Poetry Blog Digest 2024, Week 26

A personal selection of posts from the Poetry Blogging Network and beyond. Although I tend to quote my favorite bits, please do click through and read the whole posts. You can also browse the blog digest archive at Via Negativa or, if you’d like it in your inbox, subscribe on Substack (where the posts might be truncated by some email providers).

This week: an orchestra of inflammation, a library of lost chapbooks, words written in eyeliner on a band aid wrapper, and a complicated kind of joy… among many other things. Enjoy!

We heal in small ways. Bread, milk, and honey. Kindness. And through the magical science of blood clotting around the break, its meshwork of proteins plugging the gap, the immune system’s orchestra of inflammation, stem cells migrating from tissue, bone marrow and blood to form cartilage, more bone.

We are our own small miracles. We remake ourselves over and over. Tell me now of your own renewal. How you rose again from pain, loss or grief.

we are so much more 
than the bones of ourselves

Lynne Rees, Haibun ~ Remade

As a teacher, I am more concerned with my students’ process of exploring poems than I am in any final analysis paper or final product. I do not teach this poem or that poem. Doing so is a surefire way to kill students’ love of poems, resulting in students thinking they just need to create some “BS” that sounds “deep” to try to impress me or to succeed on some highfalutin, raised pinky explication or literary analysis paper. Well, that’s not my concern. What impresses me is when a student notices all of what is literally there in a poem and making their own connections about what they notice. The exploration of what’s literally present in the poem and all of those nuances allow for connections to be made across “noticings”. Those connections result in observations and idea-making. It does not need to happen in the artifact of an analytical paper (it could, but it’s not necessary for me to see students’ engagement, understanding, and ideating). I’d much rather students share what they notice in a Socratic Seminar or even a less formal dialogue.

Scot Slaby, Exploring Poetry: 5 Strategies & Best Practices for Teachers & Students

I write this today to celebrate digital chapbooks and little self-published collections. Stuff that doesn’t make it to Amazon or the corner bookstore. Stuff that has no Goodreads review or ISBN number. May they all reach many, many hands. May they all be passed from reader to reader. May they all rest, worn and creased and loved, along with precious others. May they be read. A little. […]

Should there be a library of lost chapbooks? Should anyone care? Should they die like they were born, quietly, wearing their Adobe best, in the archive of a blog or a social media post?

Rajani Radhakrishnan, For what? For whom?

In Paper Doll, this notion of self is developed further. This time the focus is on the separation between the public and private selves. The public self’s function is to protect. It ‘kept us alive,/ deflected blows,//absorbed each wound.’ Whilst the public self is portrayed here as singular, the private self is referred to as ‘us’,  as a multiplicity of selves, portrayed later in the poem as a ‘chain of paper dolls’. This image is powerful and telling, for like a cut out paper doll, these selves are featureless, indistinguishable from each other with ‘featureless hands’. The poem ends with the symbol of a paper doll’s hands ‘reaching for the air’ in help, or possibly in desperation: a sign, perhaps, of the narrator’s inability to locate her true self, if such a thing exists.

Nigel Kent, Review of ‘Company of Ghosts’ by Lucy Dixcart

My poet friend
messages me to say we are or should be
writing just for the sheer joy of creation
and being in conversation with the dead—
I agree one hundred percent. In that the world
constantly, intensely, makes us aware of our
own mortality, I guess you could say we are also
always in conversation with ourselves.

Luisa A. Igloria, On Eternal Recurrence

When I’m commenting about poems I try to be aware of some of my prejudices –

  • I fall for poems about unwanted childlessness and dying children.
  • I like new metaphors (though I take marks off for ones I’ve heard before).
  • I admire technical mastery (e.g. a sestina that works!).
  • I like poems that seem to be about one thing until the last line.
  • I’m suspicious of “simple but strong” poems.
  • I distrust poems that look too much like confessions or therapy.
  • Poems like “The Two-Headed Calf” by Laura Gilpin trouble me too. It’s prose until the killer final line. Should a single line be sufficient to win a prize? If it’s memorable enough, perhaps it should.

I try to compensate for these idiosyncrasies. But what about the ones I’m unaware of?

Tim Love, Impartiality

I don’t submit to as many literary journals as I once did, and I have a variety of reasons for that state of affairs.  The main one is that it costs so much more than it once did to submit.  I know that journals will tell us that they aren’t charging much more than the cost of postage, printer ink, and paper, but I can do math, and that’s just not true.  They charge 3-5 times more than the cost of postage.  

And yes, I could afford a year’s worth of fees, but do I want to spend my money that way?  Just on the slim chance that a poem will appear in a journal?  If my goal is to have readers, I’d have more people see my poem if I published it on Facebook or on this blog.  If my goal is to have my poems in a form where future generations might see it, I might be better off taking all those fees and self-publishing in book form, and then sending that book to as many libraries as possible. […]

One thing that’s strange about me is that I like the process of submitting.  I like going through my poems and putting together a packet of poems that speak to each other.  I like remembering the poems I’ve written and thinking about them as a larger way.

Still, I submit occasionally, especially when it’s free, and I’ve gotten encouragement in the past.  This morning, I submitted a packet of poems to Beloit Poetry Journal.  Long ago, when I was first submitting poems printed on paper and mailed in envelopes, I sent a packet to them, and they published it.  That was in 1997 or so, and I’ve been submitting regularly since with no luck.  But I submit because it makes me happy to remember that long ago acceptance.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott, My First Publication

Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

I have a very dark bent. I see the shadows in everything and in all my work (poetry, short fiction, long-form narrative) I am definitely trying to see into that grey space. What’s in there? How does it affect us? How do we affect it? In terms of technical concerns, I do struggle with the parameters of genre writing, in particular. It is a difficult balance to produce original work that still adheres to the word counts and plot movements that publishers and agents are looking for. Mostly, I want to write what excites me. If I am laughing diabolically at my desk, I feel that is a good sign. […]

What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

Well, the first piece of advice that I received at large—and actually attempted to follow—was to write daily. You learn so much about your own process, and it’s good to maximize your productivity once you understand what the best writing times are for you … but it’s not always possible. That’s an ideal situation to aspire to.

The best piece of advice I’ve received recently came from the editor of this collection, poet, and novelist Sue Goyette. When we first met virtually, I was nervous about what was expected of me. She said: “Your orders are to prepare to do the work. Get yourself in the right headspace. Spend some time clearing your mind.” I don’t think anybody had ever given me permission to do that before! To just take some walks, dabble in reading, relax, and ponder. Very helpful advice.

And my own advice is: Keep those scraps! Every bit of writing that actually makes it onto paper or into the screen has some value. You wrote it down for a reason! Last Hours was very much conjured from literal scraps of paper, accumulated during a hectic time of raising young children. I tried so hard to “write,” but the time just wasn’t there. Those scraps and fragments ended up holding so much beauty and meaning, and I feel very proud that I fought to get them recorded, whatever way I could—I think there were even some words written in eyeliner on a band aid wrapper!

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Jennifer May Newhook (rob mclennan)

The thing about attempting to write as beautifully as love, is that one is in the joy zone, in the radiance. One begins to insist, and things happen. Maybe heartstorming is just figuring out new ways for us to be in communication, to generate ideas while insisting on a stance of love, on a stance of the good. I keep writing things in my notebook, like, what are some ways of talking to each other, truly communicating? How to create the conditions where excellence speaks to excellence? What hunger and emptiness can our art fill now? Praise, excess, love, blessings — what happens when we start there?

I also write things down, like: Do not complain; be reverently content; raise a little hell.

I write, in my mad-about-AI moments: Artists will adapt — they always do, always have. Creativity is joyful and tricky and innovative that way!

I tell myself, and I write this again and again, Do not squander and be a good guardian of your gifts. Persistently perceive. I write, you don’t make art so that people will like you, you make art so you can love yourself, and love your life. I write, be a joyful weirdo.

Shawna Lemay, Live Like an Artist – Heartstorm

The creative act is not a party trick, it is a deep seated evolutionary need that, although not everybody can take to professional level, everybody is capable of. I think we lose sight of that, sometimes, in a world utterly swamped with voices, comparison and competition. My courses, my workshops, my methods tend to focus these days on the act of creation itself, as a catalyst, as well as a career. My style is holistic – finding the interconnectedness between the writer and their work. Sometimes that is less obvious than it should be.

Wendy Pratt, Self-Portrait as a Door – a writing prompt based on Donika Ross’s poem

Then bits of language foiled and curled in my mouth – funny what autocorrect does with words. My mouth has a bit of autocorrect in it. Dada, surrealism. Sometimes you get what I mean. When I hear lies, I think I’m on another planet. Those ten insane minutes before everyone in the world slagged off. (We might be ready for the metric system, if we base everything on measures of ten.) Anyway, the car was wrecked. It took the Russians Ten Days in October to change the world. We’ve had future shock; it took me ten minutes.

Jill Pearlman, Sorry I Crashed Your Debatable Car

Human beings are not problems to be managed. The scapegoating of migrants has broad implications. It perpetuates stereotypes, fuels division, and distracts from addressing the systemic issues that contribute to migration flows. It risks normalizing discriminatory attitudes and policies that can have far-reaching consequences for our communities and abroad.

This presidential debate serves as a stark reminder of the power of language and discourse in shaping public opinion and policy. I mean, the word “border” was used a total of 38 times—which is to say that 38 times I felt the world get smaller—and here I am trying to show how presence is political.

My act of presence this time around includes this post but also a series of erasures based on the aforementioned transcript. I’ll be sharing the Debate Series here and on my Instagram account, @poetryamano, over the next few weeks. See the first set below. I ended up doing two takes on each quote to represent the “two sides” of the debate.

José Angel Araguz, Thoughts on the 2024 Presidential debate + new project

truly, everyone’s tongue is just
a temporary salamander. in the night
mine goes looking for rocks to tell
the truth to. i don’t need
a shoe box for my lungs. i need
a sail boat. i need a man made lake
where all the shorelines are
rolled-up sleeves.

Robin Gow, eyes in the back of my head

I had observed without really realizing it some of the details that poem invokes — how wind kicks up a brook, carries and takes away scents and petals. But I had not been conscious of knowing those details until this poem asked me to conjure them up. Isn’t it magic, how language can do that? How words make memories come alive. How stories activate the memory and the senses.

I was reading a review of a book about adolescence recently. The author had interviewed some thirty-somethings about their recollections of their adolescence. The interviewees told the stories of their profound moments in that turbulent time in their lives. And the author found that even in the telling of the story of their own lives, the interviewees were changed, and began to re-understand the stories they had understood about themselves.

Marilyn McCabe, My mind lets go a thousand things

Though these poems are deeply influenced by my response to the attacks in Oslo and Utøya in 2011, Impermanence isn’t about that terrible day. It’s not even about death — though it is a meditation on how things fall apart, including our bodies.

Someday I may write more specifically about July 22, 2011: how the grief was simultaneously mine and not mine.

But for now: on July 23rd, 2011, while I was running along the beach, I was smacked by the absurdity that I wasn’t dodging the usual bird carcasses that morning (that would have been a tidy metaphor). Instead, I found a lemon, a head of cabbage, and a potato in the surf. I felt like the universe was mocking the absurdity of all those deaths, trying to overwhelm me with meaninglessness. Maybe forcing me — by the means of a summer salad — to make meaning.

Ren Powell, 3 Poems from Impermanence

To write ‘Blade’ I saved a link to a photograph of a dagger from a news article. I also put my writing journal on my desk so that it would be the first thing I saw the next morning and would therefore remind me that I had something particular to explore. It was such a great picture I knew I wanted to create a response of my own to mark it. You can find an image of the blade here: Crystal Dagger

I got up the next morning ready to write, and set a seven minute timer. The writing desk in the lounge is tucked in its own corner and feels like a solace all of its own. Like going somewhere you can visit and come back from. It’s very old, and very small but as a space it works! 

The ‘grassed air’ bit of the poem comes from my memory of visiting the circus with my sister when she was young. Entering the warm humid space to find our seats (or perhaps bench space) I was hit by the seeming greenness of the air I was breathing. I do love it when a phrase flows when I am writing and that one seemed an appropriate description. I imagined being a sword swallower with a dagger carved from ice. The poem was starting. I had to let the images of the lion and its trainer work their way out of my head, and the memory of me and my sister re-enacting the part where the trainer put his arm in the lion’s mouth. We were in awe when it didn’t bite him and loved the way he rubbed its forehead gently to get it to open its mouth in the first place. Filtering out the real and keeping my pen moving on the new felt fast and furious and that’s a good way into a poem in my opinion.

Sue Finch, Running Away with the Circus

beside the whitewater
a faint fluttering
in the ferns

Tom Clausen, fern

[I]t’s noticeable that none of the authors of the “best first collections” are now, 25 years on, what we might broadly term a “major” UK poet, and in fact a quick review of the other shortlists between 1994 and 2005 suggests this is quite a consistent pattern. There are a few names which are now high-profile, and some years had a higher predictive hit-rate than others, but in general being shortlisted for — or even winning — the “best first collection” doesn’t seem to mean that much, longer term.

I suppose there are different ways of thinking about this. It might be that it’s just quite hard even for experienced readers to spot the most promising authors on the basis of a first collection. Conversely the pressure might be more the other way: when judging that year’s crop of collections by established poets, the committee is under pressure to shortlist mainly or entirely a handful of well-known poets who have already been widely acclaimed, so surprises are rare. And of course, some authors of genuinely excellent first collections will go on to do other things, while the most original poets might tend to be passed over at the first collection stage. Winning or being shortlisted for a first collection prize must create certain opportunities, but perhaps it also creates quite a burden of expectation.

Victoria Moul, First collections and poetic “careers”

I first came across Wahtola Trommer in the Poetry of Presence anthologies. Based on the evidence of those few poems, I decided I had to see a larger sampling. Along comes hush. And it lives up to its name. The poems are lullabies for a troubled spirit. They spell us into nature and soothe us into becoming cottonwood tree, becoming larkspur. “There is no way / to be anywhere but here,” we are reminded. But we are also reminded that we have some control over where we place our bodies. […]

The epigraphs are a map to the poet’s influences— [Rachel] Carson, William Stafford, Shakespeare, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry. Praise poems, lamentations, and invitations to healing that arrive “so soft that at first / you aren’t sure / it is raining / but the fragrance / overcomes you” (“Wish”).

In this weirdly busy season of my life (broken engagements, family dinners, an aging dog; political and international news insisting on attention alongside daughters’ road-trips and their cats needing to be fed; classes and readings and writing conferences) this book was a balm.

I read it twice.

Bethany Reid, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, HUSH

morning sunshine 
a cobweb thread is shining 
on the lavender 

Jim Young [no title]

A writer friend shared a poem recently from Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. I’ve seen so many of you share her work, I decided to click over to her site to learn more about her.

Oh, my.

It would be so, so easy for me to slip into a pit of bad feelings about my writing, seeing how very prolific and accomplished this other writer is, especially as she is a woman whose writing career began at about the same time I had the beginnings of one. She has been writing a poem a day—a poem every single day!—since 2006! AND she publishes prolifically AND she teaches widely. And her work is beloved by many. Rightly so, I think. Damn, but wouldn’t I like to be like her!

But I am not. There are things that have kept me from being the kind of writer she is, and I could probably list them here, but I don’t think that would be helpful or useful. Not for me, and not for any of you.

We are, each of us, who we are. We do what we need to do and what we can. If we can look back on our time at the end of a day and see that it was full of what matters to us, we don’t need to be more disciplined. We don’t need better strategies or more organization or new jobs or different family members and friends. I mean, maybe we do, if we want to create differently than we now are, and maybe we will someday (people and circumstances can and do change) but I don’t think we can will ourselves to be who we currently aren’t. And thinking we should is probably not going to take us anywhere other than into that bad-feeling pit.

I think if it really mattered to me to be that kind of writer, I would be. I think you would be, too, if that mattered to you. Or you would paint or knit or sew or bake intricate loaves of gorgeous bread.

Rita Ott Ramstad, Free to be you and me

During the past few weeks, I have been reading–one at a time, with pauses–the essays in Ross Gay’s book Inciting Joy. His earlier book (The Book of Delights) was easier, a bit less complicated. About, you know, gratitude–even though he describes his father’s death in the first essay of that one. He gets to something about grieving in the 13th “Incitement” of this book, however, that made me put the text down and say to myself: This is what I have been trying to get my poems to do for some time now.

(I did pick it up again and finish reading it, by the way.)

He insists that we remember how transforming grief is. Not can be, but is. Always: “When that one thing [that we grieve] changed, everything changed. Light through the trees in October now different. The sound of the playground…cooking a meal. The future. The past. All of it changed. That is what the griever is metabolizing.” He points out this metabolizing can’t be timed, that grieving pays no attention to whether it has been a day or a year or decades: “It seems to me that grief is not gotten over, it is gotten into. And the griever teaches us, or reminds us, there is no pulling it apart. Because grieving, alert to connection, is never only one person’s experience.”

Maybe we grieve for one person, or one beloved companion animal. Maybe we grieve that our youth is over, that our children are grown, that our favorite mom & pop store has been razed to make way for a Starbucks. Or perhaps we grieve for our planet, as Greta Thunberg does: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words…People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.” There are so many reasons why we feel loss. Loss is what life offers us, loss but also transformation. I think what Gay tries to say in his recent essays is that because there is something to sorrow that we all can connect with, our grief itself can connect us, give us understanding–maybe even joy.

A complicated kind of joy. A joy that acknowledges that life can be tough and sad.

Ann E. Michael, Transformation & intention

I’m not even going to attempt to paint a full picture of Jackie [Hagan], and her legacy. That will have to come over time, because Jackie was a solar flare and a dormouse and a lovely sofa and a battlefield and loads more. But Clare Beloved got me out of bed this morning telling me it’s time to find the words, and Conor Aylward suggested that the German language probably has some sort of compound noun for the laughter and the hurt, and that poetry, with its infinite possibilities of form and music, is the best way I know.

After my mother died, and my ferocious migraines started, I fell out of love with reading. It had been a particularly co-dependant lifelong relationship, and finding myself unable to read more than a book every couple of months was a profound loss and a big shift in my identity. I’ve had around five years of reading very slowly and sporadically – relying largely on audiobooks. But the last few weeks of intense grief and burnout have returned me, somehow, to the act of reading – often with a pint, in the company of my post-GCSE teen, in the pub.  I’ve just finished Airea D.Matthews’ Bread and Circus, Jodie Hollander’s Nocturne, and Amanda Dalton’s Fantastic Voyage – and I would be reading Kathleen Jamie’s Cairn if the teen didn’t keep on stealing it.

And of these wildly varied books are a beautiful, genius lesson in form, and how it can hold almost anything – philosophy, illness, neglect, love, 18th century economics, abuse, racism, post-structuralist linguist theory, trauma, and in Amanda’s case, the grief  of losing a life partner, which finds both its metaphor and form in water. Like Conor just said to me in a text – “We need crutches to talk/walk around death”, and as one of Jackie’s closest people, he should know.

Kim Moore, On Losing Friends and Finding Words

Occasionally, I will be working on a poem and the words do not even feel like my own. Maybe some communication from the ether or the netherworld that channels itself through my hand, down into the keys and onto the screen. Other times, the lines are hard wrought and feel more like sowing something, planting something in a dark little garden that may hopefully bloom by the end of the poem. Or other times like a machine that clicks and winds and begins to purr. I never know which of these things will happen in a given piece of writing. Or if any will. Or, if I am really lucky, all of them at once. 

Different things have taken precedence at different times in my career as a poet. The early poems were so hard and so fretted over. I barely knew what I was doing. I slogged along and each line felt like pulling something out of my body. I knew what I wanted and went hunting for it. Later, I would jumble the words and images and spangled contents in a bag and shake them out onto the page, much in the way I would make a collage. While this was not as difficult as the first few years of writing anything worth reading, it was still hard to have them fall into line in a way that made sense. That seemed like I wasn’t just randomly making word salad.

There was a shift slowly over the last decade toward poems being more sound generated than image-or content generated. Like if I could just get the first few lines rolling, the poem would almost unwittingly write itself–that tiny machine–that hopefully would get me to the end point. Unlike the order of the early poems, or the chaos of the later ones, these poems somehow assemble themselves according to their own logic and feel much smoother going. So much so, I never quite trust them. 

Kristy Bowen, notes on process

I believe in the magic of index cards. When I get stuck on a poem, essay or review, I will stop everything and revert to my trusty pack of unlined index cards. Just shuffling them for a few moments can give my brain the break it needs. Then I grab a pen and start writing things down on them, after which I spread them over the floor. Staring at these white rectangles helps me figure out a path through the piece I’m writing, sort of like Hansel’s white stones. The interesting part of this exercise is that I don’t always stay with the outline the index cards suggest. In fact, laying them out seems to reveal a new path that I hadn’t seen before, hidden in the spaces between the cards.

Erica Goss, How I try to be a better writer

I was reading over my notes from Essay Camp when I realized that in several times of intense stress I have manifested ear worms. Music is an important part of my life – I listen to it almost daily. I don’t play an instrument and it’s a regret in my life that I never learned how. I guess it’s not surprising that music fills my head when I’m exhausted from a smothering level of stress. […]

The other song was “Room at the Top” by Tom Petty.

“I got a room at the top of the world tonight
I got a room at the top of the world tonight
I got a room at the top of the world tonight
And I ain’t comin’ down, I ain’t comin’ down”

This one really, really almost drove me wild. It was the worst earworm happening at the worst time. Looking back I remember just wanting the situation to end. Wanting to go away somewhere and leave it all behind. But we can’t do that in life, can we? We face the darkness and work our way out.

Charlotte Hamrick, When Music Hurts

Patton Oswalt has a great talk where he says There are No Gatekeepers Anymore. He says that today’s artists no longer need gatekeepers to give them permission, “Because of this,” he says, and takes out his phone. He points out the phone is now a home studio anybody can use to create and distribute their work.

And this is true. My husband, who is sixteen years older than I am, keeps reminding me that there was a time when there were only three networks—CBS, ABC and NBC. Now there are seemingly infinite numbers of channels and sources of media. The market is divided, and any artist can find their own “tribe.” They don’t have to pander to masses so much as they need to amass the people who will “get” them.

Be the Change You Want to See on Social Media

If there is something you want to see changed on social media, change it.

After Stevie Edwards gained traction with her vulnerable poems about mental health, she wanted to then write poems about pleasure and happiness. She founded Elysium Review to do just that.

In my interview with Rita Mookerjee, she told me that for years she gave up on poetry because people told her there was no market for the kind of work she was writing. It wasn’t until Dorothy Chan (also a fabulous poet we interviewed) encouraged her to write that she started to see how wrong those people had been. Now she’s the editor of Honey Lit, which gives voice to writers who have traditionally been marginalized.

As she says in our interview, nobody is paying us enough to keep quiet.

Tresha Faye Haefner, Be the Change You Want to See on Social Media

Sheffield was wonderful. It was nice to go back. I’ve been back once or twice in recent years. I used to go across when I was at uni in the first year to see my then girlfriend, Jenny. The last time I was there was to record a Northside gig with another mate called Simon (he’s also a fan of Flowered Up, and my closest mate).

I think we walked past the Air BnB he’d booked for us last weekend, and I think I walked past a park near where Jenny used to live. I recall writing a bad poem in there. It was called Endangered Species. I think it was about our relationship, and I know it made reference to a Smashing Pumpkins song called Rhinoceros. I know this as I’m looking at the poem now. I was going to post it, but it’s too bad. It can stay in the juvenalia folder.

Mat Riches, Flowered up afternoons of the rhino

I do love the fact that the island wildlife is so different than ours in Woodinville—filled with blooming orange and red poppies, lush pink dogwood, and of course, more foxes and whales. I loved watching the sea for seals, porpoises, and orcas, although I consider myself more of a woodsy/mountain elf than an ocean elf, if you know what I mean.

And I really did have time to write a few poems, look at the order of the manuscript, tweak it a bit, and cut about ten poems (needed, unfortunately). I think the real benefit of giving yourself a dedicated writing retreat—be it in the desert, or the woods, or an isolated island—is that it forces you into new thoughts, new perspectives, and maybe even new inspirations. Does seeing new flora and fauna, even experiencing the discomforts of being in a new place, cause our brains to work a little better, a little harder?

Jeannine Hall Gailey, San Juan Island Report Part 2—This Time with Hospitalization at the End

A poem for the 70 individuals who walked to Singapore’s Istana to deliver 140 letters to the PM on 2 Feb 2024, as part of the National Day of Solidarity with Palestine. 3 of them–Sobikun Nahar, Siti Amirah Mohamed Asrori, and Annamalai Kokila Parvathi–were ridiculously charged with disturbing public order by illegally organizing, or abetting with organizing, a public procession in a prohibited area. […]

They do not need a head nor do they want a tail.
They are all heads, all eyes, all mouths, all legs, all hands,
umbrellas up against the onslaught of the sun.

They are cool, and young as the crescent moon
lighting up lovers’ rendezvous and drinking parties
and the unworldly debates of secret handshakes.

Jee Leong Koh, Walking to the Istana

In what feels like a year of elections around the world – India, South Africa, Europe, Iran, France, Britain, the USA – “Soundscape” also expresses my belief that we should all spend more time listening. The shoutiness of political discourse is deeply, deeply dispiriting. Politician or poet, farmer or officer worker, pensioner or student, we need to pay considered attention to the voices with which we disagree as well as to the voices with which we agree. We must take time to listen, not only to those who shout loudly and incessantly, like the traffic on the motorway, but also to the quiet conversations in the reeds, the trees, the marshlands.

Most importantly, we should listen to the silence that underlies the sounds. 

Marian Christie, Listening

It’s just a fragment of moon,
I think, that stabs thru the trees
into my night-blinded eye,
astonishingly bright, white —
I think it’s bleeding light — wake
up, it’s trying to say, time
to vault right out of yourself.

PF Anderson, Postcard Poem 35

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