Friday, July 22, 2016

I Wish I'd Written This

What to Do with Objects
By Robert Bly

A little snow. Coffee. The bowled-over branches.
The wind, it is cold outdoors, but in the bed

It's warm, in the early lamp-light, reading poems.

These fingers, so rosy, so alive, move
About this book. Here is my wide-traveling palm,
The thumb that looks like my father's, the wedding ring.

It's time to prepare myself—as a friend said—
"Not to be here." It will happen. One day
The dish will be empty on the brown table.

Towards dusk, someone will say, "Today
Some rooms were busy, but this room was not.
The gold knob shone alone in the dark."

No breath, no poems, no dish. And the small change
Will go unnoticed by the snow, the squirrels
Searching for old acorns. What to do with

All these joys? Someone says, "You take them."

From "A Week of Poems at Bennington", published in Best American Poetry 1998. New York, Scribner, © 1998.

The recent deaths of poets I've known have me reflecting on my own mortality – as Bly was when he wrote this, for whatever reason. 

I like the simple directness of the poem (what Wikipedia calls his 'plain, imagistic style') and the ease with which he dwells on various small things that are important in the moment. In the end, despite the title, it is not the physical objects he dwells on so much as the joys they inspire – and not, I think, the dish and the small change so much as the squirrels, the snow, the warm bed, the book of poems, his own hand, the wedding ring.... 

And how can one 'take them'? And who should do that? It's open to interpretation, but I think he means that he himself must take them with him when he dies. If so, it seems to me the only way to do that is to fully experience them while he is alive to do so. And then it becomes not just a message to himself, but to each of us – live fully, don't waste what time you have, savour the joys. The recently deceased poets I am thinking of did that!

Bly himself is still with us, at nearly 90 years old. He has been an important and influential American poet, widely known also in other countries. He has been involved in numerous translations into English from the literatures of other cultures; he has created a specific activism of poets and writers, e.g. during the Vietnam War; he became deeply interested in the Goddess, the Divine Feminine, and this in turn led to the formation of the Men's Movement; both these explorations have included delving into myths and fairytales, as well as Jungian archetypes. 

He has also produced many volumes of poetry and several non-fiction books, as well as editing a number of poetry anthologies. You can find pages of books by and about him at Amazon.

He was born in Minnesota of Norwegian ancestry, has lived most of his life there, and became its first Poet Laureate in 2008. He has received various awards, including the Robert Frost Medal in 2013.

The most comprehensive source of information about his life, work and aesthetics is probably his website. In addition to his bio, details of his books etc., this includes both an extensive interview and details of a film about him, A Thousand Years of Joy. The film, we are told, is available on DVD and can be ordered online.

You can also consult the Wikipedia link above, and similar material (plus poems) at The Poetry Foundation, PoemHunter and Academy of American Poets. The latter includes audio presentations of some poems. There are also readings and lectures on YouTube.

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

Photo SpangleJ, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Suffrage, the right to vote

Union française pour le suffrage des femmes 1909 poster.png
Poster of the French Union for Women's Suffrage (1909)
Union française pour le suffrage des femmes
"French women want to vote - against alcohol, slums and war"

“I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.” 
― Alexis de TocquevilleTocqueville: Democracy in America

“To view the opposition as dangerous is to misunderstand the basic concepts of democracy. To oppress the opposition is to assault the very foundation of democracy.” 
― Aung San Suu KyiLetters from Burma

“There is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.” 
― David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

Midweek Motif ~ Suffrage, 
the right to vote

Do you have the right to vote?  
When did you last use that right?  
Have you ever been on a ballot? 
What would you like to see on a ballot to vote for?  

Your Challenge: Write a poem that exposes and/or challenges suffrage. 

We walked five blocks 
to the elementary school, 
my mother’s high heels 
crunching through playground gravel. 
We entered through a side door.

Down the long corridor, 
decorated with Halloween masks, 
health department safety posters— 
we followed the arrows 
to the third grade classroom.

My mother stepped alone 
into the booth, pulling the curtain behind her. 
I could see only the backs of her 
calves in crinkled nylons.

A partial vanishing, then reappearing 
pocketbook crooked on her elbow, 
our mayor’s button pinned to her lapel. 
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)

I am unjust, but I can strive for justice. 
My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness. 
I, the unloving, say life should be lovely. 
I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness. 

Man is a curious brute—he pets his fancies— 
Fighting mankind, to win sweet luxury. 
So he will be, though law be clear as crystal, 
Tho’ all men plan to live in harmony. 

Come, let us vote against our human nature, 
Crying to God in all the polling places 
To heal our everlasting sinfulness 
And make us sages with transfigured faces. 

I hold my ballot in my shaking hand
And say to myself: this is cause and effect.
The opportunity is so grand
I have spent all my life to expect.

You have lived in a free country, 

Here you and your ancestors were born; 
Your civil rights are numerous and sundry; 
Please do feel pity for the forlorn.

I had exercised my right to vote

In my native land’s first ever election: 
Illiterates did not know what cadres wrote; 
Bad factions led them to wrong direction.

Wanting self-rule, people grew wiser; 

The patriots just built a young nation.
But the invaders, however, were slyer: 
Elections were only to shield usurpation.

. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)

Monday, July 18, 2016


Today, my friends, we are featuring Tarang Sinha, who writes at TARANG: REFLECTION OF MY THOUGHTS AND IMAGINATION. Tarang lives in India, a country we are always so pleased to visit. She is highly accomplished as a published freelance writer, and is announcing the publication of her first novel this month. Tarang is also a watercolour artist and will share a few of her paintings with us. I can't wait! Let's begin.

Sherry: Tarang, am happy to be interviewing you! Would you tell us about your life, so we can get to know you better? 

Tarang: Hello! I am so glad to be featured on Poets United, a beautiful community for poets.

I am a freelance writer, avid reader, and an active blogger. I work from home, and my works have been published in magazines like Good Housekeeping India, Child India, Women’s Era, and in a best-selling anthology Uff Ye Emotions 2. My first novel We Will Meet Again is all set to release in July. 

Sherry: How wonderful to be able to work from home and be so widely published. And congratulations on your book, which we will talk about later. For now, let’s go all the way back to childhood. Where did you grow up? Looking back, is there anything in your childhood you feel led you to your life as a writer?

Tarang: I grew up in India (Still live in IndiaJ).

I think you can’t be a good writer if you are not a good reader. I have inherited my love for books from my grandparents (voracious readers). We had a small library in our home, and I started reading novels pretty early in my life. I was in school and my grandparents didn’t approve my reading novels at that age. Sometimes I did that secretly.

As a child, I wanted to become everything except a writer. Discovering a writer in me was a stroke of serendipity.

Sherry: We poets do seem to share that love of books, and words. When did you write your first poem? What do you love about poetry?

Tarang: Unlike many other writers, I started writing very late as it was the last thing I wanted to be. I picked poetry because I thought it was easy. I thought I couldn’t write stories. And a novel? It seemed out of the question! But time and consistency stir your determination and change things completely.

Poetry is a beautiful expression in few words. So, it takes polished skills to write poetry. I think it’s more expressive.

Sherry: I am excited about your book! Especially as you thought it was impossible to write one! Tell us about the publication of your debut novel, “We Will Meet Again.”  

Tarang: For me, it was a tough journey. My book is a mature love story, embellished with various shades of emotions.

I'm sure it will be super-exciting to hold the first copy in my hands. I am yet to experience that feeling, as We Will Meet Again hasn’t released yet. We have just unveiled the cover of my book. It will be out in July, the  last week. However, it’s up for pre-orders Here.

Sherry: As it turns out, it will come out soon after this feature, so Poets United has the pleasure of announcing its launch. Our congratulations to you, Tarang. 

What impact has blogging had on your writing?

Tarang: Great impact, I’d say. It’s a wonderful platform to both express and discover your writing. For this, I would like to thank my brother Nilabh Verma, for introducing me to this beautiful world.

Sherry: Our thanks to you, too, Nilabh, for now we get to enjoy your sister's poetry! Would you care to share three of your poems with us, and tell us a bit about each one?


Every single day
I open the treasure of your memories
I smile, I weep
Some make me yearn for more
Some hurt deep, oh so deep!
I whirl, and whirl, 
And they chase
No, how can I erase?
So, I make a choice, 
And move to the lovely ones
Memories churn
Take me with its wings
Emotions glisten in my eyes
My lips tremble to smile
The moment I feel you beam
And your voice ring


It’s an expression of great loss in life that leaves such a deep impression that they eventually become a scar.

Sherry: It is so hard when a beautiful memory also carries pain. You have expressed this so well.


From the closet of life,
Or from the sack of my own imagination
I extract many untold stories
I stuff them in the diary of my mind
bond with them deeply
Yet forget sometimes…
They shuffle and struggle
To get out
Like a caged bird
To be heard and shine
grumble as I try to settle
The whirlpool of those untold stories
Lovely imageries dance
And I envisage them to take beautiful shapes
I try but they jumble and I fail, sometimes…
This misery is painless
True, there’s no greater agony
Than bearing untold stories inside you…


This poem was written for a prompt site, and the prompt was the quotation of Maya Angelou, this quotation which I strongly believe in. It is painful to carry an untold story, indeed!  

"There is no greater agony than 
bearing an untold story inside you."
Maya Angelou

Sherry: I so agree. As writers, we must write. And your third poem?


For some peaceful moments,  
I want to vanish, 
Behind a magical door,
That opens to an enchanting lake shore
Fringed with peaceful landscaped view
Oh, that colouful hue!
Where the aura is enveloped in sheer bliss
Where serenity greet me with tender kiss
Where silence cradles me in its warmth 
Where breeze hums a soothing lullaby, 
Under the limitless azure sky
Where golden sunshine plays hide and seek
Giving me some solace that I seek
Where I can drown myself
In the pool of interesting books, without any interruption!
Where I can have my share of fun
Where vivid colours of nature, fill me refreshed zest
I so wish to curl up in cozy nest, 
Giving anxiety some rest
Sometimes, I yearn for that friendly solitude
Just, for some peaceful moments!


It’s my feeling expressed in the form of a poem. Sometimes, I do feel like vanishing somewhere, and what could be the better place than this (as described in the poem)?

Sherry: A verdant retreat with a stack of books sounds like bliss to me!

Tell us about your love of art and painting. Do you have a photo  of a few of your paintings to share with us?

Tarang: I love watercolour painting! I have tried a couple of paintings, and finally realized that I am a bad painter. Reading, writing and blogging keep me busy but, I will try to keep my enthusiasm (for painting) alive.

Sherry: Tarang, your work is lovely. Painting is a wonderful outlet. I hope you do continue.

Is there anything you'd like to say to Poets United?

Tarang:   Poets United is a wonderful platform for poets! It helps writers to express, and connect with many lovely poets. I like the pictures you share. I am a regular participant and feel good about it. 

I wish Poets United all the best, and years and years and years of inspiration!   

Sherry: Thank you, Tarang, for the lovely wishes. All the best to you on the publication of your novel. May it sell many copies. We look forward to enjoying your work in the months to come.

Wasn't this lovely, my friends? I always love a visit to Mother India. Do come back and see who we talk to next - and where! Who knows? It might be you!