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 or subscribe to its RSS feed in your favorite feed reader. This week: redefining productivity, being formless, emulating crows, stealing Jesus’ wallet, beginning with the stone in the shoe, writing like you believe your voice is worth hearing, painting the chaos, joining a drum circle, feeling the winter blues, building synagogues in Minecraft, learning Japanese, celebrating William Stafford, and more.
snow drifts, thick
and slow past
the death count
i am glad to be oldSharon Brogan, even in sleep
to not witness
what is coming
Time is of the essence: not a premise to justify acceleration and a headless chicken rush towards mindless ‘productivity’, but one to frame a culture of thoughtfulness and generosity. A form of active resistance to the commoditisation of everything we hold dear, not as a draining effort or a daily grind, but through reflective thought and meditation. Better things must result from careful consideration; the ongoing, permanently panicked emergency-response mode of the 24/7 switched-on mode only leads to collective burn-out and shortcircuits any important projects’ goals. This is more a mission statement than a new-year resolution; an ambition more than a promise. To make more space where there is little; to re-own the time perpetually robbed from us.
A type of via negativa for personal and professional life (because it remains important to separate them, particularly in fields such as higher education, or the arts), where that which we don’t do leads to positive, productive outcomes. To define ourselves also for what we decide not to do, rather than for all the things we do, or for doing all the things. This would mean re-defining “productive”, and, importantly, resisting auto-exploitation. Auto-exploitation is never purely individual- overperforming hyperachievers do also create more labour for others who are likely to be in less privileged circumstances, and who are already overwhelmed within their own exploitative conditions of production. Less can be more, much more, in a different sense to usual quantification. A different way of being with ourselves and the Other would require to stop turning ourselves and the Other into means to ends. We need to start from our own positions.Ernesto Priego, Switch It Off and On Again
My student is researching wolves for a role I wrote for him. He tells me that wolves howl as a form of grieving. I don’t know where he read this, or if it is true, or how we could ever know if it is true. It does make sense to me. The sound tugs up a fear for us because we recognize the vulnerability inherent (probably a prerequisite) in grief.
Loss. Aloneness. It is all a matter of perception, really. The recognition of our disconnection. Nothing is really lost. Except perhaps the illusion of having had. What do we ever have/own/possess? We experience, and cannot possess experiences. We can’t even possess the memory of experiences, because memories are also impermanent: morphing and reassembling, like metal shavings following a magnet.
I am formless at the moment. Even memories of my former selves are formless. I’ll run now and something within me will howl at the moon. Something in me will change shape, pulled by the earth’s magnetic field. Every cell in motion, rearranging, experiencing the morning before dawn.Ren Powell, Butterfly Goo and Moonlight
Because dawn comes as I writeDale Favier, Because The Tuning
and in the stillness before the first bird
there is a restlessness, and the trees rock, and trail their fingers
over the fence tops; and the last bit of moon
is eaten up by cloud.
Outside the crows are cawing, cutting up a ruckus amongst the magnolia branches. Squirrels are on the ground eating peanuts, laughing at the crows in squirrel-talk , chitchitchit = hahaha!
Crow flap their large black wings, fanning the flames of outrage to each other, Can you believe this shit? Caw!
Crows leave nothing on the table. They take the dishes, forks, strawberry jam and biscuits and throw it all up in the air, clatterclatterclatter = listen to me!
Were that we all were like the crows. Letting it all out, leaving nothing inside to fester and mold.Charlotte Hamrick, Morning Meditation: Crows
It’s been a strange week here in the UK. The pantomime that is our political system appears to be thoroughly broken. The government seems to be totally incapable of doing what they tell us we must do. Perhaps it is due to that sense of entitlement public schools appear to imbue these second raters with. Some Catalan friends of mine were saying how funny the actions of our crime minister and his troupe of clowns are. I had to reply that they do not have to live with the madness that their actions generate.
A poem about stealing Jesus’ wallet. It arrived nearly fully formed.
lifting Jesus’ wallet you confessed
was easier than you ever imagined
the real mystery was locating it amid those flowing robes
you continued by describing the contents:
four crisp ten shilling notes
a religious medal of St John the Baptist
a return tram ticket to Barrio Alto
various coins of different denominations and epochs
all too perfect to be kosher
I began to wonder if HePaul Tobin, SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT IN THE NIGHT
had let you steal it so
you would have something to worry about in the night
“Poets dwell on death,” some fool will say.James Lee Jobe, The Grand, Wide Evening of You and Your Death.
Because they are blind.
And so the evening passes,
And one by one or two by two the people leave,
And so return to their own eternities,
To the depths of their own being.
Finally it is just you and your death.
And neither of you speak.
The silence is magnificent.
And then, with a tired sigh,
Your death stands up and walks toward you.
Back in October, when I decided to play a bit with some short fiction writing, I told myself not to worry about poems. I was, after all, between projects, having wrapped up the collapsologies manuscript with the grimoire poems. I toyed with a couple new things that are still on the horizon, but I wanted a shift. I also wanted to figure out my life and writing poems wasn’t on my top list of things to be worried about in the grand scheme of things. I gave myself permission to sit October out on my daily writing. Then November. By December, I had taken on some freelance writing, which I was trying to squeeze around my regular obligations to see if I liked it, so my mornings, what time there was (it’s harder for me to get up early-ish in winter) was devoted to the drafting and research necessary for that. I actually extended my poem vacation through early February, when I would then be working on my own and my schedule (and concentration) much kinder.
I wasn’t going to write poems, but then Monday night, somewhere between washing the dinner dishes and going to bed, I had a first line and just went for it. For one, it was unexpected to be writing at all, especially in the evening, when my brain is usually on low battery power. Granted, I’d been home all day for MLK day and mostly just folding chaps. Also, odd when specifically I said I would not be writing poems, and yet, there I was. I went back in once before bed and tweaked some things, but haven’t looked at it to see if it’s any good since. It may be the start of something, though it may also just be a snippet of a dead end, but as I wrote it, I realized how much I missed it. This is, of course, after whining all summer and into fall about whether or not poetry felt worth it, or whether anyone was even reading, or why I kept doing it, even thought the effort / compensation ratio is kind of dismal. That maybe I should focus on writing for paying markets. Or who the hell was reading any of this anyway? I always long to be one of those writers for whom process is all important, audience be damned, but I actually want readers, however they get there. As someone who, in the fall, was adjusting financial income streams, poetry seemed a poor place to fixate my efforts. Especially now, when I should be seeking out things that actually allow me to, you know, pay rent.
And yet, like the ex that occasionally shows up at 3am, there she was. A poem. Maybe not a good one, but still. I think I’ll keep her.Kristy Bowen, poeting in winter
I love drab birds and in winter I love the trees, sugar frosted.
Coffee and milk. Moss in the forest, the cool shady spots where it grows.
Morning light. Pink-apricot rose petals.
Daughter’s smile. So many poems.
Leather sandals. Pale blue sky. Suitcases. Home.
The chair in my garden where I can sit and no one can see me.
Daydreaming and night dreaming —
and poem dreaming.Shawna Lemay, I Love, I Hope; I Hope, I love
So this is a bit spooky. All week I had in mind these marvellous final words from Lucille Clifton’s poem of grief and acceptance ‘The Death of Fred Clifton’. They’ve been going round my head for a while now. Last year I came close to using them as an epigram for the collection I was working on. They gave me the wild idea (it’s January, grey and cold and I am still grieving) to do a riff reminding myself of the things I love, both in poetry and the real world, and the overlap between them, just, well, because.
And then Shawna Lemay goes and pretty much writes the blog post I wanted to write. Which isn’t just fine, it’s great, because Shawna is the best and one of the main reasons I keep going. But just to add to the love and the hope, if I may, for a moment, here are some of the things, as in things that I love and need to have near me just now:
blethering on the phone with Josephine Corocoran about all the poets she is reading and I am not reading and who is accepting and not accepting our poems and how to keep going in spite of all of this
the Frank O’Hara book Shimi gave me for Christmas which inexplicably I did not own and have been gobbling up ever since a bit like when I first fell in love with him 123 years ago
the very tender poems of love, memory and grief in Adam Zagajewski’s last book, Asymmetry, beautifully translated by Clare CavanaghAnthony Wilson, The things themselves
2 – How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
Nursery rhymes would be the accurate answer, and my immersion in the Yorùbá culture that included ewì, poems that were mostly orally delivered. As I learned to read by myself, an early anthology of delightfully-illustrated poems fascinated me. I do not remember the title, but it included such poems as Wole Soyinka’s “Telephone Conversation” and Christopher Okigbo’s “For He Was A Shrub Among The Poplars.” In my first three years of secondary school, one of my favorite subjects was literature-in-English, in which Mrs. Ukpokolo helped us dissect poems and find their internal life. Studying the anatomy of poetry this way, especially the poems in West African Verse, an Anthology edited by Donatus Nwoga, gave me a poetic framework I still draw on today.
3 – How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
I tend to feel my way around new projects. I do not start off knowing what a project is about. But because there are “eras” in my thought life, I tend to ruminate on particular topics for months at a time, while my mind grapples with paradoxes or things I do not understand. The poems that I write in these periods tend to be equation proofs that help me know what my questions are, and give me some answers, which raise further questions, and so on. The shape (and using another mathematical analogy, the slope) of the initial poems help me intuit the direction of the project. This tends to take 3 to 5 months. I then pause and try to structure my thoughts, outline as much as I can, and continue with a firmer idea of what my current exploration is.
4 – Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a “book” from the very beginning?
It begins with the stone in the shoe. The stubborn notion. Or the poignant phrase that drops in my mind. I don’t know how my brain draws associations that become the often-arresting realizations and images many of my poems present themselves with, but I have learned to respect them, and put them in my Notes app. Sometimes, I can develop these phrases into a stanza or an entire poem (if I have thought about it for long enough), but more frequently, I accumulate several fragments that help me sketch out a poem. I then take some time to build it out. I don’t often start off writing a book. I tend to discover after a while that what I am writing is a book. This is easier when older manuscripts are “complete,” and the new poems stay afloat till I can decide what to do with them.rob mclennan, 12 or 20 (second series) questions with Tolu Oloruntoba
David Cooke’s poetry might be rooted in anecdote, but those roots are simply his point of departure for words that reach up towards the light. In this respect, his new collection, Sicilian Elephants (Two Rivers Press, 2021), builds on his previous work.Matthew Stewart, A reflection on who we are, David Cooke’s Sicilian Elephants
Many of these poems, all written from the perspective of a U.K. resident, were probably crafted prior to the consequences of the fateful referendum. However, their openness to Europe now grants them a fresh impetus in the context of Brexit. At first glance, excellent poems about gardening and DIY might seem geographically limited and limiting. In fact, the opposite is true.
Just a quick note to let you know that the new issue of Constellations: A Journal of Poetry and Fiction arrived in my mail today. A loooonnng time ago — in my writing group — I shared a poem called “The Rule of Three” about an encounter I had with a student/veteran (some of you may remember). It’s one example of how I always learned as much or more from my students than they ever did from me.
No, it’s not on-line, but I may be persuaded to share it with you. Constellations is now open for submissions.
Also — drum roll, please — my poem “Even in Winter, You Must Marry It,” will go live January 19 at Cordella.org. Look for it under “Field Notes,” or click on the poem’s title (above).
I first learned about Cordella when I was searching on-line for poems by the late Jeanne Lohmann. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, follow this link to read a sampling. It’s an honor to have my poem published at the same site.
At this rich on-line venue, you’ll also find Cordella’s newest issue: Kith & Kin.Bethany Reid, Poems, poems, poems
We read words but we also hear silence. This is what I love about poetry, those two things at work. The word works with and against the word next to it, and above and below it, but also with the silence laced through the poem by punctuation and breaks, and sometimes the imposition of
Ha! See what I did there? I’m not saying anything new, of course. And there’s much more to be said and that has been said on rhythm, on how words rub up against each other to create emotion. I just felt moved to share again my wonder about this stuff. How we bundles of chemical equations and biological impulses have this crazy thing called emotion that is conjured up out of relations: one note to another, one word to another, one silence to another, you to me.Marilyn McCabe, Looking at the river, thinking of the sea; or, On Poems and Blank Space
“Extended Release,” now in Guernica, is one of those poems that came to me in a rush, the kind that writers sometimes refer to as a gift, in that it arrives in near-final shape. I jotted in a dim living room during my mother’s last weeks, when she was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes as we sought a diagnosis and, we hoped, a cure. I had been taking care of her in the house she shared with my brother when she suddenly couldn’t hold a spoon steady. I called the home nursing service; they said to call an ambulance. My mother’s reproach when she saw the EMTs–“Oh, Les, what have you done”–will haunt me forever, I’m sure, as well as the difficulty of negotiating treatment for her pain. I think she trusted me to be ruthlessly kind, if you know what I mean, and she was disappointed that I didn’t catch on that she could have slipped away without fuss that night. Days later, I would be the person who discovered her death, and I have a gut feeling she waited to let go until I was on watch because she thought I could take it. She always told me women were stronger than men and seemed to think I could endure anything the world would throw at me. I guess I have, so far–not that I’ve had the hardest life by a long shot, but I’ve kept plowing along. Maybe that’s just what I need to believe, that she thought I was strong.
The balancing force to my regret was our exchange about what comes after pain. My mother was spiritually all over the map, sometimes describing her many reincarnations and other times saying, “When you’re dead, you’re dead.” But she really did talk, as I recount in the poem, about what people wear in heaven. We compared notes on what heaven might be like, for us, if it existed. That was one of the best conversations we had during those last difficult weeks. She seemed peaceful and curious. It was a gift to be there and mull over possibilities with her. People’s kind responses to this poem have been gifts, too. So many people have been through this with loved ones. I wonder if it’s any better when someone dies suddenly, without that month of pain and uncertainty. I suspect not.Lesley Wheeler, Literary sources and afterlives
Working on my collection of poetry Church Ladies, I sometimes would read through poets who do similar work (persona poems from the perspective of women of faith…it is a little niche), and then that little nagging voice says “oh why even write this, This Poet does it better!”.
Let’s be totally honest: maybe they do.
However, they don’t do it the Same.
Unless you are straight-up plagiarizing them, you do have a unique voice that will come through on the topic, whether you want it to or not. I’m a believer that voice doesn’t have to be found so much as it needs to not be suppressed.
So when you are finding it difficult to write because So-and-So and their perfect iambic pentameter on the exact subject you write about in less than perfect somethingmeter, just stop it. Stop it! Turn off the social media, skip out on workshop (if you aren’t in a class that is), and just buckle down to work on your own stuff. Maybe take some time to read poets who have completely different obsessions from your own writing. Then write like you believe your voice is worth hearing too.Renee Emerson, Tips for Writing Productivity: Eyes Forward!
Just an image:Bob Mee, IS HE SMILING?
an old man,
as far as it goes.
An old man
in a check shirt
open at the neck,
one hand on
the door frame
the other raised
in a wave of
Is he smiling?
It’s up to you.
The image began
as mine but
it’s yours now.
sweaty plaid dad had a gadaboutJason Crane, haiku: 20 January 2022
Sometimes you can’t
get far enough
away to see it,Tom Montag, THREE OLD MONK POEMS (111)
the old monk said.
I propped my watercolor box on the chair near my knee, and started painting directly, laying down one color after another, as quickly as I could, to try to capture the energy and chaotic over-crowding of the scene before me. The terracotta pots and wooden table gave the picture a little bit of unification and structure, but basically there wasn’t any overall composition to be had. Nor were there strong shapes – just the big fleshy leaves of “Fang”. The geranium in the background, the butterfly-like triangles of the oxalis, the succulents, and the busy needles of the rosemary plant were all similar enough in size to compete with each other, but not stand out. I just kept at it, adding brushstrokes, dashes, lines, dots. Once all the color was on the page, I went back with a pen and sketched in some loose shapes and lines, and finally added the vertical window blinds in the background with watercolor.
The only solution, it had seemed, was just to go for the visual clutter. Feeling dubious, I posted the image on Instagram, with the slightly apologetic comment, “Once again, fascinated by the busyness of plants.” A little while later, my friend Michael Szpaskowski and I had this exchange:
Michael: “And that that ‘busyness’ becomes the compositional imperative here is great. Both truthful (I’m not saying that artistic truth is always of this nature of course) and very beautiful.”
Beth: “It is both the compositional imperative and its greatest obstacle. The urge is to bludgeon the busyness into some sort of submissive order, but that wouldn’t be true. So then what do you do?…I like aspects of it, but it still doesn’t entirely work for me. Tonight I was thinking maybe if I tried it from a high angle, the ovals of the tops of the pots would give a compositional rhythm that might unify the picture a little more. But not sure if I have the energy for another try!”
Michael: “Oh it is precisely its ‘awkwardness’ that I find so winning!”
This was a very helpful exchange, because when I studied the image again with his words in mind, I realized that it was actually OK not to have a strong and obvious composition or structure; instead there’s color and life dancing all over the image, and the loose horizontal and vertical lines do just enough work to hold everything within the frame.Beth Adams, Making Sense Out of Chaos
the chaos is realRajani Radhakrishnan, Chaos
tangled inside and out
you try to iron it like a shirt
but it creases against skin
over every warp, every scar,
over the forgotten, the elapsed —
like the delusion of stretched blue sky
that turns as it comes closer,
into viscous cloud, into grimy light,
dead stars falling into unopened eyes:
What is it about January? You have to trust that living things are asleep and not dead. The garden is brown and damp. In January I examine any magnolia tree I come across, looking for buds: signs of life. Even though days are getting longer it happens so slowly. Generating every extra minute of daylight seems a huge effort for Gaia.
On the other hand, I was in the British Museum recently looking at the Parthenon marbles, and I was so struck with the energy and verve that still shines from these 2,500 year old carvings. Despite the difficult relationship between humankind and the natural world, I’m uplifted by the way that the creative energy of humans channelled into art can endure, and still have the power to amaze and inspire people hundreds, if not thousands of years into the future.
Here’s a bit of joy in a dark month: this evening is the online launch of Sarah Barnsley‘s excellent first collection, The Thoughts (Smith Doorstop). I’m a bit biased as Sarah is a good friend and a Telltale Press buddy – I’m proud to say we published her pamphlet The Fire Station in 2015. The Thoughts is compelling, and a bit of a page-turner (if poetry can be described that way); it’s formally inventive, sometimes a painful read and sometimes painfully funny. I’m so pleased to see Sarah’s name up in lights. She’s a fine poet and it’s so well deserved that she’s been picked up by Smith Doorstop. Buy, buy!Robin Houghton, Nature sleeps. Thank goodness for art
I was delighted to get a surprise call this week from my long-time poetry mentor. Long story short, he encouraged me to start sending out work again, so the plan of publishing new works on this blog has now transformed into a plan to write and submit one new poem a month. I’ll still post a previously published poem once a month, but I’m going to save the new work for sending out. It feels like a strange journey to be embarking on again after all this time. I can’t pinpoint exactly why and when I stopped sending out submissions, but at some point, I just lost patience and got sick of the gatekeepers jealously guarding their insular little lit mags that are only read by a niche group of other poets, all bowing to each other in their exclusive mutual admiration circle. I want to write poetry for the people, man. Seriously though, I never had any patience for the snobbery and academic parochialism that pervades the poetry world. There is a reason why most non-poets are fearful and distrustful of poetry, or just plain find it incomprehensible. First off, the way it’s taught in school is awful. For people who do not naturally resonate with metaphorical language, bashing them over the head with a “gotcha” about the meaning of a poem is just cruel, not to mention unimaginative. And these weird little “schools” that proliferate for the sole purpose of encouraging incomprehensible poetry that only other academics can understand is the height of pretension if you ask me. The bottom line is that normal people want to read musical, ear-pleasing, relatable work that has a surprise or two thrown in. Maybe one day I’ll start the lit mag equivalent of those jumbo crossword puzzle books and call it “EZ Poetry.”Kristen McHenry, EZ Poetry, Busted Bubble, a Vision of Vision
I’m struggling with
my clown ear
and on the other side
I’m also strugglingGary Barwin, Need to Know & Clown Ear
with my clown ear
Last night, we went to a drum circle in the Arts Park. They happen every month, but it’s on the night of the full moon, which means that if I’m in class, I can’t go. If it’s rainy, I bail out. Last night it was chilly, but that wasn’t a deterrent.
It was led by a group from Resurrection Drums, which was a pleasant surprise. It helped to have leaders to get a rhythm going. They also had drums, which they passed out to people who didn’t have one.
My spouse and I had brought a drum of our own and a shaker, so we didn’t need the drums. I was happy to have the bits of instruction that they scattered throughout the night. For someone who has listened to as much music as I have, as wide a variety of music, I am still staggeringly bad at picking out the beat, and I can be even worse at maintaining it.
What I love about a drum circle is that it doesn’t matter. The stronger drummers carry the rest of us along. All of the beats get incorporated into the larger experience. It’s a metaphor for our larger lives, but I realize it more fully in a drum circle.Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Full Moon Drumming
snowflakesJim Young [no title]
my open hands
My heart keeps breaking. A friend just died, not of Covid but of Parkinson’s, and though we knew it was coming, and he and his wife had time to prepare, it is still a shock and will be an ongoing sadness. Some of us mourners will read some of his poems at his memorial service later this month. You can donate to the William Morgan Poetry Award here.
Another friend feels “done.” It’s not quite despair but a kind of retreat into “winter blues.” He expresses himself here and encourages our response, in words or the wise use of our time.
My parents are tired of the brutal cold, though grateful for the recent sunshine, as am I. They are very old: as of January 15, the same age, 89, for about a month, till Dad turns 90 in March. They have lived miraculously healthy, productive, creative, lucky lives, right up until now. More gratitude! But the end of their lives has been shadowed by this pandemic, as you can imagine, since we are all under the same shadow. Like my friend Basel, above, feeling the winter blues, I am weary.
Meanwhile, I continue to rehearse Life Sucks, a sort of perfect play for our times, given its title, and we are in that stressful time moving toward production week and an opening in early February. I am in the “What was I thinking?” stage I encounter with every play, but all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well, no doubt.Kathleen Kirk, My Heart Keeps Breaking
In my son’s Minecraft world
there is no pandemic.
No one spits at nurses
or lies about elections.
No one’s father has dementia.
My son thinks I’m playing
for his sake. I build
shul after shul, and in each
I pray for a world
where evil vanishes like smoke
like the mumbling zombiesRachel Barenblat, Tending
who go up in flames
every time the blocky sun rises,
gilding the open hills
and endless oceans with light.
The one good thing about being sick all week is I caught up on my reading! Pale Horse, Pale Rider is Katherine Anne Porter’s semi-autobiographical account of living through the 1918 flu as a single journalist in Denver, when the hospitals were overcrowded and they couldn’t just order an ambulance as they were too busy. Her vivid hallucinations while sick for a month with the flu are unforgettable (she sees the nurse’s hands as ‘white tarantulas’), as is the ending. I also read Katherine Mansfield’s short story “Garden Party,” about an upper-class family organizing a party as their poorer neighbor falls down dead in front of their house. Again, feels so relevant.
To add to the cheer, I’m also reading Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human with my little brother, and though it is bleak – written in 1948’s Japan, about an individual who suffers multiple childhood sex abuse traumas, grows up to be a cartoonist, tries to commit suicide, is put in an insane asylum – my brother made the astute observation that it shares a lot with Kafka’s Metamorphosis. It’s been read historically as thinly-veiled autobiography, but I’d argue it’s more ambitious than that – it’s Dazai’s attempt to embody the suffering, corruption and dehumanization of Japan during the WW II years. It’s the second-best selling book in Japan of all time, and you can see why – despite the bleak subject matter, Dazai’s writing is stunningly beautiful, even in translation (he writes with a different pronoun that the Japanese “Watashi” for “I,” except in the prologue and epilogue, but that can’t really be translated into English, which is a shame). If you want to discover Dazai but want something a little more upbeat, read his warm and funny collection of modernized fairy tales in Blue Bamboo. I’ve been teaching myself Japanese for almost a year now, and I’m sad that I’m still not fluent, but I am starting to pick up a little more on the slight variations of words – pronouns, seasons, puns. Some part of me wish I’d picked something easier, like Italian, but Japanese literature is kind of an obsession of mine, and I’d love to read these books in the original, eventually. Or at least be able to have a really simple conversation in Japanese.
The other accomplishment I’m proud of is that my NEA application is in and done. I mean, I did it with a fever and on a lot of cold medicine, so it may not be the best application I’ve ever done, but it is finished! I was in isolation while waiting for my PCR test (two of my doctors told me that I for sure had covid, based on my symptoms, so better safe than sorry) and the only thing that is good for is reading and getting grant applications done. Wishing you health and safety this week, but if you do get sick – either this nasty flu or covid – I hope you have a good window view, a stack of books, and someone to bring you unending soup and hot tea.Jeannine Hall Gailey, Signs of Spring, a Week of Illness – Covid or Flu?, Hummingbirds, Hawks, and Deer, and the NEA application
I wonder why there are far more books than time to read them.
Or if forgiveness can ever be given freely, or is it only offered on the installment plan.
I wonder if miracles ever need manicures or what happens to the many thoughts and feelings of those who pass away.
I wonder what weapons will look like in fifty years. Or our government, or how we’ll relate to one another.
I wonder what wonder will look like in fifty years.Rich Ferguson, World of Wonder
Once I thought even a small garden
could multiply my hopes. I planted
bulbs in a plot. Citrus and persimmon, purple
streaked verbena. But never again the ridged
yellow of ginger flowers, never again
the ghosts of white-throated lilies declaring
their own thirst.Luisa A. Igloria, Greenhouse
I have long thought of myself as an apprentice to light, which also means, I am an apprentice to darkness. Not opposites but a necessary union.
I suggest to students that in their poetry there must be joy in order for the sadness to have depth. There must be love in order for loss to have meaning. Shadow gives shape to light.
And so I remind myself.
I am an introvert, an introvert’s introvert. And yet to keep that solitude from being overwhelming, strategic forays into community. This week, it was a bright evening as one of the featured readers for a celebration of William Stafford held by the Lake Oswego Public Library and the Friends of William Stafford. For anyone feeling that poetry makes nothing happen, I suggest listening to the tenor of those lovely people reading poems by a beloved poet who has been gone almost thirty years.
And then wave after wave of sadness for the passing of Thich Nhat Hanh on Friday.Erin Coughlin Hollowell, A Handhold
Not so fast, walker
on the winter beach
under a shrouded moon.
Desire far outstrips
your first unsteady steps.
No sight, no fixed points:
Recalibrate. A roar answersJill Pearlman, Le Noir (Winter Beach)
your question before it’s asked.
i beheld a bell breaking into light :: but what did the sleepers hearGrant Hackett [no title]