Friday, December 04, 2015

Poetry Friday - Celebrating My Sisters

Today I'm singing the praises of my sisters ... my out-of-this-world real life sister who is 10 years older than me and will soon be celebrating her own very big birthday (I'll let you do the math), and my writing sisters who gifted me with a year of poetry by indulging my request to write together.

Let me begin with my big sister. Here we are as youngsters and much later on (in 2006) with our mom on the occasion of our Dad's 80th birthday.
I may have complained when I was younger about having a second mother, but these days I'm forever grateful for her love and guidance. I hope my next 50 years with her are as good as these have been. 

The other sisters I am truly grateful for are my poetry sisters—Tanita Davis, Kelly Fineman, Sara Lewis Holmes, Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Garton Scanlon, and Andi Sibley. Our sisterhood began on November 20, 2007 with this message from Liz. Let's just call her the instigator.
Dear Tricia… A proposition.

I had so much (torturous) fun participating in a crown sonnet writing project recently that I’m ready to try it again, crazy ‘though that may be. And I thought Poetry Friday bloggers might make the perfect crown community. What do you think? 
I’ve gotten a few yeses already – from Sara Lewis Holmes, Kelly Fineman and TadMack (aka Tanita Davis) – plus me. We need seven folks total and Kelly suggested that you might be one of the missing poets we’re looking for! (Suggestions for others are welcome). 
Here are a few of the things we’ll need to agree upon before starting: 
Specific form/rhyme scheme 
The order of the writers/stanzas 
Any subject matter/thematic parameters 
Audience (ie young or adult) *** There seems to be a consensus so far that writing for tweens or teens would be fun *** 
Let me know if you might be interested in writing 14 lines and debuting them in one big whopping crown on a Friday down the road…
Cheers, Liz
Once Laura and Andi were included in the mix, we set off on a grand adventure. Our first shared piece of work debuted on Friday, April 11th. We wrote a number of pieces sporadically over the years, but last fall they gave me the gift of a collective YES when they all agreed to write one piece together each month. It began with a triolet. The work of this year will end in January with a crown sonnet. In this busy, end-of-year season we're taking a moment to reflect.

Over the last year we've written to the following forms or prompts and published on the first Friday of the month (mostly). Here they are listed by the month published, which means we spent the month (or day!) prior to publication working on them.
That last one was tough for me. (Heck, they were all hard!) I wrote my poem on an airplane the day before it went live. I was flummoxed by the image and had no idea what to write about or in what form. I printed a copy of the image and went to work on a 6 am flight from Richmond to LaGuardia. This is how ALL my poems begin, with pen to paper. It's where I work out most of the kinks before I  finally type and post the work. Here's how it began.
I have no idea how I got here, but when I began to write I realized the word sonnet was rattling around in the back of my brain. Without a rhyming dictionary at hand, I listed rhyming words. When I began to edit I went from third person to first. I have several pages that look like this. My poetry notes and notebooks are NOT neat and pretty, but they clearly show the process (and the struggle) of trying to find just the right words.

If I'm honest with myself, I'll admit that I love rules and adore forms. I should not have been surprised that I went here. I do find it much easier to write when I know (or can pretend I know) what I'm doing. Throwing in a theme can be an added challenge, but it makes the writing that much more interesting.

In grateful love and admiration for this amazing group of women who gathered me into their fold, I am sharing the first villanelle I ever wrote (after LIZ threw down another gauntlet in October 2009 and asked us to write a villanelle using the words Thanksgiving and friend). Boy, would I love to revisit this one. However, the beauty of our work this year is that we have given ourselves permission to share our drafts in all their glorious messiness. Perfection is not the goal, but rather sharing bits of ourselves with each other and the world.

Untitled Villanelle (because I don't often do titles)

Dear friends, Thanksgiving!
For glorious oaks and sprawling trees
in winter, summer, fall and spring

For all things green and lush and living
that dance so lightly in the breeze
dear friends, Thanksgiving!

For spiders spinning webs of string
while swinging and dangling on a trapeze
through winter, summer, fall and spring

For sunflowers bold and bright and smiling,
climbing skyward with grace and ease
dear friends, Thanksgiving!

For birds that chirp and peep and sing
while visiting blossoms with bumblebees
through winter, summer, fall and spring

For poems, prose and words that sing
of beauty that brings us to our knees
Dear friends, Thanksgiving
in winter, summer, fall and spring!

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2009. All rights reserved.

Thank you dear poetry sisters. There are no words to express my gratitude for your support and encouragement in poetry and in life. 

That's a wrap for today. I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Buffy Silverman at Buff's Blog. Happy poetry Friday friends!


  1. WHat a lovely celebration of sisters and sister friends, and poetry. I agree that challenges of form and theme can be difficult yet produce wonderful results.

  2. Tricia, your wrap up, with monthly links to travel into, is a gift.

    Giving thanks to you, for this story, this viallanelle & existence of forms (such as etheree!) I didn't know.

  3. I am the 'older' sister, seven years older than my brother, so it is interesting to hear about that '2nd mother'. We did grow up to be so close, but it took a few years because of the age difference. I enjoyed hearing your journey of the 'other' sisters. It's wonderful to hear and to read all the poems when you all post. Thanksgiving indeed!

  4. First, can we time travel and get that coat from your sister in a bigger size? Way. Too. Cute.

    Second, I love that you photographed your scratch pads/ notes. Mine are on packing slips, envelopes, library reserve slips... all. over. the. place. I use an online rhyming dictionary just to cut down on the clutter. I'm with you in loving the rules and the tighter boundaries of form, but it's been a good exercise in being dragged outside of my limits this year. Thank you for being our excuse, and happy birthday to your sister.

  5. I look forward to the continued adventures and the travels with your sisters. Thank you for sharing your "gifts" with us.

  6. I love this celebration, Tricia--both your thoughts/recap and your villanelle. It's like a cheerful command (the poem, I mean), and we all need that sometimes. A reminder to buck up, be grateful for the beauty all around us and inside us. Thanks for asking for such a lovely gift.

  7. What wonderful sisters you have (poetic and otherwise.) I always enjoy reading your sisterly challenges, and this villanelle is no exception!

  8. Bravo! What a wonderful project and amazing sisters. Loved seeing your notes showing your process.

  9. A cheer of thanksgiving from the audience, grateful to be able to share your creations!

  10. Hurrah for sisters. (I never had any, so I gift favorite people with the title. And I do have three sisters-in-law, two of whom I am exceedingly fond of.) But wow am I jealous of your poetry sisters!!!