Monday, April 25, 2016

Poems of the Week ~ Our Staff : On Poetry

This week, we have something a little different for you, my friends. This site is all about celebrating our love of poetry, so I thought it might be nice to ask each staff member at Poets United for a poem on the topic of poetry. It gives me great pleasure to offer, for your enjoyment, poems by Sumana Roy, at  Vision,  Rosemary Nissen-Wade, our very own Passionate Crone, Mary Kling, the captain of our little ship, at  In the Corner of My Eye, Susan Chast, at Susan's Poetry, and myself, at Stardreaming With Sherry Blue Sky, since we have all, at one time or another, written on this topic. We hope you enjoy these offerings!



Sumana


Sherry: Sumana recently wrote a gorgeous poem, full of the most beautiful imagery. I don't know if she set out to write a poem about poetry. But her closing lines left me in no doubt that that is what she did. Let's take a look.


Take Me to the Ocean


Once upon a time

I took my soul

To seaside

The lonely shore

Lay quietly

In the fading night

We sat there

Face to face

Wordless

All on a sudden

My soul stretched its hand

Plucked the pink pulsating sun

From dawn

“It’s God’s heart.

Keep it inside you” said my soul

“I will scoop a handful of stars

From the night sky

And the evening breeze too” It continued

But…for what?

“They are keepsakes. Don’t let them out.

Except if they want to come out on their own”

They were indeed

A very different sunrise

And evening breeze

And unusually twinkling stars

They live in me

Occasionally they come out

As words


copyright Sumana Roy February 2016


Sherry: The imagery in this poem is just gorgeous, Sumana. I love the scooping of a handful of stars, and adore "Occasionally they come out as words". This poem shimmers. It is a wonderful example of the beauty to be found in poetry. Tell us about how it came to be, my friend.

Sumana:  I love to frequent various poetry sites and look for inspiring prompts. One such was at dVerse Meeting the Bar. Victoria C. Slotto was hosting. The topic was Me, Myself and I….or is it? She even gave the option of assuming an alter ego to write the poem in the first person. It was so inviting. I knew how to write yet lines were simply not coming. And I had to wait for another prompt at A Dash of Sunny hosted by Sanaa Rizvi for the words to flow. Her topic was Take Me to the Ocean. It was a picture prompt and there was a marvelous photo of probably a sunset that really triggered some happy memories. I decided to combine both prompts but was a bit late. So I did not link it with dVerse.   

Two beautiful prompts gave me this poem though I had some thoughts and images used here already in me. Like that ‘evening breeze’. In summer after a scorching day the southerly breeze that rises from the Bay of Bengal carrying the moisture simply cools the feverish skin. It is often laden with the scent of night blooms. People here die to have at least one south-east facing room in their house/apartment. The breeze infuses the dead spirit with life and is a true blessing of the Indian summer. Songs and poems in Bengali abound in eulogizing the southern breeze.


Tofino sunrise ~

Sunrise is a rare sight for many. I consider each sunrise a miracle. Light births. So births our sense of awareness beyond self. An extraordinary moment! Only the fortunate ones can be witnesses to such glorious sights. Like the outside world, there is so much peace and calmness in our mind at dawn. Such moments have been given to us to listen to the soul in tranquility. It's good when we can translate these precious times into words.


I believe that words can truly keep everything unblemished. Thousands of years ago, Sanskrit hymns were sung in praise of Aditya (sun). The sonorous words still vibrate in our soul, blessing us with peace and restfulness. 

Sherry:  Thank you for such beauty, Sumana. I can feel the tranquility of dawn, through reading your words.


Mary wrote a delightful poem about finding ourselves inside our poems. Enjoy!







IF YOU ENTER YOUR OWN POEM

If you enter your own poem
you will find yourself
somewhere there

you may write about birds
but birds sing only
your chosen song

you may write about rivers
but rivers flow
only through you

you may write about the sun
but the sun shines
with your light

you may write about spring
but it is you who
comes alive

you may write about a garden
but it is you who
plants all seeds

you may write about dusk
but darkness comes from
your soul

If you enter your own poem
you will find yourself
somewhere there.


copyright Mary Kling March 2015


Sherry: We do find ourselves - and others may find us, too - within the lines of our poems. Thank you, Mary. Will you share your thoughts about this with us?

Mary: Sherry, I am of the belief that every poem expresses something of the poet. Even if a poet doesn't consciously put herself into a poem, she is there. Whatever one writes a poem about, the poet is there too. Each poem written is very personal to the poet, part of her autobiography, whether she realizes it or not. Even if written in a third person voice, it is from the poet's consciousness that the images and the words flow. 

I think a poet can learn a lot about himself if he looks within his words immediately after writing, or even four or five years later. I also think that those who read someone's poetry over the years, (as in the blogosphere here), one gets to know individuals pretty well through their words. In my poem I said, "If you enter your poem you will find yourself somewhere there." I believe that if you enter the poem of another, you will find them there too!

And another thought I have is that if a poet seems to work very hard not to let himself be known in his poetry, if he always keeps himself at a distance through his words, that also tells something about the poet. I wrote this poem to express my belief that a poem really is a good mirror!

Sherry: This is very true. I often say my fellow poets know me at a deeper level than my real-life friends and family, because they read the deepest thoughts I share, in my poems. 

My poem is about how writing a poem can lift the poet out of his or her funk, and remember the Bigger Picture. Just expressing our emotions is a release, after which we often feel better for having put into words what we sometimes can't say out loud to the people around us.







POET IN SEARCH OF A POEM


When life has worn you into
an unthinking shell
without words
and you sit, blinking into space,
in a place of No Thought,
tap the lifeline of poetry
that lifts your heart
out of its everyday concerns,
into the realm
of midnight moons
and hungry ghosts.
Look up into the raven sky
and chart the silver moon goddess
as she trails mystery
like a gossamer cloak
across the heavens.
Remember that life
is more than bread and worry.
It is beauty and aliveness
and gilt-edged miracle.
It is the suspension of disbelief
and the belief in quiescence.
It is the lifting of one's eyes
above the "raveled sleeve of care"
to remember
music and poetry  and love
and the silver shining sea,
forever ebbing and flowing
upon a shore lined with old growth,
and fastening one's heart
       and vision
            and belief
firmly upon that.

copyright Sherry Marr May 2012


Poetry does many things, but one of the things it does best is remind us that life is more - much more - than the daily routine. Poetry allows us to lift our eyes to the mountaintops, watch an eagle in flight, dream.....then dig deep and somehow find words to lift our spirits, both in the writing and the reading. Poetry gives us shining horizons, big hope, brilliant dreams, and the ability to capture our deepest moments in words, and thus keep them, immortalized, forever.

Now let's look at Susan's wonderful offering,  "About Alice-In-Wonder", part of a larger work. This was posted at Susan's second site, Susan, continued.......




Susan




A page lingerer, not a page turner
such is the plan, and the outline is done—
green ivy growing diagonally
up the cement block wall—adjusted
for a higher climax to come before
the vine finishes all of its leafing

I can see its tendrils uncurling in
my mind’s eye, slow motion I say, so I
can follow through on every detail, catch
questions—anticipate them before you,
first reader, climb too high hand over hand,
gripping each page for its dear life.

Visit my vibrant Alice’s domain
allow Alice to show home, mind and heart
meet Miracle Kitty and the full cast
of characters she keeps on shelves, in frames
and buried deep in closeted boxes.
Know this old one has always had wonder.

copyright Susan Chast March 2016


Sherry: This is a wonderful look at the writer's mind, composing, speaking to her readers. I especially love "Know this old one has always had wonder." Me too, my friend. Tell us a bit about this work in progress. We are all ears.

Susan: At an arts and spirituality workshop last spring, I talked about mo novel-in-progress and said that I was writing as my protagonist led me, but was hoping that it grew into more of a page-turner than it was so far. One woman responded that it might be a fine page-lingerer. I've been thinking ever since about books that made me want to linger on the page. Quite often the ones that move me so are poetry - from the power of the image to the depth of truth. My novel has not yet become that, but as Artist-in-Residence recently, the space I worked in became a place to linger in as a sticky-note outline inched its way up a wall. And the decor included opened boxes as I pulled out journals from various parts of my life to add to my research. I am awed by how much a person can live through - even in the most sheltered of lives. I hoped to capture some of this process and reflection in this poem.

Sherry:  And you succeeded very well, my friend. We will be wanting to hear about your time away at Pendle Hill soon, I am thinking.

I saved Rosemary's poem for last, because it speaks eloquently about how poetry companions we poets throughout our lives, how it grows with us, encompasses our changes, allows us to give voice to our journeys, and is still with us , as we find ourselves aging,  but still, as Rosemary says so wisely, "inventing new steps."




Rosemary



A Long Marriage



We were promised to each other
before I was born.
Perhaps I understood this
even in the cradle. I knew it
when I was seven and,
in my infantile way, embraced you
as one who had the right.


There were some who told me
I could not aspire so high.
By my teens they suggested
you were fickle, and would never
be a good provider –
I would do better to treat this
as a mere casual flirtation.


But I knew it was a true betrothal,
a deep affair of the heart.
I knew that I was incapable
of ever forsaking you, no matter
what other loves might intervene.
As I knew that you, despite mysterious
absences, would always return to me.


And so it has been. We've both
had other paramours, even other
true loves. There are times, still,
we need our space apart – for play
or solitude. We no longer consume
each other lustfully. We are old friends.
Yet we are all in all, faithful unto death.


Take my hand, Muse of Poetry.
Press your lips to my heart.
There are still some songs
to sing to each other,
some dances in each other's arms.
How surely, now, we move together,
closer than ever, inventing new steps.


copyright Rosemary Nissen-Wade, February 2016


Sherry: Your poem truly speaks to me, Rosemary. Like so many of us, poetry has companioned me all my life. I can't imagine what my life would have been without it. And how I adore your closing lines, you and your Muse, "closer than ever - inventing new steps". How wonderful!

Rosemary'promised ... before I was born' – it's in the genes. My Dad, his father, and several of his siblings scribbled verses. Quite good verses! But they didn't regard themselves seriously as poets. When my Mum tried, late in life (because she was staying with me and joined in with a writers' group I held in my house) she proved to have a natural gift for it too. But she had no vocation, so did not pursue it on her own.

I began writing poems at the age of seven. My Dad used to read my brother and me poems as bedtime stories. Yet, when I declared my intention to be a poet when I grew up (somehow not registering the fact that I was one already) my parents explained it was not a way of earning a living. I proved them wrong for a while, but it was a very frugal living and included other, related activities such as reviewing, editing and running workshops. In the poem I say, 'they suggested / you ... would never / be a good provider'. They were right! But that didn't stop me, then or ever. I was the one who had the vocation. It's the thing I can't not do (whether or not anyone else ever sees it).

The 'mysterious absences', of course, are my times of writer's block; thankfully few and brief. I have learned to keep showing up myself, at page or screen. Sometimes I thought (mistakenly) that poetry had forsaken me, but I have never forsaken it – even when it took time from loved ones, sleep, exercise, etc. It is the most enduring thing in my life; in non-monetary ways perhaps the most rewarding; and very likely the most necessary.

'We no longer consume / each other lustfully' – I don't write with youthful 'fire in the belly' any more. The inspirations are seldom so urgent; they don't hit like lightning strikes. It's a quieter process after so long, but I think it's deeper. 

'How surely, now, we move together / ... inventing new steps' – the craft comes easier now, after all the years of practice. And it's good news that there is always somewhere new to go with poetry.

Sherry: Good news indeed. Thank you for this, my friend. And thank you to my fellow staff members, who came through with such wonderful poems for this feature. You are the best!

Well, kids? I do hope you enjoyed this look at poetry from the inside out. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! For certain, it will be a poet!

27 comments:

  1. Thank you, Mary, Sumana, Susan and Rosemary, for sharing your poems and your wisdom for this feature - and for all of the behind the scenes work each of you does so diligently, week after week, out of your sheer love of poetry. Poets United carries on because of you, and we are all the richer for it.

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  2. What a treat you serve us Sherry... you are such a talented staff, and we do cross paths with each other in so many ways. Poetry is indeed a way to communicate, and I love to see the treasures I had never read before..(though I try to read a lot)...

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  3. I feel like saying it is about time each one of you remarkable women take your bow. It takes a lot of hard work to keep a site as far-reaching as PU going year after year, and a lot of writing too. You ladies are the backbone, brains and heart of this site and your work is an inspiration to us all.

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    1. Kerry, you make our day, truly. Thank you! You do an admirable job of running Real Toads, our sister site.........thanks for all you do, as well.

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  4. See? It works when we do it together. Writers and readers, staff and visitors. I'm awed by your poetry! Thank you Sherry and all.

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  5. My goodness what a group of poets thoroughly engaging us in the subject of poetry and the poet....I loved reading each poem and the thoughts behind them....thanks so much Sherry for sharing these with us! And thanks to each poet!

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  6. Ah, Sherry, what a wonderful compilation! I am so proud to be working with such fine poets!

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  7. Lovely to read this through, including my own with fresh eyes, and reflect on the many gifts poetry adds to our lives. Our calling is a great blessing – and so is participation in this warm poetic community. Thank you, Sherry, for having the inspiration for this post. Thank you, fellow staff members, for being such a joy to work with, and thank you community members for the vitality you provide.

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  8. What a treat this was to read this morning. So much of what they told of their muses and feelings surely mirror what many of us feel as well about our own writing. Thank you Sumana, Mary, Rosemary, Susan and Sherry for contributing what a wonderful way to start my week!

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  9. Oh, wow......Sumana, Mary, Sherry, Susan & Rosemary.....you are all GEMS....and your words shine ever so brightly week after week. These are glorious poems, all of them....I read them all three times each and was awed each and every time. Brilliant. Thank you all for everything you do here at Poet's United and for keeping us all so inspired with the poetry that so clearly flows from your beautiful hearts.

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  10. Inspirational and happy outlook, feeling of fresh air next to each word..~ I'm grateful for sharing, ladies!

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  11. Amazing poetry and just as Mary said, we get a glimpse of the beautiful minds of the poets... So glad you keep this group going and keep motivating me to write!

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  12. This was another splendid job of yours Sherry done with so much heart and love for poetry. A very big Thank You to the lovely souls at Poets United for making me a part of you.

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  13. All of these poems are exquisite. I agree with Kerry that it's about time you all took a deep bow because what you do is marvelous. Thank you for your writing, for your dedication, for your encouragement and for all your work. Mary, Sumana, Rosemary, Susan and Sherry you are stars in my life.

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  14. What a wonderful idea and post - would could be better than learning from our hosts

    - Sumana - catching stars and quietness of dawn can be the best moment of a day and a pocket of hope in the darkest times..

    - Mary - it takes a while to realise that poetry can be autobiography and our story because it's not labelled so but i think as all of you infer we are in every word..

    - Sherry - poetry as a lifeline - yes..a tendril of a ship's rope to hang onto in the sea of chaos

    - Susan - we love Alice (of course) and page lingering..how easy it is to sit with words under the tree and hold onto them like a dream..sounds good really and the sticky notes climbing the wall like ivy made me smile..

    - Rosemary - magical..poetry as a companion before we are born..probably true that it doesn't provide money but i suspect the quiet process provides much more for our souls

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  15. A big thank you to Sherry ,Rosemary, Susan amd Mary for all their hard work and devotion to poetry. I agree with Sherry that we sometimes make a deeper connection with those who read our innermost thoughts than with those we encounter in real life. Great poems written by all four of the four Musketeers:)

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    1. ....five, with our wonderful Sumana! Smiles.

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    2. Oops Sorry Sumana...all this April poeming has dithered me brains!:)

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  16. Thank you, Sherry, for featuring those without whom there would be no Poets United. You are all inspiring poets and we are grateful for your hard work!

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  17. Super poems & poets! Loved reading them all.
    Thanks Sherry :)

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  18. This feature was truly a pleasure to put together, thanks to my wonderful fellow staff members. We are so pleased you all enjoyed it. Come back next week, as there is a special chat you wont want to miss.

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  19. Thank you, Sherry, for featuring the distinguished poets who are all naturally perfect and wonderful in their own ways.
    Thank you, ladies for all your efforts and dedication.:)

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  20. Just stunning is all I can say! I feel like I went to a fancy restaurant and had a scrumptious meal with a fine dessert!

    I have just started sharing here but love that I find friends from other groups that are already here. I'm not worthy!! Lol!

    Thank you for introducing me to these poems and ladies! I know them, but feel I know them so much better now. Such wonderful poets they are!

    Hugs! Bekkie (Always late. Lol!)

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  21. Whoaaa :D now this is what a call a fantastic treat! Thank you so much Sherry for featuring the incredible poets of Poets United. I so adore all the poems shared here. You guys are amazing! Proud to be a part of your community :D

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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  22. Thank you all so much for sharing these

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  23. I am so glad I did not miss this beautiful post. How wonderful to feature the beautiful backbone of Poet's United. Thank you Sherry, Sumana, Mary, Susan and Rosemary for all you do and sharing such beautiful poems. Each poem shared here is an utter delight.

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  24. Oh my....this is a feast!! I've read and savored each poem and should have been constructing a running list under each author of favorite lines...you're all so inspired and inspiring. Each poem moved me for different reasons. Thank you all for this brilliant post. I'm bookmarking this feature for I KNOW it will be one that will linger in my heart long to be read again and again. ♥

    Thank you, all also for all that you do in hosting and supporting this community. It's greatly appreciated by so many.

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