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Today’s Poetry Activity: Limerick

When I hear the word Limerick, I suddenly see Irish dancers, leprechauns, rainbows, and Ireland.

But Limericks are poems written in an anapestic[1] meter with a strict rhyme scheme of AABBA, in which the first, second, and fifth line rhyme, while the third and fourth lines are shorter and share a different rhyme. I’m not great at writing poems with rhymes or in certain meters, but I do love a good limerick, especially when they are humorous. Sometimes, they can be rude.

Here’s one of my favorites from John Updike:

There was an old poop from Poughkeepsie,
Who tended, at night, to be tipsy.
Said he, ”My last steps
Aren’t propelled by just Schweppes! ” –
That peppy old poop from Poughkeepsie.

If you’d like to share your favorite limericks in the comments, I’d love to read them. If you’re daring enough, maybe you’ll write your own and share it.

Here’s something I used the generator for:

There once was a man who liked weddings.
He said, “See the great beheadings!”
His name was sarge.
He found the brush discharge.
And he couldn’t resist the telecharge.

To help those who want to write their own, there’s this cool Limerick generator.

YouTube Poetry: Allen Ginsberg’s America

So Speak the Stars by Tawni Waters

Source: the publisher
Paperback, 154 pgs.
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So Speak the Stars by Tawni Waters, a collection of prose and poetry, is an exploration of the soul, a look at a soul struggling to love itself. This self-discovery journey travels from trailer parks to Paris and more internal worlds of faith, love, and self-confidence. Some of the poems exploring faith were meandering, like most journeys of faith can be, and often lost me on where they were going or what they wanted to say. But there are poem that read like confessions in personal journals and diaries. Some are incredibly raw and those are the poems that spoke the loudest about the pain of the journey and the sense of loss. Like in “AWOL Icon: A Love Song Without Music” (pg. 15), the narrator says, “Thunder breaks something and it’s not just the sky.”

From "Luster (Less)" (pg. 29)

Bad whiskey tastes sick sweet
like     forgetting
and that's enough to make me
              suck
      it
down.

Waters’ daughter, Desiree Wade, illustrates a few panels of comic like prose poems and the images are just as jarring and heartbreaking as the poems themselves. This team has great potential if they work together again on a graphic novel or another poetry collection.

These poems are fierce, particularly “Labor Pains,” which speaks about a mother’s fierce love and need to protect her child from the world. It’s beautiful and desperate and loss because as mothers we all know that our powers of protection are limited — inside and outside of the womb.

So Speak the Stars by Tawni Waters looks to foster self-love and faith and explore those concepts through religious-like experiences as told through poems and illustration. There is a lot to digest in this collection, but it is a journey worth taking. You may learn something about yourself along the way.

RATING: Quatrain

314 – Emily Dickinson

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers – 314
by: Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

For Every One by Jason Reynolds

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 112 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

For Every One by Jason Reynolds is a poetic letter to dreamers, those who find themselves longing for something outside of their current lives — whether a poet looking to write poems or an artist looking to paint a masterpiece. These dreams may or may not come true in two years, thirty years, or at the end of their lives, but the point is that they continue dreaming and moving toward that dream.

All of us out here,
slumped over wearing
weird fake
broken smiles,
trying to avoid the truth:
that we all got road rage.

Although there is no sage advice from Reynolds about how to make that dream come true, he does offer a sense of camaraderie with the dreamers. He’s here in the trenches with you. He understands your passions and your need to achieve that impossible-possible dream, and he knows your heartbreak. For Every One by Jason Reynolds is a realistic pep talk for those frustrated with their own lack of progress toward their dreams, even if those dreams are simple ones like having a spouse and children. Just remember that you need to take that leap!

RATING: Quatrain

Today’s Poetry Activity: Conversation Poem

Conversation poems are just what they sound like: a poem in which one person is speaking to another.

For instance, your poem could be a wife and husband speaking to one another, siblings arguing over a toy, or a father/mother speaking to a son/daughter.

There are a multitude of conversations you could have in poetic form, and they do not have to rhyme, though they can.

Here’s one I wrote as an example:

Darling, I wish we could go out more.
Honey, we’re out all the time.
But we’re never alone, even in the store.
I think a night in the tub would be sublime.

That’s an example of one that rhymes, but here’s another that doesn’t:

Give me that!
No way, it’s mine, and you know it.
It was never yours; you stole it from my room.
Really, a My Little Pony? No way.

Try your skills at a conversation poem and share it below in the comments.

YouTube Poetry: John Keats – Ode to a Nightingale

Book Fairs Around the World

As book lovers nothing gratifies us more than a book in hand. When we’re at book fairs surrounded by books, authors, publishers, and fellow book mongers, well that’s pure bliss.

If you’re looking for a book fair, check out this colossal searchable list International Book Fairs 2019 by the folks at the Kotobee Blog.

No matter where you are in the world, this list will help you locate the nearest book treat to you. Here’s a little snippet I took for the calendar of book fairs in North America (posted here with permission from the Kotobee Blog).

 

The Real Sky by Valerie Fox and Jacklynn Niemiec

Source: the poet
Paperback, 30 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Real Sky by Valerie Fox and Jacklynn Niemiec is a chapbook that melds imagery with poetry so that readers look beyond the confines of structure to see the potential in each poem and drawing. Fox’s poems explore reality with surreal or dreamlike sequences, but they also are grounded in situations that readers will recognize from their own lives.

In “Ribs, Cat Claws,” Fox examines the notion that we all must “grow up sometime” with a cast of characters who on one hand seem to be out of their minds with mental lapses and disease and on the other hand lament the dreams they once had that are not fulfilled. Other poems delve deep into the unwritten rules of following doctors’ orders, only to secret believe they are useless orders — like many of the unwritten rules of society we follow. Should we just blindly follow them? Question them, only to follow them anyway? Or simply throw the rules out the window?

Fox’s slanted perspective on life and how rules guide us and are so easily set aside — our societal structures are artificial and yet they confine us. Where is the “real sky?” How do we break those invisible binds to see the light and the expanse of possibility? Niemiec’s sketches dovetail into these themes nicely, painting a physical picture for the readers.

The Real Sky by Valerie Fox and Jacklynn Niemiec is a multilayered collection that bends genre to incorporate not only the visual, but also fictionalized accounts and reality into a surreal mesh for readers to fall into and explore. A great deal of food for though in this slim volume.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Authors:

Valerie Fox’s most recent book is Insomniatic [poems] from PS Books, and her other volumes include The Rorschach Factory (Straw Gate Books) and The Glass Book (Texture Press). Her poems and stories have appeared in The Cafe Irreal, Juked, Sentence, Across the Margin, Cleaver, Hanging Loose, West Branch, Ping Pong, and other journals.

She has taught at various institutions, including Peirce College (Philadelphia) and Sophia University (Tokyo). Currently she teaches writing at Drexel University in Philadelphia, where she is a writing fellow with the Writers Room. Much interested in collaboration, Valerie has published writing (poems, fiction) with Arlene Ang in journals such as Blip, Cordite, Apiary, Qarrtsiluni, and New World Writing. Ang and Fox also published Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (Texture Press).

Jacklynn Niemiec teaches with the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University in the foundation year design studios, and coordinates their architectural representation sequence. Her creative interest and research lies in developing visual methods for understanding and representing space with the added and intangible layers of time, movement and memory. Her current creative work and interdisciplinary research project is Variable Space.

Jacklynn is a Registered Architect in the State of Pennsylvania and is LEED Accredited. She received her undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State University and Master of Architecture degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

Today’s Poetry Activity: Acrostic Poems

Acrostic Poem? What on earth is that?

You actually may recognize them from your days in school. They’re like mini word puzzles in which the first letter of each line spells out a word.

I’ve shared my Acrostic poem below, and would love to see your poems in the comments using this word: SPRING

For those who want a little help, you can try this Acrostic Generator to spark some creativity or help you find some words for your poem related to the word above.

Sunrise warms my cold face
Pried from the warm blankets of bed
Rising like the dead
I only wish sunrise happened later
Noon to be precise, a
Good time to wake.

Please share your poem below in the comments.

National Poetry Month 2019

For more than 20 years, the Academy of American Poets has been celebrating National Poetry Month in April.

My favorite part of the month has always been to see the latest poster creation, which you can request from the Academy.

Another favorite of mine is Poem in Your Pocket Day, which this year will be April 18. I’m not sure what poem to keep in my pocket this year, but maybe it will be a haiku.

If I were a teacher, I would be all over this Dear Poet Project, in which students write letters in response to poems written or read by poets on the  Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors.

I strongly encourage everyone to sign up for Poem-a-Day, which comes direct to your email inbox. You’ll be reading more poems in no time, with this service.

Want to attend a poetry event near you, the Academy has this wonderful search engine by zipcode. Check out what events are near you and please share your experiences.

Here are 30 other ways to celebrate National Poetry Month; share yours too.

Curious Iguana Event Recap: Sweta Vikram, author of Louisiana Catch

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Sweta Vikram came to Frederick, Md., to the Curious Iguana bookstore to have a conversation about not only women’s rights and her book, Louisiana Catch, but also about the dangers of social media and human rights.

And, yes, before you ask: I did bring every Sweta Vikram book I own to get signed, since I haven’t seen her in person in so long! She had to sign my books.  I hope I didn’t give her hand a cramp.

Also, since I help establish her blog tour through Poetic Book Tours for her debut U.S. novel, I was happy to provide a Live Facebook Feed for part of the event. Please click and watch the beginning of the event. She’ll make you laugh.

Please also view these two videos from the Q&A and reading portions of the event.

It was a small room and full of people that Sweta, also the owner of NimmiLife, knew and some that those people had brought along with them, including my daughter who did not want to miss the “Poet lady.” Yes, that’s how she refers to Sweta. I never saw her put on her shoes so fast to go to a reading before; it was quite a sight.

The event had it all: discussions of marital rape, surviving sexual assault, women’s rights, the differences between writing poems and writing fiction, and of course the question everyone wants to know — was Rohan Brady based on Bradley Cooper?

Sweta Vikram will be back in the D.C. area in September, and I hope those who couldn’t make it up to Maryland, will see her when she’s in town again.