Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Midweek Motif: The Joy of Poetry

"Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance."
Carl Sandburg

"A poet is a nightingale,
who sits in darkness and sings
to cheer its own solitude
with sweet sounds."
Percy Bysshe Shelley

"We write to taste life twice,
in the moment, and in retrospect."
Anais Nin

"A poet doesn't write because she has a solution.
She writes because she has hope."
Hannah Gosselin

Midweek Motif : The Joy of Poetry

Why do we write poems? What do we love about writing them? What keeps us writing? What do we hope for, when we pen our poems?

Our challenge: to write about poetry, 
any facet of it that appeals 
to your imagination. 
I offer two examples, for your inspiration.

Poetry by Pablo Neruda

    And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
    in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
    it came from, from winter or a river.
    I don't know how or when,
    no, they were not voices, they were not
    words, nor silence,
    but from a street I was summoned,
    from the branches of night,
    abruptly from others,
    among violent fires
    or returning alone,
    there I was without a face
    and it touched me.

    I did not know what to say, my mouth
    had no way
    with names,
    my eyes were blind,
    and something started in my soul,
    fever or forgotten wings,
    and I made my own way,
    that fire,
    and I wrote the first faint line,
    faint, without substance, pure
    pure wisdom
    of someone who knows nothing,
    and suddenly I saw
    the heavens
    and open,
    palpitating plantations,
    shadow perforated,
    with arrows, fire and flowers,
    the winding night, the universe.

    And I, infinitesimal being,
    drunk with the great starry
    likeness, image of
    for myself a pure part of the abyss,
    I wheeled with the stars,
    my heart broke loose on the wind.

    (Translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid)

I came across this other cool statement about poetry just the other day. Ms Alexander is currently the chair of African American studies at Yale. You can find out more about this highly accomplished poet here, and here, if you wish. She has written a memoir called The Light of the World, which looks very intriguing, about the sudden death of her husband. She says while it begins with what looks like a catastrophe, it is a love story. My kind of book! I love her voice in this poem.

Ars Poetica #100: I Believe

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry
is where we are ourselves
(though Sterling Brown said
“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I'”),
digging in the clam flats
for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.
Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,
overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way
to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)
is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.
Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,
and are we not of interest to each other?

            - Elizabeth Alexander

Please share your poem using Mr. Linky below 
and visit others in the spirit of the community.   

(Next week Sherry's Midweek Motif will be Watershed Moments)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Blog of the Week - An Update with Kaykuala

We have a special treat for you this week, my friends. We are visiting with  Hank Pilus, who writes at Rainbow. Hank lives in the beautiful country of Malaysia. We last interviewed Hank in 2012. We decided to stop by and see what he has been up to since then.  Hank has been a loyal member of Poets United since its very beginning, and we appreciate him so much.

Sherry: Hank, it is so lovely to be talking with you again. Please give us an update on your growing family. In our interview with you in 2012, you had five grandchildren. How is everyone?

Norman and Kimie

Hank: There are no additions still 5 grandees! All are in high spirits. They have been travelling. Not very far but just. The elder two, Norman and Kimie, had among others been to the Legoland in Johore, a stone's throw from Singapore.

From left Nabil, Gramps Mohd Said, Sara Ayesha, 
Naqip and mummy Qaty

Our 3 younger ones Nabil, Sara Ayesha and Little Naqip are emulating their Gramps and parents. They are now into cycling. The last we heard the family was in a road race of sorts in Ipoh about 200km north of Kuala Lumpur. Week-ends have been cycling days lately for their parents. The kids are caught in the  fad and have their own 'races' among the other kids as well.

Sherry: It sounds like a happy, busy life, my friend. Tell us a bit about living in Malaysia. The physical beauty of the place is stunning.

Hank (second from the right) at our Royal Military College 
alumni Annual Gathering in June 2015

Hank: This reminds me when Hank was in Kashmir years ago. Even going along any of the country roads one was presented with the natural beauty of the Kashmiri landscape. Sparkling streams of rivulets upon reaching the end of molds of rocky hillocks would tumble down in gushing sprays that glittered in the morning sun. We stopped the taxi and just stood by the roadside to marvel at the exquisite panorama that unfolded in front of our eyes. Time stood still among the greenery and snow-capped mountains in the distance. When we remarked to the driver how fantastic the beauty of nature that was, he retorted back to say he had seen 'all these all his life' Nothing to excite him anymore.

It all goes to show, Sherry, Ma'am, you would have to make a bee-line to Malaysia to savor nature's offerings here. Hank can only echo the Kashmiri driver who was not overly excited of what beauty really was in his homeland! Not so when one is in another country. Hank was stunned years ago to stand on the Rainbow Bridge, to marvel at the Niagara Falls in the distance and later to sneak behind the Falls below ground. Something not seen before would always astound  oneself. It was just exhilarating, but perhaps not to the folks there. Hank can double as a tourist guide whenever you are here, a promise!

Sherry: I would come in a heartbeat, my friend, if wishes were airline tickets, LOL. During our last interview you explained how writing came to you later in life, when you began blogging. You told us you began blogging narratives, as a means of record-keeping. I believe our friend Ninotaziz had a hand in encouraging your foray into writing poetry.  How has blogging impacted your work?

Hank: Ninot is such a wonderful lady. We were introduced by a common friend, Pak Cik, and she led the way for Hank to venture into poetry. Ninot gave all the support.

Hank's first book can be reached here

In fact, Ninot did Hank the honor of poetry-reading during the launching of Hank's first book Rainbow Poetry and Prose in Nov 2013' Rainbow' comprised a collection of poetry and prose of 400 pages written from 2010 up to 2012.

Sherry: Ninot is  wonderfully encouraging. It was she who showed me how relatively easy it is to put a book together. I now have several on my shelf, thanks to our wonderful friend! 

Hank's second book can be reached here

Hank: Hank's second book 'Pearls That Shine,' of 300 pages, followed last year. It comprised blog postings of 2013. Both are available as a Kindle version on the 'Net. Hank will embark on a third book of postings written in 2014 shortly.

Sherry: Congratulations on your two books, Hank. They both look absolutely beautiful! We look forward to the third. You are working hard! You must be very happy with the way your work is evolving.

Hank: Happy with my writing? Oh yes, a discovery rather late in the day. There is so much to know and to write about.The two books are structured into Free Verse, Haiku, Limericks, Micro Fictions, other forms and Prose. Variety it is thought should invoke a certain amount of interest in its reading. Variety should attract the desire to read. Otherwise it will be boring..

In recent times Hank takes a fancy to creating free verse from Wordles. One can write Wordles practically 5 times in a week through Sunday's Whirligig, MLMM's, APED, Real Toads and even CARPE DIEM. Wordles can go any direction, writing metaphorically, once the theme is selected. It is fun! Blogging certainly is a fulfillment!

Sherry: It is indeed, Hank. You have a second blog for narrative writing, birdhouse. While I was looking around your blogs,  I discovered you now have a third blog, Easels and Colours, where I was excited to discover you have branched out into painting with acrylics. People talented in one genre so often explore other creative pursuits. Tell us about your painting.

One of Hank's painting hung up as part of the exhibition 
during the book launching

(Hank was a one-time golfer now retired)

Hank: Yes, Hank started with 'birdhouse' before 'Rainbow'. Sadly, though, 'birdhouse' had been neglected for so long. One dries up on ideas when writing prose, especially narrating events. There is still a way to salvage it by writing Fictions perhaps Short Stories and novella. Short Stories should be a better option at around 1500 words or so. Hank might just do that to get 'birdhouse' moving.

Sherry: That sounds intriguing, Hank. 

An acrylic painting entitled 'The Beak'

A pastel painting of a Green Pepper

Sherry: Your paintings are wonderful, Hank. That pepper looks good enough to eat.

Hank:  Hank's drawing blog Easels and Colours also needs to be rekindled into activity. Hank went into a frenzy of acrylic paintings and held an exhibition during the book launch. Hank could produce about 12 paintings in a space of 14 days days prior to the launching then. Hank slept 4 hours on certain days just to complete them. But sadly the passion and motivation are not sustained. Something drastic ought to be done perhaps.

Sherry: More paintings are laying in wait, I am sure. Tell us what you love about writing poetry? How does it differ, the way you feel on completion of a poem, or a painting?

Hank: Writing poetry in reality is writing about oneself or of one's experiences. The advantage of experiences cannot be measured by the number of years but the variety of activities covered. More activities would mean more information to draw from even in shorter number of years. Hank is handicapped here as Hank was not active in writing poetry before. The poetic language of bloggers who did heavy poetry when young could be seen and felt immediately. There are a number of our current bloggers who are in that category and who write brilliant poems

The feeling is the same on completion of a poetry or painting. The feeling is one of exhilaration, satisfaction and wonder. One wonders how they could be completed. One also wonders if the next one can come easy to match those earlier ones. One plays catch-up on one's conscious efforts. 'What if the poem or painting currently on the plate turn out to be a flop?' There is always that frightful feeling! The feeling is the same for both. 

Sherry: That is interesting to contemplate.  Hank, would you like to select three poems we can include in this feature? And tell us a bit about each?

Hank: Let me start with one that I used to like before, but unashamedly neglected in the recent past. It is a form, in fact, not a poem as such. It is Limericks! I like Limericks, not just for the short poem that it is, but more for the humor. One must really be inspired to trap the humor, the underlying attraction of a Limerick. These are some of my old ones The first line in all instances was given by Madeleine Kane. We had to complete the rest.

The Limericks

A fellow was planning to wed
A lass who was playing hard to get
Tried as he might
With all that he had
Excepting him the rest she grabbed

A woman who always seemed game
Had a fearful reputation to her name
A guy tried to get fresh
Was on the behind thrashed
She was of a black-belt Tae-Kwon-do fame

A fellow who telecommunicated
Was doubly fast when he tweeted
Thumb worked on the HP
Crossed the road in a jiffy
Pall bearers later had him hoisted

A woman who felt she had been had
Getting even not an option she thought right
They had a pow-wow
Exchanged know-how
Never to regret it since - blissful heavenly nights

Limericks have that uncanny affinity for soft sensuous humor It can even get away with hard obscene ones but better to avoid such. Humor is base if obscene but witty if spiced with good-natured and acceptable soft sexual encounters.

I have not done Limericks these days except for playful ones at Pat Hatt's. Nice to go for revisits at Mad Kane's, as they provide real Limericks challenge.

Sherry: I enjoy the humor of them, Hank.

Hank: More of a challenge, too, is the form pantoum, which is derived from the Malay pantuns. We used to see them feverishly thrown back and forth during weddings before. The first participant would pose a question as a riddle in pantun form. The opponent would have to respond likewise with a witty answer immediately, and it would go back and forth.It was done in quatrains and this would go on through the night. There were lots of laughter, as they were spiced with humor and rhyming that one wondered how the participants could respond fast on their feet. It was amazing. But it is not frequently seen these days, as weddings take new forms now. To know more about the pantun it is most opportune as Ninot had only in the weeks before  presented a 2-part series at d'Verse: Classic Pantun part 1 and Classic Pantun part 2.

Hank's pantoum below is actually taking a jab at the get-rich-quick schemes that used to make the rounds before. It is presented in that lighter mood just so to show our disdain at such Ponzi efforts to hoodwink nice folks.

A Scheme

He came with a little smile, a toothy little smile
Broader it became as he got a little closer
Broke into a small laughter and all the while
A quizzical stance hidden behind the laughter

Broader it became as he got a little closer
Seen this act a few times had seen it before
A quizzical stance hidden behind the laughter
Scheming intention, a suspicious one I gather

Seen this act a few times had seen it before
Upon reaching an extended hand in friendly gesture
Scheming intention, a suspicious one I gather
Responded likewise not wanting to create a furor

A quizzical stance hidden behind the laughter
Began with a few good words without a falter
Scheming intention , a suspicious one I gather
The sling bag  is opened its contents spilled over

Began with a few good words without a falter
All the charts, the legs, the returns, too familiar
The sling bag  is opened its contents spilled over
I knew it, a ‘get-rich-quick’ a Ponzi as it were

All the charts, the legs, the returns, too familiar
Broke into a small laughter and all the while
I knew it, a ‘get-rich-quick’ a Ponzi as it were
He came with a little smile, a toothy little smile

Sherry: Oh, I can see that toothy little smile. I can't imagine how quick-witted one would have to be to expound in pantun on the spot. That is impressive!

Hank: A Kyrielle is a poetry form of rhymed quatrains, maintaining 8 syllables in each line  and with a repetition of the last line. This Kyrielle was written to record one episode of Hank's grandchildren when growing-up. In this case it was when one of their regular friends had to go back to the US. It would remind them later in life of what had been and what they had been up to years before.

The neighborhood kids would very much miss young Daniel whose family moved out to L.A. They had been friends for some years, playing together at the nearby field, cycling around, or were just a noisy lot during their PS3 playing sessions ( PS3 sessions were precious as these were only allowed during the school holidays) Norman and Kimie are now more determined to go to the Anaheim Disney. The boys made a pact to meet there perhaps sometime next year. There are more reasons to go, now!

Been in the offing quite some bit
None would want to think about it
Young minds might not realize the pain
They knew good friends would meet again!

They knew young Daniel would move out
To L.A. it had been touted
The neighborhood kids took it plain
They knew good friends would meet again

They cycled with all shrieks and squeals
Or kicking football on the field
They were around with all the din
They knew good friends would meet again

The day came sadly last Tuesday
The day young Daniel went away
PS3 now played with restrain
They knew good friends would meet again

Norman and Kimie set their minds
Next stop would now be Anaheim
Parting was temporary pain
They knew good friends would meet again

Sherry: I love "they knew good friends would meet again!" Wonderfully hopeful. Your grandkids will read this years from now, and remember. Hank, is there anything else you’d like to share with us? Thoughts on life and love? Wisdom gained from the journey? What would you tell a young fellow starting out?

Hank: Yes, Hank wants to share the anxiety he went through before deciding on compiling the books. Everyone should have the intention of compiling their poems into a book. Otherwise one writes for the love of it. The poems remain in blogosphere till kingdom come and eventually get obliterated in time.There is something tangible that can be held in the hand if the poems are all in a book. Nothing spectacular, really.To self-publish a book is simple, but many are put off by uncertainties. Hank had a fair share of the same feeling for quite some time. The questions initially faced are, 'is it the thing to do' and 'how to go about it'.

For a young fellow starting out, there are things to remember. First thing is never to have to rewrite whatever was posted. There should not be double work. This can be taken care of by posting one's poem as it would appear in the book. For a Free Verse it should not be too long. Just enough for a one page of reading duration. Enough to maintain interest. In the case of a haiku or tanka not to just have one stanza. It is too short for a page! Write at least 3 stanzas. Regarding images, Hank feels safer not to use any from the internet even if the copyright restriction is waived. Use your own pictures or sketches perhaps 20 images in total. One is not expected to make money and be a millionaire but a book can be peddled on the internet just the same. The idea is to have one's book available for posterity even after the author's demise. It can be attracting royalties for our loved ones. A Kindle version of 300 pages can go for USD2.99

The second phase is the publishing part. There are many publishers available who can do both the publishing and the marketing aspects. Pick a publisher, pay a one-off payment of about USD1200 or so and you are on (the fee varies).

To maintain discipline with less headache, decide on the structure say Free Verse followed by haiku and so on. Then start to email to the publisher say 25 poems of Free Verse every 2 days followed by the rest. Make sure to erase all references to other specific blogs in the postings before sending. Make sure to make corrections on grammar and spelling before sending. It will cost time and money to make corrections from the draft they sent back to you. Unlike other Fiction writings, poetry writing needs only self-editing.

In the meantime the publisher will work on the Front and Back Cover images,which will be sent over to you later for approval. In between emailing the poems one also sends over the Dedication, Acknowledgement, and Back Cover narration.

That's it! Within a few weeks the publisher will email a draft copy of the insides in PDF format for corrections. It will have the Contents page and will follow one's structure all done nicely. Following corrections after about 2 weeks a brand new book with one's name as the author will be posted to the home address. All told it will take about 8 weeks from the day payment was made.

One may not have to follow the above. If confident enough, one can do all of the above oneself through certain publishers like Lulu, Smashwords, among others. They charge less but it will be tedious.

The beauty of self-publishing is that one can have reprints of one copy, 10 copies or even 1000 copies within 10 to 15 days. No necessity of an initial 2000 copies mandatory for economies of scale, as was the case with traditional publishers before.

Sherry: I highly recommend using one of the self-publishing online companies. They are easy to use and, as you say, you can order one book, or any  number, as needed. The cost is extremely reasonable. I use, and am very satisfied with it. I remember when one used to be able to "self-publish" only through publishers. The cost was prohibitive to many. This is an interesting tangent, Hank. Maybe it will encourage some of our readers to try it.

In closing, my friend, is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Hank: Yes, thanks so much to everyone in PU who have been most supportive, and Sherry, Ma'am, for extending this invitation to Hank for this interview. It is most refreshing!

Sherry: You are most welcome, Hank. It is my pleasure. Thank you, for being such a loyal long-time member of Poets United. Your presence - and reciprocity - are very much appreciated.

Well, my friends? Wasn't this an interesting update? We will have all of you feverishly churning out books, LOL. (I am such a slave-driver!) Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Poetry Pantry #266

Photos of Johnson Canyon - Alberta, Canada
by CC

Good Sunday again, Poets!  Welcome to another Poetry Pantry.

Today we have CC to thank for the photos!  She shared they were all taken while she was hiking near the lower and upper falls in Johnston Canyon in Alberta.  What a wonderful hike that must have been! Beautiful, aren't they?

I am still asking others who post here to share their photos with me, as C.C. did today!

Tomorrow Sherry is doing an update with one of our very loyal participants -- Hank!  I look forward to reading this & am sure many of you will enjoy reading it too!

Did you see Rosemary's Friday feature "The Living Dead?"  This week she shared a wonderful poem by Hillaire Belloc called "The Winged Horse."  Please take a look if you haven't.  Rosemary puts so much research into her articles!

For Midweek Motif this week Sherry is prompting us to write about "the joy of poetry."  And it IS a joy, isn't it?  And good news as far as Susan is concerned.  She is home now and recovering.  We hope she will be back prompting in September.  You might want to check her blog, as she IS writing!

If you have Facebook, do think about following Poets United on Facebook.  That way you are informed of each new feature.

With no further delay, hope that you will enjoy the Pantry today.  We always enjoy it if you leave  a short comment when you post.   Do be sure to visit the links of others as well.  It is sort of like knocking on the doors of others, I think.  When we leave a comment, we let someone know that we enjoy having them among us.  The blogosphere IS quite a neighborhood, isn't it?

Do have a good day & a poetic week!