Friday, June 02, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Golden Shovels

The challenge we undertook this month was to write a Golden Shovel poem. This form was invented by Terrance Hayes. Most Golden Shovels are written in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, though it is possible to write one to another poet's poem. In writing a golden shovel, the writer must first borrow a favorite line or lines from a poem to create their own. The words from this line become the end words of the new poem. You can read more about this form in the Poetry Foundation piece entitled Introduction: The Golden Shovel.

The poem we chose our lines from was Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I have highlighted the line that comprises the end words I used.

Pied Beauty 
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things –  
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; 
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

In December I wrote my first love poem when we wrote ekphrastic poems for an image selected by Andi. It was a complete surprise when that poem went the way it did. When this one went in the same direction, I was befuddled, as I am not particularly romantic or sentimental. Despite this fact, I have a soft spot in my heart for this one. Maybe it's because our 23rd anniversary is on June 4th. In any case, here is my poem.

Love's Beauty
     after Gerard Manley Hopkins

In the landscape
of my heart, you are plotted
like a ship’s course, straight and
true. You are stitched, pieced,
glued, affixed on every fold.
My love will not grow fallow.
You are my yes and
always. Onward, together we will plough.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Sara drove to New Mexico with her daughter, so she'll be posting in a few days. Look for her poem after she's had a chance to regroup. We're missing Andi and holding her in our hearts as she deals with the loss of her beloved son. Please keep her in your thoughts, prayers, and hearts as well. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy's Blog. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rictameter

Created in 1990 by two cousins, rictameter is a nine line poetry form in which the 1st and last lines are the same. The syllable count is 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2.

You can learn more about this relatively young form at Wikipedia, or read some examples at Shadow Poetry.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form of rictameter. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch On a Tuesday - Abhanga

I don't think I've ever tried a poetic form from India, so I thought this would be a good week to try one. The abhanga is form that originates in Marathi, one of the major languages of India. The form is stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. Here are the guidelines:

  • stanzas are syllabic, with 6/6/6/4 syllables each
  • lines 2 and 3 are rhymed, with lines 1 and 3 unrhymed (x a a x)
  • internal rhyme is often used

That's it! I hope you'll join me in writing and abhanga this week. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch on a Tuesday

Exams have ended, graduation is over, and summer school has already begun. Apparently, there is no rest for the weary.

I am heartbroken for a friend who has lost her son and have been struggling to find the right words. I suppose in times of loss there are no words that are "right," but hopefully there are words that express the depth of my sorrow for her and the support I am sending across the miles.

Form feels a bit restrictive this week, so I'm thinking poems of love and light would be good. I hope you'll join me in writing this week. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write "Things to Do" Poems

The Poetry Sisters are back this month writing "Things to Do" poems. Laura chose this month and gave us the added task of writing to a month or season. When I sat down to brainstorm, I kept thinking about winter in Buffalo, but decided I wanted to write about something a bit more cheery, so I decided to focus on spring. Little did I know that my second round of brainstorming would take me to May and a month that brings me both great joy and great sadness. The poem wrote itself on a run one morning. I actually cut it a bit short to get home and write the words down. It doesn't follow the "rules" at all, but I'm in the midst of grading and graduation and just haven't had time to revisit.

Today, my father would have been 91 years old. On Sunday as the graduates walk across the stage, I'll quietly mark the 8 years since his passing. Then on the 10th, my mother will recall the nearly 57 years they had together, as she marks what would have been their 65th wedding anniversary. I tried to find a picture of them together to share, but couldn't find many because dad was always behind the camera. Here's one I took of them with William from the summer of 2008.

Here's my poem for this month's challenge, offered up today for my dad.

Things to do in May …

Bittersweet this month’s refrain
with joy and laughter, tears and pain

Send graduates into the world
watch April flowers come unfurled

Observe the world with life renewed
as geese and ducks corral their broods

Honor our mothers for all that they do
and those without children who mother us too

Commemorate troops strong and brave
place flags upon their silent graves

Celebrate my father’s birth
mourn his passing from this earth

Before May passes into June
spend some time one afternoon
remembering all that’s good and true
the happy, the sad, the me and you.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.


You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, April 24, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twenty-Four: Dog Music

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Sometimes when I read a poem or a passage in a book, Pam pops into my head. I'm always startled by these happy occasions to remember her, sometimes feeling as though she's reaching across the ether, reminding me not to forget her. The first time I read this poem, I immediately thought of her and her love for dogs and music. It made me a laugh a bit to think of her singing with a dog, and the dog singing back.

Dog Music 
by Paul Zimmer

Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
We joined in many fine songs—"Stardust,"
"Naima," "The Trout," "My Rosary," "Perdido."
She was a great master and died young,
leaving me with unrelieved grief,
her talents known to only a few.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones. ― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Shadorma

The shadorma is a Spanish poetic form consisting of six lines (a sestet) written in syllabic form. The syllable count is 3/5/3/3/7/5. A shadorma may consist of one stanza, or an unlimited number of stanzas.

That's it! Easy-peasy, right? I hope you'll join me this week in writing a shadorma. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twenty-Three: Dog

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam loved animals of all sorts, particularly those that were down on their luck, homeless, helpless, and unloved. Her heart seemed to expand with every new creature she took in. The first dog she took in was Pungo, named for the place where he was found. He was a sweet dog, made more affectionate by all the love heaped upon him.

Dog 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself

Read the poem in its entirety.

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace. ― Milan Kundera
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twenty-Two: Evening Hawk

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam had a fascination with hawks. I often wondered what it was she loved, and if in part she was longing for the freedom of flight and the perspective one gets from a bird's-eye view of the world. Just a few weeks ago on her birthday, I arrived at church to find a hawk perched atop a car in the parking lot. It stayed long enough for me to snap a couple of photographs before it moved on.

Evening Hawk 
by Robert Penn Warren

From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak's black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
In many traditions, hawks are sacred: Apollo's messengers for the Greeks, sun symbols for the ancient Egyptians and, in the case of the Lakota Sioux, embodiments of clear vision, speed and single-minded dedication. — John Burnside
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Poetry Friday: School

Today is the last day of the semester. Soon we'll be sending a new crop of teachers off into the world. It's bittersweet really. I'm always ready for the end of the year, but I will be sad to see them go. This poem is for all my students who will soon be leading students of their own.

School 
by Daniel J. Langton

I was sent home the first day
with a note: Danny needs a ruler.
My father nodded, nothing seemed so apt.
School is for rules, countries need rulers,
graphs need graphing, the world is straight ahead.

Read the poem in its entirety.


In addition to this post, you may want to take a few minutes to read my National Poetry Month post(s). This year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. Here are the posts I've shared to this week.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends!

NPM 2017 Day Twenty-One: At the Galleria Shopping Mall

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
I once made the mistake of going clothes shopping with Pam. I tried on more clothes in that one trip than ever before or since. She had to twist my arm to get me to agree to put things on, and even once they were on I was reluctant to step out of the dressing room so she could see them. I really hate shopping, but Pam was an enthusiastic supporter, and tried desperately to enliven my wardrobe.

At the Galleria Shopping Mall 
by Tony Hoagland

Just past the bin of pastel baby socks and underwear,
there are some 49-dollar Chinese-made TVs;

one of them singing news about a far-off war,
one comparing the breast size of an actress from Hollywood

to the breast size of an actress from Bollywood.
And here is my niece Lucinda,

who is nine and a true daughter of Texas,
who has developed the flounce of a pedigreed blonde

and declares that her favorite sport is shopping.
Today is the day she embarks upon her journey,

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
For some, shopping is an art; for others, it's a sport. It can be a vice and it can be a cause. Some love it. Some hate it. Rarely is someone indifferent. ― Pamela Klaffke
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twenty: The Blue Scarf

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
I've mentioned that Pam liked to buy gifts for people. Quite often she bought me clothes. I know she meant well, trying to add a dash of color to my monochromatic wardrobe, but I am a fashion disaster and no amount of well-intended effort on Pam's part was able to coax me to adopt her more audacious style of dress. I do have one very bright, very loud scarf she gave me that I pull out from time to time. I'll admit to feeling a bit bolder when I wear it.

The Blue Scarf 
by Amy Lowell

Pale, with the blue of high zeniths, shimmered over with silver, brocaded
In smooth, running patterns, a soft stuff, with dark knotted fringes, it lies there,
Warm from a woman’s soft shoulders, and my fingers close on it, caressing.
Where is she, the woman who wore it? The scent of her lingers and drugs me.
A languor, fire-shotted, runs through me, and I crush the scarf down on my face,
And gulp in the warmth and the blueness, and my eyes swim in cool-tinted heavens.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
A scarf has to be the most beautiful thing ever invented to wear! It's a winding, a continuity, an infinity! — Sonia Rykiel
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Nineteen: Brewing Green Tea in a Glass ...

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Many of the intimate conversations with Pam, at the kitchen table, or curled on opposite ends of the couch, were over tea. I could always count on Pam to have something delicious, though I was not too fond of the numerous herbal and fruity varieties.

Brewing Green Tea in a Glass 
Percolator After the Regular
Brown Teapot Has Broken
by Molly Tenenbaum

These leaves don't spin like black
tea in a dark tornado,
but swing light as dragonfly-wings

though you wouldn't want dragonfly-wings
in your tea, allowed amount
of rat-droppings in cornflakes—

but that transparency, that iridescence—
wings, clearly,
with their dark tiny veins.

To start a pot of floating greenery
says the right thing
about the day, I think, that no one knows


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment. ― Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Eighteen: These Are The Gifts

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam was a gift giver. She never arrived for a visit without a housewarming fit of some sort. As someone who collects teapots, I have a number of small tokens from Pam that recognized this love. One is a small kitchen towel hook with an antique-looking teapot photo. There is also the teapot ornament that hangs on our Christmas tree. What I always appreciated about these gifts is that they weren't generic to a household, they demonstrated that Pam really knew who you were and what you would appreciate. And while the gifts were always nice, Pam was the real gift.

These Are The Gifts
          For my daughter, 2 1/2
by Gregory Djanikian

They are her signature:
Sea shells in our boots and slippers,
Barrettes under each of our pillows,
Marbles and flecks of clay
In the deep mines of our pockets.

Some we find quickly, others
Are lost to us for weeks or months,
And when we come upon them
In our daily disorder, we are struck
By her industry, this extravagance
Which secretly replenished
Our cupboards, baskets and drawers
With gifts from the heart.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Maybe some people just aren't meant to be in our lives forever. Maybe some people are just passing through. It's like some people just come through our lives to bring us something: a gift, a blessing, a lesson we need to learn. And that's why they're here. You'll have that gift forever. ― Danielle Steel, The Gift
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Progressive Poem - Line 17!

I've been watching this poem develop and I'm happy to be right in the thick of it.
This amazing project is organized by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. During National Poetry Month,  30 poets each add one line to a poem, making it progressively longer. This year, the only instruction was that this poem should be written for children. Below you'll find the previous 16 lines and my contribution, as well as links to all the participants in the progressive poem party. Here we go!

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I'll share the lines I know by heart.


Progressive Poem Links
1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat's Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

Buffy, you're up! Can't wait to see where you take this.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Toddaid

The toddaid is a Welsh poetic form written in any number of quatrains. The lines alternate between 10 and 9 syllables (10/9/10/9). A syllable towards the end of the first line rhymes with one in the middle of the second line. This also holds for lines three and four. The end words for lines two and four also rhyme. Here’s what the rhyme scheme looks like. The rhyme can fall in any of the underlined syllables:

x x x x x x x b x x
x x x x b x x x a
x x x x x x x c x x
x x x x c x x x a

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a toddaid. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

NPM 2017 Day Seventeen: Home Cooking

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
On the last Thanksgiving morning Pam and I spoke, we were both up early prepping pieces of the evening meal and anticipating company. She mentioned she was a bit nervous about the day because she was including her ex-husband's girlfriend in the celebration. I remember her laughing and being quite gracious about the situation. I don't know that I would have been as generous. We hung up wishing each other a happy day, and I left immediately to find a poem. I called her back and read it to her and told her to think about it while she was cooking. We laughed together and then both went about our days. That poem is below.

Home Cooking
by Mary Ann Waters

Didn't you ever wonder about her passion
for cooking? The wooden spoons, the spatula,
the whisk, the way she slides her hands

over the smooth grain of the rolling pin?
All the jellies, the oils, the fragrance,
the abundance from her warm oven?

The little bottles with their corked mouths?
Why she flexes her thighs as she stirs
knowing you're there behind her,

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
There is no greater sorrow than to recall a happy time when miserable. ― Dante Alighieri
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Sixteen: Kitchen Fable

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam and I had a tradition of speaking early on the morning of holidays, particularly Easter and Thanksgiving. We'd talk while we were in the kitchen getting ready for the day. Sometimes those conversations were serious, but at times they were downright silly. I miss those stolen moments and still think of her in those early morning hours as I prepare for guests and the day to come.

Kitchen Fable 
by Eleanor Ross Taylor

The fork lived with the knife
     and found it hard — for years
took nicks and scratches,
     not to mention cuts.

She who took tedium by the ears:
     nonforthcoming pickles,
defiant stretched-out lettuce,
     sauce-gooed particles.

Read the poem in its entirety. (And listen to it too!)


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Do a loony-goony dance   
'Cross the kitchen floor,  
Put something silly in the world  
That ain't been there before. 
― Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Fifteen: A Parting Guest

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exudedempathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

Pam was the most gracious host. Guests would descend and wreak havoc in her ordered world, yet she didn't bat an eye. I would have been off in a corner pulling my hair out, but Pam simply smiled through it all. She offered everything she had and more to make her guests comfortable and at home.

A Parting Guest
by James Whitcomb Riley

What delightful hosts are they --
 Life and Love!
Lingeringly I turn away,
 This late hour, yet glad enough
They have not withheld from me
 Their high hospitality.

So, with face lit with delight
 And all gratitude, I stay
 Yet to press their hands and say,
"Thanks.
 -- So fine a time! Good night."


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person. Henri Nouwen has described it as receiving the stranger on his own terms, and asserts that it can be offered only by those who 'have found the center of their lives in their own hearts'. ― Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Poetry Friday - She Runs

Back in October of 2013, the Poetry Sisters wrote pantoums. The only requirement was the form and that we use the line “I’ve got better things to do than survive,” from Ani DiFranco’s song Swandive.

Here's the introduction I wrote to the poem.
I wish I could explain in some eloquent manner how this poem came to be. It actually began to form while I was walking to work and watching the many people jogging past me. I started thinking about how much I despise running and how sometimes in life it's a struggle to finish the course I've set for myself. With the song lyric in mind, a desire to make the poem rhyme and move a bit like a runner, this is what I came up with. I did take some liberties with the lyric, but you can still see a bit of it in here.
I've been thinking about that poem a lot lately, particularly because I became a runner this year. On December 31st I signed up to run a 10K and joined a training team. On January 21st I made my first run (1 mile) and thought I'd never make it. Over time I slowly added miles to my training, and on April 1st I ran.
It was an effort on many days to get out and run, but I did it. And today, I'm still running. In fact, I've signed up to run a half-marathon in November. This isn't about a love for running (I'm not there yet), but about pushing myself mentally and physically.

As I embrace the runner in me, this seems like a good time to share this poem again.

She Runs

This day I am alive
up and racing with the sun
I’ll do better than survive
though I’ve only just begun

Up and racing with the sun
breathing morning’s sweet bouquet
I’ve only just begun
to watch the pavement slip away

Breathing morning’s sweet bouquet
clock the miles beneath my feet
watching pavement slip away
down a sleepy, city street

Clock the miles beneath my feet
breathing hard and fading fast
down a sleepy, city street
more mile markers passed

Breathing hard and fading fast
I’ll do better than survive
last mile marker passed
this day I am alive!

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2013. All rights reserved.

In addition to this post, you may want to take a few minutes to read my National Poetry Month post(s). This year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. Here are the posts I've shared to this week.
4-9: To a Cat
4-11: Couture

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads. Happy poetry Friday friends!

NPM 2017 Day Fourteen: House: Some Instructions

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
When I married in 1994, my husband's sister was in the process of moving from an apartment in Virginia Beach to a new home. In the years that I knew her she packed, moved, and set up house at least 5 times. The first move was to Maryland, then Georgia, then Connecticut. No matter where she went, Pam had a knack for making a house feel like home in a very short span of time.

House: Some Instructions
by Grace Paley

If you have a house
you must think about it all the time
as you reside in the house so
it must be a home in your mind

you must ask yourself (wherever you are)
have I closed the front door

and the back door is often forgotten
not against thieves necessarily

but the wind   oh   if it blows
either door open   then the heat

the heat you’ve carefully nurtured
with layers of dry hardwood

and a couple of opposing green
brought in to slow the fire

as well as the little pilot light
in the convenient gas backup

all of that care will be mocked because
you have not kept the house on your mind

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? The homemaker’s job is one for which all other’s exist. ― C.S. Lewis 
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Thirteen: The Gift to Sing

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam and I shared a love for a number of things. One was our love for song. On visits to Pam I could hear her singing in the kitchen as she prepared meals and later cleaned up.

The Gift to Sing
by James Weldon Johnson

Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
      I softly sing.

And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
       And sing, and sing.

I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
       And I can sing.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. ― Plato
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twelve: Warning: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam lived in the moment and was not afraid to embrace who she was. She did not wait for old age to dress and do as she liked. She knew who she was and was gloriously herself.

Warning: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
What a noise we'll make among the drab and dull, how we'll...wait, I want more green. I hope I did not imply I only wanted your colors. We can't turn a cold shoulder to green, and blue, and purple, for the sake of all ordered things, how can you dismiss purple? Call [him] back and tell him of my need of purple! ― Shannon Hale, River Secrets
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Eleven: Couture

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
My closet is filled with black, gray, and navy. There's not a lot of color in it. Pam was my polar opposite in this regard. Her closet reflected her personality. It was vibrant, colorful, and sometimes a bit crazy. You could count on Pam to wear orange, fuchsia, red, and other bright colors. She also like paisley and floral prints and was always impeccably dressed, a trait she got from her mother.

Couture
by Mark Doty

Peony silks,
in wax-light:
that petal-sheen,

gold or apricot or rose
candled into-
what to call it,

lumina, aurora, aureole?
About gowns,
the Old Masters,


were they ever wrong?
This penitent Magdalen’s
wrapped in a yellow

so voluptuous
she seems to wear
all she’s renounced;

this boy angel
isn’t touching the ground,
but his billow

of yardage refers
not to heaven
but to pleasure’s

textures, the tactile
sheers and voiles
and tulles

which weren’t made
to adorn the soul.
Eternity’s plainly nude;

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Clothes as text, clothes as narration, clothes as a story. Clothes as the story of our lives. And if you were to gather all the clothes you have ever owned in all your life, each baby shoe and winter coat and wedding dress, you would have your autobiography. ― Linda Grant, The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Blank Verse

Blank verse poems are not rhymed, but they are metered in iambic pentameter. Here are some examples of blank verse.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.

From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (Act III, Scene ii)


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

From Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson


Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house

From Directive by Robert Frost
I hope you'll join me this week in writing blank verse. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

NPM 2017 Day Ten: Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

When Nana Balch died, the grand piano made its way from Texas to Pam. In all the years I knew her, I never once saw her play it, but I know it held great comfort and many memories for her.

Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons 
by Diane Wakoski

The relief of putting your fingers on the keyboard,
as if you were walking on the beach
and found a diamond
as big as a shoe;

as if
you had just built a wooden table
and the smell of sawdust was in the air,
your hands dry and woody;

as if
you had eluded
the man in the dark hat who had been following you
all week;

the relief
of putting your fingers on the keyboard,
playing the chords of
Beethoven,
Bach,
Chopin
         in an afternoon when I had no one to talk to,
         when the magazine advertisement forms of soft sweaters
         and clean shining Republican middle-class hair
         walked into carpeted houses
         and left me alone
         with bare floors and a few books

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Pianos, unlike people, sing when you give them your every growl. They know how to dive into the pit of your stomach and harmonize with your roars when you’ve split yourself open. And when they see you, guts shining, brain pulsing, heart right there exposed in a rhythm that beats need need, need need, need need, pianos do not run. And so she plays. – Francesca Lia Block
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Nine: To a Cat

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

A number of years ago we stopped in Connecticut to stay with Pam overnight before heading to a family reunion in Rhode Island. The cat scared the every living daylights out of William, who was 8 at the time. Pam couldn't stop apologizing for the cat. I dismissed her apologies, knowing that's just who Shadow was. I knew William would get over it. Still, I wondered what it was she saw in that cat. I couldn't sleep that night, so I decided to quietly make my way to the kitchen for tea. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw Pam sitting on the couch in a dimly lit room, whispering quietly to the cat on her lap. This poem helps me understand her love for that darn cat.

To a Cat 
by Algernon Charles Swinburne

I
Stately, kindly, lordly friend,
      Condescend
Here to sit by me, and turn
Glorious eyes that smile and burn,
Golden eyes, love's lustrous meed,
On the golden page I read.

All your wondrous wealth of hair,
      Dark and fair,
Silken-shaggy, soft and bright
As the clouds and beams of night,
Pays my reverent hand's caress
Back with friendlier gentleness.

Dogs may fawn on all and some
      As they come;
You, a friend of loftier mind,
Answer friends alone in kind.
Just your foot upon my hand
Softly bids it understand.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats. ― Albert Schweitzer
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Eight: Milk for the Cat

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

Pam had a fondness for animals, particularly those that seemed most unwanted and unloved. She had a cat the scared the living daylights out of everyone. I don't think I've ever met a meaner cat, but Pam loved Shadow, and Shadow loved her back. I've never been a cat person, but when I see a scruffy cat wandering through the neighborhood, I wonder if it has a home, and I think of Pam opening hers to all manner of downtrodden creature.

Milk for the Cat
by Harold Monro

When the tea is brought at five o'clock,
And all the neat curtains are drawn with care,
The little black cat with bright green eyes
Is suddenly purring there.

At first she pretends, having nothing to do,
She has come in merely to blink by the grate,
But, though tea may be late or the milk may be sour,
She is never late.

And presently her agate eyes
Take a soft large milky haze,
And her independent casual glance
Becomes a stiff, hard gaze.

Then she stamps her claws or lifts her ears,
Or twists her tail and begins to stir,
Till suddenly all her lithe body becomes
One breathing, trembling purr.

The children eat and wriggle and laugh;
The two old ladies stroke their silk:
But the cat is grown small and thin with desire,
Transformed to a creeping lust for milk.

The white saucer like some full moon descends
At last from the clouds of the table above;
She sighs and dreams and thrills and glows,
Transfigured with love.

She nestles over the shining rim,
Buries her chin in the creamy sea;
Her tail hangs loose; each drowsy paw
Is doubled under each bending knee.

A long, dim ecstasy holds her life;
Her world is an infinite shapeless white,
Till her tongue has curled the last holy drop,
Then she sinks back into the night,

Draws and dips her body to heap
Her sleepy nerves in the great arm-chair,
Lies defeated and buried deep
Three or four hours unconscious there.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
It is a difficult matter to gain the affection of a cat. He is a philosophical, methodical animal, tenacious of his own habits, fond of order and neatness, and disinclined to extravagant sentiment. He will be your friend, if he finds you worthy of friendship, but not your slave. — Theophile Gautier
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Poetry Sisters Talk Back to a Poem

The Poetry Sisters are back this month writing to a prompt created up by Sara (though she gives credit to for the idea to Laura, who mentioned it when we were brainstorming challenges for the year). April's challenge was to "talk back" to a poem. Sara chose this poem, found in Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Anita Barrows and Joanna Marie Macy.

The Night
by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, darkness, of whom I am born–

I love you more that the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illuminates
and excludes all the rest.

But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations–just as they are.

It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.


I wrote a number of poems for this challenge, but I couldn't get away from the idea of a letter. I'm not sure why I was stuck on an epistle, but that's where every draft went, even when I tried to write to form. After a number of drafts, this is the one I finally settled on.

Letter to Rainer Maria Rilke

Dear Rainer,
Somehow your poem was no surprise
knowing you as I do
but I cannot concur

You love darkness, believe in night
I love brightness, believe in light

You say darkness embraces all
without regard to any feature
I fear it harms the small, the weak
diminishes every lonely creature

There is no comfort in the night
no refuge, peace, nor sacred psalm
It’s in the sun, its warmth and light
my heart, my soul find sweetest balm

I cannot love the darkness
I won’t embrace the night
we must agree to disagree
over this we shouldn't fight

You can have the dark, my friend
but for me I’ll bathe in light

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
In addition to this post, you may want to take a few minutes to read my National Poetry Month post(s). This year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. Here are the posts I've shared to date.
4-1: Kindness
4-2: The Kindness
4-3: A Jack Kerouac Poem
4-4: When I Am In the Kitchen
4-5: Stay Out Of My Kitchen
4-6: Perhaps the World Ends Here
4-7: The Neat One

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Happy poetry Friday friends!

NPM 2017 Day Seven: The Neat One

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

The first Christmas gathering Pam hosted was in 1994. The house was new and unfinished, but we were all together. I was newly married and spending my first holiday away from my family, so I'm sure my sadness was palpable. Pam worked so hard to make everyone happy. My fondest memory of that visit, and the one memory of Pam that still makes me laugh out loud, is the lunch the women shared one afternoon. Nana Balch was there, the matriarch of the family. She was in her 80s and sharply dressed. As we ate and talked, I could see Pam twitching over the mess we were making. (She was a bit of neat freak!) Nana in particular was scattering crumbs everywhere. Close to the end of the meal, Pam couldn't take it anymore, so she got out the Dustbuster and vacuumed the table and floor around Nana, and then proceeded to vacuum Nana's lap! I can still see everyone's stunned faces. I tried so hard not to laugh. This poem about neatness reminds me of that day.

The Neat One
by Violet Alleyn Storey 
(Poetry Magazine, 1925)

When others throw newspapers down,
   She lays them in smooth piles;
When index cards lie on the desk,
   She places them in files.

  “The neat one,” they have called her long—
   It’s strange they never knew
She dreamed once of toy-littered rooms
   With children running through.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
... there can be no real beauty without neatness and order. — Julia McNair Wright
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Six: Perhaps the World Ends Here

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

When Pam and I had the opportunity for extended visits, we often found ourselves sitting at the kitchen table, talking about anything and everything.

Perhaps the World Ends Here 
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don't do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.—Rachel Naomi Remen
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Five: Stay Out of My Kitchen

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

Pam and I shared a love for cooking. We also shared our loathing for folks in our sacred kitchen space. I know I intruded on her more times than she probably appreciated, but she was always very generous about my stepping on her toes. While people often like to help with cleanup after a meal, this is a good time for the cook to decompress, get a little breathing space from company, and put things to rights in their own way! I know I'm guilty of shooing people away for this very reason. Once I realized Pam and I were alike in this way, I didn't take offense when she needed alone time in the kitchen. In fact, I once sent her a Dear Abby column that contained this poem, accompanied by nothing more than a post-it note with a heart and smiley face.

Stay Out of My Kitchen
by Susan Sawyer

Please stay away from my kitchen,
From my dishwashing, cooking and such.
You were kind to have offered to help me,
And I do want to thank you so much.

I hope you won’t think me ungracious
When I ask that you leave me alone,
For my kitchen is not very spacious
And my system is strictly my own.

So please stay out of my kitchen,
It may well prevent a few wars,
And when I am invited to your house,
I promise to stay out of yours.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot, found on one of my dish towels.
No matter where I serve my guests... they seem to like my kitchen best...
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Four: When I Am in the Kitchen

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
I have fond memories of Pam in the kitchen. She was an enthusiastic cook with a penchant for "light" recipes and sometimes unusual ingredients. She was quick to copy her favorite recipes to share with me. There are a few I still make today, though quite a few were relegated to the rubbish bin after only being followed once. Regardless of the recipe, Pam cooked everything with love and a desire to please others. I often think of her when I am alone in the kitchen.

When I Am in the Kitchen
by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

I think about the past. I empty the ice-cube trays
crack crack cracking like bones, and I think
of decades of ice cubes and of John Cheever,
of Anne Sexton making cocktails, of decades
of cocktail parties, and it feels suddenly far
too lonely at my counter. Although I have on hooks
nearby the embroidered apron of my friend’s
grandmother and one my mother made for me

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
I think careful cooking is love, don't you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who's close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give. – Julia Child
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Lies I've Told

I pulled this old gem off the shelf this weekend.
In Chapter 4, Writing Free Verse Poems, Janeczko provides a laundry list (no pun intended) of ideas for writing list poems. I've been stuck on the idea of writing about "lies I've told."

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a list poem on the subject of "lies I've told." Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

NPM 2017 Day Three: A Jack Kerouac Poem

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam had more forgive and forget in her soul than most people I know. Forgiveness is not something that comes easily to me (though it should), and even when I do forgive, it's hard for me to forget. Pam seemed to be able to do this so easily, and with such grace. The poem below reminds me of this quality of hers. It comes from a letter Jack Kerouac sent to his first wife more than 10 years after their marriage had been annulled.

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks dont see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you’re already
in heaven now.
That’s the story.
That’s the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they’re
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off. I will try to teach it but it will
be in vain, s’why I’ll
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing
by my woodstove
making pancakes.

You can find this letter, as well as his poetry, criticism, Buddhist writings, letters and more in The Portable Jack Kerouac.

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace. – Leo Tolstoy
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

NPM 20017 Day Two: The Kindness

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." - Henry James
Kindness doesn't need to be some grand gesture. It can be as simple as a smile, a wave, an open door. This poem reminds me that while we may not know what another person is feeling or experiencing, one simple act may touch them in an extraordinary way. Here's a poem that expresses this sentiment.

Excerpt from The Kindness
by Jan Beatty

Their fragility, their awkward bumping
opens me to a long ago time—
            a hand on the door,
            I was walking in
to the psych hospital in Pittsburgh,
feeling broken and stripped down—
            a hand on the door
            from around my body
& I looked up to see the body
of a man, who said:
Let me get that for you—
            a hand on the door
            & the bottom of me
            dropped/
I couldn’t breathe for the kindness.
I couldn’t say how deep that went
for me.
I had been backing up, awkward/
I had been blind to my own beauty.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I often wonder how different our days would be if they were visited by these seemingly small but powerful acts of kindness by others. Today, on Pam's birthday, I am broken by the thought that we weren't kind enough, didn't do enough to offer her comfort and love. When I reach out in kindness to friends and strangers, it's Pam I see as I offer my heart to them.

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it! – George Elliston
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

NPM 2017 Day One: Kindness

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Let's kick this month off with a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. Before you read it, just give a listen.



This part of the poem, in particular, speaks to me.

Excerpt from Kindness
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Read the poem in its entirety.


What does it mean to be kind?
Kindness's original meaning of kinship or sameness has stretched over time to encompass sentiments that today go by a wide variety of names—sympathy, generosity, altruism, benevolence, humanity, compassion, pity, empathy—and that in the past were known by other terms as well, notably philanthropia (love of mankind) and caritas (neighborly or brotherly love). The precise meanings of these words vary, but fundamentally they all denote what the Victorians called "open-heartedness," the sympathetic expansiveness linking self to other. – from On Kindness (2010), written by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor Picador
I believe we could all use a lot more kindness in our lives. Imagine how different our world would be if we were to embrace this simple "open-heartedness."

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
"A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees." - Amelia Earhart

Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Poetry Friday - NPM Starts Tomorrow!

Where has March gone! I've spent the better part of the month thinking about National Poetry Month and what I would like to explore this April. First, I decided to look back to determine what I've already covered in these yearly celebrations.
2016 - Celebrations - Project in which I highlighted daily, weekly, or monthly celebrations in April and connected them to a poet, poem, or book of poetry. 
2015 - Poetic Forms 
2014 - Science/Poetry Pairs 
2013 - Poetry A to Z 
2011 - Poetry in the Classroom  
2010 - Poetry Makers 
2009 - Poetry Makers - Interviews with poets who write for children. 
2008 - Poetry in the Classroom - Project in which I highlighted a poem, a theme, a book, or a poet and suggested ways to make poetry a regular part of life in the classroom.
I began this blog in November of 2006. I was new to this thing called blogging in 2007 and was preparing for a trip to China, so a daily celebration of poetry never crossed my mind. I'm not sure why I embraced daily posts and a thematic project in 2008, but once I did, I knew it would be a yearly tradition.

In 2009, I wrote many of my April posts in a darkened theater during rehearsals for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. My father was in hospice care at the time, and I found that both poetry and the musical kept me afloat.

In looking back, it is the glaring gap in these celebrations of poetry that touches me with a familiar prickle of grief. On March 29th of 2012, my husband lost his older sister to suicide. It was an incredibly sad time, and one in which it was hard to find solace. I wrote a lot poetry then as I tried to make sense of something incomprehensible, but I couldn't bring myself to blog. Celebrating anything just felt wrong. This year marks the 5th anniversary of Pam's death. During the last few months I've spent quite a bit of time thinking of her and wondering how I can honor her, the things she loved, and the things I loved about her.

Pam was light, and love, and kindness, and peace. In the world we live in today, these traits are much needed. So, this month I've decided to honor Pam and her legacy of caring through poetry -- poetry that celebrates what it means to be human. My daily posts will focus on empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. I know the color purple will make an appearance in some small way. There might even be a kitten or a puppy among these posts to honor Pam's love for all creatures great and small.

Shortly after Pam died, I seemed to see purple at every turn, and each time I did was reminded of her. I even spent some time looking for poems that contained the word purple. Here's a short one I found that is still with me today and continues to make me smile.

The Purple Cow
by Gelett Burgess

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!

Please join me in April for this year's National Poetry Month extravagnaza celebrating humanity and the incredible power of poetry.


I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - It's Back!

I took a bit of an unexpected break this month, but I'm happy to be back with you. For whatever reason, Mondays this semester have been hard to manage. I've been teaching 2 classes back-to-back, beginning at 4:00 pm and ending around 9:45. That means I haven't been getting home until a bit after 10. By then, if I haven't posted a stretch, it doesn't get done that day. so, my apologies for being lax this month.

I've been writing lately to some of the exercises in The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach, edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. This one is entitled "The Night Aunt Dottie Caught Elvis's Handkerchief When He Tossed It From the Stage of the Sands in Vegas" and was written by David Wojahn. In essence, the challenge is to write a poem about a family member meeting a famous person. Here are the guidelines for this.

  • The encounter can be real or imaginary, but should at least be plausible.
  • The family member, not the famous person, should be the protagonist of the poem.
  • The narrator must know the "inner workings of the family member's mind," and must write about the family member as a "character" in the third person.
  • The famous person can be anyone in politics, entertainment, or the arts.
  • Generally, a longer poem is needed (at least 30 lines) to develop a portrait of the family member.

Here's a model poem for this exercise.

1933
by Lynda Hull

Whole countries hover, oblivious on the edge
of history and in Cleveland the lake
already is dying. None of this matters
to my mother at seven, awakened from sleep

to follow her father through darkened rooms
downstairs to the restaurant emptied
of customers, chairs stacked and steam glazing
the window, through the kitchen bright with pans,

ropes of kielbasa, the tubs of creamy lard
that resemble, she thinks, ice cream.
At the tavern table her father's friends
talk rapidly to a man in a long gray coat,

in staccato French, Polish, harsh German.
Her mother stops her, holds her shoulders, and whispers
This is a famous man. Remember his face.
Trotsky, a name like one of her mother's

Read the poem in its entirety.

Other example poems include History of My Heart by Robert Pinsky and Cuba by Paul Muldoon.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem for this stretch. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Triolet

I've been a bit remiss with stretches as of late. This one is coming to you just under the wire.

triolet is an eight line poem with a tightly rhymed structure and repeated lines. Here is the form.
line 1 - A
line 2 - B
line 3 - A
line 4 - line 1 repeated
line 5 - A
line 6 - B
line 7 - line 1 repeated
line 8 - line 2 repeated
You can read an example and learn more about this form at Poets.org.

Here is an example. It comes from the book Fly With Poetry: An ABC of Poetry, written and illustrated by Avis Harley.
Phosphorescence
by Avis Harley

Have you ever swum in a sea
alive with silver light
sprinkled from a galaxy?
Have you ever swum in a sea
littered with glitter graffiti
scribbled on liquid night?
Have you ever swum in a sea
alive with silver light?
One of my favorite triolets can be found in Paul Janeczko's A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Written by Alice Schertle, the poem is entitled The Cow's Complaint.

Will you write a triolet with me this week? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Ekphrastic Poems

The Poetry Sisters are back this month writing to an image chosen by Tanita.
Photo by Ana_Cotta, used under Creative Commons License

I wrote a number of poems for this challenge, but one idea kept popping into my head and I couldn't get over it (or past it). It was this ...
Following on this theme of phone booths in literature and film, my brainstorming took me to phone booth stuffing, the T.A.R.D.I.S., The Phantom Toll Booth, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and more. After a bit of noodling, this is what I finally settled on.

Nostalgia

I weep for
Clark Kent
Dr. Who
Harry Potter

Where will Clark become Superman?
How with the Doctor travel through time and space?
How will Harry visit the Ministry of Magic?

It’s been years since I’ve seen
an honest-to-God booth
with a door and working phone
the kind you secretly popped into
to check for forgotten change
or ducked into to get
out of the rain

I miss the snap and ch-ch-ch-ch-ch
of the old rotary dial
and later, the beep-beep-beep
of metal push buttons

I long to enter a
royal red box in London
dial 62442 (magic!)
and descend through the ground

I dream of taking a trip
in the T.A.R.D.I.S.
to talk poetry with
Dickinson and Frost

I pray that if I ever need assistance
my heroes will find a space to
hang their hats and transform

Today I’m missing telephones.
What will I miss tomorrow?

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Limerick

After watching Saturday Night Live the last few weeks, limericks and clerihews have been rattling around in my head. I thought it might be fun to write some limericks this week.

Limericks are humorous nonsense poems that were made popular in English by Edward Lear. Limericks not only have rhyme, but rhythm. The last words of the first, second, and fifth lines all rhyme, and the last words of the third and fourth lines rhyme. This means the rhyme scheme is AABBA. The rhythm of a limerick comes from a distinct pattern. Lines 1, 2, and 5 generally have seven to ten syllables, while lines 3 and 4 have only five to seven syllables. Here is an example from Lear's book.
If you can't read the text, here's the limerick in the 5-line form usually seen today.
There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, 'It is just as I feared!
   Two Owls and a Hen,
   Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!'
You can read Lear's A Book of Nonsense online, which includes 112 limericks.
 
I hope you'll join me this week in writing some limericks. If you feel politically inclined, that would be fun too. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rhupunt

I am still reading and pondering the forms in Robin Skelton's The Shapes of Our Singing: A Comprehensive Guide to Verse Forms and Metres from Around the World. The Rhupunt is a Welsh verse form. Lines are 4 syllables long, with the last line rhyming with the last line of the following stanza. Stanzas may be 3, 4, or 5 lines long. Here is the pattern for these versions.

3-line

x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x C
x x x C
x x x B

4-line
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x C
x x x C
x x x C
x x x B

5-line
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x A
x x x B

Since the lines in each stanza are generally thought to be portions of a long line, they are sometimes presented as a couplet with lines of 12 to 20 syllables. Written this way the rhupunt would look like this:
x x x A x x x A x x x A x x x B
x x x C x x x C x x x C x x x B

You can read more about the rhupunt at The Poets Garret.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a rhupunt. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.