Luisa’s three years of daily poems, and a call for submissions

Over at her own website, Luisa Igloria mentions that today is a special day for her — and for Via Negativa. After describing her thinking behind the recently completed series Chance: A Poetic Tarot, she adds:

Three years ago (on November 20, 2010) I began writing at least a poem a day and posting these on Dave Bonta’s Via Negativa website.

Without initially intending to do so, I have since become fully engaged in and by the daily practice of writing poems. Not only has “running with my muse” daily made me more limber and given me much valuable biofeedback about my writing; it has also taught me many lessons about fear and anxiety, my habits (both good and bad), the many little (and big) excuses that the self seems to conveniently find when confronted with things it is afraid of and/or that must get done…

Three years later, I realize with so much gratefulness: not only have I written many poems which I can return to in order to revise and gather up into books— I have also “met” and made so many new friends thanks to the collaborative spirit of electronic communication.

This leads to the next part of my idea

To commemorate my three years of daily poems, I thought of making a chapbook
of the Tarot poems with illustrations, which will be produced as POD (print on demand) copy perhaps via a service like Peecho–

Furthermore, Pennsylvania-based poet and publisher Dave Bonta and UK-based writer Rachel Rawlins have kindly offered to produce PDF/iBook templates of the book and publish the chapbook under the Via Negativa Press imprint.

There are 78 “Tarot” poems in all, and if they are laid out 6 to a page, Dave and Rachel suggested that we could have 13 illustrations in the chapbook.

Dear artist friends, this is where you come in

I would like to invite you to (1) choose one of the sets of 6 Tarot poems, and to (2) submit for consideration, original art work inspired by one or all of the six you chose together, to fill one facing page that will go with the poems.

(Please also send to luisa dot igloria61 at gmail dot com a 3-6 sentence artist’s bio, along with your name, postal mailing and e-mail address, and phone number.)

Deadline to submit original art work for consideration is DECEMBER 31, 2013: submit clear resolution digital copies in 300 dpi or better; we will make our final selections of art work before January 15, 2014.

She goes on to explain that all profits from the sale of the chapbook will go to support Typhoon Haiyan relief. Do click through and read the rest of her post if you’re interested in contributing, or know an artist who might be. But please join me regardless in congratulating Luisa on this remarkable achievement of writing (at least) one poem every day for three years. Wow! To say that I am honored to be hosting the fruits of this practice would be a huge understatement.

Stage Directions

This entry is part 17 of 28 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2013


Thirst and dreams in the middle of the night. Smoked herring in oil; sardines, anchovies. Capers and capelin roe. This strange, intense longing for salt, unkillable like a roach that skitters out from under the shelves as soon as the lights are doused. Nervous twitching behind walls, beneath the floorboards. Don’t give me a fake geode to lick; let me have a bead of citrine, a yellow sapphire, a tiger’s-eye, a crystal facet around which to fit my tongue. In other words, the thing itself: because everything else would be poor copy. I groom my retinue of desires to impeccable standards— only the best will do. I march them through daily drills, hup hup; review their syntax, applaud all vaults and clumsy dismounts, attempts to clear the pommel horse. Up high, the bars and wires glint sharper than walls in a knife thrower’s gallery. But darlings, don’t fret. You work hard, you’re lovely as newborn lyrics. Don’t worry yourselves about the weather, ticket sales, secret shoppers, masquerading critics, the ennui of the damned. Don’t pay attention to anything but the beautiful wings waving you onward, the ones that flush the currant bushes with color and sound.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Time thief

(Lord’s day). In the morning to our own church, where Mr. Powel (a crook legged man that went formerly with me to Paul’s School), preached a good sermon.
In the afternoon to our own church and my wife with me (the first time that she and my Lady Batten came to sit in our new pew), and after sermon my Lady took us home and there we supped with her and Sir W. Batten, and Pen, and were much made of. The first time that ever my wife was there. So home and to bed.

In church, a crook
preached to the new
pew and took
much time.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 18 November 1660.

The rise of Twitter poetry

From The Independent, a good article on the “The rise of Twitter poetry” in the U.S. and U.K., though as so often with online articles from newspapers, it is strangely lacking in links to any of the people it mentions, making it less useful than it could’ve been. And I question their decision to illustrate it with a photo of Benjamin Zephaniah, who follows all of four people despite being followed by more than 10,000, instead of George Szirtes, Alison Brackenbury or Ian Duhig, who are much better and more generous netizens. Anyway, here’s a quote:

Ian Duhig – twice-winner of the National Poetry Competition – wrote a tweet poem about the Bramhope Tunnel disaster: “They wove the black worm/ a shroud of white stone/ and thought it was nothing/ But the worm turned.” Would he ever publish his Twitter poems? “I’d have no problem using Twitter poems in a book and may well do in the next one,” says Duhig, whose Twitter poem “Yew”, is more romantic: “Each root of church yew/ reaches a skull:/ mistletoe/ for kissing above.”

The director of the Poetry Society, Judith Palmer, says: “There’s a renewed interest in the form of British poetry at the moment and the constraints of the 140-character limit play to that, in the same way as the 14 lines of the sonnet or the 17 syllables of the haiku. Twitter poems tend to be playful and are often collaborative, but they’re also good for ‘Imagist’-style observation, or philosophical musing. They can reach a wide audience in moments but they’re also ephemeral, evaporating pretty as the Twitter-feeds roll relentlessly on.”

Read the rest.

Old salt

In the morning to Whitehall, where I inquired at the Privy Seal Office for a form for a nobleman to make one his Chaplain. But I understanding that there is not any, I did draw up one, and so to my Lord’s, and there I did give him it to sign for Mr. Turner to be his first Chaplain. I did likewise get my Lord to sign my last sea accounts, so that I am even to this day when I have received the balance of Mr. Creed.
I dined with my Lady and my Lady Pickering, where her son John dined with us, who do continue a fool as he ever was since I knew him. His mother would fain marry him to get a portion for his sister Betty but he will not hear of it.
Hither came Major Hart this noon, who tells me that the Regiment is now disbanded, and that there is some money coming to me for it. I took him to my Lord to Mr. Crew’s, and from thence with Mr. Shepley and Mr. Moore to the Devil Tavern, and there we drank. So home and wrote letters by the post. Then to my lyra viall, and to bed.

The seal is chaplain to the sea;
I am her fool.
I took my crew to the devil,
and there we drank.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 17 November 1660.


This entry is part 16 of 28 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2013


(a partly found poem)

“The death toll could still climb higher, with an additional 1,000 cadaver bags sent to provinces, the disaster council announced as search-and-rescue operations continued in Tacloban City.” ~ from a news report on the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Different cells die at different rates.
Hair and nails continue to grow a little
while, but nature is more efficient.

In the air decomposition is twice as fast
as when the body is under water, four times
more than underground. Clostridia

and coliforms, enzymes; greens and blues
that blister. Methane and mercaptans,
sulfides. More rapid in the tropics,

where the sun brings everything up
to a melon boil. Bluebottle flies,
carrion flies, ants and beetles

and maggots and wasps. Nails and teeth
detach, their ivory falling, letter
after letter that will never

again be sent. After weeks, a month,
a year, a decade: rags and bones,
motes indistinguishable

from dust. Finally
everything the body held,
burst open like a secret.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter to Audrey Hepburn

This entry is part 15 of 28 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2013


So many yards of cloth:
good cotton, polyester, rayon;
prim edge of childhood’s
Peter Pan collars, chaste tents
of A-line skirts that crept
up and up as silhouettes tightened
and searched for the key
in any keyhole neckline,
the getaway boat in any bateau.
I was no exception: I could not
bind a blanket stitch,
would not feather a herringbone.
What chance did I have without
the curved swan of your neck,
my feet shod but shoddy
in ballerinas, un-dainty from birth,
limbs decorated with scars or scabs,
stitched together with dark
needle and thread? And so I flew
the nest right after breakfast,
kissed the first tear-shaped bar
of light from the chandelier,
hurried to find myself
a fit bustle. I do, I do,
I do regret more than a few
things: but guess what, finally
I’m old enough to admit I don’t
rue it all! —though you hit it
right on the head when you said
those things about the sky
being vague and empty— Marriage
(whatever that means), or what you give
yourself to, can be like that: just a country
where the thunder goes and things disappear

sometimes, but not forever.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.