October 30, 2012

October 28, 2012

October 26, 2012

Poetry Friday--The Dodge Poetry Festival, Part 2

Last week I attempted to give you a taste of this year's Dodge Poetry Festival. Today, I'm going to give you a whole mouthful!

I promised to tell you about Nikki Finney, my new "favorite" poet! Finney, is intelligent, compassionate, an award-winning poet, about my age, and, she has a great website! What's not to like? I'd suggest browsing her site if she is new to you. Watch some of the videos. Read a few of the poems.

Photo courtesy NikkyFinney.net.

As I did last week, I'm going to post a few quotes from the sessions I attended. These are from the ones in which Finney participated. I think you'll come away with an idea of her spirit and her generosity.
"Sometimes a poem walks right into the room."

"If you're proud of what you've done, you can take it anywhere."

"I'm from the Harriet Tubman school of life: if I get through the door, I'm going to bring somebody with me."

"You can imitate and steal, but you also want to invent--be inventive."

"I like contemplation. I like to think about things."

Her "Conversation: On Craft" session was full of hints such as thinking mathematically about poetry by counting syllables, or lines, etc. About writing a poem she told us, "I like to come in through a window, not a door." And, one of those ways in is to use an epigraph. She also suggests that poets engage in the "art of listening." Finney compared writing to being a photographer who uses different lenses. I particularly liked the idea of a fisheye lens relating to magical realism--something to think about...

And if that's not enough to give you a feel for Finney, watch this:



Finney told us that she hadn't prepared a speech until a friend had suggested that she might want to consider doing so! Aren't we glad she took that advice!

Now, take my advice and head down to your local public library and pick up one of Finney's books, I'm sure you'll become a fan! One more piece of advice: the Poetry Friday Round-Up is in full swing at TeacherDance, so stop by.

October 23, 2012

October 21, 2012

Happy Haiga Day!


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Original photo © Janet Buell, all rights reserved.

October 19, 2012

Poetry Friday--The Dodge Poetry Festival

NJPAC, the site of the 2012 Dodge Poetry Festival

Last weekend I attended the Dodge Poetry Festival, which was held in Newark, NJ. Need I tell you it was AWESOME?

I didn't find as much variety in the workshops and poets this year, as there was in 2010, but it was still awesome.

I took lots of notes, but, many of them are totally indecipherable! So, I'm going to pick through what I can read and give you a taste of what the poets had to say about poetry.

Eavan Boland and Henri Cole in a conversation

Boland: Similes are "like the appendixes that have lost their function."

Cole: "I adore similes."

Much of their conversation was a playful back-and-forth.

A number of the poets I saw several times over the course of three days. They were run ragged between readings, conversations, signings, etc. Boland was one poet I sought out as I greatly admire her work.

Boland signs a book I purchased from the festival bookstore

Boland recalled an editor at the Irish Times who once told her, that "only 10% of the Irish population like poetry, but 45% write it!"

One of the poems I heard Boland read at least twice was "Quarantine," a poem about the Hunger.
In the worst hour of the worst season
    of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking – they were both walking – north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
    He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
    Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
    There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
    Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.
Not all the programs were held at the beautiful NJPAC, others were held in churches, the Newark Museum, the NJ Historical Society, etc. Here's Dorianne Laux in a talk on craft, held at the First Peddie Baptist Memorial Church.


Laux: "Poetic instinct--you develop it over time by listening."

It was sometimes difficult to take my eyes off the craftsmanship evident in this old church--both the poetry and the surroundings were inspirational:





















Here are a few more quotes from some of the featured poets:

Philip Levine on poems: "I came to see them as little animals. When they want your attention they bite your shin..."

Gregory Orr on poetry: "We feel it's the way language can give testimony to the human experience."

Raul Zurita: "Poems are often responses to ideas not yet formed."

I'll end with one from Nikki Finney. I plan to revisit Finney next week as I have developed a bit of a "girl crush" on her!

Finney: "We pick up the pencil one more time to try to get it right."

Irene Latham is just waiting to welcome you to the Poetry Friday Round-Up being held at Live Your Poem... Make sure to stop by!


Photos © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

October 16, 2012

October 12, 2012

Poetry Friday--"With a Bang and a Flash"


A few weeks ago I explored newspapers from 1949 and wrote briefly about a puzzle that appeared in the Hamilton Daily News Journal (OH) on September 22, 1949. On the same page was a huge ad from King's Cut Rate [drug store]. I picked out a few items of interest in case you have trouble reading the ad:
J. & J. Bandaid Tin of 36     29¢
Welch's Grape Juice Pint Bottle     22¢
50¢ Value Aspirin Tablets Bottle of 100     7¢
Electric Heating Pad     $2.98
Save Money on Sanitary Protection Box of 48 Modess     Now Only $1.27
Lilly's Insulin U40--10CC     $1.26
Squibb's B Complex Tablets 100's     $3.19
Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol: Shoots With a Bang and a Flash     59¢
The Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol tickled me and I wanted to write a poem about it. Ultimately, what I wrote didn't tickle me, as an idea sometimes gets away and takes on a mind of its own.
Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol: Shoots
With a Bang and a Flash (1949 ad copy)


WITH A BANG AND A FLASH

On Jim's ninth birthday
his Grandpa bought him
a Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol.
Jim was the envy of all
the gang at the playground.

Little by little Jim changed
the rules of war. Finger guns
were dismissed as stupid.
He scoffed at their dirt bombs
and their sharpened sticks.

The mushroom cloud of all
their imaginations grew with
each threat of a bang and a flash.
Intimidation turned to domination,
turned at last to realization that

a bang and a flash were simply
a matter of percussion and friction.
False gods and friendship can
never co-exist. A choice had
to be made. Which would it be?

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I'm in New Jersey for the Dodge Poetry Festival. I hope to give a report next week, so come back on Friday.

Now, head over to Teaching Young Writers for another fabulous Round-Up!

October 9, 2012

October 7, 2012

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo © Gretchen Mayr.

October 5, 2012

Poetry Friday--Spark Challenge

A few weeks ago I participated in the 17th Spark challenge. To quote the Spark website,
Open to writers, musicians, and visual artists of all kinds, SPARK takes place four times each year.

During each 10-day project round, participants create a new piece of work using someone else’s art, writing, or music as inspiration.
This was my third time participating, and my randomly assigned partner was Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm! How lucky was that?

The first time I participated, I did so as an "artist." I hardly consider myself an artist in the normal painter sense of the word, but I have been working for a few years with photographs and combining my haiku and other poems with manipulated images. Since there was an over abundance of writers who wanted to participate in that round, I volunteered to be an artist. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to continue as an artist for Spark challenges.

I sent Amy a photo for inspiration and she sent me a poem. Amy has written about our partnership here and here. I thought I would share my process in creating my response piece to this poem that Amy sent:




Isn't it great? And I love the strong visual images. Here are things that came to mind after reading it: dreams, horses = dreams, nightMARES, flames = heat. And then, this thought came unbidden, "The heat of our dreams is not the same as night sweats." At that point I started to think about putting together images.

I found this image from an out-of-copyright book at Project Gutenberg. I liked it immediately because it showed a sleeping girl surrounded by books.




I cropped the illustration so that the girl was central. Then I thought about adding a horse, but decided that it would be too overpowering. I definitely wanted to include the flames from the poem and the heat of one's dreams. I layered a photo of a fire over the girl and made the flames fade so that they're not-in-your-face (disclaimer: I don't know anything about the jargon that graphic designers use, so I hope you understand what I'm talking about. Maybe one day I'll take a class.)

I discovered that Amy likes birds, and I like birds, so I wanted to add a bird to the image. Again, I used an illustration I found in an out-of-copyright book. I like the way it illustrates how dreams can be both beautiful and fleeting.

Since I didn't use a horse, I decided to use a line from Amy's poem that included horses, and made it gallop across the page in red. I finished up with the "heat of our dreams" line that I mentioned above.


As I said, I'm not an artist, but, I think artists and writers probably approach projects similiarly. All this explanation was to get you to consider signing up for Spark #18 when it comes around in December. You can challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone and become an ARTIST in another medium. Just be creative!

Head over to see Laura Salas for the Poetry Friday Round-Up. Laura is one who is not afraid to take on new challenges--if I remember correctly, she recently did a stint in a marching band as one of the people who waves big sticks!



October 2, 2012