Sunday, May 21, 2017

Poetry Pantry # 354

This dear little fellow lives on a favourite branch right across from my small porch. I never tire of watching the hummers, darting back and forth to the feeders. They stick their noses in the nectar and just guzzle. So sweet.

We have a wonderful week shaping up, my friends. I hope you didn't miss Rosemary's Friday feature, where she wrote a thought-provoking essay about C.S. Lewis and the science fiction and fantasy genres. On Monday, you won't want to miss an update with Sherri Brannon, who is back online after some time away. She has been focusing on her art and will be sharing some beautiful poems, paintings and photos with us. On Wednesday, Susan's Midweek Motif prompt is Flowers. There should be some beautiful poems on that topic. And on Friday our intrepid Rosemary will have something interesting for us to enjoy, as always.

And now, for poetry! Link your poem, and do visit your fellow poets, in the spirit of community. Enjoy, and have a wonderful week.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Thought Provokers

An Expostulation

Against too many writers of science fiction 

Why did you lure us on like this,
Light-year on light-year, through the abyss,
Building (as though we cared for size!)
Empires that cover galaxies
If at the journey's end we find
The same old stuff we left behind,
Well-worn Tellurian stories of
Crooks, spies, conspirators, or love,
Whose setting might as well have been
The Bronx, Montmartre, or Bedinal Green?

Why should I leave this green-floored cell,
Roofed with blue air, in which we dwell,
Unless, outside its guarded gates,
Long, long desired, the Unearthly waits
Strangeness that moves us more than fear,
Beauty that stabs with tingling spear,
Or Wonder, laying on one's heart
That finger-tip at which we start
As if some thought too swift and shy
For reason's grasp had just gone by?

– C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Ross Wilson
's statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the wardrobe from his book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in East Belfast. Reproduced here under Freedom of Panorama.

Yes,  the famous C.S. Lewis is one of our 'living dead', but I felt this poem belonged in our Thought Provokers series, for the questions it raises. As soon as I read it, I wanted to discuss it with him. As he's not available, let me discuss it with you.

He has a point! SF can be too much like real life. I loved  the first StarWars movies (those which later became Episodes 4, 5 and 6) and also the return to form which was Episode 7. But I was very disappointed by the spin-off Rogue One. To me it was just a lot of war stuff, and there was far too much of that going on in the real world at the time; why should I wish to see more? My adult son, however, loved it and saw it as a modern version of  the Western. Well, I never was keen on Westerns either – except for High Noon, and Rawhide on TV. Depends what floats your boat (or powers your space-ship or something).

And we do like the fantastical; some of us anyway. There are those who like their speculative fiction scientific, within the bounds of belief even if what is described hasn't been invented yet. It's fascinating that life sometimes follows art, and things that were first written as science fiction have since been invented, from sliding doors to flat-screen TVs and of course the moon landing. (Yes I know, some people think that one is still fictional, but let's not get into that.)

Others of us prefer the fantastic to be, indeed, fantasy – beyond belief. Dragons, werewolves, time travellers, witches and wizards.... They are fairy stories for grown-ups. (Well, witches might be true, lol.)

On the other hand, it is still the human characters in these stories who interest us; or, occasionally, non-human characters who nevertheless have humanistic qualities of personality and emotion. We like to imagine ourselves in their situations, I think. We want them to have adventures, and we still want them to do normal things, particularly to make connections, fall in love, and have relationships.

I have known SF writers to object to being regarded as lesser authors because they write genre fiction, and to claim that important human truths can be conveyed equally well that way as through more 'literary' novels. I agree. (Fahrenheit 451. I rest my case.)

So I would take issue with Lewis. I think we do want 'the same old stuff', albeit in a new setting. We want to imagine new worlds, whether in outer space or a different dimension or some magical dream-space, but we want to find ourselves there.

Lewis's vision of the 'Unearthly' is very particular, though. It's well-known that he was a devout mystical Christian. His longing is really for the spiritual connection. He wants a sci-fi that puts us even more in touch with the wonders of creation, and therefore the wondrousness of the Creator. Maybe he really wants stories about Heaven.

It's interesting that he himself is best-known now for fairy stories in which children are transported from everyday reality into another world where they get to be heroic, and where they meet a lion whom all the critics identify as a Christ figure. Is that, indeed, what people are truly seeking from tales of other worlds – that connection to the divine which human beings seem to yearn for? (Well, perhaps not the atheists.)

I'm not an atheist, yet I don't know that I want my SF to be overtly spiritual like that. I think most good fiction IS spiritual in fact, though not necessarily overtly, because humans are spiritual beings; and that the true subject of most fiction, speculative or otherwise, is the development of the characters' souls. I don't want that to mean getting all churchy, though.

And then there are people who don't want to read speculative fiction at all, because it's too unrealistic.

What about you?

Good poem anyway, isn't it? Persuasive almost by virtue of its poetic accomplishment alone.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Bicycles, Tricycles or Unicycles

Girl on a Bicycle  (1987), by British sculptor Sydney Harpley 
in Singapore Botanic Gardens

"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live"
~Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.” 

"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart." 
~Iris MurdochThe Red and the Green

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. 

unicycle adventure expedition mongolia photo
Photo credit: Ken Looi, Adventure Unicyclist

Midweek Motif  ~ Bicycles, 
Tricycles or Unicycles 

This year is the 200th anniversary of the bicycle, introduced in  Germany in 1817.  The unicycle is a few decades newer and the tricycle is a few years older.  And, it may be International Bike Week or Month--or I may have the date wrong--but the idea of the event is to promote sustainable urban transportation.  For transport, for sport and for play--do you feel the push and pull of cycling?  

Your Challenge: There are far fewer poems with a cycling motif than  
there should be.  
Let's fix that!

🚲 🚲 🚲

by Pablo Neruda
. . . . 

A few bicycles
me by,
the only
that dry
moment of summer,
barely stirred
the air.

Workers and girls
were riding to their
their eyes
to summer,
their heads to the sky,
sitting on the
beetle backs
of the whirling
that whirred
as they rode by
bridges, rosebushes, brambles
and midday.
File:Tricykle (PSF).png

. . . . 

(Read the rest HERE.)

Dio Ed Io

Related Poem Content Details

. . . . 
There is a picture of Yves Klein leaping out of a window   
Above a cobblestone Paris street.   
A man on a bicycle peddles away toward the distance.   
One of them's you, the other is me.   

Cut out of the doctored photograph, however, the mesh net   
Right under the swan-diving body.   
Cut out of another print, the black-capped, ever-distancing cyclist, as well as the mesh net.   
Hmm . . . And there you have it, two-fingered sleight-of-hand man.   

One loses one's center in the air, trying to stay afloat,   
Doesn't one? Snowfalling metaphors.   
Unbidden tears, the off-size of small apples. Unshed.   
And unshedable.   

Such heaviness. The world has come and lies between us.   
Such distance. Ungraspable.   
Ash and its disappearance—   
Unbearable absence of being,   
                                           Tonto, then taken back.
(Read the rest HERE.)

Livingston Taylor - Bicycle - Green Bike in Hereford

🚲 🚲 🚲

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 ~ Flowers.)
🚲 🚲 🚲

Monday, May 15, 2017


We have a lovely feature for you today, fellow poets. We are visiting the lovely poet, Sreeja, in Mumbai. Sreeja writes at Writing On Just To Write......., and we are very happy she has found her way to Poets United. Sreeja is a very talented artist as well as a poet, so draw your chairs in close and get ready to enjoy some  art, along with some beautiful poems.

Sherry: Sreeja, as you are fairly new at Poets United, would you paint a little picture for us of the poet at home, so we can get to know you better?
Sreeja: Hello, it’s a pleasure to have a talk with you. I really admire the way you are so close to nature. Everything about nature inspires so much in us. So I will say first I am a nature lover. Then I am a wife to a really wonderful man, mother to two ever questioning, ever active lovely kids. Four of us make my nuclear family (otherwise we have large family back in Kerala (India)) and now we are in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra (India).

This is my family

Here we are residing in a rented flat and close to us lies the Kharghar Hills that turns to a marvellous place during rainy season with all its small creeks, waterfalls and marvellous greenery.
All four of us love to walk through the hills getting drenched in rain. My husband’s cousin and family are here in Kharghar, so sometimes we go together out in rain to the hills and enjoy a lot.  Maybe that’s why I am not so home sick for my hometown back in Kerala, where I lived all through the 33 years of my life.  Only a few years back we moved to Navi Mumbai.

This is the beach nearest
to my home back in Kerala

Back in Kerala I worked as a copy editor for one and a half years, otherwise I always preferred to be at home. Did some freelance here in Mumbai, but I think I enjoy the freedom I have at home, so now I am fully into experimenting with paints and words, experimenting with how to raise two kids as responsible and sensible persons, a lot of reading and a bit of music with violin.

Sherry: It sounds like a full, happy and very meaningful life. I love that you play violin, an instrument I have always wished I could play. When did you begin writing, Sreeja?
Sreeja: I used to scribble out my mind as a child but they were all rubbish things that I never showed to anybody. A couple of times wrote stories and poems for school magazine and competitions. But they were in Hindi.  Actually as a student I never took poetry seriously and avoided reading, it kind of irritated me. I never thought I will start loving poetry or writing.
In 2011 my husband went abroad and I frantically tried to fill that gap. Those days I read daily ‘The Hindu’ like a student who has got exams. There was a feature about Nanowrimo in The Hindu and, just to keep myself busy, I got into it. Believe me, that November was marvellous, and seeing my enthusiasm, my parents took care of my kids wholly and my father even gave me almonds and chocolates at intervals, as if I am kid taking an exam. That year I got my first ever online friends. They are the friends who gave me the first lessons of writing. I wrote the novel about my childhood friend, who is still there for me at every point of my life.

This is the corner where I spend most of my time 
when I am home alone

November was over and on December morning I found myself itching to write. That’s how I started writing. I am a bit lazy person and poetry seemed a better option for me. At first I completed writing poems within ten or fifteen minutes and never read it again. I was sure I will quit writing gradually unless I make some kind of commitment, because with November the euphoria also went. I started the blog and was blank about how to proceed. That’s when I discovered all the wonderful blogs giving prompts for writing poetry. And when I started reading poetry, it seemed to be the most beautiful way to express thoughts. Thanks to all the poet bloggers out there and the Nanowrimo friends.  In a way the blogger world is my poetry school.
Sherry: I think it is that for each one of us, Sreeja. I am so enjoying this visit! What do you love about poetry now?
Sreeja: Poetry is like a romantic rendezvous with your own thoughts, life and nature and finding the apt words and combinations to put it to a physical form, and I like it more when it is short and crisp with depth in it. I am yet to learn that art, when I read some of the poets out there it just makes my brain the happiest part of my whole body. Otherwise to be so much happy I need an outing, especially a walk through some green green place.

The Kharghar Hills

Sherry: I love that description! And your green hills are beautiful!!!!!!!! What a lovely place to enjoy in all weathers. Would you like to share three of your poems with us? And tell us a little about each one?
Sreeja: I would love to share!

Returning to Rivers

Some days I shut myself up
Windows and doors closed
And pour a river song to my ears, uncut

We are like pollen and gale
We tumble a lot and gather piles
Of dead and tender leaves of life, infinite

 Some days I shut myself up
Drink in rivers of thoughts
And soak upside down, inside out

Sieves out dead leaves and thorns
Gathers tender leaves and golden stones
And that needs rivers to dip and rise

Next morning when the sun rises, I will forget
If love was the bird that knocked at the window
I will forget to contemplate so
I have got a river inside me
Now for days I will be rich as a tree
Deep as an ocean and will regret nothing

Sherry: I so adore "if love was the bird that knocked at the window".

Sreeja: This one came straight from heart. I am a sensitive person; anything around me, even from small talks with loved ones to news from all around us leaves deep impacts on me.  And through my experience and the twin heart meditation that I practice, I have learned that we have to refresh our consciousness, thoughts and feelings on a daily basis, taking every bit of weed out and keeping only goodness and wisdom that we acquired on the go. This poem is all about those thoughts.

This painting is dear to me, even though I couldn’t capture
all the euphoria I felt about rain and ocean.

Sherry: I so agree about refreshing our consciousness, especially during times when we are bombarded with so much that is negative. Sreeja, your painting is very joyful! I love the idea of whales cavorting in the rain!
Let's enjoy your next poem:

Putting Some Unorganized Musings…
Morning dew’s freshness drips in here
Dreams and flowers missed are weaved here
All those lonely moments are treasured here
Agonies and fears shared, it’s so secure here
Wisdom shared in lyrics, its only sunrise here.

      And so

Poetry for me is a feeling of growth
Like a tiny tree spreading its roots
To everywhere, where there is water for thirst
To absorb the very essence of truth
To be in the garden of wisdom
Like a tiny tree spreading its roots
In the mud and soil of life
To spread its shade and beauty across
For generations to rejoice.

        And  yes

It is words uttered in silence
Thoughts poured in essence
Like the old vine that is precious.

I am here putting my first steps
learning my alphabets..............

This is all about what I feel when poetry is the subject. I wrote it back in 2012, I think I still have the same feelings….

Sherry: Very lovely. I so enjoy that little tree, spreading its roots through your poem.

Rain, Rain Just Rain…
Yesterday, night tossed with me in strayed lines
Of grey, black and flashing silver screams
Without reason or any purplish wound of worries
And rain tossed with wind high and low, rushing
Like many thoughts that keep on building
Like termite mounds crippling everything, nibbling
On identities, dreams and the veil of doubt spreading

This morning we made a trip up the hill
In the beating rain to see the waterfall
That took birth with monsoon dreams, which till
Then was musing in cloudy fantasies up the hill

And then, the time crept into those rich green leaves
And those washed out spiky grass and tree trunks with moss
And got lost, there little streams were flowing endless
As rain danced upon them mellowing into the wild beats

And then, last night’s grey rain vanished
And so was the ME in me cleansed
And got lost with the time that eloped
To all that was wild and true and vivid
And delusions of past and future washed

And now the rain flowing like blood in the veins sings euphoric melodies

This poem I love because it brings back all the memories of a wonderful rainy day spent up the hills.

Up in The Kharghar Hills

Sherry: Your hills are so very beautiful, as are your poems. I discovered on your ART CORNER blog, that you are also a very talented artist. (Kids, check it out. Sreeja has some amazing paintings.) When did you begin painting? Did you love art as a child?

Sreeja: Thank you for that compliment; I just love painting, the paint, the brush strokes and all about it. But I haven’t yet experimented and explored enough because I took it seriously only lately. I used to do pencil sketches and water colour paintings as a child. I don’t remember if I loved doing it or not but I definitely loved to have papers and colours; I loved to own different types of colours and pencils. My class mates were the first people in my life who called me an artist, and I really didn’t know the power of that word. I just enjoyed the love and attention I got that way. Otherwise I was a silent kid who avoided being noticed.
This painting is dear to me; with this I started painting after a big gap. It is the first big canvas I did, a canvas almost my size.

Sherry: Sreeja, this painting is magnificent.


I think I could express a bit of what I feel about Buddha in this one, so this one is also close to my heart.

Sherry: I love this one, as well. You are very talented. Is there someone, looking back, that you feel played a significant role in encouraging your creativity, your art and poetry?
Sreeja: My mother is a very talented person but she abandoned everything without seriously trying her best. So I owe it to her, it’s her gene. She gave me the first lessons. My father always brought me art materials and was happy whenever I did paintings. One of my mother’s cousins, who is a well-known artist based in Kerala, encouraged me to start with oil on canvas. It was fun to do paintings on canvas. But we took all these things as just another part of life and didn’t give much attention. By the time I reached college I, too, left my passions behind without much thought. Reading was the only thing I didn’t give up.
Things changed when my husband’s cousin challenged me to paint Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the chariot (Bhagavath Geetha). That was the time when I started writing. He encouraged me a lot to do paintings and to write more. The Geetha painting really gave me that most wanted push to continue with my passions. I must say it is my husband and his family who really motivated me to keep going, with their love and encouragement. I am grateful to my school and college friends who believed in me. They are the people who put all the likes whenever I post my poems and paintings on FB. I love the way my kids look at my works and give their own comments which are valuable at times. So I am really thankful to a lot of people in my life to help me find and keep alive the reason and way for my soul to be happy.
Sherry: Sreeja, I am happy you are so well supported and appreciated. Your work is wonderful. It is wonderful that your kids  see their mother pursuing her art. It will inspire them to follow their own dreams. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Sreeja: I visit Poets United to read about poets. It’s a great platform out there. I love to read such interviews and I do it when I have got plenty of time.  It is great to know the thoughts and life of real poets out there. It really encourages me to keep going and someday I hope I too will write something great that will bring a happy wise smile on others’ faces, and will get my share of love from everybody I touch through poetry. Who won’t love to be loved the way we love people who can weave magic with words and colours.

Sherry: Well, I suspect that today you have received many of those wise smiles already. We look forward to enjoying your work in the months and years to come. Thank you, Sreeja, for allowing us to get to know you better.

Wasn't this a treat, my friends? I love the interesting lives poets lead and how often they are talented in many areas. We hope you enjoyed this. And do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!