Friday, March 31, 2017

Poetry Friday - NPM Starts Tomorrow!

Where has March gone! I've spent the better part of the month thinking about National Poetry Month and what I would like to explore this April. First, I decided to look back to determine what I've already covered in these yearly celebrations.
2016 - Celebrations - Project in which I highlighted daily, weekly, or monthly celebrations in April and connected them to a poet, poem, or book of poetry. 
2015 - Poetic Forms 
2014 - Science/Poetry Pairs 
2013 - Poetry A to Z 
2011 - Poetry in the Classroom  
2010 - Poetry Makers 
2009 - Poetry Makers - Interviews with poets who write for children. 
2008 - Poetry in the Classroom - Project in which I highlighted a poem, a theme, a book, or a poet and suggested ways to make poetry a regular part of life in the classroom.
I began this blog in November of 2006. I was new to this thing called blogging in 2007 and was preparing for a trip to China, so a daily celebration of poetry never crossed my mind. I'm not sure why I embraced daily posts and a thematic project in 2008, but once I did, I knew it would be a yearly tradition.

In 2009, I wrote many of my April posts in a darkened theater during rehearsals for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. My father was in hospice care at the time, and I found that both poetry and the musical kept me afloat.

In looking back, it is the glaring gap in these celebrations of poetry that touches me with a familiar prickle of grief. On March 29th of 2012, my husband lost his older sister to suicide. It was an incredibly sad time, and one in which it was hard to find solace. I wrote a lot poetry then as I tried to make sense of something incomprehensible, but I couldn't bring myself to blog. Celebrating anything just felt wrong. This year marks the 5th anniversary of Pam's death. During the last few months I've spent quite a bit of time thinking of her and wondering how I can honor her, the things she loved, and the things I loved about her.

Pam was light, and love, and kindness, and peace. In the world we live in today, these traits are much needed. So, this month I've decided to honor Pam and her legacy of caring through poetry -- poetry that celebrates what it means to be human. My daily posts will focus on empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. I know the color purple will make an appearance in some small way. There might even be a kitten or a puppy among these posts to honor Pam's love for all creatures great and small.

Shortly after Pam died, I seemed to see purple at every turn, and each time I did was reminded of her. I even spent some time looking for poems that contained the word purple. Here's a short one I found that is still with me today and continues to make me smile.

The Purple Cow
by Gelett Burgess

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!

Please join me in April for this year's National Poetry Month extravagnaza celebrating humanity and the incredible power of poetry.


I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - It's Back!

I took a bit of an unexpected break this month, but I'm happy to be back with you. For whatever reason, Mondays this semester have been hard to manage. I've been teaching 2 classes back-to-back, beginning at 4:00 pm and ending around 9:45. That means I haven't been getting home until a bit after 10. By then, if I haven't posted a stretch, it doesn't get done that day. so, my apologies for being lax this month.

I've been writing lately to some of the exercises in The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach, edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. This one is entitled "The Night Aunt Dottie Caught Elvis's Handkerchief When He Tossed It From the Stage of the Sands in Vegas" and was written by David Wojahn. In essence, the challenge is to write a poem about a family member meeting a famous person. Here are the guidelines for this.

  • The encounter can be real or imaginary, but should at least be plausible.
  • The family member, not the famous person, should be the protagonist of the poem.
  • The narrator must know the "inner workings of the family member's mind," and must write about the family member as a "character" in the third person.
  • The famous person can be anyone in politics, entertainment, or the arts.
  • Generally, a longer poem is needed (at least 30 lines) to develop a portrait of the family member.

Here's a model poem for this exercise.

1933
by Lynda Hull

Whole countries hover, oblivious on the edge
of history and in Cleveland the lake
already is dying. None of this matters
to my mother at seven, awakened from sleep

to follow her father through darkened rooms
downstairs to the restaurant emptied
of customers, chairs stacked and steam glazing
the window, through the kitchen bright with pans,

ropes of kielbasa, the tubs of creamy lard
that resemble, she thinks, ice cream.
At the tavern table her father's friends
talk rapidly to a man in a long gray coat,

in staccato French, Polish, harsh German.
Her mother stops her, holds her shoulders, and whispers
This is a famous man. Remember his face.
Trotsky, a name like one of her mother's

Read the poem in its entirety.

Other example poems include History of My Heart by Robert Pinsky and Cuba by Paul Muldoon.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem for this stretch. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Triolet

I've been a bit remiss with stretches as of late. This one is coming to you just under the wire.

triolet is an eight line poem with a tightly rhymed structure and repeated lines. Here is the form.
line 1 - A
line 2 - B
line 3 - A
line 4 - line 1 repeated
line 5 - A
line 6 - B
line 7 - line 1 repeated
line 8 - line 2 repeated
You can read an example and learn more about this form at Poets.org.

Here is an example. It comes from the book Fly With Poetry: An ABC of Poetry, written and illustrated by Avis Harley.
Phosphorescence
by Avis Harley

Have you ever swum in a sea
alive with silver light
sprinkled from a galaxy?
Have you ever swum in a sea
littered with glitter graffiti
scribbled on liquid night?
Have you ever swum in a sea
alive with silver light?
One of my favorite triolets can be found in Paul Janeczko's A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Written by Alice Schertle, the poem is entitled The Cow's Complaint.

Will you write a triolet with me this week? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Ekphrastic Poems

The Poetry Sisters are back this month writing to an image chosen by Tanita.
Photo by Ana_Cotta, used under Creative Commons License

I wrote a number of poems for this challenge, but one idea kept popping into my head and I couldn't get over it (or past it). It was this ...
Following on this theme of phone booths in literature and film, my brainstorming took me to phone booth stuffing, the T.A.R.D.I.S., The Phantom Toll Booth, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and more. After a bit of noodling, this is what I finally settled on.

Nostalgia

I weep for
Clark Kent
Dr. Who
Harry Potter

Where will Clark become Superman?
How with the Doctor travel through time and space?
How will Harry visit the Ministry of Magic?

It’s been years since I’ve seen
an honest-to-God booth
with a door and working phone
the kind you secretly popped into
to check for forgotten change
or ducked into to get
out of the rain

I miss the snap and ch-ch-ch-ch-ch
of the old rotary dial
and later, the beep-beep-beep
of metal push buttons

I long to enter a
royal red box in London
dial 62442 (magic!)
and descend through the ground

I dream of taking a trip
in the T.A.R.D.I.S.
to talk poetry with
Dickinson and Frost

I pray that if I ever need assistance
my heroes will find a space to
hang their hats and transform

Today I’m missing telephones.
What will I miss tomorrow?

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe. Happy poetry Friday friends!