352nd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 352nd 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 Ernest Christopher Dowson:

April Love

We have walked in Love's land a little way,
We have learnt his lesson a little while,
And shall we not part at the end of day,
With a sigh, a smile?

A little while in the shine of the sun,
We were twined together, joined lips forgot
How the shadows fall when day is done,
And when Love is not.

We have made no vows - there will none be broke,
Our love was free as the wind on the hill,
There was no word said we need wish unspoke,
We have wrought no ill.

So shall we not part at the end of day,
Who have loved and lingered a little while,
Join lips for the last time, go our way,
With a sigh, a smile. 

What do you think?


Ghost Sick by Emily Pohl-Weary

Source: Tightrope Books
Paperback, 150 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Ghost Sick by Emily Pohl-Weary is a collection of poems that witness. They are testimony, commentary, and emotional responses to the crime, drugs, loss of innocence and more in a Toronto neighborhood and other places where lives are wasted and lost too easily. In “World of Sorrow,” the narrator says, “I had no way of comprehending/it only takes a second to tear/the spirit from a young body//” More often than not, young people believe they are invincible, and it is this naivete that leaves them especially vulnerable to waste, decay, and death. Pohl-Weary laments these losses, and she struggles to come to terms with those who have been lost and the potential they may have had under different circumstances.

Her images are playful, but then turn sinister, like in “Falling Angel,” where the narrator says, “Our honey gigolo, haloed, wary/Smiling at women, the boy who would kill//Carried disaster in the tilt of his chin/tightness of his shoulders, heavy droop of eyelids//”  What causes this young man to become a murder, and what does it mean for those around him.  Growing up in this neighborhood, the young must be forever watchful of how they are perceived by others and ensure that their actions cannot be the cause of another’s death or harm.  As the narrator in “Never Say Goodbye” indicates, “life is a process of hardening//” and it can even happen when you’re young and having a good time.

Nearly a third of the way through the volume, the poet asks, “How many candlelight vigils/will it take to light the sky/with grief?” (“The Gentle Giant”)  But in the same section, the narrator says in “Those Who Died,” “Remember that you live where they did not./You are the survivor and the advocate./You must live for those who died.//”  It is the pressure many surviving family members and friends place on themselves — to advocate for those who can no longer speak for themselves.  In many ways, these are the people who are “ghost sick” because they are the most haunted by those they have lost, and they are unable to escape that pressure.

Craft Supplies (pg. 51)

a wise woman once told me
you can't expect miracles
from dollar store markers
though they're often realized
in the most unusual, tawdry places
like the bottom of a bin

Readers will find that not all is dreary in Pohl-Weary’s world, as hope remains an eternal spring even in the darkest places. It can be held by a child with potential, a community that listens and acts, or even in the depths of a dream resurfacing for someone who has been lost. We, the living, are the ones that are haunting the dead with our emptiness at their leaving. We need to fill those holes and move on, so that they may do the same, as the narrator in “Meaning” suggests.

Ghost Sick by Emily Pohl-Weary is a profound collection that will have readers looking at their own losses to determine if they have filled those empty holes.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Award-winning author, editor, and creative writing instructor Emily Pohl-Weary has published seven books, a series of girl pirate comics, and her own literary magazine.

She was the 2015 writer-in-residence for Queen’s University, where she mentored students and facilitating a workshop for people affected by incarceration. She has also been the University of the Fraser Valley’s Kuldip Gill Writing Fellowship Writer in Residence in B.C., and the Toronto Public Library system’s eWriter-in-Residence for Young Voices. She was also fortunate to be Dawson City, Yukon’s writer-in-residence at the Pierre Berton House.

Her most recent book is a collection of poetry, Ghost Sick, which was released in February 2015. Her novel for teens, Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, was published by Penguin Razorbill (Canada) and Skyscape (U.S.A.) in fall 2013. Her five previous books include Strange Times at Western High, Girls Who Bite Back, A Girl Like Sugar, Iron-on Constellations, and Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril.

Emily is also a current creative writing instructor at the University of Dalhousie. For more than a decade she has also facilitated creative writing workshops that focus on advanced writing skills, learning tools for conflict-resolution and processing trauma, and finding your unique voice.



Interview with Arne Weingart

I reviewed Arne’s collection Levitation for Agnostics in February, and was really impressed by his poems. He agreed to take part in the National Poetry Month celebration with an interview. Please give him a warm welcome.

1. Faith is a big part of your poems. How has that faith informed the poems in the collection Levitation for Agnostics?

It was never my intention to use faith as an organizing principle for the collection. But if I look at the book as a whole, I can see how individual poems tend to circle around the question of what one can or should believe in. I accept the idea that the need for belief is biologically hard-wired into human nature, so for me, certain things follow. Firstly, that organized religion is useful but inadequate. Secondly, that poetry and art are useful (although ultimately also inadequate)in addressing our collective spiritual need. This particular point of view is a kind of background noise for every poem I try to write.

2. Faith and religion can be very serious aspects of people’s lives, how does the humor you infuse your poems with change that perspective?

The difference between our very real and persistent spiritual needs and our success in satisfying them is the perfect set-up for a joke. Many jokes. Take my faith tradition, please (drum roll, rim shot)! In Judaism’s classical orthodox flavor, there are said to be 613 commandments that govern human conduct. However noble in conception, this is an obvious recipe for failure. And while attempts at “reformation” are laudable and inevitable, the gap between spirit and material world remains. I suppose you could define grace as our ability to balance within that gap; and humor as our appropriate response when grace fails us.

3. Levitation for Agnostics looks to be a first collection for you? How else do you spend your creative hours? Is poetry your first passion?

Yes, this is my first collection. Although I work in a “creative” field — graphic design — poetry is the one thing I am most capable of doing that satisfies my creative impulse. As mentioned above, I believe that poetry (and all art) has spiritual underpinnings that make it indispensable, if often misunderstood.

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

Write without particular focus on shaping a collection. At some point, stop and see what you’ve got. This will require help from other readers (and perhaps writers). This is in direct contradiction to many thematically coherent collections that began and ended as “projects” and that seem to be “about” something that can be concisely and confidently stated. First collections, however, should probably address the concerns of crafting an identifiable poetic voice, the one indispensable qualification for a poet, going forward.

5. Who are your favorite poets?

In no particular order and on this particular day: W. H. Auden, Wislawa Szymborska, W. S. Merwin, Mark Strand, Elizabeth Bishop, Tony Hoagland

About the Poet:

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and educated at Dartmouth College and Columbia University, Arne Weingart lives in Chicago with his wife Karen, where he is the principal of a graphic design firm specializing in identity and wayfinding. Recent poems have been published in Arts & Letters, Beecher’s Magazine, Coal Hill Review, Enizagam, Nimrod, Oberon, Plume, RHINO, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Georgetown Review, The Massachusetts Review, and The Spoon River Poetry Review. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his book, “Levitation For Agnostics,” winner of the 2014 New American Press Poetry Prize, will be released in February, 2015.


Mendeleev’s Mandala by Jessica Goodfellow


Source: Mayapple Press
Paperback, 100 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Mendeleev’s Mandala by Jessica Goodfellow is broken down into five sections, mixing in elements of mathematics, science, and various poetic styles.  Dmitri Mendeleev is considered the father of the periodic table, and like Mendeleev, Goodfellow carefully crafts each poem with a larger picture in mind, and in these poems, she strives to capture all the necessary elements for her own mandala to create a microcosm of her own struggles.

In part one, she lays down the foundation, uncovering hidden truths in a variety of stories from Iphigenia and Isaac to theories of gravity and continental drift. Each are treated similarly in that they are picked apart for their weaknesses, but also used to demonstrate the categorization and delineation that continues to occur now, as humans seek to understand the unknown.  Like in “Imagine No Apples,” the apples fall from the tree but never too far from the Omega, which in many ways is the end.  Even as we begin, we are never far from our ending, and the circle continues in a loop.  What would happen if there were no apples — no alpha, no beginning?  Would there be an omega?

“of what use is this thirst for things
resembling other things, this endless trying
to wring milk from a two-headed cow.” (pg. 26, “Burning Aunt Hisako”)

Humanity has a hard time reconciling reason with the unknown; and in many ways, we presume that because we reason that everything is knowable. This is not the case.  Section two of the collection is a rumination on time — time as it passes and our place in it.  It is the strongest part of the collection in terms of cohesion.  We want to be the candle flame, but we are more like the melting wax, the narrator notes in “In Praise of the Candle Clock.”  And as the narration continues regarding the development of the clock to its modern form, so too does its function and our perception of time.  Goodfellow has beautifully rendered this transformation from the shape-poem “Ode to the Hourglass” to “The Invention of the Clock Face.”  But most heart-wrenching is “Three Views of Mars” where perception is broken down by one who can see, one whose field of vision has narrowed considerably, and to one who is innocent and just beginning to see the world.

Mendeleev’s Mandala by Jessica Goodfellow is a look beyond the world of facts and science into the world of emotion, spirituality, faith, and more.  These poems remind us that even as we reason, we can view things completely wrong.  The mandala is larger than any one of us, but we all have roles to play, and we should do so to the best of our abilities, even if it all does seem rather random.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Jessica Goodfellow grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but has spent the last twenty years in California, Florida, and Japan. She received an MS degree from the California Institute of Technology and an MA in linguistics from the University of New England. Her first book of poetry, The Insomniac’s Weather Report (three candles press), won the Three Candles Press First Book Prize, and was reissued by Isobar Press in 2014. Her new book Mendeleev’s Mandala is available from Mayapple Press (2015). She is also the author of a poetry chapbook, A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland (Concerete Wolf, 2006), winner of the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared in the anthology Best New Poets 2006, on the website Verse Daily, and has been featured by Garrison Keillor on NPR”s “The Writer’s Almanac.” She was a recipient of the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from the Beloit Poetry Journal, and her work has been honored with the Linda Julian Essay Award as well as the Sue Lile Inman Fiction Prize, both from the Emrys Foundation. Her work has appeared in Motionpoems Season 6. Jessica currently lives in Japan with her husband and sons.







351st Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 351st 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 Walter Savage Landor:

Mother, I Cannot Mind my Wheel

Mother, I cannot mind my wheel;
         My fingers ache, my lips are dry:
Oh! if you felt the pain I feel!
         But Oh, who ever felt as I!

No longer could I doubt him true;
         All other men may use deceit:
He always said my eyes were blue,
         And often swore my lips were sweet.

What do you think?


Happy Poetry Month! NPM 2016 Blog Tour!

Happy National Poetry Month!  We’re celebrating poetry all month in April.

As in the past, we’ve got a schedule of participating blogs, but feel free to hop on and join us any time this month.

April 1: Rhapsody in Books (What is Poetry and What Role Does It Perform?)
April 1: Life’s a Stage (Blackout Poetry)
April 1: Today’s Little Ditty (Profile of MARILYN SINGER and her books)
April 8: Life’s a Stage (Where Do You Find Inspiration?)
April 14: Fig and Thistle (Andrea Hollander event)
April 15: Tabatha Yeatts (Poetry Empowers Disabled)
April 15: Work-in-Progress (MFA Students’ Passion for Poetry)
April 16: Suko’s Notebook (poetry collection review)
April 18: Peeking Between the Pages (poetry collection review)
April 19: Necromancy Never Pays (poetry collection review)
April 21: I’m Lost in Books (poetry jumpstarting her creativity in high school)
April 21: Rhapsody in Books (Charlotte Bronte’s 200th Birthday)
April 22: Life’s a Stage (Book Spine Poetry)
April 24: Rhapsody in Books (Musings on Poetry)
April 25: Diary of an Eccentric (poetry collection review)
April 26: Savvy Verse & Wit (Visuals & Poetry Activity)
April 27: Savvy Verse & Wit (Book Spine Poetry Activity)
April 28: Savvy Verse & Wit (MadLibs Poetry Activity)
April 29: Savvy Verse & Wit (Cento Poetry Activity)

For those who have poetry showcased this month, feel free to add your full link in Mr. Linky and grab the tour button.

Above all, feel free to create your own blackout poetry, share poems you love, and comment on all the great posts.

***My new daily posts will be below this sticky one***

2016 National Poetry Month Blog Tour

April is National Poetry Month in the United States.

Even though I think people should read poetry every day or at least more often than once per month, April has been the focal point for poetry activities since National Poetry Month was created by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.  It’s hard to believe the event has been happening for 20 years.

This year, I’m hoping that I can get some wonderful blogs to participate in the 2016 blog tour for poetry. I would love to get some great new interviews, reviews, poetry readings, innovative poetry activities, and some visual artists interested in sharing some poetic renderings.

If you’re interested in signing up for the tour, feel free to leave a link in the Linky and comment about what you want to host in April.

Stop back here in April for some fun interactive poetry activities.

Tentative schedule:

April 1: Rhapsody in Books (What is Poetry and What Role Does It Perform?)
April 7: I’m Lost in Books (poetry jumpstarting her creativity in high school)
April 14: Fig and Thistle (Andrea Hollander event)
April 15: Tabatha Yeatts
April 16: Suko’s Notebook (poetry collection review)
April 18: Peeking Between the Pages (poetry collection review)
April 19: Necromancy Never Pays
April 23: Bookgirl’s Nightstand
April 25: Diary of an Eccentric (poetry collection review)


Here’s your 2016 NPM Blog Tour Button!