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May 31, 2013

Poetry Friday--"Poetry Is Not Drowning"

"Poetry is not drowning, but swimming into new territory," is a post by Billy Mills on a blog run by the British newspaper, The Guardian. The gist of the article is this: the amount of poetry currently being published in book form may be diminishing, but, poetry will continue to live online. Here is what Mills had to say,
So, where some see poetry as a dying art, I see it as an early and enthusiastic adopter of new technologies, partly because it has to be. Why? Well, if selling what you're making isn't going to make anyone rich, but you want to share it with those people who are interested, then you have to work out the cheapest way to do so. And right now it looks like that way is a mix of online, performance and print, with each supporting the other in a new model of publishing, one in which the printed collection is no longer the only accepted mode of publishing but remains a key part of the package.

I have to agree with Mr. Mills. I would have liked to have sold my Kids of the Homefront Army: Poems of World War II America manuscript to a regular print publisher, but after a few unsuccessful attempts, I decided that it wasn't all that important to me to make money. The important thing was to share my work, especially with those who were so generous in sharing their memories of WW II. Several of these people had passed away, and I didn't feel I had the luxury of shopping the manuscript around any longer.

The cheapest and easiest way for me to publish the poems was on a blog, HomefrontArmy.com. I posted poems several times a week from June 2011 to May 2012. I have recently changed the posting dates so that the entire manuscript can now be read from top to bottom in roughly the order in which the war occurred.

I thought I would share one of the poems today to encourage you to visit Kids of the Homefront Army if you haven't been there before.



Things have always
been rough, after all,
there are eight kids
in the family. Father
worked days while
mother worked nights,
and we barely got by.
Now mother is working
at the railroad station.
She cleans out the cars
that carry the troops
on their way to the war.
I never would have thought
that a war could be good,
but for us, it has been.
Mother brings home
sandwiches and candy
bars left behind by
the soldiers, and now
even she gets to eat.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Union Station, Chicago, photo by Jack Delano, courtesy Library of Congress.

I like this one because we get to see that for some, the war had a beneficial side to it. Those who barely made it through the depression were able to find jobs once the war began. One of the individuals who sent me his memories of the war years told me that when people were out celebrating the end of the war in 1945, the only thing he, a teen, could think of was that he'd soon be out of a job.

I'm thinking that I would like to turn Kids of the Homefront Army into an ebook, but that's a project for another time...

Stop by Teaching Young Writers where Betsy is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up AND a Chalk-A-Bration!

May 24, 2013

Poetry Friday--"Cultivation"

How many times have you scribbled little notes to yourself and thrown them away shortly thereafter? Probably a gazillion. Nowadays we are becoming a little more conscious of recycling paper. In the olden days, paper was reused--notes were written between the lines of other notes. And, well-used paper may have been used one final time to bind books. Thanks to Facebook, I found this intriguing post, "A Hidden Medieval Archive Surfaces," from medievalfragments, about a old book which has been un-bound.

The thing I found most intriguing in this post is the note that was written request from a Count Philip, in 1486, for wild roses. Here's the post's author, Erik Kwakkel, "Holding the request for wild roses in your hand really makes you think about how the flowers will have been used, who looked at them, and what conversations were held in the room where they were placed."

Ah, yes, wild roses. What connected the Count to wild roses? Hmmm, I have photos of roses...I feel an illustrated poem coming on!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Jama is hosting this week's Round-Up at Jama's Alphabet Soup--stop by!

May 19, 2013

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Note: this photo was taken on a weekend. Mary Murphy, the rat terrier, does not attend school!

May 17, 2013

Poetry Friday--The Secret Society of Enjambment

You are officially invited to join the Secret Society of Enjambment. The only requirements are: 1. you write poetry; 2. you don't know if you're enjambing correctly. (You certainly can't be doing it right since enjamb isn't a real word according to Dictionary.com "No results found for enjamb: Did you mean encamp?"); 3. you believe that the poetry mumbo-jumbo you learned in college English is just that, MUMBO-JUMBO--language designed to make you think something is more complicated than it really is.

If you accept membership, you must swear that if you learn the secret of enjambment you will immediately share your findings with S.S.E. members or risk being thrown out on your ear! (We're a tough group.)

Okay, I call this first (and only) meeting to order!

First item on the agenda is a report on my research into the elusive definition of enjambment.

Dictionary.com: en·jamb·ment
[en-jam-muhnt, -jamb-]
noun, plural en·jamb·ments [-muhnts] Prosody.
the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break.

Wikipedia: In poetry, enjambment or enjambement is the breaking of a syntactic unit or a clause over two or more lines without a punctuated pause.

Poetry Foundation: The running-over of a sentence or phrase from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation; the opposite of end-stopped.

Poetry Archive: Enjambment is the continuation of a sentence or clause over a line-break. If a poet allows all the sentences of a poem to end in the same place as regular line-breaks, a kind of deadening can happen in the ear, and in the brain too, as all the thoughts can end up being the same length. Enjambment is one way of creating audible interest; others include caesurae, or having variable line-lengths.

Haverford.edu: A line which does not end with a grammatical break, that is, where the line cannot stand alone, cannot make sense without the following line, is enjambed. "Enjambment" comes from a French word meaning to put one's leg across, or to step over, just as the sense of the line steps over the end of the line.

Is this sense-of-the-line-stepping stuff starting to make sense?

How do you know you're doing it right? I guess if you don't punctuate your pauses, you're on the right path!

More research needs to be conducted.

Okay members! Any old business (which, in this case is also new business)? Announcements? If so, please add to the comments section below.

Before we go, however, please join me in singing our S.S.E. theme song. (To the tune of "Old MacDonald" and sung con spirito.)
Oh! Enjambment!

Before enjambment our
ears went dead.
Oy vey, oy vey! OH!

We now step over line
ends instead.
Joy vey, joy vey! OH!

With a line
here. And a line
there. Here
a break, there
a break, everywhere
a break

No more do our ears
& brains go dead.

This meeting of the Secret Society of Enjambment is now adjourned!

If you hurry, there's more poetry to explore at the Round-Up being held at Think Kid, Think! Make note of enjambment, please, and report back!

May 12, 2013

Happy Haiga Day!

Another short poem inspired by the recent Monadnock Pastoral Poets retreat I attended last weekend.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Click on the image to enlarge it.

May 10, 2013

Poetry Friday--Poetry Retreat Inspired

Last weekend I attended the Monadnock Pastoral Poets retreat held at the beautiful Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, NH. It was a great time!

I had some fears about attending since I'd never had my poetry "workshopped" before, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I needn't have been afraid. My assigned group and mentors were welcoming and supportive--just like my good old children's writers' group.

Unfortunately, I wanted my question about enjambment--what the hell the term really means, and how do you know you've done it right?--answered definitively. I found, however, that enjambment is one of those elusive terms that can't be defined beyond "line breaks." I was hoping there was some secret to breaking a line that I had missed along the way. Silly me. I came away knowing I should trust my instinct and forget about my invitation to the Secret Society of Enjambment that somehow went astray. However, if YOU know the secret and are willing to share it, I'm all ears...

Here are a few little poems that were inspired by the weekend and my surroundings:

Poetry Retreat

Why did he look for a loon
when a robin will do?

The Enjambment Problem


No, Nay, Never

Not perfect, but harmonic
strains of Irish pub songs
drift down the corridor
through the closed door
of my exhaustion to
linger long enough for
me to regret the haste
with which I had changed
back into my comfort zone.

Poems and photo © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Now's the time to head to Booktalking where Anastasia is hosting the Round-Up. Have a great weekend!

May 5, 2013

Happy Haiga Day!

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo, edited by Diane Mayr, by unknown photographer, in public domain.

May 3, 2013

Poetry Friday--A Favorite

National Poetry Month has come and gone. It's time to sit back a little, and let our minds rest from the challenges we set up for ourselves last month. So, for today, I'm going to share a favorite cat poem:
The Cat As Cat
by Denise Levertov

The cat on my bosom
sleeping and purring
--fur-petalled chrysanthemum,

is a metaphor only if I
force him to be one,
looking too long in his pale, fond,
dilating, contracting eyes

that reject mirrors, refuse
to observe what bides

flex and reflex of claws
gently pricking through sweater to skin
gently sustains their own tune
not mine. I-Thou, cat, I-Thou.

fur-petalled chrysanthemum Fabulous image, don't you agree?

If you'd like to leave the title of one of your favorites, please do so in the comments. I'm always curious about what others find appealing.

This weekend I'm trying something new. I'm heading out to a writers' retreat, but, instead of going to the retreat as a children's writer, I'm attending as a poet. I'm petrified! I've never workshopped my poems and I can't imagine what it'll be like. Wish me luck, or at least that I return Sunday night all in one piece. As I told a friend, workshop puts me in mind of chop-shop!

Before I go I hope to be able to spend a little time at the Poetry Friday Round-Up, which is being hosted this week by Elizabeth Steinglass.