“I love your wide-open poetry” is what the great poet Pablo Neruda once told Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ferlinghetti, who believed Neruda to be speaking of a broader group of poets, those of the Beat Generation, responded with “You opened the door.”
How have the words of another opened the door for you?
WordCandy has a bit of a new look, and the peskiest little bugs worked out. Best place on the web for great quotes and stunning photos. Stop by and pick out something sweet to share with a friend–on Facebook, Twitter or by email.
Follow this link for sweet fun: wordcandy.me.
My family moved out of state and I started eighth grade in a school without an orchestra. I joined the city’s adult symphony instead, sitting second of two chairs. I took private lessons from a man who looked to be a cross between Professor Snape and Harry Potter. None of the girls in my class wanted to take lessons from him. With his large round glasses and long, greasy black hair, the spindly music instructor frightened me only slightly less than his brutish, muscular wife who always answered the door red-faced and angry. “I am here to play viola,” I said.
I’m finishing up our book club discussion of Ordinary Genius over at Tweetspeak Poetry this week, telling my musical history and writing a sonnet. I’m told that my sonnets (I’ve two to my name) tend to sound a little angry. Maybe it had to do with my viola teacher’s angry wife, I don’t know. You could check it out if you’d like.
And while you’re there, I’ve got a brand new slate of our weekly Top Ten Poetic Picks–great finds in art, poetry, music and writing. My favorite this week? The Halloween costumes based on famous works of art. You’ll want to see them. Trust me on this.
Last week, my parents visited us over the weekend. Their stay was extended by a vehicular malfunction. My dad returned home, car fixed and a shiny new repair bill under his arm, and wrote this. I don’t know if he meant for me to publish it. We’ll see.
We took a little trip in our Mercury auto
Out through the farm byways of Minnesota
Crossed the border into South Dakota
To visit the chief poet at Claims Poetica (more…)
When I traveled last month, I attended a writer’s event at The Mount in Lenox, Mass., which is the beautiful, sprawling estate of 20th century author and poet Edith Wharton.
I have a photo essay up at Tweetspeak if you’d like to enjoy a glimpse into the spirit of Edith Wharton, which is evident throughout the “autobiographical house.”
By this time, I’m ready to ask the chicken question.
I’ve been scratching around for an angle, and even as I type this, I don’t have one. But Kim Addonizio tells me I don’t have to know where I’m going when I start writing, and even goes so far as to say it might be best not to. If that’s true, then I could walk her way and ask the age-old question to see if it gets me all the way across the boulevard.
(Addonizio got a poem out of it when she tried.)
So what do you think? Why did the chicken cross the road?
It’s Wednesday, and I’m at Tweetspeak where we’re reading Kim Addonizio’s Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within together. Come on over to read the rest of the post — maybe you’ll find out why the chicken crossed. Or how it wound up in my dryer.
Photo by Toby M, Creative Commons license via Flickr.
It’s been a great week of fun over at Tweetspeak Poetry – here’s my quick digest, of great articles worth your time.
There is not a single more recognizable southern drink than sweet tea, except maybe Kentucky bourbon. And if one were to combine the former with the latter, one might find a sort of southern drink Nirvana.
– Seth Haines has a weekly community poetry prompt on Mondays, this month writing found poems together around the theme of tea.
I steady myself for the cardboard colors to come:
Dun, amber, sepia sweeping over ungrazed prairie.
– Glynn Young reviews Judith Valente’s Discovering Moons
The recent discovery of a third daguerreotype of Victorian-era poet Emily Dickinson has historians scratching their heads. Long believed to be reclusive and camera-shy, Dickinson seems to paint an entirely new picture of herself, positively mugging for the paparazzi.
– A Tweetspeak exclusive report on the possible discovery of a new Emily Dickinson portrait. (This might explain why I was unable to complete my journalism studies.)
L.L. tagged me on Facebook to come but I was busy that night. Lucky me. [smiley face] Poetry is nonsense. And cryptic.
Tweetspeak’s managing editor and I enjoyed poetry readings on the same terrace where Edith Wharton and Henry James sat “on summer nights, reading Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ aloud.” Not once did security try to escort us to the gate.
– It’s my week to bring you the best poetic news you can use (or leave sitting on the table). This week, it’s engineered poetry, who to blame for overdue books, and how to talk about classics you’ve never read in our Top Ten Poetic Picks.
I thought of my own life and its lack of transition. My own spiritual tradition ritualizes very few rites of passage: birth, marriage, childbirth, and death. Our larger culture celebrates only a few other markers: driving at 16 and drinking at 21.
– Charity Singleton talks about life transition through the lens of the art museum.
Still here? It’s way more fun over at Tweetspeak…
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Top photo: Dinner table at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s mansion in Lenox, Mass.
There is a Latin saying: Ars longa, vita brevis. Art is long, life is short. But the true and beautiful thing is that nothing lasts. Everything changes and passes. The creative process is just that. Not a means to an end, but a continuing engagement with being alive.
– Kim Addonizio, Ordinary Genius
Since life is short, and so is time, I’ll make this brief: I’m starting a new book club over at Tweetspeak Poetry. We’re going to make lots and lots of poetry. We will laugh and we will have fun and maybe someone will even cry just a little when they write lines they didn’t know they had in them.
Longtime poet? Don’t think you’re a poet? Doesn’t matter. You will like it.
You just will.
New research seems to correlate regular poetry reading with whiter teeth and lower cholesterol.
Infographic: Every Day Poems, used with permission.
I scheduled a date with Paul Chowder on Friday. We were supposed to hang out and talk about Sara Teasdale. He’d been going on about how some poets spend too much time thinking about death, like going to a movie and just waiting for the credits, which my dad taught me are very interesting if you know what to look for.
No, we needed love poems too, he said, and I wanted to ask him if he didn’t think it was ironic that he brought up Teasdale to illustrate his point, since she would no sooner talk about love than she’d be talking about death. I don’t think she could wrestle the two apart, and I suppose one could even argue that her love for Vachel Lindsay may have been the death of them both. I thought she might have known that when she wrote We two will pass through death and ages lengthen / Before you hear that sound again with me.
I threw a folding lawn chair in the back of my Dodge Journey and figured I’d meet him down by the water behind his barn where his white plastic chair was sinking into the mud. But at the last minute I got a call from a client. A homeowner had reported some sort of mysterious contamination that was making her deathly ill and could I please rush over and check it out? I hoped she hadn’t been reading any Teasdale poems. (Read the rest at Tweetspeak Poetry…)
Our book club discussion on Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist continues over at Tweetspeak today. Plucking, seizing, and my gag reflex. It’s all there.
Photo by MShades, Creative Commons license via Flickr.
I moved upstairs to the kitchen to work. I don’t like the kitchen much. It reminds me of all the times I have to cook, and cooking is not something I enjoy. Sometimes when I cook, there’s a fire, and I’m not sure the fire extinguisher was recharged after the last one. It wasn’t my fault, that time. Someone left a pizza box in the oven and I preheated. I didn’t expect it since the cat is dead and we only put pizza in the oven to hide it from the cat. (Read the rest…)
We started our new book club over at Tweetspeak Poetry this morning with this fun, light read from Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist. Follow along Paul Chowder’s rambling stream of consciousness as he struggles with writer’s block, love (and loss) and opens up poetry in an amusing way.
And maybe, just maybe, my post this morning includes a little stab at fiction.
I was driving north on Lyndale Avenue. I crossed Interstate 494 running through the southern Twin Cities metro area and all of sudden I wasn’t sure I knew where I was anymore.
That’s not unusual for me, I know.
But this was my old neighborhood, and it didn’t look the same as I remembered. (more…)
I pull the blue blouse
hanging limp, lifeless
over my head, squeeze
the top button
through its stitched slot
thinking I’ve worn
the pale brown suit
too many times of late.
She calls me over,
to take the small hardanger
a memory, so I don’t forget.
A tear breaks
onto her blouse, bright print
against the black,
and she squeezes my hand
too tight, saying
One by one, my friends
I undo the blue buttons,
hang the blouse limp, open
over pale brown slacks,
squeeze the sweater back
in its place, too small,
ready for the next time.
I zip Levis, pull a sweatshirt
over my head
proving we’re all still here.
After pounding another ball toward the green, he stomped away, looking to the sky as if to curse the mythical gods of the game for abandoning him to flail on the fairway without hope. We followed behind and caught a glint of the Callaway with the orange chevron in the grass. It had bounced off the bridge and cleared the trees, playable but found too late.
I picked it up, feeling an ache for my son. At thirteen, he was among the youngest that day on a cruel, rigorous course. As the day wore on I reached often into my pocket, turning the ball and fingering its dirt-crusted dimples . . .
Read the rest over at TweetSpeak Poetry today, where we’re wrapping up our book club on L.L. Barkat’s Rumors of Water. And maybe you’ll be surprised to find out what we’re going to do next . . . I need a couple of weeks off to brace myself.
It’s tough to get me to unfold my arms from across my chest. My brand of fun almost always comes with a hint of reluctance and a straight face, and words like stoic, droll and deadpan come up often in my company. But some will see the quick-flashing glint in my eye, camouflaged by the stuffed shirt I often wear.
Make no mistake. Much of life is serious business.
But sometimes, a little permission to play opens a valve and lets loose a new thing or two.
There was a time when I did most of my work by telephone. I knew some customers by voice but mostly by a flat manila jacket with a seven-digit code scratched across the top edge.
With a hands-free headset comfortably in place, I could talk to one customer and email another at the same time. I sorted mail while I recited lesser known clauses of a contract to a disappointed policyholder. And when it came to it, I hit the Mute button on the phone and muttered inaudible responses to a caller’s ignorance or indignation.
When everything that needed saying was done, I disconnected.
From the call. From the caller.
There was always another drawer lined with those manila uniforms waiting for my attention. Disconnecting wasn’t so much apathetic disregard for another’s plight but a skill perceived as necessary for emotional survival in a work day steeped in pain and anger and loss.