Sunday, April 11, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 11, I Dream a World

 

In March, Kay McGriff shared this post in which she responded to two poems entitled "I Dream a World." One was by Margaret Noodin and you can read it here. The other was by Langston Hughes, and you can read that one here. You can also watch the wonderful Google Doodle video made in honor of Hughes' 113th birthday below. 

 


 

Kay wrote her own "I Dream a World" poem, and I kept the tab open because I wanted to try one, too. I soon realized that the challenge was to keep from sounding like a UN manifesto. All of my mentor poems had avoided this fate, but I doubted I would. My first draft certainly had that document-made-by-a-committee feel to it. See what you think of this version:


I Dream a World

by Ruth Hersey


I dream a world of kindness,
where the Golden Rule is guide,
where everyone has value
and knows it deep inside.

I dream a world of safety;
no kidnapping or crime,
a world where every family
sleeps in peaceful time.

I dream a world of justice,
where every shade of skin
is honored and is cherished
and everyone can win.

I dream a world of knowledge,
a world of books, not fears,
a world of free ideas,
a world of listening ears.

I dream a world of plenty,
not just for some, but all;
a world where none is hungry
and health’s for big and small.

I dream a world of beauty,
of green grass for each child,
a world of music and of art
where there is still some wild.

There are so many things I dream:
clean water, air, and sea,
love for each human being,
and birds in every tree.


This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 


Saturday, April 10, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 10, Elizabeth Siddal, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Mystery, Memory, etc.

 

Last Thursday, I shared a podcast from the Ashmolean Museum's Objects Out Loud series. Today I'm sharing another one. In August 2013 I shared this poem by Christina Rossetti that I've been reading with my eighth graders for years. It starts like this: 


In An Artist's Studio

by Christina Rossetti


One face looks out from all his canvases,

One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:

We found her hidden just behind these screens,

That mirror gave back all her loveliness.


The poem goes on to describe all the different paintings that this same face looks out of. I described how my students and I tried to guess what was going on in this mysterious scene. (You can read the whole thing here or at the post I linked above.)


When I listened to the podcast, I learned all about the background of this poem. I was sure I'd never heard it before, and was fascinated. But then when I was writing this post, and I went back to link up with the original time I'd posted the poem, I saw that I had shared a link to what I called "this wonderful analysis" of the poem. When I followed the link I had shared, I got to a site which clearly talks about "Christina's observation of her brother's relationship with Elizabeth Siddal." Huh? Does that mean I had or had not read about Siddal before, and/or known that Christina's brother, the pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, had a long and fraught relationship with her? Well, we shall never know, because when one tries to follow those long-ago links, one receives a notice that this is "an adult community" with an age restriction. I assure you that I am well over 18, and also over 21, and likely over whatever age the site has set, but I also assure you that I have no intention of checking it out and I highly doubt there is any analysis of Rossetti's poem to be had there.

 

So the mystery is: what did I know and when did I know it? I have no idea. But I still enjoyed the podcast about the poem, and Lizzie Siddal, and to the best of my recollection, I never knew any of this stuff before. And when I read the poem next with my eighth graders, I will not tell them about any of it until we have had a discussion about what they imagine is going on, because that is always a great discussion. 

 

Here's the podcast: Not Just a Pretty Face. And now I can close the tab where it appears on my desktop. Spring Cleaning win! 

 

This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 
 

 

Friday, April 09, 2021

Poetry Friday: NPM Spring Cleaning Day 9, Birds in Conversation


Have you noticed how many people are writing about birds in their Poetry Friday posts? Last week there were so many! Part of it is the time of year, when the migratory birds are coming back to northern countries from their trips down south (and we down south are sad to see them go). But part of it is that birds are just excellent topics for poetry. I have several anthologies of bird poems, and I like to write bird poems myself. There's something transcendent about birds - I guess it's the whole flying thing.

 

This link to Little Willow's blog, Bildungsroman, has been open on my desktop since January, when I read it and was captivated by the idea that words are birds. Francisco X. Alarcón's poem starts like this:

 

words

are birds

that arrive

with books

and spring

 

You can follow the link above to read the whole poem (or you could find it here). I think my favorite stanza is:

 

some words

are familiar

like canaries

others are exotic

like the quetzal bird

 

Here's a photo I took recently of birds on wires; I was trying to take a picture of that kite off to the top right, but as you can see, that didn't quite work. I thought about the words being birds, and then about the birds being words, and then the birds having a conversation, and I wondered what they were saying to each other up there.

 


 Bird Conversation

All we birds up on this wire
Watch the kite go by,
Scoff at how the kite’s desire
Is thwarted in the sky.

Since it’s guided by a string,
It can’t go where it chooses.
In a contest with us birds
The poor kite always loses.

Oh, we see the kite is free,
It’s escaped its owner.
Borne along now by the wind,
It’s a joyful loner.

But we can foresee its fate:
When the wind stops blowing,
That poor kite will fall to earth
While we birds keep going.

Yes, it’s good to be a bird
Up here so complacent.
That kite flies for now, it’s true,
But it’s just bird-adjacent.

Who would want to be a kite,
Subject to whims and weathers?
We are glad that we are birds
With iridescent feathers.

 

Ruth Hersey


This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 
 

 
 
 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Pillars

I'm reposting my review of Pillars, by Rachel Pieh Jones, now that the book is actually out. I read an ARC back in February, and now you can read it too. After the review, you'll find last night's book launch, livestreamed on YouTube. Rachel was there from Djibouti, and we also heard from Abdi Nor Iftin, the Somali-American author who wrote the foreword, and amazing author Barbara Brown Taylor. Along with the moderator, Annie Metcalf, they talked about the book and the issues it raises and took questions from the audience, and Rachel even gave a short reading from the book. 



Book #8 of 2021 was Pillars: How Muslim Friends Led Me Closer to Jesus, by Rachel Pieh Jones. Rachel's last book, Stronger Than Death, was terrific, and that link is to my enthusiastic review. It's a biography of Annalena Tonelli, an Italian humanitarian who fought TB in the Horn of Africa and was killed right after Rachel herself moved to Africa. Here's the first line of that book: "On October 5, 2003, in a country that didn't exist, Annalena Tonelli performed routine checks on tuberculosis patients."

 

In my review of Stronger than Death, I commented that I loved how Rachel brought in her own story into Annalena's. That personal connection was, for me, a highlight of the book. So I was really happy to read this new one, where Rachel explores her personal experiences in Somalia and Djibouti even more. The book is organized around the five pillars of Islam, Shahadah (Confession of Faith), Salat (Prayer), Zakat (Almsgiving), Ramadan (Fasting), and Hajj (Pilgrimage). Basing her descriptions on extensive reading but also on many years of experience living surrounded by Muslims, she explains how these practices affect people's lives, and how she has learned from them in ways that have deepened her own Christian faith. 


What I love most about this book is Rachel's refusal to accept easy answers. She and her family have been through many difficulties in their time in Africa, but they have also made Djibouti home, after being suddenly evacuated from Somalia. Rachel's love for her adopted homeland and its people shines through, but she doesn't gloss over how challenging life is there, either. And she rejects clichés at every turn. 


Here are some tastes:


"Before leaving the United States, ten months earlier, I had flippantly remarked that the safest place for a Christian was in the center of God's will, how it was better to move across the planet to a potentially hostile location than to spend three days in the belly of a whale. . . . Later I would understand God's will as an inherently unsafe place to be. It hadn't been safe for Jesus; it led him straight to torture and death. God never promised safety, no matter how I craved it."


"I tried to have a garden in Somaliland, which is how I did just about everything there - a whole lot of effort and tears, and two beans and a miniature cucumber to show for it. On my knees in that sad little garden, my fingers caked with the earth of a place I was trying to transform into hoe, was where I figured out what a disaster life in the Horn of Africa was going to be and where I realized what a massive mistake I had made. . . . I wanted it to display metaphors of faith and spiritual life - and I didn't mean metaphors of failure, weeds, and fruitlessness. I wanted beauty and miracles, nourishment and one seed dying to produce a harvest. I wanted to bite into a fresh green bean and delight in what I had nurtured into being. I wanted it to come through my own fingertips, out of this thorny, rock-strewn soil, and I wanted success the first time I tried. Instead, my garden was an utter failure."


"I used to take Jesus' words, 'You will always have the poor with you,' as something vague. Somewhere, out in the wide world, there will always be poor people. Once I knew poor, hungry, homeless people, and struggled to know how to respond, I saw the words as a threat. You will always have the burden of figuring out how to deal with the poor, and you will always fail in your response. Then, I grasped his words as a call. ...My Somali friends, had they read Jesus' statement, may have seen it as a promise. There would always be opportunity to give, there would never be the risk of living with unabashed greed."


If these passages find you reaching for a highlighter, you will love this book. I recommend it if you want to know more about Islam, but also if you are interested in life as an expat in general, particularly in countries with few resources. I recommend it if you are interested in thinking more about Christianity, and about how people can have relationships with others who believe very differently from themselves. It's deep, heartbreaking, and beautifully written. It's based in profound relationships with friends Rachel clearly loves, relationships she doesn't try to pretend aren't sometimes awkward and difficult.



NPM Spring Cleaning Day 8, Poetry Parties and Poetry Presents

 


I've been enjoying listening to the Objects Out Loud podcasts from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. This one, Poetic Presents and Picture Puzzles, was especially interesting, since it was about people in 19th century Japan who used to get together to have poetry parties and give each other beautiful, intricate gifts that were a combination of paintings and poems. 

 

I think giving a poem for a present is a great idea, and I've often done it. I love receiving poems, too! 

 

Here's a poem that addresses the idea of giving a poem as a gift, but here, it might be a problem:

 

Poem Not to Be Read at Your Wedding

Beth Ann Fennelly

 

You ask me for a poem about love

in place of a wedding present, trying to save me

money. Here's the rest.  


This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 

  

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 7, Forsythia

 

 

Today's post isn't really from tabs I had open on my desktop; in fact, I had to open more tabs in its creation. Typical! I generally do open more tabs faster than I close the ones already open.


When I was doing my daffodil begging (see this post for that tale), a friend sent me some forsythia instead; this was the same friend who didn't want to sneak into her neighbors' yards to take pictures of their flowers - go figure! 

 

Photo Credit: Joy Dupree

 

Perfect, I thought, I'll post some forsythia poems! The first one I thought of was "Naming of Parts," by Henry Reed. Imagine my surprise when I looked it up and learned it isn't forsythia at all in that poem, but japonica! All they have in common, that I can see, is that their names are the same number of syllables, with the emphasis in the same place, and that they both bloom in early spring. Both facts are important to this poem. I think the most common adjective used online to describe this poem is "much-anthologized." Certainly I read it in school, at a time when I had no idea what either japonica or forsythia looked like (see the photos - forsythia above, japonica below).

 

Photo Source: gardenbeast.com


In the poem, there's a jarring juxtaposition between a training session in weapon use for soldiers (today they're learning the parts of a gun) and the japonica blooming out of control. The poem starts this way:


Naming of Parts

by Henry Reed


Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday

we had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning

We shall have what to do after firing. But today,

Today we have naming of parts. Japonica 

Glistens like coral in all of the neighbouring gardens,

And today we have naming of parts.


Here's the rest.

 

So after finding out that my first forsythia poem wasn't even about forsythia, I found a couple of actual forsythia poems to share. The first one is "Forsythia," by Billy Collins, and the second, "Finally the Forsythia," by Virginia Shreve.


Forsythia

by Billy Collins


It caught my eye a while ago, lit up 

against the gloom of woods

in the corner of a wide field,

the pulsing color of caution.

 

And now that I have spent a little time

on this stone wall watching its fire

flare out of the earth

I begin to think about the long chronicle of forsythia,...

 

Here's the rest. You'll have to click through to the second part of it in this facsimile of the Poetry magazine spread it appeared in back in 1995. I love how Billy Collins, in his inimitable fashion, explores the associations forsythia has in his mind. The poem ends this way:


as I feel the syllables of yellow form in my mouth

and hear the sound of yellow fill the morning air.


Finally the Forsythia

by Virginia Shreve


Finally the forsythia

flocks down the lane

laps around the block

tiny yellow birds


Here's the rest.


This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Slice of Life Tuesday: NPM Spring Cleaning Day 6, Naomi Shihab Nye

 

This year for National Poetry Month, I'm doing some Spring Cleaning on my desktop, writing about poetic links open on my desktop, so I can close them and reduce my digital clutter! 


Recently someone shared a new poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, a slice of her life that is also a slice of mine. She's writing about the past year, and how we've adjusted our lives to the pandemic. Here's part of it: 

 

And there were so many more poems to read!
Countless friends to listen to.
We didn’t have to be in the same room—
the great modern magic.
Everywhere together now.
Even scared together now
from all points of the globe
which lessened it somehow.
Hopeful together too, exchanging
winks in the dark, the little lights blinking.
 
from "Every day as a wide field, every page," by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Read the rest here

 
This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 

 

Monday, April 05, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 5, Englishman/African in New York

 

For National Poetry Month, I'm posting about poetic tabs I have open on my desktop so that I can then close the windows. The question is whether I will open, during the month of April, more windows than I close!

 

My brother sent me this song last month. I'm a big Sting fan and loved his song "Englishman in New York," and I was happy to learn that he gave his blessing to Bénin-born musician Shirazee to make his own version. Below, you'll find Shirazee's original video, the duet with both Sting and Shirazee performing, Sting's original video and a link to an interview with Shirazee about the project.


 



Interview with Shirazee on the PRI show The World.


One of the reasons I love Sting is his clever lyrics, and I enjoyed the way Shirazee built on them. I think my favorite line in Shirazee's version is "When I see my brothers and sisters on the train, we say a lot with just our eyes." Behind those words, just like behind the eyes of the African immigrants - and the immigrants from everywhere else - surviving and thriving every day in New York, and in cities around the world, there are so many stories. 


This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 

Sunday, April 04, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 4, Violet Nesdoly


 
Happy Easter! (For something more Eastery, check out last year's post.)
 




Violet Nesdoly has been sharing her Lenten project on her blog and Facebook for the last several weeks. Her friend Laurel Archer writes poems and Violet responds with artistic pieces. Take a look at their collaboration!


Another Violet-related tab I've had open for a while on my desktop is this one that she shared: Poems for Ephesians. This is a journal of poems based on Paul's Letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament. You'll see, scrolling down, that one of the poems there is written by Violet Nesdoly herself. 

 

This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 3, First Lines Found Poems


This year for National Poetry Month, I am Spring Cleaning by going through the open tabs I have on my desktop and posting about them so that I can then delete them.

 

I saved this post by Alan J. Wright back in March, because he suggested something I wanted to try, something he got from Annie Dillard, who said she liked to read the index of first lines from a book of poetry as inspiration for writing. Alan went a step further and wrote found poetry from the index of first lines.


So I did too.


It was a lot of fun to do. None of them 100% make sense, but I feel as though they almost do, if you squint just right. I really enjoyed going back and reading lots of the poems that the first lines belonged to, but I also liked seeing the lines on their own and the way they interacted differently outside of their own poems.


I didn't have many books of poetry that actually had an index of first lines, but I found three that did. The first poem is from Staying Alive: Real Poetry for Unreal Times

 

 

Alone on the railroad track
A woman is reading a poem.
He jumped off the box-car
In the middle of the night.
Lives ago, years past generations,
On a day like any other day,
So early it’s still almost dark out,
There is love to begin with.
This is how you live
When the worst thing happens.


The next one comes from The Sonnet: An Anthology, published by Washington Square Press. I've had this anthology for about 35 years, and it's a good one. I can't find it on Amazon, but here's a photo:



I gave myself the rule of picking one line for each letter of the alphabet. There weren't many Js and there was only one K. Here's the result:


A sonnet is a moment’s monument;
Blessed be the day which bids my grief subside.
Come sleep! O sleep, the certain knot of peace,
Deep in the leafy fierceness of the wood,
Earth has not anything to show more fair.
Fair Star of evening, Splendor of the west,
Glory and loveliness have passed away.
Hope, like the hyena, coming to be old,
I hope and fear, I pray and hold my peace,
Judged by my goddess’ doom to endless pain.
Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there.
Like an adventurous seafarer am I.
Much have I traveled in the realms of gold
Now that my seagoing self-possession wavers.


And the third one is from Friendship Poems, a lovely Everyman anthology.



Candid and generous and just
I think awhile of Love, and while I think,
My lovely friends,
Of that short roll of friends writ in my heart,
Such love I cannot analyze.


This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All
 

Friday, April 02, 2021

Poetry Friday: NPM Spring Cleaning Day 2, Daffodils from Afar

 


Recently I read this page in The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany, by Graeme Gibson:

 

Isn't that so true? We don't look at anything, birds or people we love or the street we live on or anything, with fresh eyes. Everything has a film over it, a film of past experiences and associations and conversations. And as this passage by Alberto Manguel says, one of the things that contributes to that film is our reading. We are, I am, "corrupt with reading."


This is very much true of flowers, and particularly daffodils. Other than roses, daffodils are probably the most literary flower there is. I'm thinking of Wordsworth on daffodils; I posted that poem here. But I'm also thinking about Narcissus (Narcissus is the family name for daffodils) and the daffodil fields in the afterlife in Greek mythology, and "Daffodowndilly", by A. A. Milne. I'm thinking about poems I've written about daffodils, like the one in this post. I can't just look at daffodils without all of these associations.

 

We don't have daffodils where I live, and I love them. Every year around this time, I start asking people to send me daffodil photos. Why? I already know what they look like. I have photos from past years I could look at. But somehow, every year I want to see this year's daffodils.  I'm not entirely sure why.


This year, my daughter told me she hadn't seen any yet. (She's way far north right now.) A friend said she'd transplanted hers and they hadn't bloomed, and she felt funny about sneaking into her neighbors' yards to take photos. 


But then I saw this photo on my daily photo page, where people doing 365 Picture Today share their pictures. I asked for and obtained permission from the photographer, Dana Smith, to use it for a poem and to share it here. Thank you, Dana!

 

 

March Day

Side by side sunbursts
One flower, one made of light
Daffodil and star

One a yellow close-up,
One ninety-three million miles
Above this spring scene


After I saw this photo and decided to be satisfied with it and accept that nobody I actually knew was going to send me daffodil photos, boom! Daffodil photos poured in! One friend posted not just daffodils, but all the lovely spring flowers in her yard, on Facebook and tagged me. Here are some of those photos, shared with permission (photo credit: Jill Evely):



Bunches of springtime
Gathered only in my mind
Armloads of sunshine


I recently followed a Facebook page called "Drawing Wilmore," in which the talented artist Libby Beaty posts daily pencil drawings from Wilmore, Kentucky, a town where I've spent a lot of time. Libby posted some forsythia, and I got bold enough to make a request: would she post daffodils? And she did! She too gave me permission to share:


Narcissus

Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection
in a woodland pool,
fascinated by his own beauty,
unable to take his eyes off himself.
He couldn’t move away from the water
because that would mean leaving that sight behind.
Finally he turned into a flower.

Narcissus flowers sit for their portrait,
preening slightly as the wind blows them
into attractive disarray.
Of course you want to draw us,
is their attitude.
Of course.
We don’t blame you one bit.


Another friend sent a photo of some daffodils in a field, right next to some grape hyacinths. Above, the spring sky was speckled with white clouds. As I looked at the picture, I could feel the breeze; it seemed to me I knew just the chill in the air. The trees in the distance still had no leaves. These flowers were the forerunners of spring, but it seemed it hadn't 100% finished arriving. (Photo credit: Joy Dupree)

 

Springtime Installation

Purple and yellow
straight from the color wheel
luxuriate on a green background
in the spring afternoon.
In the distance,
sky still has the pale blue of winter,
trees are leafless.
Anything could happen;
it could even snow again.
The flowers don’t care.
It’s art for art’s sake
out here in the field.
Feel free to stop by.


Check out today's line in the Progressive Poem!

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at https://timgels.com
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All

 
Mary Lee has today's roundup. And here's a roundup at Soul Blossom Living of people's NPM projects.  It's only the second day, so I can't be too proud of myself, but so far in April I've posted every day! Yesterday's post, including a poem by John O'Donnell published in the Irish Times last spring, is here