Category Archives: Poetry Thursday

>Saturday After 5 Days Gone


Saturday After 5 Days Gone

Blue bird on silvery black wing flies.
An aging sunbeam, having left
home just short light years ago,
strains to curve around the horizon
to glow through iced windows,
would-be enticement for any sleepy cat.
Red berries hang on cold brown bark.
White snow drifts slowly off the trees
onto the frozen ground, hiding
the secrets of spring of which
only the winter thrushes can sing.
Ice shifts, roof creaks. I move
deeper under the blankets soft,
to hear my lover’s rhythmic breath,
to be near his beating heart
warming my soul.

>Unproven Theorem

>Let Y equal X be the given.
Make the sun revolve round the moon.
Send the clocks spinning backwards
halting the moment before the words
came crashing, cascading down into
unknown caverns in my heart. Go
back. Screech the brakes. Pull out
all the stops. Don’t let it happen (again).
Let X equal Y be in a different
dimension on some far away plane
where lifelines can bend and twist.
Let Y equal X be a given
where pain equals laughter, dark
is light and sadness be joy.
Let Y equal X: the clanging
noise tuned to music, the
scribbling words writ poesy,
the ugliness blossom’d to art,
blending tears like watercolors.
Let Y be a constant like the stars
in their courses. Let X equal all things.
A fresh start, a return: light refracted anew.

For more poetic proofs, check out other contributors to this week’s Poetry Thursday.

>Bending the rules with a very long title: Writing about why I like poetry by describing what Poetry can be, in 153 words or less

>Writing prompt from Poetry Thursday.

Thought provoking

>Embracing Quiet

>This week’s writing prompt for Poetry Thursday was to take a line offered by another writer. I chose a line from Pauline’s poem Living Alone, originally posted 1/7/07 at Writing Down the Words. I made a small adaptation of Pauline’s line “in this place, the walls embrace quiet” to work in this poem. I’ve been wanting to write a poem about the evening light at Sweeney Chapel, describing the difference in the light I’ve noticed as the seasons change. I’m not sure that this poem does exactly that, but that was the inspiration. Links to photos of James Carpenter’s amazing window of dichroic glass that inspired this poem can be found here and here.

Evensong Embrace
(Sweeney Chapel)

I always think it should be golden
Like the sun, bedazzling bright.
So much for religious imagery.

I don’t expect to find clarity
in the gloaming’s shadows of window
pane light in the rainy, dying dusk

and sober brown limbs. Grey winter light
converts the blue to periwinkle,
lavender, purple, green and then teal.

Outside shadows tilt swords in battle
against the steely cross’s shadow
for dominance on the window sill.

Navy slowly fades to black of night
as the canticles rise to the lofts;
I don’t understand a single sound.

The acoustics may be perfect, but
in this sacred space the walls embrace
a quiet where the light reigns sublime.

>Intersecting Communities

>Two weeks ago, I posted a meme and tagged four people. I had no idea if they would post answers to the meme on their blogs. I wasn’t even sure if they would realize that I had tagged them. Not being a meme-creator, I wasn’t sure the protocol for tagging someone. It didn’t matter though; I had fun writing the meme and posting my own answers. In some ways, it was no different than simply writing on my blog, although, in style and content, it wasn’t typical of most of my blog posts.

But, within a day, Hobgoblin, Litlove and Dorothy had answered the meme — and tagged other people. And then an interesting thing happened…my referrer log showed a blog that I had never seen before. Imani had answered the meme and linked to me. I enjoyed reading the responses and couldn’t wait to see what others had to say. The next day I began to check Technorati (disappointingly slow in indicating new links) and Google, searching on key phrases from the meme.

I read more posts. I started to track them to see how the meme spread. A few days later I read of someone writing a paper for MLA on how quickly a meme spread, but he didn’t do a meme, just simply asked people to link to him & post on their own blogs to help his ‘research’. There was a bit of a tiff on his site about the methodology of his research. I’m not an academic, so I can’t comment on the validity of his research, although it did seem to me that he wasn’t really tracking how people picked up on an idea and posted similarly on blogs. Rather, he was testing how many times people could link to him. It seems like a MySpace “Won’t you be my friend?” sort of a thing. Which is a little different than ideas spreading among interconnecting communities.

Intersecting communities — that is what the blog world, at least the little corner of it that I inhabit, is about. A community where one can express one’s self and exchange ideas with like minded bloggers. It’s true that most memes tend towards the banal. It’s an easy target to claim that they all are about “3 things about me….” But, what if they were? Does that matter? Does it matter if the growth of a meme is organic? And what does that really mean anyway? Is there a way in which the spread of an idea is not organic? Is it only organic if it is the little guys writing? Does an idea, or a meme, or a common writing prompt, loose its genuine quality if it gets too big? Can it get too big?

I don’t think so. But, I do think it can grow beyond the point where it is easy to track. That is, unless you have limitless time in front of a computer to do keyword searches. From what I could find, 56 people have answered the meme. About another 6 – 8 have been tagged but haven’t yet responded. You will find links to these posts here where I have a collection. But, as of today, I will not be posting additional links.

Here is why I’m stopping: 1) I don’t have the time to spend, 2) while I’m interested in the spread of this meme because of the ‘oh look where it is now!’ factor, I don’t know that I need to watch it any longer. Lastly: 3) Poetry Thursday used this meme (with my permission) as the weekly writing prompt. By early tomorrow morning, I suspect that I would find about 75-85 links on the PoetryThursday site. At twice what I’ve tracked down in the last two weeks, this is too great a number to keep up with it.

I have been surprised — and delighted — by how many people answered this meme before Poetry Thursday selected it for this week’s writing idea. The best part though isn’t that more than one or two people completed it, but the wide variety of replies that people across the blog world have given. The responses to the one prompt I recording in my follow up post have been amazing. I wish I could say that I had the foresight to realize I was setting up a metaphor and the resulting responses would be, of course, poetic, but it was much more serendipitous than that. The other answers will give up several wonderful poems and poets if you’d care to mine for those nuggets.

If following the links to this meme has shown me one thing, it is that there are many people who care deeply, are moved deeply, by poetry. That there exists such a vibrant, enthusiastic community of poets and poetry readers in the blog world is a beautiful thing. That they represent several smaller communities — intersecting communities of people with similar interests — is exciting.

I look forward to reading the Poetry Thursday responses and hope that the PT participants will enjoy sharing and discovering what others think about poetry.

Below is a chart that I did to track how the meme spread (yes, I’m a real geek!). It isn’t very readable in this post, but it gives a graphical representation, even if you cannot read the data. The different colors represent different dates. If you’re interested in a copy, email me at address in the side bar and I’ll send you the pdf.

>Poetry is Like

>UPDATE: I’ve added a few more links from the last few days. I’ve found over 50 bloggers who have done this meme. Lots of thought-provoking responses. This meme is the writing prompt at Poetry Thursday this week; click over there beginning 12/7 for additional links if you’re interested in reading others’ ideas about reading and writing poetry. Newer entries here have been posted at the bottom — keep scrolling!

I thought I’d compile a link list of those who have done the Poetry Meme. It’s been so much fun reading the variety of responses which have been, well, poetic. I’ll try to keep this list updated as I know of those who have completed this meme.

Poetry is ….

…a good loud scream. IM-Kay, Fiber Cogitat

…the way the sky looks when a thunderstorm is moving in and the sun is still shining on the dark, dark clouds, making them look even darker and more sublime. BikeProf, The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

…loosely connected images that fit together in some shadowy half-known way. Dorothy, Of Books and Bicycles

… like a shot through the heart. Litlove, Tales from the Reading Room

… like academic classicist art. Imani, The Books of My Numberless Dreams

….relentless in a way prose is not in much the same way that vodka kicks you in the gut a lot sooner than wine does. Bloglily

…not be quite as frightening as I thought. Sharon, ExLibris

…a nut. Danielle, A Work in Progress

…miraculous….only ever itself. Stephanie, So Many Books

… pleasing to the ear. Lesley, Lesley’s Book Nook

…like unlocking inner thoughts and emotions. Camille, Dabbling Dillettante

… a religious moment. Soul Sister, Soul Sister Reading

…like nothing else. Jenny, Light Reading

…a sugar muffin. Bryan, Bryan D Hopkins

…a widening lens on a camera. Sheila, The Sheila Variations

… a discovery. Iliana, Bookgirl’s Nightstand

…lifeblood. (un)relaxeddad, Relaxed Parents

…a lock for which one needs the key. Bellezza, Dolce Bellezza

…like a bath. kermitthefrog, Kermit’s Log

…as inexplicable as life and love. It just is…. vivacemusica, Words dry and riderless

…red wine…. Lotus Reads

…a shining net woven of words…. Cindy, Quotidian Light

…often incomprehensible and sometimes inspiring… Bookfool, Bookfoolery & Babble

…song…is prayer…. Dark Orpheus, Orpheus Sings the Guitar Electric

…to literature what Cognac is to wine: cogent, distilled, and fierce. Robert Peake

…string theory. Sassy Monkey, SassyMonkey Reads

…an affirmation of magic. Michael, StickPoetSuperHero

…the odd but friendly cat that keeps returning to my back door. Kelli, Book of Kells

…like alcohol. Abby, The Rose’s Petals

…an offering of pure beauty clothed in words. Beth, Inscapes

…a revelation. JenClair, A GardenCarried in the Pocket

…a set of standards that governs much of how I do what I do. Jane Dark

…comforting. Claire, Being Me

…beautiful mathematical equations. Emily, Telecommuter Talk

…looking at really great art. Bardiac

…magic. But better. Dazey Rosie

…like nothing else Chocolate Covered Musings

….is unexpected Michelle, Michelle’s Site

…like a treat to yourself at the end of a hard day Verity

…is like Dada. Dada is a peach.Kevin, Acoustics, Health & Sufism

…like a good photograph G, Bedlam in Mommyville

…like letting go of a handful of colorful balloons. Jenni, Chanticleer

…like eating a beautiful gourmet meal. Heather, womenwyrds

…a gift for those with open minds. Amanda Earl

…Not like in the 1400s when there was no left or right shoes. Pearl, Humanyms

…an intoxicant Ricki, Ricki’s Rants and Rambles

….indispensable Kate, Kate’s Book Blog

…like art. The Traveler

…rather intimidating. Nat, In Spring It Is The Dawn

…a two-by-four. Marcus, A Comet is Not A Moon

…like the ocean. Matthew, The Other Blog

>Poetry Meme

>I’ve been wanting to create a meme for sometime. I could be wrong, but I think that many readers of this blog do not read poetry, or at least not with the same passion they read fiction. I also find that many of the blogs I read that discuss poetry, rarely discuss fiction. I find that I like both, read both fervently. So I thought I’d do something poetry-related, but intended as much for those who love poetry as for those who are poetry adverse.

Cam’s Poetry Meme
1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was
2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and……..
3. I read/don’t read poetry because….
4. A poem I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is …….
5. I write/don’t write poetry, but…………..
6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature…..
7. I find poetry…..
8. The last time I heard poetry….
9. I think poetry is like….

My answers:
1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was
Ogden Nash’s “The Tale of Custard the Dragon”. It was in an anthology of children’s poems and I loved it! I think my mother tired of reading it to me.

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and……..
Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore and had to recite it in front of my 8th grade English class. Everyone had to recite a poem, but the speech therapist and my English teacher insisted I recite this one. I thought the poem was funny until I had to recite it. As the new kid in the school, the last thing I needed was to recite something that emphasized my inability to say certain letters. (Follow the link & you’ll understand.) What on earth were they thinking? I had wanted to recite a Shakespearean sonnet, which probably would have also caused a bit of teasing. It’s amazing that I ever read another poem, verse or otherwise, again.

3. I read/don’t read poetry because….
I read poetry because I like the compactness of it. I like the sound. I like how a few words, carefully selected, can evoke a response. And I marvel at anyone who can write a decent poem.

4. A poem or poet I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite is ……

Recently, I’ve ‘rediscovered’ the poems of John Donne. I think perhaps I was too young to understand the beauty of his work when I studied it in college. “A valediction: Forbidding Mourning” is one of my favorites.

5. I write/don’t write poetry, but…………..
I attempt to write poetry often for the same reason I don’t write poetry: it is difficult and forces me to think. I used to write stuff in my 20’s that I decided was too lame to share with anyone and in a fit one day burned all of it (or at least all that I could find). I didn’t start writing poetry again until this year. Posting it on the this blog was a big step for me.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature…..
I can’t read an entire book of poetry. I find it is something to be sampled, savored, sort of like a good port. Dorothy yesterday had a quote on her blog about poetry books being like reference books. I think that is a apt comparison.

7. I find poetry…..
…in the most unlikely of places. While I find a lot of published ‘found’ poems to be drivel, I find inspiration for poems in snippets of conversation, in the newspaper, in everyday life.

8. The last time I heard poetry….
A reading by Mary Oliver last month. I appreciate poetry readings by established authors, but find that I don’t have the patience to sit through amateur or community-based poetry readings. Some of it is good, some of it really good, but I frequently feel like an outsider because I don’t feel obligated to be ‘encouraging’ to aspiring poets. Bad me. But, I do sometimes lurk in the stacks nearby when there is a reading at the local B&N.

9. I think poetry is like….
I think poetry is like opera in terms of the response that it evokes: people usually feel strongly about it. Either they love, love, love it. Or they HATE it! I think people who don’t care just haven’t been exposed to good poetry (I could say that’s why some people hate it too, but that isn’t being fair to them, is it?) BTW: I love opera too!

I tag: Litlove, The Hobgoblin, Danielle and one of the more recent additions to my blogroll, the like-named Camille. And anyone else who wants to play. Leave a link in the comments.

>Too tough a puzzle…and a poem

>I should have broken the rules and chosen another book when I did the “What am I Reading” post last week. I don’t think that I would have guessed it either. I am so bad at remembering quotes.

Google would actually have given you the answer to the first poem, but I know that none of my fine readers would cheat. That poem is: “I Wander’d Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth. It is on page 123 in Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse, by …..DING!DING!DING!DING! …. Dorothy was right when she guessed Mary Oliver in the comments. This book is, as the secondary title suggests, a handbook on poetry, with an anthology of poems which demonstrate the techniques that Oliver discusses in the book. The title (since I gave a clue to it in the previous post) comes from the following quote by Alexander Pope:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.

I bought the Oliver book, along with two others (Why I Wake Early: New Poems, and Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems) at a reading that Mary Oliver gave at Butler University last week. It was a joy to listen to Ms. Oliver read a selection of her work. Some funny, some politically jabbing, many insightful: all gave the listener a sense of beauty and awe in life around us. Oliver’s keen sense of observation of the natural world forces you to be aware not only of the world of the poem, but also of the world around you. I found it fitting, therefore, when a sudden windy storm blew through town in the middle of her reading, so loud that it could have drowned out the microphone. Oliver did not try to talk over it. Rather, she stood silently, almost reverently, and let the storm sing its own poem (a lament, I think) for a minute or so before continuing.

As I left the auditorium, the cooled air caused steam to rise from the warmer streets and lawns. As I walked the few blocks to my car, I composed a poem in my head. It seemed so perfect as I composed it. Although I tried to write it down as soon as I was in the car & had a pen, I’m sure that most of it immediately left my brain and was consumed by the foggy night. Even after I finish reading Oliver’s handbook, I think it is unlikely that I’ll ever master the artful dance of metrical poetry. Nevertheless, here is the less perfect form that I managed to record, still very much in stumbling, trip-on-your-own-toes, draft mode:

Leaving the Poetry Reading

The poet sings her poem
breathing metrically,
breaking just in time
for a thunderous rolling boom.
The rain came,
barreling out of the west,
pounding across the roof
shaming the perfect acoustics
into a resounding silence,
no one wanting to spoil
the wind’s incantation.

After: stepping outside,
the moist air smacks my face,
no barrier preventing
mist’s entry through my pores.
Fog curls up from the ground,
summer’s warmth, not wanting
to give it up to the frost,
clings to the remaining blades.
The mist dampens
the harsh lights of the lot,
each drop a refraction of
ever-present, seldom-seem leaf light:
Amber air all around.

Breathe. Breathe.
Absorb. Imbue your spirit.
Nature bears
witness to the whole.

>Guess the book (I can never play by the rules even when I try….)

>Dorothy did this meme today & since I had just finished cataloging my newly acquired books into LibraryThing and they were sitting nearby the keyboard, I had to do this. And I hated the results on page 123, but here they are. But, you’ll have to guess the poem rather than the book (at least without any hints, but I’ve got that challenge for you too further down the post).

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line

Yeah, pretty easy and you could probably google it if you didn’t know. But since this could be in any one of several anthologies, your challenge is to figure out what book it is in. Here are your clues regarding the book this appeared in.

1. American female poet who often writes about nature and spirituality.
2. Book is on craft, is not strictly an anthology, and its title is derived from a famous line by Pope.
3. Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of her favorites.
4. She gave a lecture this evening in city where I live.
5. Neither of the other two volumes I bought have 123 pages, so I added page total of 2nd book to 3rd book to find the page (e.g., 123-109=page 14) to get this from one of her own poems:

I see it still;
and there was once, oh wonderful,
a new horse in the pasture,
a tall, slim being — a neighbor was keeping her there —

Make your guesses Friday. I’ll want to post my answer soon, as well as writing about the reading!

>A little surprise, a bit about reading, words, and poetry

>Lots of different ideas scurrying around my brain today.

I don’t like Tennyson. I loathed reading him in high school. I hated having to memorize “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. Although I understood what the teacher meant by admonishing us to not read the poem “sing song”, I couldn’t understand how that was possible with this poem. Blah to the left of them! Blah! to the right of them! Blah! Blah! Droned the six hundred! Or at least it seemed as if we endured 600 students slogging through reciting this, although even in my big city high school I doubt my English class had more than 30 – 35 students.

I thought “The Lady of Shallot” was a bit better, but only because I loved Arthurian legends. I re-read it in college after seeing Waterhouse’s gorgeous painting in the Tate. The painting set me on a brief course of discovering everything I could about the Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood, an interest that both amuses and puzzles me now and will never serve any useful purpose unless it’s a category on Jeopardy! while I was an contestant. Still, I didn’t care much for the poem.

So, imagine my surprise recently when I stumbled across this, from a wax cylinder recording of Tennyson reading “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. Knocked me off my feet.

Wasn’t Light Brigade written during the Crimean War? When was sound recording invented? Tennyson was still alive then?

Actually, the poem is about an event in the Crimean War, published in 1855; Edison invented the first sound recording device in 1877 and the Graphophone was patented in 1885; Tennyson died in 1892. This recording was done around 1890. Although the recording is very scratchy, and the softly spoken parts are almost inaudible, I don’t think I’ll ever read this poem and hear it read in that ‘sing-song’ teenage voice again. The Poetry Archive has other historical readings by poets. Fascinating!

Onto a different topic:

In my bookclub this evening someone asked whether one could say he had read a book if they had listened to the audio version? I would say ‘yes’, and pointed out that we “read” books with our kids even if we are the ones reading and they listen. It is a reading experience regardless of whether you are the reader or the one being read to. We talk about poets ‘reading’ their work, which is very different than when we read of poem. What about Braille books? The blind would say that they ‘read’ a book, wouldn’t they? What do you think? If you were counting the number of books read in a year, would you include a book on tape? Are we splitting hairs to say that one should only claim to have listened to a book if he or she was not actually engaged in the physical act of making sense out of the ink shapes on the page?

Topic 3:
I found the WordNerd Podcast today. I only listened briefly to a few snippets from old casts (they’ll air new shows beginning this Saturday following a summer hiatus). Based on what I heard and scrolling through the related blog, I think this seems really neat! The site has a forum feature as well, with discussions about all things wordy, not necessarily just the ideas on the weekly cast. Anything called WordNerds must be great for people like me who are, well, you know, Nerds about Words. I think I’ll download their podcast — once I get my ipod reconfigured after loosing the hard drive earlier this summer. Alas! I’m a bigger nerd with words than with some technologies!

Postscript: How funny! Blogger’s spellchecker wants to change “WordNerd” to “ordinary”. I’ve never met an ordinary Word Nerd in my life!