October 31, 2010

October 29, 2010

Poetry Friday--"The Hare"


A little poem for the season by Walter de la Mare:
The Hare

In the black furrow of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
And she cocked a lissome ear,
And she eyes the moon so bright,
And she nibbled o' the green;
And I whispered 'Whsst! witch-hare,'
Away like a ghostie o'er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there.

What connection do hares have with witches? Here's an explantion from Encyclopedia Mythica:
HARE
Hares were strongly associated with witches. The hare is quiet and goes about its business in secret. They are usually solitary, but occasionally they gather in large groups and act very strangely, much like a group of people having a conference. A hare can stand on its hind legs like a person; in distress, it utters a strange, almost human cry which is very disconcerting to the listener.
Watching such behavior, people claimed that a witch could change her form at night and become a hare. In this shape she stole milk or food, or destroyed crops. Others insisted that hares were only witches' familiars.
These associations caused many people to believe hares were bad luck, and best avoided. A hare crossing one's path, particularly when the person was riding a horse, caused much distress. Still, the exact opposite superstition claimed that carrying a rabbit's or hare's foot brought good luck. There is no logic to be found in superstitions.

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Toby Speed at The Writer's Armchair.

Have a great Halloween weekend!

Photo by striatic

October 26, 2010

October 24, 2010

Happy Haiga Day!


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Image by John Collier courtesy Library of Congress.

October 22, 2010

Poetry Friday--A Dodge Festival Highlight

A highlight of the Dodge Poetry Festival two weekends ago was a session called "Giving a Voice to a Life in Poetry" with Galway Kinnell.

To accommodate his frailty at the age of 83, the stage was set up so that he could remain seated, but, completely ill at ease in the seat, Kinnell stood up for his hour and ten minute presentation. He was amazing. The focus of his presentation was the poetry in his life from the Depression era to today. He interspersed poems with commentary. Much to everyone's dismay, he didn't read a single poem of his own!

Kinnell has one of those voices just made for recitation! He clearly believes that poetry should be spoken rather than read.

He started off by telling us of his youth in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The accent of his neighbors couldn't be called lilting, and, it wasn't until he read Poe's "Annabelle Lee" that he realized that language could be seen as music.

Kinnell amazed his audience by stating he memorized many poems and could recite them at will. (I believe the number he told us was 40 poems.)

He told of protesting the war in Vietnam during a time when poetry and activism went hand-in-hand. He mentioned poets now gone, but not forgotten, such as William Carlos Williams, to whom he read poems aloud.

We were held spellbound while Kinnell read poem after poem. Due to a lack of time, he skipped many that he had brought along. One of these was Robert Frost's "Home Burial," which he branded as "one of the great poems of the language."

One poem I found delightful, and completely relevant to present day America, is Muriel Rukeyser's, "St. Roach."
For that I never knew you, I only learned to dread you,
for that I never touched you, they told me you are filth,
they showed me by every action to despise your kind;
for that I saw my people making war on you,
I could not tell you apart, one from another,
for that in childhood I lived in places clear of you,
for that all the people I knew met you by
crushing you, stamping you to death, they poured boiling
water on you, they flushed you down,
for that I could not tell one from another
only that you were dark, fast on your feet, and slender.
Not like me.
For that I did not know your poems

And that I do not know any of your sayings
And that I cannot speak or read your language
And that I do not sing your songs
And that I do not teach our children
to eat your food
or know your poems
or sing your songs
But that we say you are filthing our food
But that we know you not at all.

Yesterday I looked at one of you for the first time.
You were lighter that the others in color, that was
neither good nor bad.
I was really looking for the first time.
You seemed troubled and witty.

Today I touched one of you for the first time.
You were startled, you ran, you fled away
Fast as a dancer, light, strange, and lovely to the touch.
I reach, I touch, I begin to know you.
The following, also from the Dodge Festival, but the day before I arrived, is Kinnell reading one of his own poems:



This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at A Wrung Sponge. Do stop by!

October 19, 2010

October 17, 2010

October 15, 2010

Poetry Friday--Thoughts on the Dodge Poetry Festival


Last weekend I attended the 2010 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, NJ. The festival has been held every two years since 1986, and this year was its first time being held in an urban setting. Since it was my first time attending, I have nothing to compare it to, but I found the setting easy to navigate, and the whole experience to have been FABULOUS!

My day started at 9 am on Saturday with a discussion of humor in poetry by Kay Ryan and Billy Collins. The day ended, for me, about 12 hours later, after a showcase of poems by Oliver de la Paz, Rachel Hadas, Kwame Dawes and Sharon Olds. I left during the intermission so that I could walk back to my hotel before it got too late, but in doing so, I missed 4 more poets! After hearing only the four, I decided that if ever I were to do a poetry reading, it wouldn't include any poems on cancer, illness, or death! Yikes! That's not to say all the readings included these topics, but, they certainly made up the majority. Olds had a nice mix, though, and her two odes--one to a composting toilet and the other to an anatomical feature of males--were show stoppers! ("Ode to a Composting Toilet" and another can be viewed here.)

What follows is random commentary and quotations taken from my unorganized notes:

Mentioned more than once over the course of the two days was the fact that poets used to be activists and that it seems that poetry and activism have become separated.

Also mentioned several times was the "portability of poetry," therefore it should be a form that is easier to get into the hands of the general public. A few ways of doing just that were offered by the poets and attendees. My favorite was a young woman who mentioned that when she was in high school, she and her friends used to go to a clothing store (which I won't mention other than to say its name has three letters, the first being a "G") and slip poems into the pockets of the jeans! Another was to put books of poetry into waiting rooms. Duh, how simple is that, and how much better than reading through a 2 year old issue of People? Poet Matthew Dickman spoke of bringing copies of his books to his local bar and leaving them for the patrons to look through. He mentioned that the bar now has several books of poetry by him, and others. He drew us a mental picture of a businessman in suit and tie with a martini in one hand and a poem in another.

I've become aware of a growing movement to bring poetry out where it can be experienced by everyone. One of my recent posts about poetry signage can be found here. I also came across a suggestion to write small poems on pieces of paper, fold them into origami figures, and then leave them where they can be found (for example, on buses). Baby steps, but steps all the same.

I'm sure I've talked before about The Adventures of Dr. Alphabet: 104 Unusual Ways to Write Poetry in the Classroom and the Community by David Morice, but it may have been on another blog. In any case, if you haven't heard of it, please look for it, it is full of do-able ideas.

Left to right: Matthew Dickman, Martin Espada, Claudia Rankine, "Poetry Like Bread" session.

Some quotes:

"Do not question the muse." Rita Dove

"Poetry humanizes in the face of dehumanization." Martin Espada

"Hold on to the contraries." Marie Ponset

Kay Ryan mentioned that her poems are meant to be read on the page, but, I think that her poems are even better read aloud, so that you can catch her unexpected use of rhyme. I purchased a copy of her collection, Elephant Rocks, which I had signed. It was the only book I purchased. I found that I have a poet crush on Kay Ryan--she was so down-to-earth and her workshop on craft was so full of humor it was a pleasure to sit through, despite the fact that the venue was a church with hard wooden pews. The major reason I like Ryan's work is its brevity. I'm a big fan of terseness. I found this video from Newshour with Jim Lehrer, if you'd like to learn more about Kay Ryan:



Books and poets to look for (all mentioned in the various talks):

Joseph Brodsky's On Language

Seriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, Art, Politics, Sex, and Everything Else edited by Barbara Hambly and David Kirby (this is relatively new, but I won't consider purchasing it, not even for the library, since its list price is $69.95--are the folks at the University of Georgia Press out of their minds?)

Poet C.K. Williams, of whom Galway Kinnell commented on "the dazzling of his work." It's odd, but I don't believe I've ever come across Williams before, and I'm more than ready for the dazzling.

Facing the camera from left to right: Mark Strand, Kay Ryan, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, "U.S. Poet Laureates: Putting a Public Face on Poetry" session.

Four ex-U.S. Poet Laureates sat together on stage to discuss the Poet Laureate program of the Library of Congress. They were, Mark Strand, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, and Kay Ryan. Although interesting, it think, overall, the audience found the discussion rather un-enlightening. Ryan best summed things up by saying, "The main function of the Poet Laureate is to be asked 'What is the function of the Poet Laureate?'" Other than being charged with doing two lectures/poetry readings, there appears to be no other official duties. Some laureates tend to be more involved than others, and the group of four ran the gamut from do-nothing to genuinely interested in getting poetry to masses. Of course, money for the position is minimal, but I was encouraged by hearing Rita Dove say, "If you make enough noise, money appears."

I'll share a wee bit more on the Dodge Poetry Festival next Friday, so come back again.

From here, make sure you head over to Liz in Ink for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

October 12, 2010

October 10, 2010

Happy Haiga Day!


Haiku © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Image © Brian Morse, all rights reserved.

October 8, 2010

Poetry Friday--The Dodge Poetry Festival


I am pleased to be heading down to Newark, NJ today to attend the annual Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. I remember watching Bill Moyers Journal, in years past and listening to Moyers talking about the Dodge Festival and the poets who appeared. I was always fascinated by seeing a poet in front of a packed audience in the clips he showed of the festivities. What an idea--people sitting around listening to poetry! Who goes to see poets? Obviously lots of people! I had to experience this festival for myself.

This year, as soon as tickets went on sale, I took the plunge and ordered tickets and reserved a room at a hotel. I am so looking forward a weekend of poetry. If you're interested in learning about the events, click here.

Doesn't this sound interesting?
POETRY AND HISTORY
In which ways has poetry traditionally been used as a primary repository for memory? It has been said that history is written by the victors, poetry by the survivors. How do we negotiate the distance between the "official story" and the news we get from poems? How do we find in poetry ways to help ourselves confront fact, actual occurrence and ignored truth? How does poetry preserve and illuminate personal history, the history of a people, the history of a species, the history of life itself?
Or this?
PUTTING A PUBLIC FACE ON POETRY: THE U.S. POETS LAUREATE
Since 1937, the Library of Congress has appointed a "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry" (also titled "Consultant in Poetry," prior to 1986) to a one-year or longer term. The Laureate’s task: to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. Former Poets Laureate Billy Collins (2001-2003), Rita Dove (1993-95), Kay Ryan (2008-2009) and Mark Strand (1990-91) discuss their own experiences and initiatives while in this post, as well as what it means to be the public face of what many consider an art best created and read in private.
For those of you who can't go, you can still get a feel for the Dodge Poetry Festival by viewing some of the videos from past festivals. Here's one to get you started, Tony Hoagland reading "Romantic Moment":



As soon as I'm finished packing, I'm heading out. But, before I go, I'll be stopping by Carol's Corner for a quick look at the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

October 5, 2010

October 4, 2010

Just Because...




















See more!

A real kitty haiku as written in the voice of my cat Smudgie:

where once your
papers of importance
now my confetti

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

October 3, 2010

October 1, 2010

Poetry Friday--Illustrated Poehistry

Here's another original poem that I've put together with a photo from the Library of Congress. It was inspired by my recent interest in the suffrage movement, the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and a discussion amongst my writing buddies of the states' uneven ratification process.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Image courtesy Library of Congress.


This week, the Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Biblio File. Stop by, you'll be glad you did!