Thursday, September 24, 2020

Poetry Friday: Belated Summer Poetry Swaps

When I got sick this summer, I dropped several balls, and one of them was the Poetry Swap. (A sports metaphor like "dropping the ball" doesn't really work for me because I tend to drop all balls when I play any sports.) It wasn't until last Friday that I sat down to go through my email and find out how delinquent I was. There were two people whose poems sent to me I hadn't shared yet, and one of those I hadn't even acknowledged. And there were two people for whom I hadn't written anything. So I sent out apologies and spent some time last Saturday writing poems. 


One of the people I sent a poem was Jone, who's hosting our roundup today. Be sure to visit her blog to see what everyone is sharing. Jone has invited contributions in honor of National Math Storytelling Week.

Today I'm going to share two poems I received this summer, and since fall came this week, we can call them Fall Poetry Swaps. Thank you to Tabatha, who came up with this whole Poetry Swap thing, and who does so much for poetry all year long.


Margaret Simon, who blogs at  Reflections on the Teche, impressed me to no end by not just writing about Haiti, but including Kreyol in her poem.  Her first line is a proverb that means "Behind the mountains there are mountains." It is used often here to refer to the complications that exist behind even the simplest things, the way there are always more mountains in Haiti. Later Margaret refers to the lambi, which is the conch shell that the enslaved people would blow to summon their armies, with which they successfully fought off the French in their revolution.

Haiti Love Song


Dèyè mòn gen mòn

Beyond the mountains, mountains

as lambi calls an echo, echo

Orchid opens just once. Once,

We held hands along the shore, shore,

felt the waves singing more, more, 

collected shells that shone, shone,

knowing we'd never be alone, alone.

Linda Mitchell, who blogs at A Word Edgewise, spent the summer making Junk Journals. Her lovely poem describes the process and the beautiful products that resulted:

In Praise of a Junk Journal



In praise of junked books: yellowed pages. Wise
                 words for readers moved on or gone. Pen and ink
illustrations. Art I can make in a new way. Praise
                           the endpapers, faded – elegant adornment still.


Removed from shelves and circulation. My scissors cut
         and trim chapters into strips to frame a new page,
using margins and line spacing as straight edge, guide:
         what was junk becomes new treasure.


Farewell outdated copyright, hardcovers spoilt by rain
         Hello! Transplanted print. Meet my paintbrush
distressed ink pad and mod podge. In my studio
         we rearrange and take shape in new ways.


No need to conform to metric or template. Each spread
         from ditch to edge is its own. A palette
of my own making with recovered headings and hues.


A bit of poem here – a slice of map there and wow
         this old encyclopedia illustration fits it.

As I’ve cut and brushed and pieced and polished

         no thoughts of the world have interrupted

I am an artist up to my elbows in junk
         and I love it.


~Linda Mitchell Summer 2020


Linda B said...

I imagine both Margaret & Linda understand the 'why' of your late thankyous, Ruth. Each one is a gift poem to treasure & it is lovely to read how Margaret wove your world into the poem & how enthusiastic Linda was in her summer creating! Happy Friday!

Liz Steinglass said...

Wow! These are wonderful! I love the echoes in Margaret's poem and the way Linda's poem feels cut up and repurposed. I'm so glad you are feeling well enough to go back and pick up some of the balls you dropped. : )

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, life gets interrupted many times because of fragility and uncertainty. I am so delighted that you are recovered from your ordeal and embracing your writing. Thanks for sharing the amazing poetry swaps by Margaret Simon and Linda Mitchell. Happy Fall.

Tabatha said...

Both of these poems really hit the spot! The stories they tell and feelings they share are so personal and universal.
I like "Beyond the mountains, mountains"... it would have annoyed me when I was young and I didn't want there to be any mountains beyond the mountains, but now I'm old enough to appreciate being matter-of-fact about it.
"No need to conform to metric or template"-- thank goodness for Linda's vision! We need to notice that faded endpapers are elegant adornment still.

Bridget Magee said...

Thanks for sharing both of these gorgeous poems by both of these talented poets, Ruth. And always allow for giving yourself grace. No ball dropped can't be picked up later. Glad you are feeling so much better. :)

Donna Smith said...

I am still playing catch up from life's surprises heaped on for over a year. Always be kind to yourself, as you are to others!
Love these two shares today!

Alan j Wright said...

The sharing of poetry is a precious gift as you well know Ruth. I thank you for sharing Margaret and Linda's poems. I felt a particularly strong connection to Linda's words. They spoke to me of acts and passions I too indulge in. The less ordered line spacing is redolent of the very process Linda embarks upon. So appropriate.

Linda Mitchell said...

You know, life happening is just the best writing material. When I sent out a poetry swap it's in the hands of the universe. I'm glad that the swap brings you as much joy as it does me. I love seeing my poem and Margaret's on the same page here. And, you are better! Hooray! It's a tricky year to stay healthy. That is the big win. Thanks for the shout-out and the beautiful post. I love this community.

Mary Lee said...

Here's to your health! The swap will happen when it happens!

I love BOTH of these -- each perfect for YOU and amazing gifts from the writers. Margaret's echoes and Linda's way of making the old new again...perfect!

Fran Haley said...

There's such music in these poems, with the repeated words ... they lift the spirit today, Ruth! This "belated summer" poetry offering serves as a reminder of the invincible summer that lies within us.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for sharing both of these lovely poems, Ruth. I was especially struck by the endings to both, but in different ways.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Two wonderful, inspiring poems! I'm sorry to hear you were sick this summer, Ruth. I hope you're feeling much better.

laurasalas said...

Such a loving look at the artistic process from Linda! And Margaret's wonderful echoes...Beautiful gifts.

Jone said...

What lovely poems to receive. I really think you get a pass as you were ill. So glad you are feeling better.

I can just hear the conch in Margaret's poem and I was a lucky recipient of a junk journal as well.

michelle kogan said...

I'm a bit late too, in stopping by, but I'm so glad I did, what a refreshing post you've shared. I loved both poems–the art coming forth from Linda's and the songs springing in Margaret's. If you happen to read this before Poetry Friday this week, I'll be sharing your cinquain poem to me, thanks again Ruth, xo!

author amok said...

Beautiful poem, Margaret. I love the way you used repeats to emphasize the mountain behind the mountain -- the echo calling to the echo. Linda's poem makes me feel inspired to create a recycled journal myself!