Friday, March 26, 2021

slps 6: brevity with valerie and nikki

Here's early morning quiet and early spring damp, 63* at 6am. A rabbit is galloping giddily around my backyard where the last two days of rain have sent some--not all--of the grass shooting up, so that the lawn, which yearns to be a field both on the ground and in my mind, is a shaggy, ragged yellowgreen. It's windy today too, the community of clouds is rolling by, charging eastward past the sunrise, clearing out for the sunny day that's on its way.

I'm alone here with the patio door open just enough to feel it all, abandoned to the birdcall and the smell of suspense on the air.

 grass | Valerie Worth



A Community of Clouds | Nikki Giovanni

Busy this weekend--not planning to make the PF rounds.  But you never know!  Hosting today is Susan at Soul Blossom Living, who is rounding up all our celebrations of National Poetry Month.

Friday, March 19, 2021

slps 5: katz and piercy

Climate Action Alert:  Is YOUR state legislature attempting to undo some of the damage to our planet?  Mine is, and I have advocacy work to do today, which I know about because of my state's Unitarian Universalist Legislative MinistryGo here to see if your state has a one-stop shop for action alerts on matters of social justice, climate justice in particular.

It's time to return to my  self-led poetry study, in
which I revisit books on my shelf that never received proper attention.  Let's begin with the very first poem in UPSIDE DOWN AND INSIDE OUT: Poems for All Your Pockets by Bobbi Katz.  This little volume has a layered history: it's a 1992 Wordsong reissue of the original 1973 collection, and it's signed by Bobbi herself to someone named Mary Krogness--but it also bears a stamp on the inside and a label on the outside to let us know that this book belongs to the library of Aquita Sanford!  I acquired it hmmmmm from a used-book dealer?  It also has a barcode label that looks rather newer.

I met Bobbi on a few occasions in the 2000's, and she's the person who said, when I mentioned my family was moving to Paris for a year, that she knew a children's poet who lived there, an English woman named Sandra Guy.  Unbelievably, it turned out that Sandra lived LITERALLY ACROSS THE STREET from our exchange apartment in Vincennes--of all the addresses in Paris!  Thanks to Bobbi, I had a faithful critique partner during that year in France.

But I's that first poem.

 How I Got to Be a Princess: An Autobiographical Note | Bobbi Katz

Yesterday my friend said,
"You look just like a princess.”
I could not believe him.

Was he talking to someone else?
I looked behind me
in front of me.
I looked under the bed
on top of the closet.
No one else was there.
Again my friend said,
“You look just like a princess.”
He really said it to ME!
I felt all twinkling inside.
That’s how I got to be a princess.


This is a pretty unusual poem for Bobbi--most of her work is rhyme-and-meter perfection, playful and very definitely early-childhood friendly, not usually autobiographical. (For those familiar, this volume also includes the original "Things to Do If You Are" form, with "a Subway", "a Flower," "the Snow" and "a Pizza," among others. Bow down to Bobbi!)



Next I pulled down THE MOON IS ALWAYS FEMALE by Marge Piercy (Alfred A. Knopf, 1980).  I don't know where I got this one either, but I swear, despite knowing of Marge Piercy since I was in college (Wesleyan University, whose press published her first two collections), I don't think I have ever opened this book, considered a "classic text of the feminist movement."  My loss, my goodness!  

Marge (b. 1936) is roughly the same age as Bobbi (b. 1933) and I am. so. fascinated. by the juxtaposition of Bobbi's princess poem and this stanza from Marge's longer poem "Excursions, incursions".


                                                        Excursions, incursions  | Marge Piercy

Princess and godmother, girls and women, viewed and twinkled and labeled and priced: may they yet declare themselves queens of their own being?  I hope that both poets, now in their 80s, continue well and comfortable, and I am so grateful for their voices.

Linda at TeacherDance is our host today for Poetry Friday, and she is also exploring time and its nonsense and constancy and how it makes us think about our moments, our long lives, and how old rules don't apply...see you there!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

poetry friday is here! birthday numbers, birthday lights

Welcome! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

I'm banished from the downstairs where my beloved is cooking me a birthday dinner, a surprise dish that smells excellent.  I do not have my poetry books to hand, so today I don't bring down two from the shelf to explore & match; instead I avail myself of goodness from the Poetry Foundation website.  

From Linda Pastan, "Counting Backwards":

And I must say, I do feel a bit like I'm at a starting line, like the pall of the last year is lifting (oh cross all your fingers!), and also, as our two seniors  graduate and move on, full of all the possibilities that might come to pass in the next stage. Let's tackle childhood poverty head-on! Let's plant trees and spread love! Let's light our birthday cakes with light bulbs!



No, Calef's Grampa is gotta have the flame and the breath for wishes to come true. (In fact, I've been working for a while on a theory that the invention of the electric light bulb was the beginning of the end for humanity.  Nothing was ever meant to be that easy for us and it's finally catching up with us.)

So I'm lucky to be standing at the threshold of a new era for me and, I hope, for everyone--if we can make it to the end of this school year--and isn't poetry always a door to step through?  Please add your links below, and let us make merry while we March!

P.S. Can you tell I'm a little drunk on the sunshine and 75* we've had here this week?

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, March 5, 2021

sunday swagger challenge: prompt mashup

It's the first Friday of the month and my critique group--the Sunday Swaggers--despite the wild ride in our classrooms, schools and physical BODIES, is soldiering on with a monthly challenge.  Today Margaret of Reflections on the Teche feeds our delight in the refreshing force that is Amanda Gorman by sending us to find a poem through a scavenger hunt.

That would be enough to get us going, but IN ADDITION we would like to give a nod to today's Poetry Friday host, Kat Apel, who just last week shared a seat-of-the-pants poetry form called the LaMiPoFri.  It's ideal for people like me who are sitting down at 6:30 am to a) write my Poetry Friday post including b) writing a response to my group's challenge. Here's how Kat describes it:

"What is a lamipofri? It’s a poetry snapshot that’s quickly scribed, to give people an insight into the world around you at a given point in time – that point being the last minute as you’re scrambling for a Poetry Friday poem to post! Hence the name: LAst MInute of a POetry FRIday! The trick with the lamipofri is to pause, take a moment to look around and share that moment with others. But don’t take too long, or the moment will pass!"

I've always called such last-minute poems Instadrafts™ but Kat's has the special feature of focusing on the moment.

So here we have it: three words from Ta-Nehisi Coates's BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME. It is taking me months to read this book, so painful is it for me to understand his experience of growing up in a Black body. It takes me 10 minutes and an effort to revisit pages 11 (my 'lucky' birthdate, next week), 22 and 33, but here are the words I choose:

declaration ~ edge ~ suspended

and here is the out-the-window poetry moment they become.


Find the rest of our group's responses here:

-Catherine at Reading to the Core -Margaret at Reflections on the Teche -Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
-Linda at A Word Edgewise

Many thanks to the unwitting conglomeration that led to this AmGorScaHuLaMiPoFri, and thanks and congratulations to our host Kat on her new book A BIRD IN THE HERD (the egret has landed hee hee hee).  May we step, eyes wide open and socks on, toward a warmer Reality.


BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME (written to his teen son), p. 10-11