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Visual Poetry

Visual poems are more than just concrete poems that take shapes of animals, etc. Check out the video for inspiration, a little bit of history, and take a moment to create your own visual poem.

You could take it a step further and incorporate some collage or photography or even some painting/drawing art with your poem.

Feel free to share them on Twitter or Facebook at tag me. I’d love to see them.

Happy National Poetry Month!

The Floating Door by M. E. Silverman

Source: the poet
Paperback, 92 pgs.
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The Floating Door by M.E. Silverman is a collection of poems that explores several schoolyard rhymes — “Step on a Crack” — and the experience of growing up in America, alongside the feeling of being an outsider in “The Last Jew” in Afghanistan. Silverman’s poems are a spiritual journey that is at times disconcerting, but also comforting. His poems look at American consumerism in a way that causes the reader to look at the life they imagine — the clean lines and everything in its place — and the life they lead, full of chaos and love.

One of the best looks at this is “Sitting in a Simulated Space at the Atlantic Station IKEA in Atlanta, Georgia,” in which the speaker is comfortably sitting in one of those staged rooms that the store is famous for, takes a book of poems from the shelf and begins to read. In this moment the speaker becomes part of the simulated room. But the illusion is broken when he decides to save the pages and rips them from the book and is caught by the eyes of a child in the store with her family. Silverman’s poems have children or child-like reactions in them to call attention to how discerning kids are to social cues and the visual moments around them, even if they don’t necessarily understand the words. In “‘I Don’t Believe,’ She Said, ‘In You.'” the narrator says, “He listened the way a/child presses an ear to a keyhole,” and readers can see the intensity of that moment — a spying on an adult conversation when one adult is exasperated with the other. The whole of the poem calls attention to a lack of attention we all have in arguments and moments of frustration — when we take less care in choosing our words and how those words can be interpreted by the listener a different way than what they were intended.

Silverman’s imagination is on full display in his descriptions, like this from “Response to: I Can’t Get Off the Couch”: “Look, the couch/would love nothing more than to waste the day caped with a shawl, laying/ burdened on someone’s back like Atlas, but honestly the couch is waiting for/the right cover to turn it almost youthful & beautiful, waiting for the vibrating/wonder of the vacuum so it can come clean, eyeing the shapely Victorian/curves of the love-seat, waiting & waiting for it to make the first move.” Oh, this unrequited love, the longing from across the room. Just beautiful.

Many of these poems offer surprise reactions in them: sensuality, families that have grown distant except for the love of a child that appears constant, and mirror images of suffering and displacement. There is a disconnect that is explored between being American and the Jewish religion, but within that feeling of disconnect, the narrator of the poems takes a journey to reconnect. The Floating Door by M.E. Silverman is a collection that moves the reader in and out of detachment in an effort to demonstrate that the feeling is fleeting and there is more to connect us with others than first appears to the eye.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

M. E. Silverman is the author of The Floating Door (Glass Lyre Press, 2018), The Breath Before Birds Fly (ELJ Press, 2013). The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary American Jewish Poetry (2013), which he co-edited with Deborah Ager, The Plume Anthology of Long-ish Poems (Madhat Press, 2018), which he co-edited with Andrew McFayden-Ketchum, and a forthcoming Holocaust anthology co-edited with Howard Debs. His work has appeared in over 90 journals including: Crab Orchard Review, Blood Orange Review, December, Town Creek Poetry, Chicago Quarterly Review, North Chicago Review, Battersea Review, The Naugatuck River Review, Many Mountains Moving, Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The Los Angeles Review, Pacific Review, StorySouth, I-70 Review, UCity Review, Tupelo Quarterly Review. You can also check out his journal, Blue Lyra Review, and his press, Blue Lyra Press.

Poem Activity: Cento Poem

Hello again. We’re all staying home and safe these days, grateful for essential workers, and looking to make it through financially, mentally, and physically now.

For today’s activity, which won’t take much brain power, we’re going to make a cento poem. Cento poems are patchworks created from various lines taken from different poems.

There’s a really interesting spin on this in which a poem is constructed from emails, check that out here.

I’ll begin today’s patchwork poem with this Emily Dickinson line from poem 561 (I measure every Grief I meet):

I wonder if it hurts to live –

Please add your poetic line and let me know which poem and poet it is from in the comments.

Poem Generator Fun: Love Poems

Love poems could provide a balm in these times of lockdown, especially as couples are spending even more time together in the same household for extended periods of time. The stress of educating kids at home, working at home and from home, and those who have lost their jobs are facing extreme stress.

Take a moment and write a love poem for your spouse or even your kids or even your other family members.

This Love Poem Generator can help.

Here’s my love poem to my family:

A Love Poem

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Assistance is supportive,
And so are you.

Orchids are white,
Ghost ones are rare,
Your cloth is silken,
And so is your hair.

Magnolia grows,
With buds like eggs,
The position is strong,
And so are your legs.

Sunflowers reach,
Up to the skies,
The sigh is deep,
And so are your eyes.

Foxgloves in hedges,
Surround the farms,
Weather is warm,
And so are your arms.

Daisies are pretty,
Daffies have style,
Colors are bright,
And so is your smile.

A sunset is beautiful,
Just like you.

What poem did you generate?

Poem: Words for Departure by Louise Bogan

Another poem to read and listen to today!

From Louise Bogan in 1923, Words for Departure. You can also listen to the audio reading of the poem.

Louise Bogan was born in Livermore Falls, Maine, in 1897. She is the author of several books of prose and poetry, and was the first woman to hold the position of Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. The recipient of a 1968 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bogan died in 1970. The majority of her poetry was written in the earlier half of her life when she published Body of This Death (McBride & Company, 1923), Dark Summer (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929), and The Sleeping Fury (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937). She subsequently published volumes of her collected verse, and The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968)

Drift by Alan King (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 1+ hrs.
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Drift by Alan King, from Audible and narrated by the poet, is a new experience in poetry, providing listeners with their own personal poetry reading. With jazzy music, sound effects, and the lyrical sounds of his poems, King transports listeners into an urban landscape where comic book heroes don’t live, but young boys still wish they would and that they could be them to battle the ugliness.

There is beauty in this collection, and it is a creative use of music, sound effects, and poetry. Tired of podcasts, depressing news, and television, enter the poetic world of Alan King and have your own personal poetry reading.

For more about the individual poems, my review is here.

Gaithersburg Book Festival Finalists 2020 & Fan Favorite Voting Now Open

UPDATE: VOTING CLOSED MAY 8, 2020

After all the hard work put in my local high school students in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., the Gaithersburg Book Festival will continue to run the high school poetry competition, even though the book festival itself has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click the logo to reach the page with the finalists, and please vote for your favorite. Voting is open to everyone, even if you do not live in the region. Show these poets some love — share the link on social media — cheer on your favorites.

Many of these students also took the extra time to create a video of themselves reading their poem, so please stop by and listen to these young artists.

We’ll be announcing poetry critic Elizabeth Lund’s top 3 winners on May 20, along with the Fan Favorite.

Creative Prompt: Resilience & Poetry

I don’t normally make videos, but I thought it would be appropriate for today’s poetic exercise. Hope you’ll watch below and share your poems/stories or anything you’re thinking about this month.

Visuals & Poems

We’re living in uncertain times, and poetry can provide a modicum of peace. I also have been taking walks and working in the garden these afternoons with my family. I’ve thought a lot about how spring is upon us and how flowers are just beginning to bloom — tulips, daffodils, even trees.

When I took this photo, I had no idea that it would be out of focus, but it’s interesting to think about the lack of focus in the photo as a reflection of the lack of focus and purpose many of us have now. We’re either adjusting to working from home, out of work and concerned for our families, and some of us are navigating the new world of online learning for young children.

I’d love to hear about any visuals that inspire you while you’re walking around with your dog or friends. Share your stories below — in poetic form — or just on your blog.

Poem Generator Fun: Concrete Poems

Concrete poems often take the shape of the object being written about. These are some of the most visually inspiring poems, and kids often love these because they can connect the words to the object. These poems also do not have to rhyme.

I would love to see what kind of poems you generate with the poem generator — click the image of the cat above to access the generator. No major creativity required — just plug in some data and see the algorithm work.

Large, Grey Husky
A Concrete Poem
Presented as text

Poem: The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings. by Donika Kelly

Today, I thought I would direct you to read or listen to a poem by Donika Kelly.

The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.
by Donika Kelly (audio is available)

She is the author of the chapbook Aviarium (fivehundred places, 2017), and the full-length collection Bestiary (Graywolf Press, 2016), winner of the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for poetry, and the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.

 

 

 

 

Poetry: Beyond the Book

Poetry has reached beyond the page in a lot of cases, and many are aware of InstaPoets who read online in Instagram and create graphic posts of their poems. But were you aware of poets who are creating interactive collections using QR codes and turning to audio as a way to reach wider audiences?

Jessica Piazza’s recent poetry collection, This is Not a Sky, pairs her ekphrastic poems with QR codes to the paintings and artwork that inspired them.

I called the collection ” art unto itself and a must read for those who love painters and some of the most iconic artists of our time. Piazza will have you looking at the art on the museum walls in vastly different ways. She creates vignettes for the players and for those outside the frame.”

Check out your own copy.

Alan King, a local poet in the Washington, D.C. area, created his own audio version of Drift, relying on music and sound effects to set the stage for his very real poems. I’m listening to the audio now, and it is intriguing. I’ve enjoyed the first few poems on audio just as I did when I read the book.

The collection ” is musical, funny, and serious. It asks questions about identity and fitting it, particularly what it means to be a “brother.” But it’s also about growing up in an unforgiving urban landscape.”

Check out this sample below:

Let me know what kinds of unique poetry collections you’ve discovered. Which ones are breaking boundaries of the page?