Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Portable Poetry Workshop Project: Generating Content - Lateral and Digressive Moves

I've learned a new word: leitmotif. Jack's definition of this word is "a recurring image, phrase, statement, trope, or theme in a work." How did I not know this word?  I've known the definition and found myself weaving together recurring images, sounds, colors, etcetera, during my reading of a collection.  Ones that come to mind: the different hues of blue that weave their way throughout Matthew Zapruder's Come on All You Ghosts, the image of the fly in the aptly titled Flies by Michael Dickman, the conversation sometimes turning into an argument with death in Jack's The Memory of Water.

What are a few of your favorites?

Thanks for the new word today, Jack. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cliché of the Heart, Take Two

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about my problems with "the heart" in poems, or rather, using it in my poetry. Yesterday, I came across a lovely poem in a set of three by Jane Hirshfield and find it to be the perfect poem in using the heart as a metaphor and effectively tying in emotion without sounding too sentimental.  It slays "the heart" as a cliché in poetry.

SOMETIMES THE HEART IS A SHALLOW AUTUMN RIVER by Jane Hirshfield (It is last poem on the page.)

I can't wait to read Hirshfield's new collection Come, Thief.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Poem and Prayer for a Friend

I am thinking about a friend this morning who is an incredible example of strength and resilience. Her positive outlook is inspiring, infectious. I am praying for her today and in the days to come.

A poem for her: Li-Young Lee's "Persimmons" for "Some things never leave a person..." like light in a jar or a bird, small signs of hope if you notice them...

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; the shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31

Appreciate life and all the people in it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Portable Poetry Workshop Project: Generating Content - Horizontal and Technical Content

I know that at this section of the book things may seem too technical, which is why I recommend reading this book for yourself. Through reading, the reader will be able to glean what is wanted and/or needed, and it won't feel so technical. (Craft is important!)  This section is overflowing with golden nuggets.

A technical golden nugget:  "A simple method for distinguishing the kinds and functions of content in a poem is to imagine to content of a poem in the shape of a cross..."

A simplified version of the cross Jack speaks of looks like this:

This cross then goes on to resemble more of a pinwheel upon consideration and examination of elements within different poems.

And now, more of a general golden nugget: "...The same cognitive processes we use in decoding our experience in the world are the same cognitive processes we use when we first read a poem."

What poem has given you the most fulfilling experience when reading?  The most recent one for me is Mary Ruefle's "White Buttons.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Mailbox is My Friend: Books and Stamps

And we can get a little impatient with friends at times.  Especially when you're waiting on a book or two.  It's almost like Christmas in my heart when I am waiting for books I've ordered online.  I can hardly wait until they arrive and I check the mailbox constantly.

I'm waiting on two books at the moment:  Pym by Mat Johnson and What's Your Story?: A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer.  Three poetry books next on the agenda: Come, Thief by Jane Hirshfield, Transfer by Naomi Shihab Nye, and Midnight Lantern by Tess Gallagher.  I'm grinning.

What are you reading?

Oh, and don't forget about the Forever poetry stamps coming from the post office in 2012!  These in themselves are a great reason to send a hand-written card or note through snail mail. Is there a poet you'd like to see on a stamp?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cliché of the Heart

I have a problem with my heart.  I mean my use of "heart" in my writing.  Too often, I am being reminded that the use of the heart is too sentimental.  I wish it weren't only a metaphor.

James Arthur recently reminded me (although he has a time or two before) that "The heart doesn't really have anything to do with emotion." I know, I know.  I'm going to replace it with some other organ or body part.  Eventually.  I'm thinking about it, at least.

A poignant poem about both hearts: "His Heart" by Caroline Knox.

How do you deal with clichés of the heart?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Portable Poetry Workshop Project: Generating Content - Techniques for Elaborating Content

Elaboration expands a poem.  We can plumpen a poem through a number of devices and methods such as conceit, simultaneity, inner correspondences, slant imagery, creating a story within a story, and correspondence.

Who better to talk about elaboration than Richard Hugo?  In this video, he touches upon the importance of elaboration: "The less you know about the town, the more you can add...subtraction is always more difficult than addition." Just listen to him read, "Degrees of Gray in Phillipsburg." Hugo skillfully utilizes the setting as his "triggering town."


Friday, September 2, 2011

Iced Tea, Old, Old Recipes, and The Way to a Man's Heart

I shared pecan chicken salad with my Grandma for lunch today. I also helped her put together her new recipe box and snuck in her recipe for her one-of-a-kind and top secret pie crust (she won't admit she is forgetting the recipe).  Sitting at her kitchen table, sorting through old recipe cut-outs, I felt like I was a kid again, just off the school bus, enjoying my afternoon snack with Grandma.  I'm still smiling.

Some lunch thoughts/observations:

  1. Iced tea always tastes better when Grandma makes it.  I can't explain why.  It just does.  I even buy the same kind of tea and put it in the same kind of jug.  Maybe it's her ancient lemon/lime squeeze contraption that does it.  I don't know.  Refreshing.
  2. I wish I could still buy Clabber Girl baking powder for 10 cents.  10 cents!  I wish I would've remembered to bring that little cut-out with me just to show you.  Instead, I remembered to bring some tasty cookie recipes instead.  From scratch.  Take that boxed mixes and pre-made dough!  (I researched this a little online and it looks as if these recipes are from sometime in the 1940's.  Wow.)
  3. My Grandma says, "The real way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  Just look at your Grandpa.  He'd starve if I didn't cook or bake, and I realize it's my own fault!"  They've been married for over 60 years now and she still makes him a different dessert every night.  My husband gets dessert about once a week.  I've got some catching up to do! 
Wishing you a relaxing Labor Day and extended weekend!  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Memory of Water Book Giveaway Winner

Good morning!

Thank you to those who participated in this book contest for August!  Even if you didn't win this book, I encourage you to read it when you have an opportunity.

The winner of Jack Myer's The Memory of Water is Nora Luongo! I hope you find this collection to be a keepsake, Nora.

I'll leave you today with a video of Jack reading one of his poems and discussing "Power Tools for the Spirit" recorded by The Art of Living Gallery:

What an amazing soul he was...