September 16, 2008

Poetry News

Dana Gioia is leaving his post at the National Endowment for the Arts in order to take a part-time position at the Aspen Institute, leaving him more time to work on his own writing. Best of luck to him and his future endeavors.

August 8, 2008

6 Weeks After the Wedding

No matter how I try
the apartment
stays cluttered
the boxes
stay packed
the thank-you notes
don't get written

And my mother won't
pick up the phone
because she's disgusted by
my failures as a housewife

May 6, 2008

State of my Art

With the academic year almost over and some major life changes about to happen, I've decided to take stock of my art, life, and the future.

1. NaPoWriMo
As you can tell, I didn't finish NaPoWriMo this year. This is because the last week of April also happened to be the first week of finals. The last weeks of the semester are always overwhelming, and I had to let something go. Nonetheless, I'm proud of the amount I managed to write, and I'm also pleased with the quality of at least some of the poems. So while not a completely successful attempt, good effort all around. I can't wait to try again next year!

2. Publication
The Case Reserve Review, the university's student-run literary magazine, published "Winter Storm, 2 a.m." I'm thrilled. That's all I really have to say about it; I'm just stoked that I published something so soon after starting to write again. Guess the extended vacation was good for me!

3. Workshopping
In April I joined the Fertile Ground workshopping site. While I admittedly didn't participate much last month (thanks again to finals), I'm looking forward to both giving and getting constructive feedback on my work.

4. What's Ahead in the Rest of my Life
Towards the end of April, I was offered a job as a research analyst with the Texas Center for Educational Research. I can't wait to start! This is my dream job, and while I'm nervous, I'm also excited.

As the job is in Austin, Texas, I of course have to move. Not that I'm particularly distraught about leaving snowy Cleveland (as you probably know from some of my poems). Yes, I'm going to miss my family, as well as important characteristics of my geography. However, I fell in love with Austin at first sight, and I look forward to building a life there.

So life is about to get pretty crazy. In two weeks, I make the move. And in those two weeks I have to get my grading done, pack, get my car tuned up, and finish planning my Cleveland wedding that I started planning before Austin was even a possibility. I start work on May 27th, and on June 28th I fly back for my wedding. So once July starts, I hope things will settle down a bit!

And I'm sure all the craziness will be good fodder for poetry . . .

April 22, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 22

Kitchen
I like my eggs fried
the way my mother makes them.
You only know how to scramble.

You won't mix meat and dairy
I won't mix yellow cheddar and green vegetables.
You don't eat pork
I don't eat chicken.

But all that matters is what we enjoy
together.
goat cheese, beer bread
coconut noodles, jasmine rice
garlic, alfredo sauce.
The rules of shared pleasure are easy to follow.

My mother never liked my ex
because he never had an appetite
for her feasts, he wasn't adventurous,
he had a dull palate, and
worst of all,
he never wanted seconds.

April 21, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 21

Accepting the Job Offer
Just a month to move
Time to be new again
Time to be unknown

April 20, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 20

Untitled Haiku
Preparing to move
I love what I am leaving
Bittersweet goodbye

April 19, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 19

Return
We shuffle through security and
fast food and delays.

And finally board
and wait, and suffocate,
and wait.

And finally re-learn the safety procedures
and taxi, and wait,
and suffocate.

Then the thrust happens -
the force of freedom.

And suddenly we rise
to meet the clouds,
to meet the wind.

We ascend towards home.


Belated NaPoWriMo Day 18

Dressing Room

The heat of performance
begins with makeup
and the softball-sized
incandescent frames
around the mirrors
that make sweat beads form
and ruin the blush and eyeshadow
before they're even completed

April 17, 2008

National Poetry Month: Poem In Your Pocket Day

April 17th is Poem in Your Pocket Day, a chance to share your favorite poem with everyone you see. I've chosen Mary Oliver's "Why I Wake Early" as the poem I keep in my pocket; I'll be carrying around copies on small index cards to trade with friends who are participating. I'm also posting "Why I Wake Early" here, along with some links to her books.

While I constantly acknowledge Walt Whitman as my favorite poet, Mary Oliver is such a close second that they might as well be tied. I first discovered Mary Oliver as a student at Kenyon College. I think I was a junior, but it may have been at the end of my sophomore year. The Kenyon Review office would have a 75% off book sale at the end of each semester, getting rid of old books and journals as a way to fundraise. I bought a copy of Owls and Other Fantasies at one of these sales and loved it from the first poem. Since then, I've expanded my Oliver collection, and continually turn to her writing as a source of enjoyment and inspiration. "Why I Wake Early" is one of my top-five favorite poems.

Why I Wake Early

by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun on my face
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the miserable and the crotchety--

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light--
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.




Click on the links to purchase Why I Wake Early, Owls and Other Fantasies, New and Selected Poems Volume 1, and New and Selected Poems Volume 2 from Barnes and Noble. (You can buy all of her books at B&N, but these three are the ones I consider essential for someone coming to Oliver's work for the first time.)

NaPoWriMo Day 17

Today's poem was created in response to the Poefusion prompt to write an abecedarius.

Untitled
As dawn breaks so does my fever,
back to the inner corners of my body
concealed in fat and consciousness
disguised as a bad dream.
Every time it emerges
fights flourish in my head
garish images swell and evolve
hallucinations overtake my subconscious.
In the morning, when the battle has faded
just as I do every morning, I
kick off the sheets
look for clean clothes
make tea.
No evidence of illness anywhere
other than in the memory of dreams.
Probably tonight will be different
quality sleep instead of a fevered fit
rest instead of confused somnambulism.
Someday I'll know what triggers these fevers.
Today I still don't
understand the combination of factors that causes
visits from chills and dreamed demons.
What does my body sometimes need to break?
Xenobiotic creatures in the blood, or bad habits of
youth taking their toll or an excess of
zeal for constant movement without pause?



April 16, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 16

Untitled

It took me too long to realize that I
don't take good pictures 'cause I
have the kind of beauty that moves


But the subject doesn't take the picture
the picture takes you
and if your soul cannot sit still
the camera will (in fact) try its best
to form a semblance of your essence
but when the lens only looks at you
for a fraction of a second
it is not allowed enough information
to create an accurate representation

But do not try to settle your soul
despite the cliché
a picture is worthless,
too easily manipulated
by light and pixels
by liquid and software.
So even if your spirit could be captured
who knows what would be done to it afterwards?



National Poetry Month: Poetry Daily

Poetry Daily is an ever-expanding online anthology of contemporary poetry. A new poem is featured on the site every day. I have their poem-a-day in my RSS reader, which allows me to constantly discover new poets and keep up with current poems. You can also sign up for a free weekly newsletter to keep up with current poetry news.

As a (soon-to-be-defunct) academic, I feel that teachers place a lot of emphasis on the historical and ignore the contemporary. Now, of course there is value in teaching the classics, and knowing poetic history. However, I think it's also important to keep up with current writing trends and know more about current authors and publications. Poetry Daily is one of my favorite resources for contemporary poetry.

You can find out about supporting Poetry Daily here.

April 15, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 15

Finally caught up! Hooray!

Untitled (Portrait)
He is an expert in idealism
not academically, but
his whole self is trapped
in his bleeding-hearted passion

How does he know nothing of cynicism?
How are his illusions
so perfectly preserved in
the burning arrows of statistics,
of polished rhetoric, of thorough research?

He is forty-five and somehow lacks
any experience beyond
his library card and internet connection
but for all his reading
he limits himself to agreements
can't finish a work of dissent.

No job, never a job
dropped out at sixteen
welfare kept him out of hunger
since his father's death five years ago
Welfare, the single greatest
anti-poverty tool in history
after social security, that is

Perhaps the most privileged poor person
on earth, he survives by needing
only books, only chat rooms
only ramen, only cigarettes
like a college student, but
knowing even less,
learning even less,
trying even less



National Poetry Month: Poets.org

Poets.org is the official website of the Academy of American Poets. The site was launched in 1996, and features archives of poems, poetry readings, interviews, essays, and biographies. In addition, teachers can find lesson plans to help them celebrate National Poetry Month, as well as teaching poetry in their classrooms on a regular basis. I also love the interactive features of the site. The Poetry Map is a great way to find out more about poetry events in your area. My favorite features, however, is the Notebook. You can register for account and use this feature to set up your own personal poetry archive. Poets.org is an all-around fantastic site for students, teachers, and regular readers.

Click here to learn more about donating to Poets.org.

Belated NaPoWriMo Day 14

A picture is worth a thousand of you, apparently. But captions never contain that many. I don't think a caption contains more than fifty words. Perhaps some do: the pretentious ones. But those aren't really captions, then, they're more like titles. My photography teacher never allowed us to title (caption?) our work. He thought all forms of written description were pretentious. And we were high school students, the most pretentious people of all. I guess he helped us out a little. He also didn't allow us to shoot things straight-on. Our subject always had to be a little to the left or the right of the frame. We were in high school, we were taking an art class, we all wanted to be ex-centric, at least he allowed us that. My boyfriend hated the rule, but I understood where the teacher was coming from. At least, I understand now. You sometimes have to give your students ridiculous rules in order to get them to do anything even remotely right. In this case, he wanted some semblance of artistry (just without the pretension). Even artists need rules. Sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, lunes, they're all just jumbles of rules. But I will always feel like a dilletante because I have never mastered the rules of poetry. Nor did I ever really master the rules of photography. At least my subjects were always eccentric. They still are, although I fear that without the guide of a teacher I am starting to slip into pretension. But at least we had rules. Sometimes, I am acutely aware that rules exist but I never know what they are, I cannot articulate them. Once I tried to figure out and follow the rules of fiction and my readers mocked me for being so generic. And yet they find the fictions of my life convincing. When I lie, I seem to be able to follow these unspoken words that I cannot reproduce. And people believe the lies because they believe I cannot write fiction. They also trust me because I am loud. The quiet ones, those are the ones to watch out for, my sociology professor said. Because you never know what they are thinking. Us loud folks, on the other hand, we put everything out there. We don't even keep our own secrets. Of course you trust us, there's obviously nothing hidden behind that big mouth. As if us loud folks were too stupid to know when to speak and when not to. We're smarter than the quiet ones. You think you can trust us but that blabber is just a disguise. Underneath the pile of words hide all of our real secrets. Someday, I might just tell you a secret, and you'd probably never even notice. Maybe you wouldn't even hear it. Maybe you won't be listening when I say it over the phone. Perhaps your focus will be elsewhere when I'm saying it to your face. Perhaps you'll skim the words in the letter. You never ask to read my writing, anyway. You've never seen a single one of my poems. Writing is frivolous to you. Typing, on the other hand, is a different story. Typing is work. Work means things are being accomplished. Writing, on the other hand, is a pretentious weight upon time, time is money, money is work. Writing is not work. Writing produces nothing but more words, empty filler words to cover a page. Waste of disk space, waste of ink, waste of bandwidth. Art to you is not representational. It is nothing but empty titles and captions. Word filler. Perhaps I will cover my body with tattoos. With inked-on words that mark me like a paper page. That consist of nothing but art. You will never look at me again. You will never touch me again. We will part ways. Will you miss me? Will I miss you? At first, yes. But I will have my art. When I started practicing again I started losing my dependence. I didn't cling as much. Have you ever noticed? Perhaps you don't like art because you think it takes me away from you. But I would be more faithful if you loved my art as much as you love the rest of me. Because if you don't even love any art at all you can't really love me. What takes place between us, I think, is just romantic filler. Devouring our time and our space. I wonder what would happen if you tried to write a poem. Or take a photograph. Maybe it would make things worse; you've never been one for developing empathy. And you're a sore loser, to boot. I think I would love you if you loved art and therefore loved me. But if that were the case you would be a completely different person, a person I cannot even imagine, and therefore I cannot know if I could actually love you in different circumstances, because you wouldn't be you. I can only love or not love you, existing now. I can only know what I know; even imagination has its limitations. I am limited by choices, and sometimes I choose not to make choices, and therefore decide indirectly. Art is nothing but choices. Endless choices. Everything is possible, even if you are broke. I wish I had realized that before. I had no money (I still have no money), but I could have made it happen if I wanted to. Perhaps I didn't really want to. Or perhaps I really was that naïve, to believe nothing happened without money. I'd like to think I was naïve. Better than lacking drive. What is it that you lack, exactly? You don't lack money, that's for sure. I wish I could think that you're actually naïve. I wish I could think more highly of you. I wonder if it could be said that you've taught me anything. I heard with every broken heart we should become more adventurous. With love.



April 14, 2008

Belated NaPoWriMo Day 13

Catching up slowly but surely, but it may be a few more days. Poem #14 is an ambitious attempt at a prose poem, which isn't my forte to begin with, so it's taking awhile.

Poem #13 is another lune, this time counting words rather than syllables (both are technically correct). It's also a fulfillment of the Blog Eat Blog World/Manic Monday meme for "Bud." I've been RSS-ing this site's feeds for awhile, but this is the first time I've actually had a prompt done on Monday. . . .


Buds
out too early
frozen in the cold snap
maybe next year . . .



National Poetry Month: Poetry 180

Still behind on my writing . . . I decided I really wanted a good night's sleep so I would be alert for my 9 a.m. presentation. Maybe I can get it together this evening . . . Anyway, here is another entry in celebration of National Poetry Month.

I enjoy Billy Collins' poetry, but even more, I'm a fan of the work he did during his tenure as Poet Laureate of the United States. One of his creations was Poetry 180, a poem-a-day for the 180 days of the high-school year. Perhaps my favorite thing about this electronic collection is that Collins selected poems designed to be listened to. This makes it easier to incorporate a poem a day into a high school English class. No need to worry about photocopying enough copies for all your students, or whether or not your anthology contains the poem in question. It's right on the screen, and you can print it and read it to your class each day (or have a different student read a poem each day). Plus (assuming your school has internet access or you can print the poem at home), it's a direct way to bring the arts into public schools without worrying about funding issues. The status of arts-related education is always tenuous in public schools, but Poetry 180 is a great way to give students a little more access to art.

April 13, 2008

Belated NaPoWriMoDay 12

Things I Will Miss
Life starting over as summer ends
Cooking dinner at midnight
3 a.m. guitar lessons
Beer hour
Afternoons of nothing but frisbee
Whole days of shared procrastination
The old year ending with the freshness of spring

Belated NaPoWriMo Day 11

Between it being my birthday this weekend, our internet going out on Saturday, and a project due tomorrow morning, I've slacked on writing and blogging. I'm trying to catch up before bed . . .

This poem was created from the Poefusion prompt to write a lune.

Morning After

Party is over
Kitchen is clean
Back to work again


April 10, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 10

Perhaps we should start
dressing up for flights again
and send the message that
we care, we are important
we are not numb and anonymous
(no matter how much we feel that way)

Perhaps we should put on
suits and ties
and even hats, although
they might be considered a safety risk
And maybe our stockings would run
going shoeless through security
and ruin the effect a bit
But when we look like we don't care
how we are treat
we feed the lumbering monster of airline apathy

Perhaps it is time to
dress for respect -
class action.

National Poetry Month: Protest Poems

Protest Poems is not your run-of-the-mill prompt and share community. Subtitling itself "Writing Exercises with Meaning!," each month there is a new protest-inspired prompt (currently, the prompt is "Women's Voices"). They don't call for preaching or propaganda, but instead are devoted to the pursuit of free speech and human rights. After writing about the prompt, you can submit the poem for inclusion in an unedited compilation designed to spread the solidarity of unified voices standing up for human rights. Protest Poems makes a great effort to combine art and activism.

Protest Poems also has a PayPal account to which you can donate $1 to help defray administrative costs.

Belated NaPoWriMo Day 9

I actually did write this yesterday, but between my job interview and celebrating with a friend, I haven't spent much time around a computer.

Anyway, yesterday's poem comes from a prompt posted by Poefusion last week. The challenge was to do a 13-part poem akin to Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." Since I've spent the past two days in Austin visiting, doing a job interview, and putting down a deposit for an apartment, I did a 13-part series about the city.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Austin
1. Lone-star state.
I may never see
a star again
with all the light pollution downtown.

2. As a child I thought
you only went to warm places
on vacation.
It still feels strange thinking
my life will always
be a vacation.

3. I was home before
I decided to move here.

4. I can see the congressional building
from the airplane.
I don't know if you care
but for some inarticulate reason
it's significant.

5. The first thing I notice when
I go for a walk in her
neighborhood is that
there aren't any sidewalks.

6. I was surprised to find
that some trees here
lost their leaves during the winter.

7. I work so far north
it's practically in Round Rock
but still
I'm here.

8. I wonder if the ballroom costume
I saw for sixty dollars
in a South Congress thrift store sixteen months ago
will still be there when I move permanently.

9. New Year's Eve was
enchiladas
and organic pink champagne in cans.

10. I have grown up with
the world's worst drivers
and longest construction projects.
Texas highways are not match for me.

11. New York has everyone.
That is its problem.
Seattle has everyone that can't afford New York.
That is its problem.
I'm not interested in people and their problems.

12. It's not a zip code, it's a way of life.

13. I write as an outsider.
What do I actually know?
I only see what I see.
I'm still a pale midwesterner.
Looking.


April 9, 2008

National Poetry Month: GotPoetry.com

GotPoetry.com is your basic bulletin board system (BBS), this one of course being devoted to poetry. While I prefer blogs to BBSs, I think this is a pretty nice site for reading and workshopping. One of the things I like is the number of categories available. That way, if you're looking to workshop something in a very specific style, you can be sure to hit the right audience (although I'm partial to letting people outside your poetic audience critique your work). GotPoetry.com has over 5,000 members, and while I can't tell how many are regular and active, that does mean a pretty good potential readership to critique your work. If you're a fan of the BBS-style communication, this site is definitely for you.

April 8, 2008

National Poetry Month: Poets and Writer's Registry

I found out about the Poets and Writers Registry yesterday when I was checking my backlogged RSS feeds. I found the site through a post in Poets Who Blog, which is another one of my recent reading interests. The Poets and Writers Registry began on Facebook, but now is an independent site. It's only a couple of months old and has a small membership so far, but more and more people have been joining. I like the groups available so far, and I look forward to seeing what develops. I admit I'm a bit of a lurker right now; coming out of a hiatus, I feel like I've lost my voice in more ways than one, and I'm hesitant to do a lot of talking right now. I'm sort of observing and re-learning. But I think the Registry will be a great place for me to start contributing and helping, especially because they're so small, and I'm not going to feel as intimidated when jumping in. I think that the Poets and Writers Registry has the makings of a great resource, and I encourage you to join.

NaPoWriMo Day 8

8 a.m. Central Time
After sixteen months of distance
including eight months of complete silence
I am brushing my teeth
in your same (yet changed) apartment.
Did you have the warning signs
for your birth control pills
taped to the mirror before?
It's been too long and I don't remember
or maybe I just didn't notice last year.

I wonder at your paranoia
until I realize how often
I experience these symptoms
and they are a weak threat at best.

In fact, I have legt pain right now
it comes once a week
I'm a dancer, I hurt,
it's not a waiting clot.
And those headaches-
still, an aneurysm would hurt more
and anyway,
you don't get monthly aneurysms.
Insomnia, weakness, fatigue
those are all symptoms
of my workaholism
not hormone-induced depression.

I can't worry-
life is simply endemic
to headaches, anxiety.
I wonder why you worry
and whether in those dead-air months
you had reason to be scared.

But we are here now
we are in health now
and whatever pain we've caused
is over.
And there will be more months
and eventually more separation
but we will keep our voices
and our stories and our laughter.
And you will put my poems
on your mirror, near
the warning signs, not
obscuring them but
making them share a space.

April 7, 2008

National Poetry Month: Poetry Collections by Women

In honor of it being both National Poetry Month and Women's History Month, I bring you a poetry resource that encompasses both!

I discovered Poetry Collections by Women last week as I was exploring various poetry blogs and other sites. Poetry Collections by Women began in January of this year as a resource for people who want to learn more about the books and individual poems that women are publishing. While the blog is still developing, it boasts a list of female poets and related resources, as well as a helpful FAQ for new readers. I look forward to seeing how this blog develops in the future.

NaPoWriMo Day 7

Early April
Spring now, but the trees
are still emaciated
from their winter sleep


April 6, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 6

Untitled
I've never liked to imitate
The copy ends up second-rate
I don't seem to have a choice
I can't write in another voice
I only speak in my own voice

I am writing for myself and strangers

I don't consider it flattery
but rather a form of battery
Creating tone-deaf off-key noise
I can't write in another voice
I only speak in my own voice

I am writing for myself and strangers

An exercise in futility
Inhibits my ability
Ad with confidence I rejoice
I can't write in another voice
I only speak in my own voice

I am writing for myself and strangers

Belated NaPoWriMo Day 5

I've had friends in from out of town this weekend, so not much time for writing or posting. Hopefully, I'll get caught up on poems by the end of today, as tomorrow night I head out to Austin for a job interview and a little fun as well. So here is "yesterday's" poem, and in theory I'll have today's up later tonight after I get some homework done. The poem was inspired by this week's ReadWritePoem challenge, which is "Aunt." Rather than writing about one of my relatives, I'm writing this about myself. I'm not an aunt (yet, and possibly never), but I'd like to be one. I use the poem to explore my lack of interest in being a mother, but still wanting to have ties to family.

Childfree
I never wanted a
soft, new, innocent
diapered midnight feeding
of my own

And I would gladly give my
healthy, superfluous ovaries
to an infertile woman
who has use for them

My maternal instinct is not
a deep commitment but
a short-term rental
varying based on context

My love works best
with distance
without dependence
mainly holidays and birthdays

My babies are my
puppies
my books
my career

I only have time
for so much creation
I can't focus
on infinite priorities

And I am content
in fact, fulfilled
to dwell in the margins
of extended family





April 4, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 4

This is definitely not finished, but the best I'm going to get today. I decided I wanted to write a drinking song for my friends in my M.A. program, akin to this song from Kenyon College. I borrowed the song's rhyme scheme, and one day I'd like to set this to music. But I'm not thrilled with the words at this point; it doesn't accomplish what I want, although I can't really define what that is at the moment. I just know it's not there yet.

Song for the Fourth Floor

As we learned paleaography
Camaraderie was formed
And up on the fourth floor
Our feelings were warmed
Now with our two years ending
We're going separate ways
But have beer-filled memeories
for the rest of our days

Drink to methodology
Millay and good company
Drinking in unison
Dortmunder and Hoegaarden

Some now will leave for Ph.D.s
The whits will carry on
The rest scramble to find jobs
Let's savor what will soon be gone
We've suffered through our studies
Jacques Derrida and Freud
But together we have made it through
And now head into the future's void

Drink to methodology
Millay and good company
Drinking in unison
Dortmunder and Hoegaarden

April 3, 2008

NaPoWriMo Day 3: The Professors

This poem was inspired by the Read.Write.Poem "eavesdropping" prompt and some interesting professors I listened to at lunch yesterday.

The Professors
Cleveland, Ohio. Lunchtime. A Lebanese restaurant. Hummus, falafel, schwarma. A philosopher, a lawyer, a political scientist, an historian, an economist. No, it's not a joke.

Undergraduates need experiential learning. We don't have a study abroad office. We have a study abroad closet in the basement of an administrative building, filled with dubious brochures at least five years out of date. The university prevents them from leaving, anyway; too many requirements to fulfill here. I don't believe in so many requirements. Says the man who went to the University of Chicago. You're right; I should have gone to Brown. I think study abroad programs should be the responsibility of individual departments. Break it up, get involved, help them go. This can't be all they see.

A little pita left on the table. Ice melting in glasses. The bill is paid with a Visa. The meal is over but the camaraderie is endless. It carries the conversation away from the smell of tahini and towards the smell of asphalt and Euclid Avenue's perpetual reconstruction.



National Poetry Month: Poets Against War

Well, only 3 days in and already I have a case of writer's block . . . nonetheless, here is my link of the day. Hopefully writing about poetry will give me some inspiration . . .

I'm sure many of you have at least heard of Poets Against War. The organization was born in 2003, in response to George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. I heard about Poets Against War about a year after it was established. I was a sophomore at Kenyon College, taking a poetry workshop from the wonderful Jerry Harp. In the workshop, he told us about how he had published two poems ("Creature in a Time of War" and "The Creature Enraged") on the site. He didn't get too political about it, but wanted to show us the ways in which we could use our writing outside of the classroom. Admittedly, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it at that point. At Kenyon it was easy for me to avoid the news, politics, and just about anything that was happening outside of quiet Gambier, Ohio. But in the past five years, as I've started to pay more attention to what is happening in the world, I also started focusing more on activism through art. I'd like to submit something to Poets Against War when I'm ready to try publishing again (at least, outside of student publications). One of the reasons I felt frustrated before my hiatus was because I didn't feel like my work was actually doing anything other than just existing. Not that it's been easy to just jump into activist/political poetry now that I've started writing again. But one of my goals for this month is to do a political poem of some kind. Even if it's not publishable, I need to start working at it.

Click here if you're interested in donating to Poets Against War.

April 2, 2008

National Poetry Month: Darwinian Poetry

Today's link is a blast from the past. In my sophomore year of college (fall semester 2003), my mother forwarded me a link to Darwinian Poetry. Using a random word generator to create nonsensical jumbles, users select the jumble they like best. Non-selected "poems" die out while selected ones combine together and hopefully begin to make more sense. Playing with the site took up a lot of boring class time (my pre-calculus class met in the computer lab), but eventually I started taking more interesting classes, getting busy with homework and other activities, and I lost track of the site for a good 4 years. But in thinking about National Poetry Month, I got inspired to see if the site still existed and worked. And I'm rediscovering how fun it is.

NaPoWriMo Day 2

Untitled
Her boyfriend decides that
they should have seven babies
within eight years
starting in 2011
when he is only twenty-four
and still in graduate school.

I try to reason with him
but only communicate in the
truncated, voiceless fragments
of text message.
And can only argue
"that's nearly a decade without a drink!"

Because dreams love to limit you
so you become too stupid to
realize you should call.
And with that stupidity comes
a loss of rhetorical grace
and beer becomes a better bargaining chip
than your friend's health or happiness.

As if waking hours did not
challenge us enough
our dreams want to keep us
in shape for the trials ahead.
In my dreams I give in
to my frustrations and
follow them blindly into morning.



April 1, 2008

National Poetry Month: The Walt Whitman Archive

In addition to writing a poem a day this month, I want to use National Poetry Month as the impetus to get another feature of this blog off the ground. I don't want this blog just to be a place for my own poetry, but also for linking to other poets and sharing resources. But I just haven't gotten that aspect of this blog together yet. But because it's National Poetry Month, I'm making a commitment to blogging about other poets, organizations, etc. I don't know if I'll do one of these entries every day this month, but at least I'll get started.

What better way to start off this series than with something related to my favorite poet? The Walt Whitman Archive is a site devoted to archiving Whitman's poetry and prose, as well as images, audio recordings, and criticism. Furthermore, it's open-access, meaning you don't need a library or university subscription in order to make use of the information found here. If you use the Archive as a research tool, you still need to cite it as a reference, of course. And although it's open-access, the material isn't completely up for grabs; you still need to get permission to use images. But I think the Archive does a great job of balancing free access with their own rights. This is one of my favorite poetry-related sites. If you're also a fan, consider financial support for the Archive. They have some big-name donors such as the U.S. Department of Education, but every little bit helps.

NaPoWriMo Day 1

I can explain my 20-day absence . . . . March contained a weeklong comprehensive exam for my M.A., and then of course I had to catch up on everything I put off while I was taking said comprehensive exam. Which left me little time for writing or blogging.

But today marks the first day of National Poetry Month, and therefore the first day of NaPoWriMo, where you write a poem a day for the duration of the month. I'll be participating, and I'll also be posting every poem I write for NaPoWriMo, regardless of what I think about it.

Below is my first NaPoWriMo poem. Ohio and winter have figured quite a bit into my poetry lately. In a few months, I'll leave the state where I've spent all 24 years of my life and move to Austin, Texas. While I look forward to the move (especially after this year's frustrating winter), of course I'm going to miss home. And while I don't plan to take up permanent residence in Ohio after I leave, I also know I won't be saying goodbye, because I have family and friends here and will want to return. And the Totally Optional Prompts challenge for this week is regional poetry, which gave me even more reason to do another Ohio poem.


Can't Say Goodbye
I'm leaving.
But that doesn't mean I won't return.

Just because I'm heading for
winterless winters
and cars without a salty coat
doesn't mean that (someday)
I won't miss the glassy texture
of our ice storms.

While I'm off to
April not saturated with mud and melting
and even-seamed transitions between seasons
(sooner or later) I'll come around
to the deific glory
of our blizzards

Although I'm running towards
trees that don't turn their colors
and sandals in December
(eventually) I'll feel nostalgic
for the breathtaking bitterness
of a sub-zero day.

I'm leaving.
But that doesn't mean I won't long for
the triumph of standing outside
barefoot for the first time in months
knowing it's finally spring
after the aching, erratic winter


March 10, 2008

Just in Time for ReadWritePoem #16

The theme for ReadWritePoem #16 is repetition. And one of my favorite repetitions is found in Virginia Woolf's Orlando: "Orlando had so ordered it that she was in an extremely happy position; she need neither fight her age, nor submit to it; she was of it, yet remained herself. Now, therefore, she could write, and write she did. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote" (p. 266 in the 1956 HBJ printing). I've taken the passages ending repetition and made it my own, using the very repetitive form of the villanelle.

Untitled
Whether in a novel or a note
no matter what the content or the form
She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote.

As if her thoughts were memorized by rote
they poured forth in a literary storm
whether in a novel or a note

Covering the paper with a coat
of inked ideas colorful and warm
She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote.

Spoken from hands rather than from throat
For both creative effort and reform
whether in a novel or a note

And with her pen she edited and smote
stereotypes, and challenged social norms
She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote.

A thought is power, agency, a vote
linguistic acts she needed to perform
whether in a novel or a note
She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote. She wrote.

Second Attempt at a Triolet

Well, I realized that my first attempt at a triolet didn't follow the form quite right. So I gave it another go.

Untitled
I have a story never to be told;
it always ends up lost in the translation;
coherence falls away as I grow old.
I have a story. Never to be told
in this life, a life that's getting cold.
But fueled by the authorial obligation
I have. A story never to be told -
it always ends up lost in the translation.

February 24, 2008

ReadWritePoem: Weather

I just needed 3 lines to explain why Ohio frustrates me so much . . . .


Ohio, Late Winter

The ice melts, the buds
emerge, the sun shines at last
and the freeze returns


ReadWritePoem: Weather

I just needed 3 lines to explain why Ohio frustrates me so much . . . .


Ohio, Late Winter

The ice melts, the buds
emerge, the sun shines at last
and the freeze returns


February 23, 2008

ReadWritePoem: Ode to the Body

I don't think I really followed the prompt per se, but I like the direction this took.

Tattoo

My mother says that my
inky, artificial scar
corrupts my body
That a picture as tiny
as a quarter tarnishes
my formerly flawless skin
That the permanence of a mark
means I've been ruined
reduced to a design

I say that we all have
the power to signify
be both signifier and signified
And the beauty is that we
can choose our representations
give our bodies another voice
And I celebrate my
inky, artificial scar
for its sign and my choice


Untitled

I have tried to tell stories
I have tried to reveal
the conflicts and
the actions
the mysteries and
the resolutions

I have tried to give histories
I have tried to uncover
the truths and
the misrememberings
the overt symbols and
the hidden meanings

I have failed to make epics
I have failed to recover
the myths and
the philosophies
the mistakes and
the revisions

I have tried but failed
I have revealed but hidden
I have made but broken
our ideas and interactions
our memories and moments
our facts and our fictions

February 20, 2008

First Attempt at a Triolet

I just learned about the triolet form a few weeks ago, and I've been meaning to try it. I certainly haven't perfected the form in one shot, but this was fun and I look forward to trying again.

Triolet #1
I gave up my literary voice
for the sake of extra education.
Thinking that I didn't have a choice
I gave up. My literary voice
was sent away; I failed to rejoice
in my academic suffocation.
I gave up. My Literary Voice
was nothing but a tepid imitation.

February 18, 2008

Heart

My meat keeps moving without rest or pause
Life goes on without overt instruction
I'm thankful that my heart keeps up the cause.

Each moment governed by minutest laws
Each part's function cannot be elective
My meat keeps moving without rest or pause.

We try to fix ourselves with pills and gauze
And work to heal each part for the collective
I'm thankful that my heart keeps up the cause.

Avoiding death, its permanence, its jaws
Fate's practices we know are not selective
My meat keeps moving without rest or pause.

Too much focus on supposed flaws
Gratitude would work as a corrective
I'm thankful that my heart keeps up the cause.

I've learned to appreciate because
Each survival gives me fresh perspective
My meat keeps moving without rest or pause
I'm thankful that my heart keeps up the cause.

February 2, 2008

Poem for ReadWritePoem

I just discovered ReadWritePoem this week, and I've written a poem on the current prompt, which is "clothing." I'm not totally satisfied with it, but I don't hate it. It needs more work, and verse isn't my strong suit, but it felt right. I'll probably revise it eventually, but right now my brain wants me to put it down for a few days.

(P.S. - I'm probably not going to have a poem for Totally Optional Prompts this week. It's just not working out. There's a difference for me with not being satisfied with a poem but willing to post it anyway, and truly disliking the work you've done.)

Simplified Weekends

Weekends dictated
by just four things
tea and pajamas
coffee and jeans.

Waking or writing
guided, it seems,
by denim or flannel
two kinds of caffeine.

Work means polyester,
makeup, and rings.
Water from coolers,
food in vending machines,

florescent lighting
unflattering beams.
Day job is practical
but won't fulfill dreams.

So to recover
from all weekly things:
tea and pajamas
coffee and jeans.

January 30, 2008

Winter Storm, 2 a.m.

Power is out and
the trees are scratching to
come in and
escape the wind

When I leave the house I
will see their iced arms
broken on the sidewalk and
be sorry I could not
open up the door for them

I'll end up carrying this
weighty chill all day
I won't be able to shake it
from my back and
won't be able to
smother it with sweaters

January 29, 2008

Cleveland, 7 a.m.

What have I done to deserve
the penal cold of
Ohio January?

The bathroom window is opaque
with ice which
makes this morning
all the more desperate
I can sense the sun but
cannot remove the thick
solid veil from my eyes

My gloves won't match today because
it was dark and I overslept
and I don't have time to
search for the coordinates

I hate being lonely and
I hate being cold and
it has been years since I
have been lonely but
oh I am cold

January 21, 2008

Sonnet for Totally Optional Prompts

I found out about Totally Optional Prompts a few months ago, and I've even written a couple of poems based on the prompts, but this week will be the first one where I actually get around to posting something. Prompts are released on Saturday, and on Thursday the Call for Poems appears. This week's prompt was "sonnet," and so on Thursday I will be posting my take there. But here's an advanced posting.


The Design of Poetry

Does form follow function
or the other way around?
Design is a conjunction
of elements well-round
How is poetry designed
with such limited uses?
Why will we not be consigned
to engage with other muses?

To others we might seem engaged
in frivolous exercise -
in esoteric forms engaged -
but they do not realize
we write for ourselves alone
for our own souls are these words sown

January 17, 2008

First Post!

So welcome to my poetry blog. This first entry will not have any poetry in it. And in fact, most of my poetry isn't that good, so you should feel lucky that I spared you on the first entry (no, really, I'm not fishing for compliments, I kinda stink). But I feel like subjecting the internet to my creativity, such as it is, so here you go. I will probably also be putting up other people's poetry from time to time (expect a lot of Whitman posts when I'm stressed out and need a bit of optimism in my day).