January 29, 2010

Poetry Friday-Erasure Poetry

The Poetry Foundation has an audio feature called Poetry Off the Shelf. It's an exploration of
the diverse world of contemporary American poetry with readings by poets, interviews with critics, and short poetry documentaries. Nothing is off limits, and nobody is taken too seriously.
Last week's audio was "Poetry Written with an Eraser."

Photo by crowderb

This was my first exposure to erasure poems. You take an existing work of poetry or fiction, or I suppose anything at all, and erase (or white out) sections of it to come up with something that becomes a poem on its own.

The part of the process that most puzzled me was how the person doing the erasing decided upon guidelines for removing the words? Yetta Morrison took Joseph Conrad's fictional Heart of Darkness and "excised all things human." She left only references to nature.

I thought I'd try an erasure poem myself, so taking an old anthology, I randomly opened the book and found Walt Whitman's "Miracles"
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
I decided to use Morrison's guidelines and take out anything that had to do with humans, I would leave in words or phrases about nature. I would also take out the punctuation.

the sky
along the beach the edge of the water
trees in the woods
at night
honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
animals feeding in the fields
birds insects in the air
the sundown stars shining so quiet
and bright
the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring
every hour of the light and dark
space
the surface of the earth
Every foot of the interior
the sea
The fishes that swim the rocks the motion of the waves
I rearranged the lines a little, and retitled it, "Miracles."
MIRACLES

The sky along the beach.
The edge of the water.
Trees in the woods at night.
Honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer.
Animals feeding in the fields.
Birds.
Insects in the air.
The sundown stars shining so quiet and bright.
The exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring.
Every hour of the light, and dark.
Space.
The surface of the earth.
Every foot of the interior.
The sea.
The fishes that swim.
The rocks.
The motion of the waves.
It was a fun exercise!

Check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Picture Book of the Day.

January 26, 2010

January 22, 2010

Poetry Friday--A Winter Haiga

On Wednesday, after two days of snow, the sun rose, the clouds cleared, and the sky was a brilliant blue. It was a lovely way to start my day. I snapped a photo from the library's parking lot. Then, like magic, a haiku popped into my head. After a little editing of both the photo and the haiku, I ended up with the haiga below.

*©Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Haiga is the combination of image (generally a painting or photo) and haiku (senryu, tanka, cinquain, or other short poem). My haiku buddy, Marnie Brooks, has been experimenting with haiga for a while now (you can see some of her work here). Despite having written haiku/senryu for years, I'm a relative newbie when it comes to haiga.

You may notice that I used metaphor in the haiku. Writers of haiku are generally advised not to use poetic devices. I usually don't, but the color of the sky called out--"Delft." I couldn't get it out of my head, it worked for me, and I think it works for the poem. As Katherine Hepburn said, "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun."

You can find free photo editing at picnik.com. It's easy to use! I enjoyed working with it and will be going back soon to try adding text to more pictures. Look out haiga world--here I come!

Liz Scanlon, author of the recently announced Caldecott honor book, All the World (illustrated by Marla Frazee), is hosting this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up at Liz in Ink. Congratulations Liz!

*I also posted this haiga at 4 Seasons Haiku: Winter on Wednesday.

January 19, 2010

January 15, 2010

Poetry Friday--"And Death Shall Have No Dominion"

Photo courtesy of United Nations Development Programme

The past few days have been filled with news of the devastating consequences of an earthquake in Haiti.

The photos of people dazed and wandering, the piles of rubble that were once homes, the bodies lining the streets, are almost unbearable to view.

This has been on my mind and has led me to a a poem by Dylan Thomas.


And Death Shall Have No Dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
Read the rest here.

I find a bit of consolation in this poem, especially the line, They shall have stars at elbow and foot.

Author, Tracy Kidder, wrote about a Boston-based organization, Partners in Health, in his book, Mountains Beyond Mountains. I saw Kidder on television last night, and he urged people to support PIH since it is already at work in Haiti. Being situated a distance from Port-au-Prince, Zanmi Lasante, which is Haitian creole for Partners in Health, was immediately able to start providing aid. If you are able, perhaps you will consider supporting Partners in Health.

Visit Great Kid Books for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

January 12, 2010

January 9, 2010

Crazy Robins!

At work yesterday, there was a flock (meaning dozens) of robins outside the library. Each time the door opened, they'd swoop from one tree to another. Now, this wouldn't be such an odd thing, except that it is JANUARY and this is NEW HAMPSHIRE! Those feathered critters should have flown south long ago. And what made it worse--it was snowing all afternoon. So, I tried to take a few pictures, but I couldn't get too close. The only one in which you could actually see a few of the birds is below. I wrote a little poem to go with it. I also wrote a haiku and posted it, and the photo, at 4 seasons haiku.

ROBINS IN JANUARY

Why? I wondered,
would a flock of robins
not fly south for the winter?

Unless, of course, it
is to lighten the burden
of winter for me.
©Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

I apologize for the quality of the photo. It was already after 4, getting dark, and my lens was covered with melting snowflakes, thus the whitish spots.

January 8, 2010

Poetry Friday--"Good Hours"


Once again I turn to Robert Frost who is New Hampshire's poet. Here's one of his seasonal poems called "Good Hours," which is perfect for today. New Hampshire is covered with a thin layer of crusty snow, it is cold, damp, and if I were to walk out tonight at 10:00, I, too, would probably see "no window but was black."
Good Hours

I had for my winter evening walk--
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.

And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.

I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.

Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o'clock of a winter eve.
Visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for the Poetry Friday Round-Up. Have a great weekend!

January 7, 2010

The Future?

Picture book writers take note. The days of a book in hand, the waft of paper and ink, may be nearing its end. This is the future. Will it change the way we tell a story? We'll soon find out.

Meet the Blio...

January 5, 2010

January 1, 2010

Poetry Friday--Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

Happy New Year! This year I'm participating in an exchange of New Year's haiku with writers from all over the U.S. and the world. Here is the greeting I mailed to participants:

©Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

It seems that in Japan, on New Year's day, people typically exchange greetings with friends and loved ones. This exchange is called a nengajyou.

Participants in our haiku group exchange were given instructions, they were:

  • A card or postcard should include the jyunishi (zodiac sign) for 2010, the Year of The Tiger.


  • Somewhere on the card should appear the words, Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu (Happy New Year).


  • An original haiku with a New Year's theme should be included.


  • Each person on the list should be mailed a card so that it will arrive by New Year's day.


  • I took a little liberty with my jyunishi--I have a "tiger" living in my house and I included her picture.

    I've received many, many greetings thus far. All are wonderful! All are greatly appreciated!

    Mary Lee is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up at A Year of Reading.

    Have a poetry-filled 2010!