Featuring cherita!

December 31, 2010

Poetry Friday--Akemishite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Akemishite Omedetou Gozaimasu is roughly equivalent to "Happy New Year" in Japanese. This is the second year I've participated in a nengajyou, that is, a New Year's card exchange, with haiku poets. Participants from all over the world send holiday greetings to fellow haiku enthusiasts. I sent the above card to the United States, Canada, and six other countries. (I could have sent to more, but I ran out of cards!)

I wrote about the nengajyou (I've also seen it spelled nengajo) last year, so, if you're interested in learning more, click here. Here's a blog posting from Kimono Reincarnate that has some samples of typical nengajyou cards.

2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. I have a grandbunny named Miles, who lives with my son and his wife. I took the photo of Miles in January in anticipation of participating in the nengajyo again this year.

In case you can't read it, here's the haiku that appears on the card:
new year's day
the scent of christmas tree
still on the rabbit's breath
Miles loves chewing on the Christmas tree, and it sure does give him piney-fresh breath!

2012 will be the Year of the Dragon. I don't have any dragons in my family, so I'll have to come up with something besides a photo for next year! (Don't suggest a dragon costume for one of my two cats--I could end up as cat food if I tried to put something on either one's head!)

Poetry, poetry, and more poetry should be one resolution on everyone's list for 2011. Head over to Carol's Corner to get a head start!

Celebrate responsibly! See you next year!

December 29, 2010

Look for Me

Look for me on Lynne Marie's blog this week. Lynne Marie is the creator of My Word Playground: The Writing, Reading & Inspiration Blog. She has graciously allowed me to pontificate about the benefits of the natural world, and she promotes Run, Turkey, Run! and all of my writing projects.

A little aside: Lynne and I have known each other virtually for years! It's certainly gratifying to see the way we've grown professionally since those early days. I remember reading a piece about the Scottish Highland cow known as a coo. I believe it was written by Lynne. It must have been pretty good since I remember it after about a dozen years! Here's a photo, in case you're not familiar with the coo:

Photo by Alan Weir

December 28, 2010

December 25, 2010

Happy Haiga Day!--Christmas Edition

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

This haiga is also being posted on Lunch Break, where Gillena Cox is celebrating the "Twelve Days of Christmas." Stop by.

My Christmas wish for you is a day filled with good times, good food, and good memories!

December 24, 2010

Poetry Friday--"Shoplifting Poetry"

Today I've picked a poem from a book published more than 30 years ago. The book is entitled, The Ardis Anthology of New American Poetry. Although the poems can no longer be considered new, they still feel fresh. This one I found so delightful, I wanted to share it with you as a holiday gift:
Shoplifting Poetry
      by Martin Steingesser

We're in the bookstore stealing poems,
lifting the best lines--
You cop one from Williams,
I stick my hand into Pound.
No one's looking...
I throw you a line from The Cantos--
It disappears in your ear like spaghetti.
We stuff ourselves with Crane,
cummings, Lowell, Voznesensky--
Neruda, Rilke, Yeats!
The goods dissolve in our brain.
Now we move from the shelves with caution.
The cashier's watching. Can she tell?
Fat! We've overeaten.
You giggle. End-rhymes leak at your lips like bubbles.
I clap a hand on your mouth.
You are holding my ears
as we fall out the door.

      ©1977, Martin Steingesser, all rights reserved
What an idea! Youthfully exuberant criminality, yet completely victimless! Great fun!

Many thanks to Martin Steingesser for permission to post his poem.

Visit Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Have a great Christmas if you celebrate it, and have a great weekend if you don't!

Image courtesy Library of Congress.

December 21, 2010

December 19, 2010

Happy Haiga Day!

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

I love this photo labeled "Advertisement for Pictorial Toy Catalogue No. 2." It's from 1887! Not a battery operated toy in the bunch!

December 17, 2010

Poetry Friday--"Long in the Tooth"

Confession time: I challenged myself to write a poem a day for 2010 (I'm mostly talking about haiku and other short, short non-rhyming poems). I had done it in 2009 and thought that I might be able to do it again. The first nine months of the year went fine, but in October, things fell apart. Since October, I have gaps totaling about two weeks. I'll never be able to fill in the calendar, so, I'm officially declaring the challenge ended--dead.

Here's a poem from the second week in October. I can't remember what led me to write it, after all, it was two whole months ago, and when one is aging, the memory is the first thing to go...

The poem may have been the result of an online challenge, perhaps one from The Miss Rumphius Effect? Truthfully, I have no clue, but, I think the title is a commentary on my present state.

Gums receding,
the teeth become
as brittle as old
glass. What
passes through
the lips must
be tepid.

Anything too
hot, anything
too cold, and
the teeth may shatter.
Shards projected
outward. Shards
projected inward.
Words can kill.
Time to head over to The Poem Farm where Amy is our Poetry Friday Round-Up hostess this week.

Photo by Todd Stadler

December 14, 2010

December 12, 2010

December 10, 2010

Poetry Friday--Newly Released

The latest issues of The Heron's Nest, Notes from the Gean, and haijinx are now available online.

At The Heron's Nest, Volume XII, Number 4: December, 2010, I have a haiku here.

I hit the jackpot with Notes from the Gean, Vol. 2, Issue 3 - December 2010, where I have haiku, tanka, and haiga! Make sure you check out the haiga, they look really AWESOME, if I do say so myself!

And, after a long delay, haijinx III:1 (December 2010) is out. The journal ceased publication in 2003 and was supposed to be back this past summer. Better a little late than never! I have two haiga in this issue. The first one is a photo of the baby woodchucks that lived, for a time, in my backyard. The other, uses a Japanese print from the Library of Congress collection.

I was commenting to a friend the other day that I think I can finally say I'm a poet! Those words still ring a false note, though--I think I'm my own worst enemy.

Here's an original tanka that kind of sums it up:

words don't match
the pictures in her head--
she contemplates
her newly published work
and wishes for a do-over

Thank you, dear reader, for indulging me today!

Jama is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Alphabet Soup. Be prepared for some mouth-watering poetry!

December 7, 2010

December 5, 2010

December 3, 2010

Poetry Friday--"Dust of Snow"

Once again, I turn to Robert Frost, the ultimate New England poet:
Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

I have a thing for crows. I love their presence. Upstanding. Sober. Determined.

A crow is not afraid to speak his mind and will give you a piece of it if you venture where he doesn't think you should be. The crow in the picture accompanying this has his eye on me, and you, and don't you forget it!

Like Frost, a crow can always save some part of my day.

Head over to The Miss Rumphius Effect where Tricia will be your guide to this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Image courtesy Library of Congress

November 30, 2010

November 28, 2010

Happy Haiga Day!

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

Haiga originally published in Sketchbook, July/August, 31, 2010: Volume 3, No. 1.

November 26, 2010

Poetry Friday--"That Evening At Dinner"

I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving dinner! That's about all we can ask for at family gatherings, a little pleasantness. So often family gatherings degrade into an application of guilt, recriminations, shouting matches, and other unpleasantnesses.

David Ferry has a poem, "That Evening At Dinner," the ending of which sums up yesterday's dinner for many (just substitute turkey for the fish):
The dinner was delicious, fresh greens, and reds,
And yellows, produce of the season due,
And fish from the nearby sea; and there were also
Ashes to be eaten, and dirt to drink.

Read the rest here.
I hope you don't think that on the basis of my selection for today, that I had one of those types of Thanksgiving dinners. I DID NOT! This year we did something a little unusual. For a change we didn't drive from New Hampshire to the metropolitan New York area on Wednesday. What a blessed relief not to have to sit in traffic for six hours!

Then, yesterday morning, we took part in the Feaster Five road race in Andover, Massachusetts. I'm not a runner, so another family member and I walked, but several in the family did run.

About 5,000 in front of us, and 5,000 behind us!

We made it! 5K! It took a wee bit longer than we would have liked--it was about 10 minutes before we got to the "start" point after all the runners began, then we had a few tie-ups when ambulances and fire trucks had to get by during the race.

Proof positive we finished--everyone who crossed the finish line got a Table Talk pie!

After the race, rather than stuff ourselves with turkey, mashed potatoes, and ten thousand side dishes, we had a Thanksgiving brunch with a frittata, coffee cake, and fresh fruit. Not too much food, so we avoided the "please let me puke" phase of the usual dinner.

For us, a smaller, differently celebrated Thanksgiving was a welcomed change!

Despite it being a holiday weekend, the Poetry Friday Round-Up is still being held. Our host on this "Black Friday" is Jone at Check It Out.

Update: Look at this awesome time lapse video of the race:

© Lussier Photography

November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a very happy day. I just thought I'd let you know that Turkey, the star of Run, Turkey, Run! (by me, with illustrations by Laura Rader) has been interviewed by Cork and Fuzz at Dori Chaconas' site. Check it out here!

November 23, 2010

November 21, 2010

November 19, 2010

Poetry Friday--The Round-Up Is Here!

Welcome to the Random Noodling edition of Poetry Friday Round-Up. To start things off I'd like to share a portion of a poem from "Book of Hours" by Kevin Young:
Soon the sound—

wind wills
its way against

the panes. Welcome
the rain.

the moon's squinting

into space.
The trees

bow like priests.

The storm lifts
up the leaves.

Why not sing.
Read the rest here.

I read the last line as a question despite there being no question mark. Why not sing? Why indeed? There is so much to sing about at this time of year: gorgeous foliage, the upcoming holidays, even the weather!

Leave links to your Poetry Friday posts and I'll update throughout the day.

I'll begin the Round-Up with my other blogs: Kurious Kitty has decided not to post a poetry entry for today, instead she has included a short animation explaining why there will be no P.F. post. At KKs Kwotes, I have an awesome quote by Jean Cocteau.

Early bird Charles Ghigna was first with the poetry worm this morning! He has two original poems, one on the Artist Autumn at Father Goose, and a thought-provoking one at the Bald Ego on the "outer edges of truth."

At Great Kid Books Mary Ann Scheuer shares a Nikki Grimes poem, "Reward," from her collection Thanks a Million. Mary Ann also gives thanks to those who've enriched her life in so many ways.

Tabatha Yeatts has an original poem that she is submitting to Dr. Alphabet's Poetry City Marathon Anthology. You'll find it at The Opposite of Indifference, and you'll never look at poetry forms in the same way again!

Melissa at Through the Wardrobe has an original poem called "Crow." I love these lines: Calling, the intervals random,/only the tone predictable -/its broken yearning -

Toby Speed has a little black and white friend sharing hosting duties at The Writer's Armchair and she has an original poem, "Wondering" on the age-old question, why do cats purr?

At There's No Such Thing as A God-Forsaken Town, Ruth shares a Dickinson poem, "I Dwell in Possibility," and follows it up with a poem of her own, "Wave." Writing really does have therapeutic qualities!

Julie Larios at The Drift Record says: "Windfall apples are on my mind. So is my mom. So are boys eating apples, growing into young men who go to war. November thoughts." She shares a poem called "Apples" by Laurie Lee (I love the photo of the windfalls that accompanies it.)

Mary Lee takes a moment out from her NCTE conference in Orlando, to share "Hoppity" by A.A. Milne. And if you're not jumping after you've read it at A Year of Reading, then you need another cup of coffee!

Laura Salas shares two short poems from a collection by JonArno Lawson, Thank Again. So simple, yet so effective in expressing teen love and angst. I was really taken by "Frame, Mask and Mirror." And for the results of Laura's "15 Words of Less" exercise, this week titled "Those Dam Ibex," click here. (And yes, Laura, sheep can see 320-340 degrees!)

Kerry Aradhya has an interview with Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi Stemple at Picture Books & Pirouettes. Kerry apologizes, "This may be cheating a little (since my post isn't directly about poetry)." No need to apologize, Kerry, John Dryden said, "Dancing is the poetry of the foot." And, it's all art!

At Carol's Corner she has a review of Ashley Bryan's newest work, All Things Bright and Beautiful, based on the hymn by Cecil Frances Alexander. Carol says, "WOW! WOW! WOW!" And after viewing the cover, I think she's right!

Elizabeth Alexander's luscious poem, "Butter," is featured at the Stenhouse Blog. I read that poem yesterday! What a coincidence!

Debbie Diller has Christina Rossetti's "What Are Heavy." Nice...

Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup shares "Thanksgiving Song" by David Steindl while remembering dear aunts/friends. Great lines from the poem: For winter, who strips trees to their basic design,/For stark, minimalist winter,/We give thanks.

At The Poem Farm, via NCTE in Orlanda, Amy has poem #25 in her series of poems about poems--secrets drawn in symmetry.

Castle in the Sea serves as the virtual home of Sally Thomas who today has an original November poem with these great last lines: Ten miles from Christmas Day,/A hundred miles from heaven.

Wendell Berry's "To My Mother" is featured at Karen Edmisten's blog today. ...And this, then,/is the vision of that Heaven of which/we have heard, where those who love/each other have forgiven each other, Ah, the SECRET!

Have you had enough gray November? If so, head over to Anastasia Suen's Picture Book of the Day where she introduces us to Smelly Bill: Love Stinks by Daniel Postgate!

Laura Shovan shares an original "feminist" poem, which she says "falls into the 'It gets better,' category--letting teens know that they won't always feel ugly, unwanted, marginalized or bullied." You can find it at Author Amok. It is painful, yet full of hope. My favorite lines: For you, I have put on a skin/that is uncomfortably familiar.

At A Wrung Sponge, Andromeda Jazmon celebrates with Chief Jake Swamp's Giving Thanks: A Native American Morning Message. She also passed along the sad news that Chief Jake Swamp passed away in October. (I found a tribute here).

Martha Calderaro brings us "Something Told the Wild Geese" by Rachel Field and includes some links to musical performances of the poem. It does make a lovely song. I listened to several other YouTube performances and I liked this solo version, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlYok1oFH9w.

At Check It Out, a book by Georgia Heard, Writing Toward Home: Tales and Lessons to Find Your Way has funk-removal qualities! I'll certainly look for it, and follow Ms. Mac's advice to, "Find things to laugh out loud about."

The Book Maven reviews Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman. She tells us that the book is full of unexpected bits of information that children are sure to love, for example, a baby porcupine is called a "porcupette."

Blythe Woolston obviously has a love affair with poetry chapbooks. She calls them, "small treasures" and shares snippets from several. I personally love ones that are illustrated with woodcuts--there's something visceral about the combination of art and poetry.

Caryl reports that her part of Minnesota had its first snow! (I'm not ready for that quite yet!) At the Leaning Tower of Books, she shares Mary Louise Allen's "First Snow," and suggests looking at "First Snow: A Flickr-Generated Poem" by Felix Young. I did look at it, and replayed it with different images. It is a winter wonderful idea!

I left for lunch with my daughter in the early afternoon and now, 5 hours later, I'm back with the afternoon entries to the Round-Up:

Nicole at Saints in Progress shares a poem by C.S. Lewis, "Poem For Psychoanalysts and/or Theologians." It was the first poem of his that she read, and it remains her favorite.

At Endless Books, Beth has visions of daffodils in her head and thus shares Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud." She speculates that Wordsworth would have been pleased that someone is reading his work out of season. Don't miss the link to Jeremy Irons reading the poem.

Joyce Ray also has a Kevin Young poem, today, "Aunties," as well as an original poem inspired by the ruins of the monastery of Hildegarde of Bingen, which has this great stanza: Ivy anchors their moss velvet faces. /Rose thorns ramble over crumbled gables./Helpless to shelter, the stones stand sentry, /mute witnesses to divine desire. Visit Musings to read the rest!

Her 22-month-old son was the inspiration for Melissa Wiley's original poem, "Olympian Heights" found at Here in the Bonny Glen. The poem screams "little boy!"

Five years ago Carlie challenged herself, "to have a go at writing something personal and slightly vulnerable that included the top 25 most common nouns in the English language." The result, "My Uncommon Experience," can be found at Twinkling Along. Love the photos, Carlie!

Barbara is posting for The Write Sisters today and is sharing a Margaret Atwood poem, "This Is a Photograph of Me." It's a slightly strange poem, but one I definitely understand my fellow Write Sister liking. I'm not saying that Barb is strange--okay, maybe I am! (Only kidding, Barb!)

At A Teaching Life, Tara brings us "The Blue Between" by Kristine O'Connell George, and shares the story of a former student whose life includes this poem due to an early immersion in poetry in the classroom. Inspiring!

Shelley, at Rain: A Dust Bowl Story, reminds us to be thankful for what we have. Reading her dust bowl series of poems, can only make you stop and think. It wasn't all that long ago that America was brought to its knees...it could happen again.

Rasco from RIF celebrates her oldest son's birthday with "A Birthday Candle" by Donald Justice. Nice to meet you Carol Rasco!

Photo by ex.libris

November 16, 2010

Haiku Sticky #71

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Originally posted on The Four Seasons of Haiku Autumn 2009.

November 14, 2010

November 12, 2010

Poetry Friday--George Swede

I have been reading the haiku of George Swede for many years. I've corresponded (as in sending submissions) with him in his capacity as editor of the Haiku Society of America's journal, frogpond. Somehow I missed the fact that he was also accomplished in other forms of poetry!

Browsing through Songs of Myself: An Anthology of Poems and Art compiled by Georgia Heard [Mondo Publishing, 2000] I came across the following poem by Swede:
Every Morning

Every morning
I awake
full of dust
and odors

As if
no one has
lived in me
for years

every morning
I throw open
all my windows
and doors

and fumigate

As if
I were just
moving in
Nice, isn't it! The poem is paired well with Running House/#4862 by artist Nicholas Wilton.

A funky animated version of a haiku by George Swede is available here.

To read more of Swede's haiku, find a copy of Cor van den Heuvel's The Haiku Anthology: Haiku and Senryu in English [W.W. Norton, 1999], the best all-around collection of English language haiku.

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, and next week it will be right here at Random Noodling, so plan to stop by.

Photo from the Brooks Books Haiku website

November 9, 2010

November 7, 2010

November 6, 2010


The latest edition of the online journal, Sketchbook: A Journal for Eastern and Western Short Forms, is now available. Click here.

This issue contains several of my haiga I'm proud to say! Enjoy.

November 5, 2010

Poetry Friday--A Poem a Day

Maria Horvath is an avid library user at the George Hail Free Library in Warren, Rhode Island. She also maintains the blog, A Poem a Day from the George Hail Library. The poems are accompanied by a work of art, which runs the gamut from sheet music covers to photos of installation art to paintings by the masters. Each day is different and unexpected.

For the entire month of October, Horvath featured poems written specifically about the individual works of art--ekphrastic poetry. I urge you to read through some of last month's entries.

This month A Poem a Day is celebrating
the "old drama" that takes place every November. At times, we will take note of specific dates on the calendar.

We begin with reminders of our membership in the community of those who have gone before us. Later, we honor the memory of those who died for our liberty and freedom, and we offer our thanksgiving for all we have received.
The poem "November" by Linda Pastan, provides the inspiration for the month:


It is an old drama
this disappearance of the leaves,
this seeming death

of the landscape.
In a later scene,
or earlier,
the trees like gnarled magicians
produce handkerchiefs
of leaves
out of empty branches.

And we watch.
We are like children
at this spectacle
of leaves,
as if one day we too
will open the wooden doors
of our coffins
and come out smiling
and bowing
all over again.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Teaching Authors. See you there!

November 3, 2010

On the Day After the Elections...

I read this piece by a teacher, Risha Mullin, who has faced the issue of censorship in the Kentucky high school where she taught literature.

I'm proud to say that Jo Knowles, the writer of a book that started the hubbub at the school, hails from New Hampshire--her mother is a fellow librarian!

Writers: forewarned is forearmed...tea partiers have made inroads in this election year. They are feeling empowered. I have no doubt there will be more stories like this in the coming year.

November 2, 2010

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:
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?
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?
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!

September 30, 2010

A Job Well Done!

The Ripple site is now closed and more than $11,000 has been raised to address the destruction of Gulf coast wildlife as a result of BP oil spill. Many thanks to one committed artist, Kelly Light, who took an idea and ran with it. Brava!

As Kelly says, in today's post,
I hope what we've done leaves behind the inspiration and the belief--That anyone can do something to help--no matter how small--when faced with what seems like an insurmountable problem. It just takes one voice--one person to create a space for hope and action...
Brava, Kelly, you are an inspiration to us all!