October 30, 2009

Poetry Friday--"To Make a Prairie..."

Photo by Guerito


To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,--
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

~ Emily Dickinson ~

Don't you love the utter simplicity of this poem? Dickinson wrote dozens of poems about bees, but the above one is my favorite.

Here's a fun exercise. Write your own "to make a _____ it takes a _____" poem.

I tried to do justice to Dickinson's form. I hope it works!

With Apologies to Emily

To make a cat it takes a purr and a bit of fur...
A purr and fur.
Neurosis? Sure!
Within the angel's paw
Must hide a devil's claw.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

If you write one of your own, please share it with us in the comments!

Biblio File is the host for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

October 29, 2009

Inadequacy

The Miss Rumphius Effect blog has a poetry "stretch" on Mondays. I always read the stretch and on occasion I participate. This week's challenge is to create a Zeno. What's a Zeno? It's a new form created by J. Patrick Lewis.
A 10-line verse form with a repeating syllable count of 8,4,2,1,4,2,1,4,2,1. The rhyme scheme is abcdefdghd.
There were a number of examples to look at and I said to myself, how hard can this be?

Oh my. I spent at least three hours writing and rewriting and rewriting and starting over and writing. I'd get the syllables right, but find I had the rhymes in the wrong place. I'd get the rhymes right but find that the whole thing made absolutely no sense. By the time it hit midnight, I deleted it all and went to bed feeling totally inadequate, absolutely convinced that I am not a poet and never will be!

I'd encourage you to head over to Miss Rumphius Effect and give a Zeno a try. Good luck!

October 27, 2009

October 24, 2009

R.I.P. Soupy Sales

In my youth, I used to watch Soupy Sales. He was a favorite even though his jokes weren't always for kids. Soupy Sales died on Thursday at the age of 83.

Rather than talk about him, I thought I'd let you watch.



Simple and silly--YES!--but I laughed until tears ran when I watched it yesterday.

He was so much a part of the culture of the mid-60s. It wasn't a simple and silly time, but we needed his type of humor, and I thank him for the memories and the music..."Pachalafaka. Pachalafaka. They sing it all over Turkey."

October 23, 2009

Poetry Friday--What Happens Next


I was browsing through a book by Alison Hawthorne Deming called Genius Loci (Penguin Books, 2005) and came across a short poem that I found intriguing.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Burned and wounded
he turns from her.
He is a god
and does not know
pain though now he
feels it where the
hot oil of her
lamp has spilled at
the juncture where
his wings begin
to bud and fledge.
It's the title that hooked me. There is no question mark. Is the wounding what happened next? If so, the reader is free to imagine what came before to bring it about--was it accidental or intentional? Or, should the reader speculate what will happen next? Will He remain earthbound since his wings are damaged, or will they heal allowing him to fly away from Her? So many possibilities! I like being able to construct a whole story from what we are given in these 41 words.

Another poem, "New Shoes, 1939," also invites the reader to speculate. It is evident from the opening lines that there is ambiguity ahead.
Is that a receipt
or a love note folded
on the open box?
Look for Genius Loci--there is more waiting to be discovered!

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Big A little a.

October 21, 2009

Here's a Fun Idea!

At the Bath Central Library in the U.K., a month-long poetry event is taking place. Poet-in-residence, Alan Summers, has begun a challenge to produce a renga of 1,000 verses. You can read about it in this recent article.

Alan Summers looks over some of the verses contributed to the 1,000 Verses Renga project.


Summers is "Haikutec" on Twitter, and according to an 10/19 update, the project is "Already heading towards 600 verses..."

A renga is a poem written through a collaborative effort, in this case, the collaboration comes from poets around the world not just from those in Bath. You too, can take part. All you need do is submit a short 2 or 3 line verse. Follow the directions at Area 17.

If you're interested in learning more about the Japanese form of renga, a good place to start would be Jane Reichhold's AhaPoetry page on renga.


Photo courtesy Alan Summers.

October 20, 2009

October 16, 2009

Poetry Friday--The Anthologist



The Anthologist (Simon & Schuster, 2009) is a NOVEL by Nicolson Baker. So where's the Poetry Friday tie-in? The book's main character, Paul Chowder, is a minor poet (in his own words, "I'm a study in failure.") whose life in entangled in Poetry.

I have to say, The Anthologist is one of the strangest books I have ever read--and I like it. Sadly, I don't believe it has broad appeal. I don't think I'll be able to recommend a book about a poet, even if I do it with enthusiasm. People are going to look at me like I have three heads. The audience for it just isn't there, at least not in my library. But, the fact that you're reading this Poetry Friday post, obviously means you have an interest in poetry and poets!

Baker's character has a project his editor is expecting him to complete. It remains undone. Paul must write an introduction to his anthology of poetry. The poems have been chosen, yet he avoids writing the introduction. Instead he spends his time hiding away in his barn and telling the reader bits and pieces about poetry and poets--exactly the thing you'd expect to find in an introduction. He just doesn't write it.

Paul puts off the writing for so long, that frustrated by his inactivity, his girlfriend, Roz, walks out on him. Paul misses her terribly and in between telling the reader about rhyme and meter and imagined meetings with poets, he tries to get Roz to return (often by having stupid accidents that require her assistance).

Will Paul get the damned thing written? Will he get Roz back? You don't expect me to tell, do you?

The amazing thing about The Anthologist is that Paul's explanation of the mechanics of poetry is often quite enlightening and rather amusing. Here's an example:
There are two kinds of enjambment. There's regular enjambment, which is part of traditional poetry and is almost always a bad idea, but especially in sonnets--and then there's what's known as ultra-extreme enjambment. Ultra-extreme enjambment comes standard in free verse because free verse is, as we know, merely a heartfelt arrangement of plummy words requesting to be read slowly. So you can break the line anywhere you want. In fact you want to

                  break against any
                  moments of natural

                  pause, not with
                  them, to keep

everyone on their toes and off balance...
I also like the little contemporary cultural references Baker throws in to show us that Paul isn't an terminally insufferable poetry snob.
I've got Photoshop for Dummies, and I learned a lot from it. The dummies' day may be passing, though. Too much yellow all over Barnes & Noble.
You've got to love a character who likes dummies books, ZZ Top, Project Runway, and Sara Teasdale. Well, at least I do!

I'd recommend you give The Anthologist a try. You'll either love it or hate it, but I doubt you'll be neutral.

For a Poetry Foundation interview with Nicholson Baker, click here.

In case you were wondering why there is a plum on the cover of The Anthologist, it's because Paul refers to nonrhyming poems as plums!

Please visit my friend Laura Salas for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

October 13, 2009

October 9, 2009

Poetry Friday--October

The Miss Rumphius Effect "Monday Poetry Stretch" was a challenge to write an October poem. I took the challenge, and not two minutes after I posted my effort (simply titled "October"), I wanted to go back and rewrite it. I didn't, of course, but what I did do was write another poem. This one I called "October Dusk." It was inspired by the geese that wrested my attention from an episode of Bones (the complete season 4 was released this week).

OCTOBER DUSK

The
lead goose's
stamina is tested by the
lack of uplift. Up, out, down.
Up, out, down--how many strokes
in 1,000 miles? The honks grow louder--point,
counterpoint--honks strong, distinct. The
encouragement continues as the leader

falls
back, his position quickly
assumed by another. Up, out, down.
How many strokes...
The honk, honk, honk,
goes on--honk,
honk, honk

honk

hon...

h...

fading
into
the
night.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Make sure you check out the inspired/inspiring October poems at The Miss Rumphius Effect. And also check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Picture Book of the Day.

October 7, 2009

A Trip Back

Coincidentally, I heard a segment on NPR's Talk of the Nation about "Whitopias" on the same day as I found a website devoted to 1950's illustration. "Whitopias" were described as communities being
communal pods that cannily preserve a white-bread world, a throwback to an imagined past with "authentic" 1950s values and the nifty suburban amenities available today.
It amazing that people continue to look backward where a "Leave It to Beaver" world is considered to be ideal. Not to go off on a rant, but weren't the women in those "ideal" communities of the 1950s stifled, intellectually unchallenged, and often driven to drink? And, weren't the children in those communities denied the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a multi-cultural society?

Courtesy Plan59.com


That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed browsing through the pages of 1950s pictures at Plan59.com. Take a look and let me know if the 1950s are a place you'd like to return to.

October 6, 2009

October 2, 2009

Poetry Friday--Poetry in Motion

Poetry found an audience on the subways and buses of New York through the "Poetry in Motion" program. Short poems are displayed on the placards that you usually see advertising such things as on-line degree programs or newly released films. The poets featured range from William Shakespeare to subway poem competition winners.

A book was produced a few years after the program's start in 1992, Poetry in Motion: 100 Poems from the Subways and Buses (W.W. Norton, 1996), it contains the first one hundred poems that were promoted. Check your local public library for a copy.

Here's a video called "Poetry in Motion" that shows us subway poetry of another kind:



Check out this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up at Crossover.