Daley's quest in history proceeds almost in a straight line through history of family, people affected by history, and the poet.
Its forest, a confessional of sorts, may indeed be a redemptive. Daley, an accomplished poet, with five books and chapbooks of poetry, combines narrative and lyric. A revealed detail or person becomes more fully realized or understandable only further into the poem, or in some cases, another poem. The connections are lyrical. True, too, of William Gaddis' epigraph from The Recognitions, with betrayal and history in the light of the moon and fog.
At the Jewish cemetery the puppet seller, in Christmas sudden freeze her knuckles raw, alarmed when young American women cough in the street, called these headstones the oldest chiseled rock in Europe. Who gets the money? We can't pay back their dead. The difficulty Daley's poems, lies in the density of the tale, its elusive history, unhinged syntax, our uneasy connection among pronouns and characters, and its heady metaphors. Difficult, though, doesn't mean incomprehensible.
This first long poem firmly establishes Daley's storytelling style. Loosely connected tales, as Daley titles them, compose the second section of bad experiences nightmares and youth's development wet dreams. Before the groceries and laundry, the inarticulate nails and stubborn lumber took the balance of Saturday, they wanted the moment to pass as if a silk had been draped over their gaze while morning was abandoning the long grass out the window, pocketing the day's portion of light in the blackberry thicket while she looked into the tiny pool of her teacup, and his palm smoothed the shifting grain of the table.
A difficult yet revealing section, "Wake," recounts a family history from early 20th century Boston, and centered on waking of the poet's great grandfather whose story is told in a page poem, "Frankie The Milkman's Song. She was voyolated, wasn't she. She had lain with the husband of her sister. Within the poem's sea of pronouns and characters, and its indirections and withholdings, The child was raised not by her birth mother, but by the betrayed sister, the mother of the poet's mother. The last section, "Meat," has important, meaty poems, that sing, like Whitman, of suffering brought about by wars and conflicts.
In "The Fire Storm," a multi-sectioned poem that ends the volume, we move through the fires of our history Mai Lai. And to the art of Art Riggs, whose peaceful and monochromatic photograph of branches along a river wraps around the entire book. The last stanza, a couplet, ends with these words of inspiration and contemplation, Soon, I hope snow will come. What follows are poems of loss and loneliness. This is not confessionalism; these are the day to day happenings that we recognize in ourselves, because Stephanie Mendel writes about the universal, she writes to and for the reader.
We become a part of her joys, her hopes, her love, and, yes, the tragedies of her life. These poems feed the heart as surely as blood in the veins feeds the body. The opposites of satisfaction and deprivation strengthen both the body and the spirit. The unhappy and joyous parts of all our lives are celebrated in these songs and poems.
The poet raises her voice, and says that each day will become smaller, a reminder of the ones we have loved and lost; that each day there will be minutes that no one else can find. We become a choir. The breath inside the body itself. They are discernible and solid.
She relives, relates, and tries to comprehend the terrible acts committed on this day and how it affected all of us; not just in America but throughout the whole world. She recalls the conversations between relatives and friends. The phone calls. The ringing and ringing. How we all struggled to return to some kind of normalcy.
Carmi who wrote about an equally difficult time in Israel and Lebanon that took place forty years earlier.
I know what will transpire; I know her beloved husband John is going to die. I say to myself, I will read these last poems slowly. I read all the poems straight through, almost in a rush. Line breaks and stanzas blurred. I said out loud in a soft voice, No! Then as I promised myself, I re-read each poem with care; let the weight of what they held coalesce. I find it interesting that Bare Branches comes after her first collection, March, Before Spring, seamlessly,and can only believe that there is yet another book to come that will complete a trilogy.
From reawakening to dormancy, where the life cycle is temporarily stopped, to the predictive; before the onset of an adverse condition occurs, to the consequential, to understanding. It is, I think, both. It is the constant reminder of time passing. He volunteers at convalescent hospitals reading poetry to the residents and they in turn recite poetry back to him. Eugene Ruggles had an intensely expressive gift for opening his mind to vivid imagery and apt metaphor. It was as if he made and lost himself in a single gesture, like a waterfall. It is no accident that water s occurs twenty times in The Lifeguard in the Snow, fifty-eight times if we include cognates like river, sea, and rain.
The place that holds the water even as it falls is a pair of cupped hands, making Ruggles the Poet of Hands. Ruggles finds and expresses his meanings in the simplest physical gestures, often though not always involving hands. This presence extends to the elements in physical contact with him, the weather, the land, the quality of light, the time of day, seasonal affects: She has placed the wind about me like a shirt without a seam, and told me that the words like men, should have weather in them. Alec Guinness is eloquent by his very presence. A person can speak with his entire physical body and mind.
So Ruggles writes in the title poem of The Lifeguard in the Snow: Watching those young children all last summer Has folded this black sunburn through my chest— A small girl water carved out of my arms forever. It is the way we speak to ourselves, in incomplete sentences, unmindful of grammar, when we feel something deeply. The lover embraces the beloved, his arms like the rain about [her] . Of the twenty-nine poems in Part I of The Lifeguard, all but the final poem have at least a few, often several, of the cognates for weather——water, rain, snow, wind, light or sunlight , and various cognates for the physical body——body bodies , hand, thigh, arms, bones, earth.
In The Lifeguard as a whole, body and its cognates—bones, heart, eyes, fingers, shoulders, stomach, ankle, waist, skin, thighs, chest, face, arms, hair, blood, and especially hands, occur an astounding times. A full November moon. And my hand a yard turning dark. The poor in prayer are ecstatic as the fingers of an old baker of loaves who is brushing the last flour from his apron. In other poems, Ruggles sometimes stumbles, losing control of his image. Chain all pregnant women together to form a circle in every town and aim rifles at their stomachs.
Do not let the women know the rifles are empty. I am not sure what to make of this. Ruggles seems to lose his sea legs; ashore, he cannot quite make his way. Ruggles can still astound, even as he gropes for subject matter, once he returns to his core themes. I quote it in full: I feel strongest alone.
Removed, late at night. I listen to the dark healing between us. When it has finished covering the last opening, where the skin belongs,. I empty into sleep, into many. A crutch, the oar of a pencil tied in my hand with rope, growing back toward all of you. In the times of Eugene Ruggles, with the Vietnam War still a foul taste in the mouth, and when to be a man was not to be a warrior, but still to guard and protect, the failure to do so could mark a life, a body of work, and perhaps an era, as well.
Swimming the Eel is due out later this year. She lives in Berkeley, California. Delicately crafted poetry can appear to shimmer gently, as if what is not there and said is trying to surface constantly beneath the words that do appear anchored to the page, bumping up against the letters impatiently and making them bob to and fro with hidden meaning.
A poet chooses his or her language to represent all those concealed connotations, sounds, rhythms and colours. Each word is a delegate, there to stand for a hundred or perhaps a thousand others, their constituencies a whole chapter of life or lore. That is why economy, well managed, can speak so voluminously. It is a rare talent, and one that the publisher Trafford has thankfully recognised. Pain and desolation emanate throughout, and the poet takes refuge for a loss so keenly felt in memory, in God, in his own beautiful verse. Throbbing uniquely, uniquely understanding, following the beat, freshness, watercolor eyes of the city.
In the mildness of his time, he condenses - as if it were a memorandum - the complex and coarse substance that flows or bursts from the human species. Boyd and Cresevich have certainly done immense justice to this heritage, with translations that are both accurate to the register and alive with the sentiment expressed in the original.
Keith Holyoak, whose fine translations of classical Chinese poetry appear in Measure and as a book length collection Facing the Moon: Poems of Li Bai and Du Fu , defies expectations by his scientific credentials as Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles , and by his strict use of meter and rhyme in this, his first collection of original poems. This volume contains many very fine, extraordinary poems, even if in a few poems, he shapes the poetic line into rhyme patterns or metric schemes that seem to tame his own expressive ferocity, the minotaur of his title poem.
Years before, he had given them refuge during flood. We got a place To sleepfield for the cows, shed for the people. We mostly needed just a warm dry space. Holyoak touches on this point in a final stanza, in which we seem to hear Harry speaking to himself in his final moments,. The first climbers to pass the young man leave him there,. Here, the rhythms hold to the natural rhythms of English speech. The results can be slightly flat and archaic.
On his poetry website, Hokyoak mentions this debt, along with his debt to Frost. But Frost is the poet who hovers over the most powerful of these poems; with Frost, Holyoak shares the gift of finding the moral veins in the surface and activity of nature. My Minotaur is an ambitious first book. Like a translation from a classical ideal, Holyoak echoes other poems from an earlier tradition of English language poetry. His impressive gifts give him a place among our poets. If his professional commitments to the science have excluded him from a certain creative friction and entanglement with other poets and writers inside and outside of academia, this is most unfortunate, and a loss both for Holyoak, and for the free verse poets who have much to learn from him.
Swimming the Eel is due out this year. She lives and writes in Berkeley, California. Leblanc Xlibris Corporation Orders Xlibris. Leblanc is poetry written between and , but is the culmination of a full lifetime of experiences. These are poems reflecting observations on life spiced with philosophy and rare insights not often considered or published.
It is poetry that comes from the soul of a good man who believes life should be lived with a live and let live attitude. His god, like that of Thomas Paine, is found in nature from which we came and shall return. This poetry is a good and satisfying read that will be enjoyed by the reader who is not afraid to face life in the raw, one found in human nature. Raoul LeBlanc has journeyed through life without flinching at the rough and tough experiences he encountered along the way.
LeBlanc has some good advice on facing death without fear, something that many people in their 80s think about. Nowadays many people publish poems in one or two books that capture something of their lives in this millennial turning point. I think of these books as dwellings where the poets live and express their emotional and intellectual lives. As readers, thanks to the relative ease of publishing, we can tour the different neighborhoods that have grown up and see how people are thinking and feeling. Richard Kovac has written one such book, Untitled. He understands his strengths and limitations as a poet.
Rather than playing with language, indulging in complicated metaphysics, or erupting, like so much modern and post-modern poetry, from an subconscious dream world, these short poems take a clear moral view. Her first full-length collection, Swimming the Eel, is due out this year. She lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dumpty , which chronicles in keenly perceptive ways the breakdown of a husband and a marriage. Indirectly, in thoughtful, sometimes humorous, sometimes sardonic ways, they inculcate virtue without seeming to insist or dictate.
Jacqueline Berger, a San Francisco poet and winner of numerous literary prizes, is one poet who succeeds very well in the loosely defined genre I am describing here. Facing the loss of her mother, she says:. She warns us, early on in the book, of the limitations of language. Using a concrete narrative in a classroom, she asks us to think about an abstract idea—and suggests that language will fail us if by success we mean reprieve from the inevitable .
In these sophisticated poems, details of a story or incident are hewn away to emphasize a blend of moral, psychological, philosophical and spiritual truth. Moderate and sensible where love and marriage are concerned, Berger shares a willingness to acknowledge the eddies and flurries the mind inevitably undergoes in its zen-like way while the body is being faithful. Berger goes into a Proustian interlude with her hometown, where. Berger avoids the rarified verbal strata of John Ashbery or Milton, an atmosphere only a few can abide. The rest of us take in the quips, allusions, metaphors and slogans around us the way we breathe——naturally, almost without effort.
Some of this verbal culture entertains, some of it influences behavior—and changes the culture. The moral nature of the material delicately shapes the contours, the line and stanza breaks as the poem scrolls down the page——reflecting and confirming certain aspects of American culture——individual, tolerant, skeptical, organically shaped and evolving. Zara Raab writes about the fault lines between city dwellers and the poor, rural towns, people to the north.
She lives and writes in San Francisco. Ordinary Mourning, which takes its title from a Victorian stage of grief, is much taken with 19th Century Spiritualism and with ghosts, particularly ghosts as they appear on the lonely stretches of prairie in the middle of America. These are simple narratives in a mild, unambitious style, the descriptions rendered lightly, often deftly. Some encounters are spooky, others more banal. The unvaried tone offers the book a kind of unity, as if it were one long poem, but in the end flattens the texture and saps the poems of vitality and verbal surprise.
As an artistic conceit of resurrection, what does Ordinary Mourning tell us about our lives? Shipers has a well-controlled, light touch, but the poems sometimes let in more hilarity than she intends. And in the best poems, she reveals the talent Frost had for finding darkness. I begged the poison from our priest. This collection of his original poetry, by the translator of the shorter poems of Du Fu and Li Bai, is highly to be recommended, not only for the general high standard of the work, but for the variety of style and skill displayed in it throughout, from the twelve pages in terza rima bringing life to a nightmare the poet had suffered, about the collapse of society into violent anarchy, to such pithy, effective short pieces as The Happy Trout , ten couplets describing the enjoyment of a fish in the last moments of life, caught by the angler but still in the water, not aware of impending death by suffocation.
Chen , presenting the death of an elderly woman and her husband weeping for her, with two cleverly-inserted six-line stanzas expressing how, as very young adults, they first realized that they loved each other. In this period of intimate, personal American poems, tending toward dramatic monologues or dream reenactments, it is a relief to discover a poet who uses rhetoric as unabashedly and skillfully as Bruce Cohen. I like my chicks.
I appreciate a gal who knows the difference between lay and lie but keeps it to herself, confident enough to pick up hitchhikers, order a beer and a bump at a dive that smells like sour urine and sawdust, who is way too good at pool and has no qualms about asking for a fist full of quarters and shaking her moneymaker over to the juke box. Do you like Tony Bennett? Curious how lonely the lonely have to be to respond , the narrator wonders,. Develop compassion? Dear Mrs. In certain poems, Cohen is skittish about delving too deeply into a story or committing himself to a narrative.
Your phone ringing in the middle of night might be your imagination. Her Book of Gretel came out this spring. His first full-length collection, Swimming the Eel, is due out in Although Mun Dok-su is a poet in his eighties, he is still writing fearlessly, as evidenced by his latest epic, one that is reminiscent of other epics: Wasteland in particular , Ulysses, etc.
The poet is not afraid to experiment with poetic form as commented on by other literary critics and poets. By bearing the burden of the disorders and conflicts in life, he is able to rescue meaning from those experiences. And that is the achievement of his life as reflected in the writing of the poem. In seeking meaning from those experiences, the poet must explore the appropriate form in language and poetry to give expression to the subject. Like the visual artist who begins his painting with an idea or concept, the poet and the artist must make a decision about the medium that will best develop the idea.
It must have been quite a challenge but Mun Dok-su assumed the task. His references to other works, to other writers and to other realities can be viewed as a great adventure. The adventurer, whether in life or in literature, will encounter despair, death and uncertainties before he can make a new beginning that is hopeful and humanistic. The poem can be enjoyed on various levels. Its montage of historical, mythological and spiritual elements gives it the dimensions of the epic. Its unstructured form is so like modern life itself.
We are given roles or expected to take actions that may be antithetical to the values we hold dear. He is the one who goes from generation to generation, fulfilling his daily task of delivering the mail, allowing us to communicate with each other. As a member of our communities, our postman lives by the mores of the community.
In one sense, our postman has no real identity. He is nameless but he goes about his job delivering the mail, regardless of rain or shine. He is mostly passive, just as we are, but then events beyond his control force him to confront evil and death. By giving his postman the identity of the kind and loving Joseph Roulin, Mun Dok-su brings the postman to life in a narrative that we trust. He does this with clear images of the effects of war on the human body and the human spirit.
Streams of history and mythology weave themselves throughout the poem. The images of war are both historical and contemporary. Although his war experiences are a pivotal part of the narrative, the poet approaches it in an historical context. The narrative also reminds us of the irrational division of countries that leads to further conflict.
Even cities have been divided, as Berlin was. It is significant that Korea figures large in the poem as it points up what happens to those countries caught in the vice of larger forces and their lust for power. The poet leaves the blood in the language, unlike our current military and political leaders who use abstract and obfuscating language and euphemisms to describe modern warfare collateral damage , extraordinary rendition , enhanced interrogation , etc.
The images in Part 2 Oarsmen with scenes from the 16th century battle against the attempted Japanese invasion to the 20th century Korean War are graphic. Rosary-like beads of sweat form, circle necks fold by fold. One soldier gasps right under your chin, his heavy M1 slips as if about to fall from his grasp then a whip emrges from somewhere like lightening, urging him on. And the poem continues: Those helmets with their thin metallic sound—are they safe? They were camouflaged with grass, leaves and branches. A rifle in one hand, a machine gun tied over their shoulders, grenades hung from their breasts.
Climbing up and down hills and slopes, stamping on them like stone so-called foot soldiers scaling heights amidst shells pouring down like rain, who are they with a name like that? Are they sons of those who fought off the invasion in the s? The descriptions of war continue in Part 3: Token of Fire with the mortars screaming as they ride across the sky and soldiers dive into trenches.
Death is there to greet them from submachine guns, bayonets, grenades. To Death, South and North are no different. In Part 4: the poet revisits the DMZ: So land and nation are divided in two, divided at the waist, families separated, severed, a vortex of pain, grief, bitterness, tears that like clouds know nothing of North and South. Cranes lay eggs in nests, on high pine-tree branches, squirrels, boars, hares frolic and play, in green groves the pale bodies of deer gleam occasionally, this DMZ inside its tangles of barbed wire.
In Part 5: Moderato, the pain from his war injuries leaves him in a state of suspension. What was it all for? In Part 6: Now, Here, the narrator, or the poet, speaks for all mankind. He sees generations of robots as the future mechanism for war. We are seeing technological weapons, including drones, being used today in the Middle East with tragic results.
The late Howard Zinn warned us against the technological fanaticism that we are witnessing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza, and we can expect to see in Iran. On another level we acknowledge that soldiers themselves are used as robots in our modern and post-modern wars. And it is the civilian population and the civilian infrastructure that are targeted in modern warfare, whether by robotic devices or the heavily armed soldier wading though the dust with his two feet or breaking down doors to invade the home of a terrified family.
How do we recover and keep our humanity in the face of dysfunctional society and modern warfare? His free use of imagery in the conscious and the subconscious supports his cognizance of the impact of technology for good or bad. It is the poet who bears witness to the horrors of modern warfare and that witness takes us a small step closer to our redemption.
Mun Dok-su is the postman delivering a message to us. His recreation of a wasteland demonstrates just how destructive is modern warfare and how dehumanizing modern technology can be. Even with all our PCs, TVs, air-conditioning, cell phones, and robots, there is salvation in life itself. The egg is the beginning of life in the womb.
The satchel contains the letters with messages for us so that we can communicate with each other, regardless of distance. The poet reinforces the gift of life in water, as in rivers. Rivers can divide us and unite us. We can love each other and our children. In the end the poet returns us to where it all begins.
Life itself. Turning from the heartaches and joys of fatherhood in Tidal Air , Byrne, in Seeded Light , now addresses themes from nature——moonrise on water, a storm at sea or in a mountain meadow, a wild canyon tributary, night skies in Colorado, where the poet is engaged, and at times beset:.
Rich, shaded, and subtle in texture, with second lines often bleeding into the next couplet, these open couplets expand meaning, encouraging the reader to follow.
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The rhythm and movement of the lines, the stately, loose-limbed rhythms of the pentameter, mime a strolling gait. As the day retracts its light, invites still colder weather, from the warmth of our bedroom. Such sap-filled sighs are likely to escape the reader of these wonderful poems, just warm and heartening enough for one well attuned to winter. Ford StudiosIcopelin gmail. Curated by Michael C. Ford, the DVD is a feast of memories of poets, their friends and two members of the Rexroth family who also read from the works of Kenneth Rexroth.
The passion and feelings of the poet are mirrored through the voices of the participants. Several of them gave credit to Kenneth as a personal mentor. His widow, Carol Tinker, and his daughter, Mariana Rexroth, a spark of fire off the old genius in her performance, were there. Michael C. Ford did a marvelous job hosting this fast-moving, entertaining and engaging program. The program is a panorama of a passing scene of poets and memories that would have been lost had this wonderful high quality DVD not been produced.
Ford for its production. You know what time I wake to piss And I have swallowed your cheap California charm At many a forgotten dinner party. We come together And we go together, and if one of us. Is late or sad, the other is inches away, Looking for leftovers. But we would not give It up, for we are bettered. But I have known no beauty Like the one of return. Sensible about marriage, the poet-narrator dryly acknowledges the eddies and flurries the mind undergoes while the body is being faithful.
Divided like a novel into chapters, Nevertheless, hello takes on these themes of first love and first marriage, and the chaos, pain and comedy that may accompany them. The poet-narrator writes for my first wife, while married to my second,. If we never speak again, that would be fine—honestly, I have nothing to say.
But maybe you do. And maybe I could sit with my arms Unfolded, kind-of-closing my eyes. Tonight, we are going to bed angry. The way, finally, we return To bed with nothing or with fists— Their impossible opening and closing. It is how we hold on to everything,. In this age when we can so rarely rely on conventional societal precepts to guide our thinking, Goodrich offers a fresh possibility. By lifting your right foot, then your left. Wondering where to store your luggage, Looking for a seat next to someone Who will let you read your Tolstoy. We are here to ignore each other. I open my mouth because you are stunning Against the glass, the green, the blue, wet white.
Or how we will survive a long-distance relationship. How about Gregory if we make him a brother? His poems are insightful, humorous, occasionally tender, occasionally sentimental, instructing us to kiss something. How many women poets I can think of several express falling in love as a kind of drowning? Goodrich, naturally enough, stands that image on its head. The way a river drowns what it loves. The rest of us take in the quips, allusions, metaphors, and slogans around us the way we breathe——naturally, almost without effort.
Reading these poems, I came away with the sense of listening to a thoughtful young person who lives with intention and purpose, who has not without struggle attained insight and maturity. The moral nature of the material slyly shapes the contours, the line and stanza breaks as the poem scrolls down the page——reflecting and confirming certain aspects of American culture——individual, tolerant, skeptical, organically shaped and evolving.
Zara Raab often writes about the fault lines between city dwellers and the poor, rural towns people to the north. Check her web site www. These poems, like all things, are gifts. I hope the joy they have given me spills over to you. His poems re-imagine the formation of small universes: the cells of the body, the galaxies of the spirit, the verses that touch us all; the oneness of the universe we share. I remember when I was in the fifth grade at St. Later I learned about the divisions of cancer and then about the invisible things that unite: prayers, the soul, pain.
No one thing being greater or smaller than any other. This universe of limitless configurations.