I wrote poems on postcards and sent them to the people I was assigned. As expected, it was fun and satisfying. It gave me a little extra boost to follow through on a vague poem idea and actually write something. I was happy.
Then I got home from my trip, and when I checked the mail I realized how right I had been to be intimidated. Oh my goodness! My two poem senders did indeed go all out. Take a look at what I got:
My first swap came from Linda Baie. Linda is such a generous Poetry Friday participant. Her comments always make it clear that she has thoroughly read and digested your post, and she always finds something positive to highlight. What a great teacher she must be! She's a wonderful poet, too, and I always enjoy reading her posts.
The package she sent contained a card in an envelope, a notebook, a book of poetry (can't wait to read it!), and the poem. Linda wrote me a golden shovel poem, and for the quotes to end the lines, she used my own words. And look at the bougainvillea photo! One thing every writer needs is readers, and this poetry swap from Linda makes me feel as though I have a reader in her.
Tabatha Yeatts herself, the source of all this swapping. Tabatha's blog is called "The Opposite of Indifference," from Elie Wiesel's quote, "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference." Tabatha is never indifferent, and many of the poems she posts - her own and those by other people - meet Emily Dickinson's definition of poetry as something that blows off the top of your head.
Like Linda, Tabatha wrote a poem that she knew would have special resonance for me. Back in April I posted about madeleine poems, an idea I got from Nancie Atwell. She got the name and the concept from Marcel Proust, who in one of his novels has a character eat a madeleine cookie and then be transported back into the past by the sensations and memories the cookie gives him. The rest of the novel is a flashback caused by the taste of that madeleine. I used George Bilgere's poem "A Madeleine" as my mentor text and then turned the whole writing process into a minilesson for my students. You can read that post here.
So Tabatha's package contained her own madeleine poem, with a note and a gorgeous drawing by her daughter. She wrote about picking black raspberries as a child and about how eating black raspberry jam brings back that experience. She commented "It was easy to write and very difficult as poetry and memories are." That right there is the opposite of indifference, folks.
Here's the poem:
a madeleine for Ruth
by Tabatha Yeatts
it's a black
a shade that might
be at the end of the
rainbow, a jiggly finale,
with a scent as rare as the
slide down to a pot of gold,
rare no matter how many
candy chemists hunch
over their test tubes
trying to recreate it.
Hold it to my nose
and I'm a child who's
twisted a black raspberry
from the bush which I roll gently
in my palm before depositing it
into a pail where I can still smell
it and its kin as I move farther down
the hilly path, fighting the urge to grab the brambles
to steady myself as pebbles shift under my feet,
already aware that harvesting treasure
means hazarding tumbles and thorns.
Even though these poetry swaps do intimidate me (even more now than before!), I think I will participate in more of them because there is so much delight in the giving and the receiving.
Here's this week's roundup.
Tabatha is sharing the poem I sent her today.
And Margaret is sharing the one I sent her, too!