April 28, 2015

April 27, 2015

Ekphrastic Mondays Poem #4

This is the last Monday in this year's National Poetry Month celebration of ekphrastic poetry. I'm concluding with a seasonal poem inspired by the "The Happy Gardener," A painting by Hermann Kern (1838-1912). I love this painting. It is smile-inducing, it is joyous, it is full of hope!


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Painting by Hermann Kern, courtesy The Athenaeum.

April 26, 2015

Happy Haiga Day!




































© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Painting by Eugène-Louis Boutin, "Near Trouville, Low Tide, Sunset," courtesy The Athenaeum.

April 23, 2015

Poetry Friday--Haiku Master, Issa

Kobayashi Issa, known as "Issa," is one of Japan's haiku masters. He lived a poor and childless life from 1763 to 1828. The Kobayashi Issa website has a brief synopsis.

Issa's haiku deal with the little things in life, including all manner of insects and animals. His compassion for creatures is evident in his work. He also finds humor in his impoverished condition and helps 21st century readers to put their lives in perspective.

Over his lifetime, he wrote more than 20,000 haiku! David G. Lanoue has translated half of them and has them archived here. Please take a little time to browse through. Pick a topic, such as "sparrow" or "frog" or "cat" and settle in.

Here are a few sample haiku from the archive. All of them portray an element of play:
new grass--
a sparrow and I
just playing


the kitten dances
round and round...
falling leaves


the children
make it a playground...
burnt field


playing with
the rambunctious dog...
little butterfly


a good day, eh?
fleas dancing
and hopping


just for fun
a game of cards...
clear fall weather

The archive is interesting in that Lanoue presents the poem in Japanese characters, transliterated, and translated. Also included is contextual information so that we can better understand Issa's words and intent.

.古犬や蚯蚓の唄にかんじ顔
furu inu ya mimizu no uta ni kanji-gao

the old dog
looks as if he's listening...
earthworms sing


One Japanese saijiki, a book of season words with examples, says the following about the expression "earthworms sing" (mimizu naku): "Earthworms don't sing. On autumn evenings, when one says one is hearing the 'jii-jii' song of earthworms, in fact they are referring to mole-crickets"; Kiyose (Tokyo: Kakugawa Shoten, 1984) 296. Shinji Ogawa notes, in modern usage, the expression can refer to any "unknown bugs" singing in the autumn.

This month Michelle Heidenrich Barnes has a clerihew challenge. A clerihew is a simple four-lined poem with a rhyme scheme of AABB. The first line mentions a famous person and the other three usually poke fun at that person. I contributed a clerihew about Issa. I go easy on him and don't ridicule his life, although some people might think a life spent living among, and writing about, bugs is a bit funny! (Please note, I changed one word between the version posted on Michelle's page, and the version I illustrated.)

I've illustrated the clerihew. On my photo editing software, the background has a lovely weathered copper and coral coloring. When I posted it here on blogger, the color is green and orangey. Not at all attractive. What's up with that? Different programs, but the same monitor. Why do the colors change? If anyone can explain it to me, I'd sure appreciate it!

Poem © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo of Issa statue courtesy Issa Memorial Museum. I have edited it for the illustration.

I'll finish by recommending two children's picture books, which cover Issa and his work: Cool Melons--Turn to Frogs!: The Life and Poems of Issa by Matthew Gollub, and Today and Today: Haiku of Issa illustrated by G. Brian Karas.

Renée is hosting the Round-Up at No Water River. See you there!

April 21, 2015

Haiku Sticky #302


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

The blue of the sticky is the color of the skies last week (this week it's raining). The snow is gone, with the exception of a few shaded spots, and in the woods. It's official, the winter of 2014-2015 is over!

April 20, 2015

Ekphrastic Mondays Poem #3

Welcome to another Ekphrastic Monday! Please click on the link to the painting, "Lady at the Tea Table," by Lilla Cabot Perry, to get a better view.

Click on the image to enlarge. Poem © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Painting by Lilla Cabot Perry (circa 1905), courtesy The Athenaeum. Poster for The Sandow Trocadero Vaudevilles (1894), courtesy Library of Congress.

In the days of traveling circuses, I imagine many people harbored dreams of running away to join the circus! Here is the poem in case you are unable to read it:
Lady at the Tea Table

Between social responsibilities
I train my dog.
Little tricks lead to astounding performances.

We also practice daily at four.

When my plate of shortbread
is empty, my little dog
is further rewarded with kisses.

At five we resume our normal activities.

One day soon I will
take a bow with aplomb,
just as my canine companion does.

We will wait until 7:59, then walk out the door.

April 19, 2015

Happy Haiga Day!


Click on the image to enlarge. © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo of the Tomb of Hatshepsut by Michael Lusk.

April 17, 2015

Poetry Friday--Today Is International Haiku Poetry Day!

Courtesy The Haiku Foundation.

This day of National Poetry Month has been designated International Haiku Poetry Day--a celebration of haiku. Haiku by it's very name implies "international."

Here is the definition of "international" found in the online Collins American English Dictionary:
adjective
  1. between or among nations ⇒ "an international treaty"
  2. concerned with the relations between nations ⇒ "an international court"
  3. for the use of all nations ⇒ "international waters"
  4. of, for, or by people in various nations
  5. of or having to do with activities or operations carried on in countries other than the home country ⇒ "international sales"
Definitions 1, 3, and 4 are perfect for haiku. Haiku is for everyone from everywhere.

If you thought of haiku as a Japanese invention appropriated for American use only, I'm here to tell you that it ain't so! Haiku is truly an international form! Just click on the Haiku Registry to see haiku poets hailing from the U. S., of course, and also Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philipines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, and the U. K. Links to foreign organizations can be found here.

While you're in the registry, be sure to click on each name. When you do, you'll be treated to a sampling of the poet's haiku and get a glimpse of how haiku is flourishing.

As part of International Haiku Poetry Day, there is the EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration.
The inaugural EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration begins at 12:01 A.M. at the International Date Line, and rolls throughout the day. You’ll find a "seed" haiku on the blog at that time, on this year’s theme: Light, in celebration of the International Year of Light. Add your poem(s), in response to the previous post, or start a new thread on the topic of light. Ideally we’d like you to do this at dawn wherever you are, but we’re flexible--do it when you can, and as often as you like. The results will become a permanent archive on the THF site.

The rolling has already begun here, so I hope you'll be inspired to participate. The "seed" haiku:

will anyone
not be taking up his pen?
tonight’s moon

Onitsura (1660 – 1738)

Many haiku events have been planned for today or on the weekend. Click here to see if there are any taking place in your area.

Have a happy Haiku Poetry Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I'm celebrating "National Haiku Poetry Day" at Kurious Kitty with some recommended book titles. And, haiku poet, Robyn Hood Black, is coincidentally today's Round-Up host!

April 14, 2015

April 13, 2015

Ekphrastic Mondays Poem #2

This is the second in my National Poetry Month 2015 "Ekphrastic Mondays" series. The painting, a fresco, at the Church of Ognissanti in Florence, was painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in 1480.


Please click on the image to enlarge for easier reading. Poem © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. "St. Jerome in His Study" by Domenico Ghirlandaio, courtesy Wikimedia. I used a distressed plaster effect background and I think the photo of the fresco blends in well with it.

I've written about St. Lucy before; click here.

April 10, 2015

Poetry Friday--Poetic License

I finally found my official "Poetic License." It had been used as a bookmark in my Roget's Super Thesaurus. Since it's so easy to use an online thesaurus, I've basically abandoned my thesaurus in book form and had lost track of the license.

Here's my license to, "poetize, versify, rhyme, alliterate, or jingle":


I would also add to that, "haiku-ize," and to tell a "truth" in as few words as possible. Thankfully, there's no expiration date!

I received the license when I entered a haiku competition the Christian Science Monitor held many, many years ago. There was a year or two when I wrote short pieces and quizzes for the CSM's "KidsSpace" page; to see one, click here. The CSM was the periodical that published my first article, and, my first haiku.

My first article, "Rhyme Time Let's Do Verse Terse" (I'm not responsible for that title!) appeared twenty years ago at the end of March! Where does the time go? If you click on the link, you will find some of the terse verse poems are missing due to the way they were formatted in the original newspaper article. Sadly, I'm about 5 computers beyond the original manuscript. (As a matter of fact, the ms. was typed on a small word processor. For those who don't know, the word processor was a precursor to the personal computer.) I lost a bunch of files along the way, and so, can't supply the missing poems.

My focus certainly changed over the years! I started with a poetry article, without being a poet. Then, for a while it was picture books all the time, then on to nonfiction, and here I am, back to poetry. But now, rather significantly, I might add, I'm not afraid to call myself a poet, or, to flash my poetic license when needed!

The photo on the license is one of my elementary school pictures. I think it looks rather poet-like, especially that black velvet collar! It put me in mind of the 1894 Emily Dickinson lithograph of Dickinson as a child, except our outfits are reversed--she has a white collar and a black shirtwaist.

Courtesy Library of Congress.

I may as well conclude this with another in the series of Ku-dos to Emily!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo by Arnold Genthe, courtesy Library of Congress.

Laura Salas is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up, so be sure to stop by.

One more thing...I am in no way comparing myself to Emily D. We're as different as night and day. I would never write lines such as these,
For each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.

I have a much rosier outlook on life than she!


April 7, 2015

April 6, 2015

Ekphrastic Mondays Poem #1

It's National Poetry Month 2015 and to celebrate I'm once again, presenting "Ekphrastic Mondays." Each Monday in April I'll be posting an ekphrastic poem (art about art). Today's poem I entered in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's "ARTlines2 Poetry Competition." It was a contest I did not win. I was hoping to at least get into the honorable mention category, so that I could get a contributor copy of the contest anthology. No such luck. Ah, well. I still like the poem, so, I'm going to share it with you today, accompanied by this piece from the museum's collection:

"Mademoiselle Boissiere Knitting" by Gustave Caillebotte (1877), courtesy MFAH.
Muffatees and Mitts

A hank of fine wool,
two slender needles,
fingers fully engaged.

Mechanized with the
rhythm, row upon row.

If I closed my eyes I
did not drop a stitch.

"I would recognize the
click of your needles from
our adjoining graves."

How you loved to tease
me all those years ago.

The click remains, but I
can't say the same of you.

Muffatees and mitts,
D’Oyleys and gaiters,
these things never change.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

I imagined the younger Mademoiselle Boissiere had a lover. He made promises to her, but then left her with only memories.

Mitts and muffatees are fingerless gloves (now back in fashion a century and a half latter). D'Oyleys are, of course, doilies. Gaiters cover the ankles and the tops of boots or shoes.

Come back next Monday for a poem about the patron saint of eyeglasses!

April 3, 2015

Poetry Friday--The E. B.'s Coming!


I'm not religious. I grew up in a go-to-church-on-Sunday family. Of course we celebrated Easter, but more as an excuse for chocolate and marshmallow candy! I continue to enjoy the candy, and the secular symbols of Easter, especially the Easter Bunny! On occasion I'll even write an Easter poem.

Here are Easter haiku from the past (some have been posted before):

Easter morning
NPR tell us which wine
to drink with ham


Easter...
Cap'n Crunch french toast
at the local cafe




at the cafe...
ham and eggs with
the Easter Bunny


day after Easter
jelly beans in flavors
no one likes


This next is a poem I don't even remember writing!

ON EASTER DAY

I found you, Ladybug,
floating dead in the dishwater
your elytra spread open,
your wings water-laden.
It pained me to fish
you out and throw
your remains in the trash.
You were the little
ladybug who had survived
the winter and surprised
me with thoughts of spring
days before anything green.

And to finish up, here's an illustrated poem I posted back in April 2010:


I promise an Easter haiga for Sunday, so please come back. And bring a marshmallow chick or two to share!

There will probably be many more Easter poems this Poetry Friday, so I recommend visiting The Poem Farm where Amy is rounding up the poetry treats!

Cafe photo, poems, and haiga © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Puck illustration by L.M. Glackens (1903) and stereograph card by B.L. Linglay, courtesy Library of Congress.