Friday, December 6, 2019

Wild Fridays: Poems of the Week


Celebrating Susan and Sumana





– who have been our Midweek Motif hosts for so long. It's sad to see them step down from that role which they have filled so beautifully, with so much thought and so much heart. Changes in both their lives came coincidentally at about the same time, bringing a need to refocus their energies elsewhere. They generously decided to stay on until the end of the year, after Mary and Sherry's retirement, giving the new team more time to settle in. And they assure us that, although they won't be hosting any more, they will still be writing and posting.









How much I've always enjoyed the poems of each of these poets – equally thoughtful, spiritual and life-affirming, yet different in style. 

They also, of course, experience marked differences in geography and culture, yet have worked together as a team-within-a-team, preparing and hosting the Midweek Motif prompts with ongoing behind-the-scenes collaboration – another example of how Poets United (the staff and the wider community) has been able to create a harmonious common ground for us all.


Choosing one favourite poem from each of these poets would have been impossible, because there are so many I could include! I picked these first two (both posted to their blogs earlier this year) partly because, in showing their individual yet shared love of life, even in its smallest details, they also exemplify aspects of their different societies and lifestyles.

Here is Sumana longing for rain:


DANCE 
– Sumana Roy

I miss your visual splendour-
your kohl-eye, telling stories-
your swift pirouettes in the wind-
your enthralling foot-work-
did your ghungroos (anklet) have hundred bells
like the Kathak dancers?
Wasn’t I mesmerized hearing the dance steps
on glossy, green leaves; on metal shades?
the touch of those graceful hands
blossomed Kadam flowers-
your odhni (veil) of cloud
seemed infinite-
where are you my pretty, danseuse?
Have we killed you
like the colonial British trying to smother
the Kathak dance
calling its practitioners ‘nautch girls’; harlots
in contemptuous fun?
In our desert homes
we are missing you sorely-

Sumana added in a note:
[Whatever I try to write now it leads to the rain-less days we are living here. So my Kathak dancer is the monsoon here.]



Sumana, we here in Australia can very much relate to such a longing, as we have been suffering a serious drought for a number of years. I know other places around the world, including parts of America, are in a similar plight. I hope your plea may act as  a prayer!




Then we see Susan enjoying both friendship and solitude:

After an Evening with Friends  
– Susan Chast

After fudge and cream on brownies, after
the last delicious kiss goodnight,
after the train deposits you
a mere half mile away—
you walk. The door opens
and closes. Then, 
do you, too, sigh,

perk up, rally to spend
time with yourself at last,
to catch up on quiet and joy?
Home’s divine solitude settles
like gold dust, surrounds like Bach cello suites.


Susan, you take us straight into both feelings with marvellous economy of well-chosen words! I feel with you the pleasures of such an evening of good food with congenial friends, then the bliss of 'home's divine solitude'. Having lived alone for the past seven years, maintaining an active social life yet also relishing my periods of solitude, I can say a big 'Yes!' to both verses. 


Perhaps the overriding quality I receive from Sumana's poetry is gentleness; from Susan's integrity. For me these are their signature characteristics – but of course no-one can be categorised by just one quality; I don't mean to suggest the poems are not varied.

I see both, also, as women of great resilience.

Here is Susan coping with the 'writer's slump' we all experience from time to time, yet using it – with great wisdom – to reconnect with the source of inspiration, in faith that it is indeed so:


What a Writing Slump Is

A hole I slide into, below
the surface of consciousness, I say—

But my body protests:
It’s a hole you want to dig but can’t.
You’re slumping, and haven’t the strength
to wield a shovel to break through
the surface of consciousness.
The hard ground won’t receive the seed. 

No, I reply, trust me:
The seed is there with fledgling roots, 
but the hole is too deep for the stem to reach 
the edge where I could translate through arms, 
eyes and hands into the light.  Instead of floating 
over the hole, notebook and keyboard—I am
inside, as close to the seedling as possible. 

I slide into the hole, below
the surface of consciousness, I say—
and slump there for a long long time.


And Sumana lifting herself up via the words of the famous Indian poet Tagore, whom she so loves and admires (some of whose work she has translated):

Tagore

Your words are the buzz-song
of a bee–
dripping sweetness unto
my tattered soul–
I have morphed into
a thousand honeycomb
holding your nectar–
the world isn't all honey–
when it stings I sing your forever song
to be lifted up, to fly
with my newly grown wings–


Susan replies:



Rosemary, thank you for choosing my poem “After an Evening with Friends” for this sweet feature with Sumana.  You, she, and Poets United have been with me many of these luscious evenings.  And then, “What a Writing Slump is”! I am not slumping now, but I know the hole, seeds and roots intimately. 

I love Poets United.  I loved working with the old team and look forward to changes the new team will bring.  Based on what you have already done, I know PU will continue to nourish poets and writers in exciting ways.  Poets United nourished me at a time when my confidence in blogging my poems was flagging.  Then you, Mary, and Sherry wholeheartedly invited me to join the team after Kim Nelson's year.  The new weekly Midweek Motif built on Kim's success.  And just when I was feeling overwhelmed, Mary suggested that I share Midweek Motif with Sumana Roy.  I soon became enchanted with her poetry and choices, and we became partners here.  I felt my life blessed ever since.  (Truly, Sumana. Poems like your Respect from 2017 live in my home. And I want to use your Tagore translations forever!) 

Now, I hope to put my creative time into writing. In addition, I've come out of retirement to substitute teach, and I am co-leading a spiritual nurture program through my Quaker meeting. I expect to join the poets who blog here quite often. Throughout the years, your poetry and commentary have been good company. 


And Sumana says:


I feel so honored to be featured with Susan in your Poems of the Week, here at Poets United, Rosemary. Thank you so much. Yes, it’s been a wonderful journey with you all. I enjoyed my every moment being here. Thematic prompts always motivate me to write my lines and it was so amazing to see all the insightful responses from the poets from all over the world to such prompts. And such a dream team of partners! I can’t thank Mary enough for offering me to be a part of the Midweek Motifs with Susan. Aah…those behind-the-scene chats with Susan for Midweek motifs! And who can ever forget all those sun-shine words from all of you during my cloudy days! I am ever so grateful to each of you for being with me during my hard hours.

Wish you all my best.

And thank you once again Rosemary for selecting the poem Dance. This poem is definitely a sigh of exasperation only an Indian summer and a forgetful Monsoon could bring about. 

I am so very obsessed with Tagore! And what a delight you’ve chosen this poem also for this feature. It’s a little tribute to my poet who has become a shelter to me specially after those stormy nights. At present I am reading a memoir of Tagore in Bengali. Name of the book is : Swarger Kachhakachhi by Maitreyee Devi. Meaning of the book title is ‘Close to Heaven’. No title could be more appropriate.

Though now most of my time is occupied with extreme traveling I still have managed some space for reading and diving once again into the translation of Tagore’s songs.


***********

I'm sure you'll all be glad (but not surprised) to know that these two exceptional poets, who have become our dear friends through their many months of hosting Midweek Motif, will still be very much engaged with poetry, and that we may continue to see them here sharing their wise and beautiful words.


Material shared in this post is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.



33 comments:

  1. Sumana and Susan - Thanks so much for the prompts over the years. I know they helped me keep writing and keep focused each week. I wish you the best with your new pursuits and hope to keep reading your poetry. Sumana- I have always enjoyed your tagore-esque style of writing and Susan - not only do I look forward to your poems but also your ability to read and dissect my poems so excellently. Will miss you guys here.

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  2. Rosemary, what a wonderful article about two very special, dedicated, and unique poets. One could not have asked for better, more creative, or more reliable team members than Susan and Sumana. I was always amazed at the diversity of prompts they came up with & how they found poetry that worked so well into each theme. We had such a wonderfully congenial relationship over the years. Rosemary, you chose wonderful poems that showcased the talent of both Sumana and Susan. Say what one wants to about the poetry blogosphere, there truly are wonderfully talented poets that reside here. And, among the best, are these two women who hosted the Midweek Motif. Write on, dear friends! Write on!

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  3. I have enjoyed both the prompts and poetry that you have both shared. I look forward to still reading what you have to share both here and on your respective blogs.

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  4. Allow me to salute these two fine poets of the blogosphere, and thank them for all the many hours, hard work, research and collaboration that went into providing a platform week after week.
    My best wishes go with you both, as you enjoy a well-earned retirement.

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    Replies
    1. Kerry, you would appreciate even more than most just what it takes to do that! We trust that all endings are new beginnings. (Smile.)

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  5. Rosemary, what a wonderful feature! The poems you chose are perfect. I love the qualities you glean from their work - Sumana's gentle nature and Susan's integrity. A dream team for sure, reliable and talented. Thank you, Susan and Sumana for your years of service in the support of poets and poetry. We love you.

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  6. More GOOD GUYS are stepping down as I am checking in. But here you have plenty to step forward into those places. I'm thinking and hoping that Midweek Motif is alive and well. And change of format if there is one sounds okay to me. 
    Susan and Sumana I've enjoyed writing for your suggestione and will be looking for your inputs here a lot after my Sabatical, January 10.

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    Replies
    1. We shall continue to try and inspire you on Wednesdays!

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  7. A great choice of poems from two wonderful poets and hosts. I will miss the Midweek Motifs.

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    Replies
    1. We will still have Wednesday prompts, Kim. But yes, Sumana and Susan will be missed.

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  8. Thank you so much for presenting Susan and Sumana's poems and insights. They are two special poets and people. I wish them the best and hope to see their names in the future.

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  9. Two wonderful ladies who were such an inspiration. Thanks Susan and Sumana for having been there with us for so long. Great choice of poems here for a 'parting shot'. We'll see you certainly in your future postings!

    Hank

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  10. Wow, thank you all for your kind words, and especially you, Rosemary for a wonderful feature that I will treasure as it includes Sumana! It truly has been a team effort. I spent today substitute teaching and then went to a meeting, dinner and another (good) meeting--so it is bedtime and I am just reading this. It's a good bedtime story/meditation/prayer for me, as I realize the end of the year is really coming and I'm really becoming a visitor again instead of part of the Poets United team. I will never forget the time we worked together. I feel sad, but also refreshed by the appreciation of poets who blog and Mary and Sherry who took the time to visit and comment today. I will be here often, I promise. I'm looking forward to seeing what doors will open.

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  11. I am absolutely wordless about this beautiful feature, Rosemary. It's so kind and sweet of you to do this article. Feeling emotional and extremely touched with all the heartfelt words.

    Thank you, thank you dear poets. I will be here for the love of poetry whenever I find time and post. I have become so busy otherwise that I found it best to step down. Midweek Motif has been an amazing journey with dear Susan. Such lovely and enriching moments I have spent with Susan! Even time zone issue could never be a deterrent to what we were up to. Ha. It was fun time with words. Looking forward to Poets United with our wonderful present staff members in the new year.

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  12. Sumana and Susan such a shame to see you go but glad you will stay and I can meet you and your beautiful writing when I get back. Love these poems above Love that dance poem Sumana and I so agree with your beautiful words: "Your words are the buzz-song..." I love Tagore as well
    Susan that slump poem is a diamondand I fee so good after reading about that evening with friends. Thank you both for all your amazing work and see you probably next year. All the best for 2020
    of a bee–

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  13. That's such a beautiful feature, Rosemary!
    Sumana and Susan.
    Thanks so much for the leadership. Your words and ideas for Wednesdays truly inspired me to start reading and writing poetry on line, slowly opening the door to finding my voice in the real world!! Good to know that we'll continue to read your words here...
    I’m wishing you two nothing but the best as you move forward....1❤

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    Replies
    1. How wonderful, Panchali, that they gave you such inspiration! We are all enriched by each other's authentic voices.

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  14. To Sumana and Susan, thank you so so much for the inspiration through the Midweek Motif, and your individual poems on your blogs. I'm a bit sad to see you both go but wish you well in your creative pursuits. All the best! See you around the blogs.❤️

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  15. Thank you so much for everything Susan and Sumana ❤️ I wish you both the best and hope to read your poetry in the future!

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  16. What a wonderful, uplifting share … an awesome narrative and truly stunning pieces of poetry. This was a pleasure to read! Thank you so much, Susan and Sumana, for your outstanding efforts on behalf of our Community of Poets. And thank you so much, Rosemary, for celebrating two fantastic poets and contributors … as well as for all the work you do for Poets United.

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  17. Thank you, Susan and Sumana, for the awesome work you delivered at Poets United. And i enjoyed reading your poetry, each in its own unique style and voice.
    Though i seldom post on Midweek Motif, the prompts do provide me with inspiration and ideas for my future blog posts.
    Thank you once again for all these years, and looking forward to your new poetry. :)

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    Replies
    1. Excellent to know that you were inspired by the Midweek prompts even when unable to join in immediately. None of us need restrict them to just one week. They will remain accessible in our archives, for any who care to visit or revisit.

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  18. Thank you for the wonderful poetry selection, Rosemary.

    Sumana and Susan, I wish you the very best. I am glad you will continue to share your words.

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  19. Rosemary, you did a great job of selecting poems that exemplify not only the talents, but the hearts of these two lovely women. Their poetry has been so inspirational to me and I am sad to see them leave PU.
    Susan and Sumana, though my muse has been comatose these last months, I hope to resume participating in this wonderful blog. I know you will too. I have enjoyed your writings so much. May your next chapter of living art feed your spirits. I wish you the very best.

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  20. Sumana and Susan, I am immensely grateful for your kind words, tireless efforts, and generosity of spirit. I wish you success and fulfillment on your future endeavors.

    Great selections, Rosemary.

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  21. Susan and Sumana thank you for sharing your time and energy with us here at Poets United. I will miss your lovely poetic voices. The midweek motif won't be the same.

    Peace in your new journey...

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  22. Susan and Sumana,
    I am so sorry to have read that you are both leaving your roles at Poets United. I would like to thank you both, for making this worldwide poetry and writing community a pleasure to have been associated with. In fact, we have over ten years become one big family, such has been the warmth of belonging.
    I wish you both many hours of enjoyment and happiness with your new ventures.
    See you here from time to time, I hope:)
    Eileen

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  23. Ladies, thank you so much. And I wish you all the best - Susan and Sumana. Keep in touch!

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