Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nightmare, News, No Sleep



This week, my poetry assignment is to write using the first person, the "I" in a poem. The point of the exercise is this. When I write as myself, coming to the reader with a narrative of myself passed along to the reader, it makes it much harder for the reader to take my story as their own. The use of "I" creates a distance between the writer and the reader. 

We examine other ways of using the "I" without excluding the reader, such as using a mask or persona. For now, I share a draft of the poem I wrote for the first person story.



Nightmare, News, No Sleep

I walk a dirt road. Shadows move
through the dusty trees.  Something
snaps twigs, travels the woods beside me.

Now awake and shaking,
I turn on the radio,
get up to distract myself.

The news reports a smuggler: 
“A man is caught at the border
with fifty-one live
turtles, stuffed down his pants.
Two hundred more
in his suitcase.”

I wonder.
Does he consider the possibilities?
Of cuts or genital damage,                                                                 
from claws or strong jaws?                                                                
Does he know the red-eared                                                              
sliders desire his body heat? 

My nightmare wanders
the back of my mind,
withdraws into its shell,
hitches a new ride.

The eastern box turtles           
regenerate parts of themselves,                                                          
gone missing.

Will I?



The photo is not mine but is used with permission from Creative Commons.  Attribution follows:

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48503330@N08/5678631060">Rainbow Turtle</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

Thursday, May 21, 2015

#enlargethepicture

Lauren Wiggins
Photo is not mine but comes from the CBC news story linked below.



#enlargethepicture

(Twenty Facebook Statuses)

1.      You need to know
2.      The past is just a story
3.      #enlargethepicture
4.      Open to anyone who wants to enter
5.      A woman’s body is not dangerous
6.      #feelconnected
7.      At the school, buns are rising
8.      #gowiththeflow
9.      The boys are lined up
10.  Jelly doughnut dimpled down the middle
11.  One share, 9 people like this
12.  A woman’s body will not make you do stupid things
13.  That black you see is your shadow
14.  What does this mean?
15.  The answer is honest, candid, resonates
16.  #feelssoright
17.  If you do stupid things
18.  #twelvesecondslater
19.  it is because you choose to do stupid things
20.  Write the next chapter 
.


The idea for the poem comes from “20 Imaginary Facebook Statuses” by Natasha Tiniacos. Click here to learn more about her.

My poem is composed of actual Facebook statuses posted by friends and acquaintances, pulled from my account on May 19, 2015 -- just an arrangement I put together.

The assignment this week is to write a political poem in a style I haven't used before.  Here I understand political to mean taking a stand. I chose gender politics, the stereotypes and biases which fill our world. 

In particular, I am interested in and annoyed by the fact that a 
young woman was disciplined in her high school recently, for
coming to class wearing a sundress with her bra straps showing.

She was accused of distracting the male students and of being an 
enticement to bad behaviour. Click here for link to CBC story.


Aren't young men and all men responsible for their own choices of 
behaviour? Aren't we all, each one of us?


I apologize for the uneven spacing of the previous lines. Blogger is misbehaving.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Don't Sit on the Cactus




Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, 
but you don't have to sit on it.


I read this quote somewhere this week but am unable to remember where.  It just stuck with me (no pun intended) and I wanted to share it.  If anyone knows from whence the quote comes, I'll be happy to give credit.

*The quote comes from Joyce Meyer in her book Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone.


The photo is not mine and is used with permission from Creative Commons.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/73915715@N00/216123276">Cactus spines</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Revision of Yesterday's Poem




Spring                     

This is spring – the wooing
of sunlight and soil.
Its warm breezes
coax crocuses and squills,
unwrap pungent earth, wake up
the bees.

Now winter has left us, gone 
the snow,
shards of ice,
its relentless 
gales.

Winter teaches us to love
the innumerable greens,
the fertility of melt,
and the return of the robins,
as they stamp,
heads canted
listen for worms.


This is the revision of a poem, using a turn at the line "Winter teaches us to love." What do you think?  Is it better than the version from yesterday, or worse?  I will continue to look at it, to see where I can improve the writing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spring -- Yes, Another Poem About Spring



Spring                                

This is spring – the wooing
of sunlight and soil,
now winter has left us, gone with the snow, shards
of ice; its relentless gales
turned to warm breezes
coax crocuses and squills,
unwrap pungent earth, wake up
the bees.

This is the damp season.
Learn to embrace it.

Spring teaches us to love
the innumerable greens,
the fertility of melt,
and the return of the robins,
as they stamp,
heads canted
listen for worms.


Last Sunday, was the first day we had no gritty snow remaining in our yard.  In Eastern Canada, the winter has been harsh this year, so thoughts of spring are an obsession for me. This poem moves from beginnings of spring still attached to winter, turns on the couplet, then falls joyfully into full spring.

This week, the online course I am following is about turns in a poem.  

For example, sonnets have turns.  An argument is implied and developed; the eighth line comes through to the idea of "maybe" and right after, turns the argument in a different direction.  

A second kind of turn happens not as an argument in a poem but at the line end.  If the syntax doesn't naturally pause at the turn, it is an enjambment. We are sucked into the next line by our curiosity about where the syntax is going to go because it's open, it's broken, it's enjambed. 

There's another turn that can be a kind of conflation of a perceptual and a conceptual turn. Within the poem, there can be a complete reversal of the perceptual scenario. And there can be a conceptual reversal, this turn from talking about a subject to talking about how we can talk about the subject, which is in words -- that miracle that there's a possibility of putting what we feel and what we perceive into words, that we have faith that our words will offer up experience to someone else. 

There are turns that make you feel great to be reading a poem, when you end up in a place that you didn't expect at all. That's one of the exciting things about poetry.

The idea for the poem, I owe to Laura Lush’s poem “Winter” from The First Day of Winter,
(Rondale Press, 1997.) To  read the poem "Winter" and to learn more about Laura Lush, click on this link.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Slow Dissolve into Drizzle and Fog




This week, my online studies are taking me into the world of "Formalism and Meter."  Discussions propose the idea that form can liberate the imagination, that the constraints of form can lead to new material and can be a way to generate new poems.

One of the forms we've studied is the pantoum, a poem of any length composed of four line stanzas. In each stanza, the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. And the last line of the pantoum is generally the same as the first.  The form removes certain elements of choice for the poet as one adheres to the rules. And that can be kind of freeing. It is a good form in which to tell a story, as the elements of repetition unfold just a bit at a time, as well as offering musicality in the retelling.

The following is a draft of my homework assignment.  I have revision to do, but wanted to share where I am to date. Also, I have discovered that I don't like writing in a controlled form, at least not yet.  I am encouraged to hear from others that this gets easier the more often one does it. I do hope so. Sometimes learning is such hard slogging.

Slow Dissolve into Drizzle and Fog

This memory returns each winter
with February thaw, the slush, black ice.
We skid and climb the foggy air,
and land, buried by snow.

Slush and black ice, February thaw,
fog rises, surrounds, blinds us;
buried by the fog and wet snow.
Motor heat melts the snow keep deeper.

Fog rises, surrounds, blinds us.
Grey car, grey fog, grey morning.
Motor heat melts the snow keep deeper.
I shovel fast to free you.

Grey car, grey fog, grey morning,
we disappear under fog and drizzle.
I shovel fast to free you.
Twice, the tow truck drives by.

We disappear in this drizzle and fog,
after the skid and that slope of air.
The tow truck drives by us again.
Every winter this memory returns.

Words and photo are copyright 2011-2015 Carol Steel