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355th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 355th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Naomi Shihab Nye:

Blood

A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,"
my father would say. And he’d prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.

In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed these to fit the occasion.

Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to see the Arab.
I said we didn’t have one. 
After that, my father told me who he was,
“Shihab”—“shooting star”—
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, “When we die, we give it back?”
He said that’s what a true Arab would say.

Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a toy truck on the front page. 
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. What flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air: 
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?

What do you think?

Create a Cento

Today, we’re all going to create a cento poem, also known as a collage poem, which is made of lines from the poems of other poets.

This requires very little creativity on your part, so if you have never written a poem, do not fear! You can select your favorite lines from poets you love, or even select lines that you hate. It’s up to you.

I’m going to start you off with this simple line and let you take it from there:

unaware our shadows have untied (Yusef Komunyakaa’s “A Greenness Taller Than Gods”)

What’s your line?

MadLib Poems

Remember those little books that as kids we inserted nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives to create funny stories and anecdotes?  Of course you remember Mad Libs.

Today (Anna helped generate this little idea), I’ve taken a poem and eliminated some key words, but you’ll input the missing noun, adverb, adjective, etc. and create a new Frankenstein creation.  I can’t wait to see them all.

Here’s the first one:

More Nonsense Limerick 87 by Edward Lear

There was an old   (Noun)  of Stroud,
Who (verb) horribly jammed in a crowd;
Some she slew with a (noun),
Some (noun) scrunched with a stick,
That (adjective) old person of Stroud.

Here’s the second one:

The Thrush by Fay Inchfawn

Across the land came a (adjective) word
When the earth (verb) bare and lonely,
And I sit and (verb) of the joyous (noun),
For ’twas I who heard, I only!
Then (noun) came by, of the gladsome days,
Of (amount) a wayside posy;
For a (noun) (verb) where the wild (noun) sleeps,
And the willow wands are (adjective)!

Oh! the time to be! When the (noun) are (adjective),
When the primrose-gold is lying
‘Neath the hazel (noun), where the catkins sway,
And the dear south (noun) comes sighing.

My (noun) and I, we shall (verb) a (noun),
So snug and warm and cosy,
When the kingcups gleam on the meadow (noun),
Where the (noun plural) are rosy!

Please leave your madlibs in the comments below.

You can also generate a random Madlib poem at Language is a Virus.

Book Spine Poetry

Book Spine Poetry is fun and easy, and you can even get your kids involved with their own books.  It’s like a game of “I Spy” in which you look at the books on your shelves or at the library, and you arrange them in some kind of order that pleases you to make a poem out of the titles listed on their spines.

Here’s great little step-by-step instructions for kids on how to create their own.

I’d love to see what poems you create, feel free to post them on your blog, on Twitter, on Facebook.  Use the tag #bookspinepoetry and #NPM2016.

It will be fun to see what you create. It can be addictive, if you’re not too careful.

Check out the one’s created in 2014.

Here’s an example of two I created: (not very good)

IMG_2227

This Is How I’d Love You
The Lost Art of Mixing
Never
Hunted
Falling Under
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

 

 

IMG_2228

This Is the Story of You
Untamed
The Voice I Just Heard
The Italian Lover
First Impressions
Gone

 

 

 

What does your poem look like?

Visuals and Poetry: A Relationship of Inspiration

I’ve written poetry and taken photographs for a very long time, and I won’t claim that they are all fantastic or publication worthy. However, these two mediums seem to feed off of one another. I’ve taken pictures, only to look at them again and be inspired to create a poem — with phrases pouring from me just when I take a peek. In other instances, I’ve read poems and sought out some of the places in those poems, even if they are not the exact spot that inspired the poet to write the poem. For instance, you can find a snowy path or road in the woods, take a breath and be Robert Frost on that road, or you can take a photograph of your own garden and spy a bee on a flower and write a poem.

After challenging myself earlier this month to enter Rattle‘s Ekphrastic Challenge, I thought today would be the day for a fun activity as National Poetry Month 2016 winds down.

Today, I thought it would be interesting to see what readers come up with by looking at one of the photos I took a few years ago. I’d love for you to share your short poems or even take a risk and post your own photo and poem on your own blogs and join in.

Here’s the photo:

You’re free to take it in any direction!

354th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 354th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Rabindranath Tagore:

Freedom

Freedom from fear is the freedom
I claim for you my motherland!
Freedom from the burden of the ages, bending your head,
breaking your back, blinding your eyes to the beckoning
call of the future;
Freedom from the shackles of slumber wherewith
you fasten yourself in night's stillness,
mistrusting the star that speaks of truth's adventurous paths;
freedom from the anarchy of destiny
whole sails are weakly yielded to the blind uncertain winds,
and the helm to a hand ever rigid and cold as death.
Freedom from the insult of dwelling in a puppet's world,
where movements are started through brainless wires,
repeated through mindless habits,
where figures wait with patience and obedience for the
master of show,
to be stirred into a mimicry of life.

What do you think?

Interview with Nadia Gerassimenko

National Poetry Month is in full swing, and I have a great interview with Nadia Gerassimenko for you today, and she’s sharing a poem with us as well.

She also was kind enough to post some of my own poems on her website. Feel free to check them out.

I hope you give her a warm welcome; she’s a stunning poet.

When did you know you were a poet and what has kept you writing?

I began writing since I was 14. I didn’t think of myself as a poet at that time, more like writing poetry was a form of creative expression that was easiest for me to deliver and let out. I was writing poems quite frequently until my early twenties. I was in a rut after that. I remember that period in my life had been the most overwhelming for me psychologically—trying to finish my Bachelor’s degree, working at the same time, figuring out my health issues, healing emotional hurts, and finding myself and my inner peace. It was very shaky. I just couldn’t express myself as freely as I had as a teenager. But fortunately, it was temporary. Life calmed down a bit in some aspects and at the same time I became better at managing pain and stress.

Though I do not write as often as I would like to nowadays, I feel that my creative stream is limitless and ever flowing. I’m not afraid that it will ever run out or that I may experience another writer’s block. I feel like it may happen, but I don’t let it get to me. Only when I turned 26 did I truly start considering myself a poet. It happened when I began working on my second chapbook a chair, a monologue that I started to feel truly proud of what I’m creating and slowly accomplishing. It’s not just spur of the moment kind of writing. There’s deliberate intention and planning involved. I want to let my pain out in such a way that not only does it mean something to me, but that it also touches someone else.

Some of the poems I’ve written for the book are okay, but they won’t end up in the final pages because they’re missing that raw, visceral and blunt but candid feeling I’m trying to pour out. Whilst there are those that will be in the book because I’ve written them with utmost care and preparation, edited them to perfection or to something that I’m fully satisfied with. I’ve asked other fellow poets and friends such as yourself to look over them and provide me with constructive feedback which has helped me tremendously to see it from an objective point of view, not just through my sometimes biased lens.

What are your favorite elements of poetry?

I love poems that experiment with structure where there are gaps between words or lines or verses. Not only are they lovely aesthetically, they also shape the poem into the main theme or create a feeling of tumbling down or a pause or silence. I also enjoy poems that don’t necessarily rhyme but that have flowing rhythm to them like in classical poetry. I think it’s quite an achievement when someone can write a piece that doesn’t use a patterned rhyming scheme but is still musical nonetheless. Also words that create euphony or even cacophony can enhance poetry to a different level, more experiential if you will.

List a few of your favorite poetry magazines?

I recently discovered Sea Foam Magazine, which I simply adore. Aside from poetry, they publish interesting interviews with artists, showcase gorgeous artwork. It’s a very dreamy, whimsical kind of literary magazine but also quite frank and unabashed. I also love The Writing Garden founded and run by a dear friend Suzy Hazelwood. She publishes poems and prose and mixed media by artists at all levels of their craftsmanship. Each issue is visually divine and is sometimes themed on purpose or coincidentally gathers beautiful works reflecting the same subject matter. I think it’s rather endearing and serendipitous when that happens. I love poetry curated by Luna Luna Magazine. It’s quite inventive, edgy, primeval.

What advice would you give to poets crafting their first collections?

I would say if you have an idea in mind, plan it all out, do some research if needed. Whether it be a poetry collection or a themed chapbook; whether you want to self-publish it or publish it with a small press; whether you want to edit it yourself or hand it over to a professional—those things are unavoidable and must be planned out and executed. Still don’t let that discourage you from writing but don’t just wander off when doing so.

Who are some of your favorite poets?

I don’t really have favorite poets amongst the greats while I do appreciate what they’ve contributed to our society. I do feel that my poet friends really inspire and empower me to work harder at my writing. And being able to turn to them for writing criticism is an honor and a blessing. Kate Bush influences my writing quite a bit. While not necessarily considered a poet in the conventional sense of the word, Kate Bush’s music and lyrics are rather poetic. Her work is so multifarious and enigmatic. It’s simply spellbinding.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAlVAAAAJDNiODkzNDRhLWVjMTUtNDJlMy1iYmU0LTY0MDE5MmZlYjZlOQAbout the Poet:

Nadia Gerassimenko is a Media Relations Manager for Yeti Culture and Assistant Editor at Luna Luna Magazine by day, a moonchild and poet by night. Nadia self-published her first poetry collection Moonchild Dreams (2015) and hopes to republish it traditionally. She’s currently working on her second chapbook a chair, a monologue. Visit her at tepidautumn.net or tweet her at @tepidautumn.

Safe cocoon

Mama, I heard you and papa fighting today.
I couldn’t pick up on the words again,
But you were screaming, he was yelling.

Something shattered.
Something banged.
And you cried.

Mama, I haven’t heard papa’s voice in a while.
He used to read to me and his voice soothed me to sleep.
Now all I hear is your sad lullaby.

Whatever day.
Whatever hour.
You cry.

Mama, what is that reeking? What are you drinking, too?
What an unusual smell engulfing.
And it feels so hot all of a sudden.

I’m gasping for air.
I'm dazed and confused.
You laugh and cry.

Mama, what are you swallowing so fast?
It tastes so powdery and bitter.
My fragile tummy doesn’t agree.

I feel so sick.
So sleepy.
You stop crying.

Mama, it’s safe and warm in your cocoon.
As I fall deeply asleep,
I thank you for keeping me nestled.

Breathing in and out.
First heartbeats and last.
We sleep together.

The Seven Ages by Louise Glück

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 80 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Seven Ages by Louise Glück is a book about transformation and, by extension, aging and death — the battle between faith and the fear of mortality.  The title opens with a cryptic tale of a human who arrives on Earth even before the Garden of Eden, when it is just dust.  The narrator loves it all the same, even in its barrenness, but like many humans she wants to possess it.  How do you hold onto something that changes and is going to continue changing? The short answer is: you can’t.  Except maybe in a dream but even memories change.

Throughout the book, Glück touches, tastes, and experiences a variety of things, but in “The Sensual World,” she says, “I caution you as I was never cautioned:// you will never let go, you will never be satiated./You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger.//” (pg. 7)  We have entered that garden and we have tasted the forbidden fruits, and even as we are punished, we still want more.  We cannot get enough sensory input, which leads to emotional attachments that continue even as we age, even if they are not acted upon.

In “Birthday,” the narrator remembers “that age. Riddled with self-doubt, self-loathing,/and at the same time suffused/with contempt for the communal, the ordinary;…” (pg. 20) The narrator is on the outside at this party, watching those who are wrapped up in making friends and making connections, but also vividly aware of the solitary member who prefers their own counsel.  Here again, the narrator cautions that in silence it is difficult to “test one’s ideas.  Because they are not ideas, they are the truth.//”  She speaks of this again in “From a Journal”: “how ignorant we all are most of the time,/seeing things/only from one vantage, like a sniper.//” (pg. 25)

Once we come away from ourselves and view the world differently, usually after years of a narrow focus, we come to realize that we want more time.  We want “to extend those days, to be inseparable from them./ So that a few hours could take up a lifetime.//” (“The Destination”, pg. 28)  The Seven Ages by Louise Glück is an exploration of aging through the lens of an observer, someone who has experienced life and who has separated herself from it when necessary.  Things we see are not as we expect, things we obtain do not satiate our appetites, and in our haste to achieve things, we break them.  Human frailty cannot be escaped, and we cannot return to our youth.  Glück attests to these stages and says that appreciating what has come before is hard, especially when we are hungry for more and have run out of time.

Rating: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Louise Glück was born in New York City of Hungarian Jewish heritage and grew up on Long Island. Glück attended Sarah Lawrence College and later Columbia University.

She is the author of twelve books of poetry, including: “A Village Life” (2009); Averno (2006), which was a finalist for The National Book Award; The Seven Ages (2001); Vita Nova (1999), which was awarded The New Yorker’s Book Award in Poetry; Meadowlands (1996); The Wild Iris (1992), which received the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (1990), which received the Library of Congress’s Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. Louise Glück has also published a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction.

353rd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 353rd Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Mary Oliver:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.

What are your thoughts?

Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chuck Groenink

NPMBlogTour2016

Source: Public Library
Hardcover, 32 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, emphasizes what we already know about Santa Claus and his life as a gift giver, toy maker, husband, and reindeer trainer.  But he has one more talent, a secret talent — he’s a poet who write haiku.  Inside this book, there are 25 haiku poems that illustrate life at the North Pole, giving young readers and inside look at what it is like to be Santa Claus.

Although some of the haiku are not perfect, and one or two are a bit simplistic, overall the haiku are fun to read, and would make a great addition to the holiday reading list with little kids.  My favorite haiku is the one in which Mrs. Claus becomes a young girl again, making a snow angel.  My daughter loves the part when Comet and the white fox return from the woods with their own Christmas tree, helping Santa with his preparations.

Some of the haiku will have readers thinking about the stories they know well, and others will have readers looking at things a little differently.  Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, is a cute book with short poems that could be read one day at a time beginning on Dec. 1.

Rating: Quatrain

About the Author:

Bob Raczka loved to draw, especially dinosaurs, cars and airplanes, as a boy. He spent a lot of time making paper airplanes and model rockets. He studied art in college, which came in quite handy while writing a series of art appreciation books, Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures. He also studied advertising, a creative field in which he worked in for more than 25 years. Bob also discovered how much he loved poetry and began writing his own. His message for today’s kids is to make stuff!”

Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean

Source: Akashic Books, Peekash Press
Paperback, 208 pgs.
I am Amazon Affiliate

Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean, with a preface from Kwame Dawes, features poems from Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Danielle Jennings, Ruel Johnson, Monica Minott, Debra Providence, Shivanee Ramlochan, Colin Robinson, and Sassy Ross.  There is a variety of poems in this collection that speak to the culture of the Caribbean, but also to the loss of culture among those who move away to the United States or other locations.  Some poems beautifully capture the dialect of the language and the beat of the culture without detracting from the readers’ enjoyment, but there are a few poems that can be difficult to understand and will require additional attention if readers are unfamiliar with the Caribbean dialects used.

Kwame Dawes says in the preface, “It is important and admirable that this gathering of poets allows us to explore the meaning of these ides of home.”  This is an apt description of this collection because in it are poems that range from finding a place in a college classroom, even among those with a similar culture, to a mother explaining to her child that she is not a home or a mother, though her “womb” knows her.  These narrators are looking for that feeling of belonging, being able to settle down and be content.  Their lives are in flux, and some are embroiled in violence or destructive behavior, but all of these voices are strong and determined.  They rely on their heritage from the cultural nuances they were taught by family to the ones they have learned on their own.

In “The Haunting of His Name” by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné’s narrator talks about how the love of a man can be haunting even if that man is abusive or not good to you.  There’s prescription here for how to get over him: “You must not love him,/so you bind yourself/with hunger and smoke,/sing hard against/your body’s silence.”  This is a man who will not leave you, so you must  wash “him from the temple of your heart.”  In her poem, “Learning to Breathe in Luminous Water,” the narrator explains that you only need to teach yourself to breathe underwater, learn to deal with the hardships and transform or overcome the obstacles ahead.  Almost by a matter of sheer will, the woman can find a way through.

Like Monica Minott’s “Penelope to Calypso,” women must learn to accept what has happened or how the world has come to pass, but they have the power to move forward or accept a new path that they carve on their own.  Penelope says to Calypso, “Odysseus is like driftwood;/long before he met you and me/he belonged to the sea./When driftwood wash up,/they make interesting furnishings/and conversation piece/”  It is clear that these women are strong enough to stand on their own.  On the other side of the coin, when the connections are right, women should know how that feels, even if it is a little like the snapper trapped by the “Fisherman’s Net.”

Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean is a collection of empowerment for women and men alike, for the immigrants searching for new opportunities.  Like all opportunities, there are challenges that must be met and overcome, but seeking strength from the outside is not always the best solution.  Inner strength can ensure the path is endurable and that opportunities are not lost.

Rating: Quatrain

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Sound of Belief by Ebony Archer

As we continue to celebrate National Poetry Month, I hope to highlight some new poets for you, as well as bring you reviews, interviews, and activities. Today’s book spotlight is for a collection of inspirational poetry written by Ebony Archer. Her poem, “Gotta Believe in Me”, was also transformed into song, which has a pop beat and could be the next big hit.

Take a listen:

As you can hear, she’s got a great voice and some spunk. Click for her current list of tour dates.

The Sound of BeliefThe Sound of Belief is an inspirational poetry book written by Ebony Archer in order to empower the reader to activate their belief.

Buy the book: Amazon Barnes & Noble

Put it on your shelf at GoodReads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Poet:Ebony Archer

Since the early age of four, she started singing in her church where her gift was discovered. In 2000, Ebony joined Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago at the age of eight. With this group, Ebony has sung in front of audiences of ranging numbers and has shared the stage with many famous names in the industry such as Yolanda Adams, R. Kelly, Celine Dion, Nick Carter, and the list continues.

In 2001, Ebony Archer was featured in R. Kelly’s video, The World’s Greatest. In 2012, Ebony was the runner up in the national anthem competition for Black Girls Run with over 40,000 votes. Through the musical experiences, vocal training, and learning how to have great stage presence; it has molded Ebony into a gifted singer and because of her inspiring voice, she is now known as the Inspirer”.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook   Instagram   Soundcloud

Giveaway: Win 1 ebook copy of the Sound of Belief (open internationally)

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