Friday, June 30, 2023

haze and heat - happy summer!

Greetings, Poetry Friday friends!  If you need a primer on what Poetry Friday is and why some of us have been showing up to it for 15 years (even after shorter and longer hiatuses. hiati? hiatusi?), you can read more here at Renee LaTulippe's blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

I've just had a brief hiatus of my own, in part due to my attendance at the extremely informative and promising Writing for the Educational Market workshop at the Highlights Foundation last week. As I embark on this newish project of writing on assignment, let me give a shout-out to the workshop leaders--Paula Morrow, Jan Fields, Sandra Athans and Rona Shirdan--and to my fellow participants for an extended party of a very refreshing kind!

Those who know me won't be surprised that I'd like to contribute climate- and environment-related texts to the educational market. I wrote the poem below as a sample, sitting inside this week instead of outside on my porch as I prefer, to avoid the hanging haze of Canadian wildfire smoke full of particulate matter, or PM2.5 – a tiny but dangerous pollutant that, when inhaled, can travel deep into lung tissue and enter the bloodstream, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's not the SAME as the blanket of greenhouse gases that's causing so much havoc in our climate, but boy, is this a visible, uncomfortable, concrete reminder that climate warming is all around all of us. This has big immediate consequences, like preschool summer camp having to be INSIDE!

I did not write this with the Poetry Sisters' monthly challenge in mind, to consider this quote:

“If grief can be a doorway to love, then let us weep for the world we are breaking apart so we can love it back to wholeness again.”
                                                                Robin Wall Kimmerer in BRAIDING SWEETGRASS

But my poem does seek to carry kids through a doorway, from a familiar personal pain to a mind-bogglingly global pain, and from personal healing to global healing.

In other news, I must remark upon the joyful fact that this week, after years of imagining a scenario in which I get to teach poetry workshops as My Job, I taught the first two classes of Summer @ The Studio!  Now there's a good reason for fireworks!  Happy Independence Day, friends, and let there be liberty and justice for ALL.

Friday, June 2, 2023

turquoise inklings + happy pride!

Greetings, PF People! It's June and that means Pride Month in the US and in much of the world (but let's spare a thought for LGBTQ folks of Uganda). I had the pleasure of kicking off the month by participating in my first public reading in a very long time last night, with 4 other queer poets who all have poem-videos that will appear one by one throughout June at  The very first video is from Ishanee Chanda, whom I met last night--she had a certain offhand, subtle style that jumped up and grabbed you when you weren't expecting it, a great reading! My poem will appear on June 21st--don't worry, I'll remind you.

Typing the title above has reminded me of something from my ur-memory: that for a period, probably in 9th grade, I wrote exclusively with a cartridge fountain pen full of turquoise ink. I believe that's also when I figured out handwriting finally--getting it even and regular came slow to me and it only happened when teachers stopped fussing at me about the Palmer Method.

I'm thinking about these things because our Inklings Challenge on this first Friday of June is to write a color poem, thanks to Molly, who says, "I’m always startled by the dazzle of color that arrives in spring after months and months of blues and whites and greys. This month I’m inviting you to write a color poem." She kept it broad with a just a couple of examples, and I'm going with this poem about something else that came slow to me--although the fountain pen might suggest otherwise.

           I Finally Choose a Favorite Color

Turquoise, you persist, you win,
and I shake your hand.

You are slick and solid
with sharp enamel edges,
which shocks me.

You smell like sky upside down water.
Next to my ear you breathe
a Mediterranean sound

of cavewave, squid and pebbles.
When I open my mouth for a taste,
I find you are liquid, tart,

which slakes me.
Returning you to you,
you reshape yourself, no longer

a tile of middling blue but a bowl,
a curved mirror
exactly the size of my face.

You can find this poem published at Lines + Stars Journal.  Let's go see if anyone else had trouble committing to a favorite color (I was 34 years old and had married two people before I married turquoise; there were just so many other great choices!)

Catherine @ Reading to the Core
Mary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche

Thanking our host today, Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect, and leaving you with the opportunity to enjoy KIDS' POEMS every week at...