Monday, June 29, 2015

A CHAT WITH SUSAN CHAST ~ ON POETRY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

My friends, get ready for a serious, but very enjoyable, conversation on a topic our community has demonstrated a concern about - our need to live in a world of social justice. I have long admired Susan Chast's poetry, and her lifelong and ongoing activism. You know Susan from her blogs, Susan's Poetry and Susan, Continued, and as a staff member at Poets United. You will get to know her even better, through this conversation. Draw your chairs in close, and get ready to be inspired!







There can be no peace without social justice.
Benjamin Creme

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Poetry Pantry #258

Photos of Boracay Islands, Philippines 
by Totomai








Good day, Poets!

Hope each one of you is enjoying a good weekend.  Today we can enjoy a second set of photos by Totomai.  Once again he shares pictures of Boracay Island, Philippines.  This is one of the most popular beaches in Southeast Asia.  


Totomai says,  "I want to share these photos I took in 2007, before I got my DSLR camera. I was using my Casio Exilim point and shoot camera then. There was a point that I was enjoying the post-processing style called 'orton.'  It's making the photos dream like. Some of the photos attached here are post-processed with orton."

Tomorrow Sherry Blue Sky has a real treat for us.  She is sharing a chat with Susan Chast on a subject that is close to Susan's heart.  It is a dynamic interview.  Please check back.

And for Wednesday, be thinking about Susan's theme of 'freedom' for the  Midweek Motif.

If you haven't read the poem "Parting" by Tanith Lee that Rosemary shared for her "The Living Dead" series, today is a good time to check back!  And next Friday, of course, stop back for a new  feature.  Will it be "The Living Dead" or "I Wish I'd Written This"?

With no further delay, hope that you will enjoy the Pantry today.  Leave a short comment when you post; and be sure to visit the links of others.  I will look forward to reading what you share.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Living Dead

Honouring our poetic ancestors

Parting
Tanith Lee

Cool, your hair drifts like water,
As you move in this ancient sunrise dance
Which began with the first girl at the first well,
Her arms and yours like the necks of swans,
Twining the red pitcher.
This is how I shall remember you all my life.
This clear crystal daybreak thing,
After the night's sharing, the lamp, the dark,
The shelter of love.
So, in the wine-press of battle,
Trampled into a strong drink for death,
So in the marshes, and the bitter places,
In the rusty tents,
Hungry and thirsty, far from all wells,
And afraid,
So in pain and loss, so in dying, if some god wills it,
I will remember you, and your floating hair,
Turning and smiling, you, lifting the red pitcher from the well,
Like a dream not vanished with sleeping.

You must not weep now
That the charm of ivory you are pressing into my palm
Is too little.
It was so simple for you to give me something beautiful
To carry forward to the world's end.
It was so simple for you to give me something beautiful.

From Unsilent Night. Cambridge MA, The NESFA Press, © 1981

Yes, another poem by Tanith Lee, whom I featured only a month ago — because she is gone now, and because her poems are so hard to find. There is no volume of her 'collected' poems; there are none at PoemHunter or other such sites. There is only the slender book this poem came from, which I was able to get second-hand from Amazon, with the help of a friend in America, and which contains ten poems and two long stories.

If you missed the previous post, with details of her career, it is here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Entering Summer or Winter



“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, 
and I see summer – its dust and lowering skies.” 
― Toni MorrisonThe Bluest Eye

File:PanoMaipo Winter Summer.jpg
source

 Midweek Motif ~ 
Entering Summer or Winter

 "The sun stands still" before reversing direction ~ that is the meaning of the word solstice.  We experience more or fewer hours of sunlight per day. Archetypal symbols of lightness and darkness, summer and winter, maturing and aging and highs and lows flood the mind along with new and remembered sights and sounds.  

Your Challenge:  Write a poem to share your insights on the events and changes you're  experiencing this time of  year.





On Winter's Margin by Mary Oliver
On winter’s margin, see the small birds now
With half-forged memories come flocking home
To gardens famous for their charity.
The green globe’s broken; vines like tangled veins
Hang at the entrance to the silent wood.

With half a loaf, I am the prince of crumbs;
By snow’s down, the birds amassed will sing
Like children for their sire to walk abroad!
But what I love, is the gray stubborn hawk
Who floats alone beyond the frozen vines;
And what I dream of are the patient deer
Who stand on legs like reeds and drink that wind; -

They are what saves the world
: who choose to grow
Thin to a starting point beyond this squalor.


Summer in the South by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Oriole sings in the greening grove
As if he were half-way waiting,
The rosebuds peep from their hoods of green,
Timid, and hesitating.
The rain comes down in a torrent sweep
And the nights smell warm and pinety,
The garden thrives, but the tender shoots
Are yellow-green and tiny.
Then a flash of sun on a waiting hill,
Streams laugh that erst were quiet,
The sky smiles down with a dazzling blue
And the woods run mad with riot.



Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?





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

(Next week Susan's Midweek Motif will be Freedom.)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

BLOG OF THE WEEK ~ THOTPURGE

This week, my friends, we would like to introduce one of our newer members, Rajani, who writes at Thotpurge. Rajani lives in India, as so many of our lovely members do. I can see a Poets United tea happening there one day! Once again we are boarding a plane for a trans-Atlantic flight, because we cannot get enough of the beauty that is India. It is a country that seems to have a large population of very talented poets.





Sunday, June 21, 2015

Poetry Pantry #257

Photos of Washington D.C.
Air Force Memorial - Arlington, VA - near Pentagon

At the Vietnam War Memorial

Abraham Lincoln Memorial

George Washington Memorial

Georgetown Street - Washington DC

Georgetown Street - Washington DC


Georgetown University - Washington DC


Good day, Poets!

I was going to share another set of Totomai's photos, but he told me that he will be in the Middle East this weekend and will not be able to participate.  So I told him I would wait with his photos until next week.  Meanwhile here is another set of Washington D.C. photos, which I hope you will also enjoy.

Tomorrow Sherry Blue Sky is featuring as blog of the week  a blog by a prolific Indian poet who is fairly new to Poets United.  Try to guess who she is, and stop over tomorrow to see if you are right!

And on Wednesday for Midweek Motif Susan is prompting us to write a poem about beginning summer or winter, as those of us in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have now crossed that change-of-season line.

And next Friday, of course, stop back for Rosemary's feature.  Will it be "The Living Dead" or "I Wish I'd Written This"?  Come and see.  But really I hope that you will take a look at her feature this past Thursday.  She featured a stunning palindrome poem by Diane Castaglioni titled 'for Ornette' which really impressed me &, I think, deserves a wider read!

With no further delay, hope that you will enjoy the Pantry today.  Leave a short comment when you post; and be sure to visit the links of others.  I will look forward to reading what you share.

Friday, June 19, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

for ornette
by Diane Castiglioni

now his soul free downbeat’s straight up
when his keening                   heart   
improvised   heaven
this jam jiver kicked                    out and bloodied
for the saying
       and staying                        true to the   tremolos in his head
rendered stone   cold    sober angels                   breathless
out of nowhere                    he blew                   in the   spaces
dancing  breakneck   in the                   pulse
of silence
cherry    harmolodics in the prime    time of funk
    master of plastic shredder of metal
he was the blue bop  grammar  of sound
in the shape of                  
the tongue of                  

time


in the shape of the tongue of time
he was the blue bop grammar of sound
master of plastic shredder of metal
cherry harmolodics in the prime time of funk
dancing breakneck in the pulse of silence
out of nowhere he blew in the spaces
rendered stone cold sober angels breathless
for the saying and staying true to the tremolos in his head
this jam jiver kicked out and bloodied
when his keening heart improvised heaven
now his soul free downbeat’s straight up


This poem was recently linked to a dVerse prompt inviting us to write palindrome poems, in which the second half mirrors the first by putting the lines in reverse order. As many Poets United members also play at dVerse, some of you may have seen it already. I wanted to use it now anyway, firstly because I think it's an extraordinary and thrilling poem; I only wish I could have the gift to write such a gem! Secondly, I was one of the many who loved Ornette Coleman's music, and I am glad to have found this way to honour him here (by proxy) close to the date of his recent passing, on June 11 at the age of 85.

The New York Times obituary describes him as 'one of the most powerful and contentious innovators in the history of jazz'. Indeed, the obituary goes into fascinating detail about his musicianship as well as his life; do read, if you haven't already.

I think this poem, which mimics the improv of jazz, is similarly different from more widely-used verse structures.  And oh, the words!

he was the blue bop  grammar  of sound
in the shape of                  
the tongue of                  

time

Wow! and Yes!


Diane Castiglioni is a featured writer in The Prose Anthologies: Volume 1 Death, a contributing author to the French edition of Dictionnaire Universel du Pain (Bouquin Laffont, 2011), and an editor of the International Cooperation for the Development of Space (ATWG, 2012). She teaches collaborative poetry and has poems published by various small presses.

Currently, you can read more of her writing here

(That link is to an interesting site for writers to share their work — called Prose, but clearly including poetry. Unfortunately, it seems you have to log in to see what's there. I and some others have found it worth it to be able to read Diane's work; and no doubt there may be other treasures to find ... or it could be another showcase for our own writing.)

Diane is also part of a small international network of ‘knowledge workers’ who design events for solutions to help organizations tackle complex problems with a variety of tools, including art, music, technology, collaboration, metaphor, inhabiting perspective. Her focus is on community development and activism, helping alleviate issues of poverty, racism and the stigma of mental illness. 

How fascinating is that?

You can find out more about her work here at LinkedIn.  

Her other social media are:

She is private about details of her personal life, but her Google+ profile tells me she lives in Paris, France, which seems to me very exotic. (People LIVE there? Well yes, a couple of million I believe, lol.)

An interesting woman altogether!


Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Fathers


"Parenthood chooses you. And you open your eyes, look at what you've got, say "Oh, my gosh," and recognize that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop. It's not a question of choice.” 





“America used to live by the motto "Father Knows Best."
Now we're lucky if "Father Knows He Has Children."
We've become a nation of sperm donors and baby daddies.”

                                                   Stephen Colbert, I Am America


“We were kids without fathers, so we found our fathers  on wax 
and on the streets and in history, and in a way, that was a gift. 
We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire 
the world we were going to make for ourselves.” 
― Jay-ZDecoded


File:Fathers day father with kid on lake.jpg
father with child on lake
Poets United Midweek Motif ~ 
Fathers


Many nations have a holiday to celebrate fathers and fatherhood and fathering and fathers' influence on society.  In the USA, it is the third Sunday in June.  All species have fathers, too, though the roles they play out are not like human roles.  Or are they?

During last week's prompt by Sumana on "time," a few poems reminded me of personifications like "Father Time" and designations like "The Father of Industry"  and "The Father of Off Off Broadway." Are these like human parent-child roles?  

Your Challenge: "Father" a new poem. Let your motif address some aspect of fatherhood.


A Father's Day Tale by Juan Felipe Herrera, the new USA Poet Laureate

More inspiration:  
To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he'd removed
the iron sliver I thought I'd die from.

I can't remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm . . . . 
              (Read the rest HERE at The Poetry Foundation)          


Excerpted from The Father of My Country

. . . . 
If George Washington
had not
been the Father
of my Country
it is doubtful that I would ever have
found
a father. Father in my mouth, on my lips, in my
tongue, out of all my womanly fire,
Father I have left in my steel filing cabinet as a name on my birth   
certificate, Father I have left in the teeth pulled out at   
dentists’ offices and thrown into their garbage cans,
Father living in my wide cheekbones and short feet,
Father in my Polish tantrums and my American speech, Father, not a
holy name, not a name I cherish but the name I bear, the name   
that makes me one of a kind in any phone book because   
you changed it, and nobody
but us
has it,
Father who makes me dream in the dead of night of the falling cherry
blossoms, Father who makes me know all men will leave me   
if I love them . . . . 
          (Read the rest HERE at the Poetry Foundation.)

***************************************

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

Next week Susan's Midweek Motif will be Entering Summer or Winter  (depending on where you are).




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Monday, June 15, 2015

LIFE OF A POET - NICHOLAS V.

Today, my friends, jet-setters that we are, we are zooming Down Under, to meet with Nicholas V., of Intelliblog, who has recently joined Poets United. Nicholas lives in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. It is warm there, so get yourself a lemonade or iced tea, and let's dive right in!



Just me, at my desk, ruminating on life, 
death and everything!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Poetry Pantry #256


Photos of Boracay Islands, Philippines 
by Totomai











Good day, Poets!

Hope each one of you is enjoying a good weekend.  Today we can enjoy photos by Totomai.  His photos were taken of the Boracay Island, Philippines.  This is one of the most popular beaches in Southeast Asia.

Totomai says,  "I want to share these photos I took in 2007, before I got my DSLR camera. I was using my Casio Exilim point and shoot camera then. There was a point that I was enjoying the post-processing style called 'orton.'  It's making the photos dream like. Some of the photos attached here are post-processed with orton."

Tomorrow Sherry Blue Sky has an interview with an Australian poet many of you who visit Midweek Motif will be familiar with. Please return on Monday to find out who.

And on Wednesday for Midweek Motif Susan will be prompting us to write a poem about Fathers, s Fathers Day is fast approaching here in the U.S.

And next Friday, of course, stop back for Rosemary's feature.  Will it be "The Living Dead" or "I Wish I'd Written This"?  Stop back and see. This week she featured the wonderful poem "The Nightingale" by Keats.  Scroll back, and take a look.

With no further delay, hope that you will enjoy the Pantry today.  Leave a short comment when you post; and be sure to visit the links of others.  I will look forward to reading what you share.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Living Dead

Honouring our poetic ancestors

Ode to a Nightingale

BY JOHN KEATS
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
         But being too happy in thine happiness,—
                That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
                        In some melodious plot
         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
                Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
         Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
         Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
         Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
                With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
                        And purple-stained mouth;
         That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
                And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
         What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
         Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
         Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
                Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
                        And leaden-eyed despairs,
         Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
                Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
         Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
         Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
         And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
                Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
                        But here there is no light,
         Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
                Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
         Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
         Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
         White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
                Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
                        And mid-May's eldest child,
         The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
                The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
         I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
         To take into the air my quiet breath;
                Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
         To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
                While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                        In such an ecstasy!
         Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
                   To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
         No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
         In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
         Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
                She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
                        The same that oft-times hath
         Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
                Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
         To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
         As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
         Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
                Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
                        In the next valley-glades:
         Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
                Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

I featured Keats on October 17th last year, at which time I was a little disenchanted with his poetry, or at least had trouble finding something to use here. That's partly because I didn't want to choose something that many of us might know so well that there could be no element of discovery. Of course, his best poems are the most famous ones, which is why they're so famous. And now here I am giving you the most famous of all!

I'm sure you'll agree it's very beautiful — sensual, musical and evocative. But the particular reason it came to my attention is that Kerry O'Connor recently used it (here) to inspire the poets at 'imaginary garden with real toads' — only she presented it as a YouTube reading by the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

I'm a total fan of the lovely Mr Cumberbatch, whether he's playing Sherlock, or Frankenstein's monster, or anything else at all. He's always brilliant.

I often dislike the way actors read poetry. They don't always seem to understand the nuances and emphases in the same way a poet would. But Benedict Cumberbatch proves once again that he can do no wrong! I don't think I've ever heard a poem read so beautifully. His voice is wonderful and so is his delivery, lingering over the words and giving each one its full value. You feel he really gets what Keats is saying, at the deepest level.  Hearing him, I realise afresh the sad blend, in Keats, of his great love for life and the natural world at the same time as being 'half in love with easeful death'. Life was difficult for Keats.

Some of you will have heard this already at 'imaginary garden', but it's no hardship to listen to it again. It's a treat!



There's a lovely article on Keats himself at The Poetry Foundation, Click the link on his name under the poem title, above.