Wednesday, April 26, 2017

So much depends

so much depends
a little boy
held in my arms,
so many hours to go
before he sleeps,

so many hours to go
before he sleeps.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Crepuscular Poem-ideas

I shall read poetry only in the morning,
writing some of my own thoughts as they pass
my way.  Plucking ideas out of the air;
motes back-scattering words in the opalescent window frame.

Poem-ideas always seem to change when seen
from different angles in fading dust-light.
What could be better than a dog, cuppa,
and the sunrise and the still of the house, and
the periodic hum of the refrigerator?

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Suburban Spring Evening

"Love is the last light spoken."

I'm either too tired or drunk
to continue reading poetry by the dying
Spring day light; waning
as evening approaches the gloaming
sun dims.

I can still see the blossoming
plum tree across the street, exploding
whites and dusky yellows iridescent
against drab background of model homes.

Listen.  The sun is setting in suburbia
and children are finishing their Sunday evening movies.  Listen.

I turn to poets' voices reading to me.

Dylan Thomas awakes me to the vivid 
and wild  barbaric nature of poetry (of words);
stirs me to the quick.

Robert Frost brings me down to the synecdoche
of poetry; the whole of his experiences
and his woods.  I prefer reading Frost while it storms outside,

horizontal rain obstructing my view of blossoming plum trees.

W.H. Auden elevates and stirs my imagination:
the pomp and circumstance and traditionalism.
Hearing his voice reciting villanelles
speaking to the importance of simplicity and a simpler era;
staves off chaos with reverence.

I shall learn my mother-tongue.

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 4, 2017: Thunder-snow 49 years later

for Martin

Thunder startles the sky
reminding me that you were shot today.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness."

Can thunder, lightning, tempestuous rain?

I've never seen snow fall after thunder
cracked the sky; shattered into a spiderweb
of fear and hate.  Thunder-snow?
Snow acting as an acoustic suppressor,
dampening my experience, telling it is close.
You were suppressed.  You were close to achieving
justice everywhere.  Thunder-snow.

Nothing is more dangerous than silence.

I can't see through the snow-rain.
I can't see where I'm going.
I listen and keep moving forward.
The earth grows loud.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Emerging Now

It has been one week since my last post and two weeks since my last posted poem.  I am emerging now from a deep study of sound and rhythm.  I have been binge-listening (following along faithfully) to the Caedmon recordings of Dylan Thomas's poetry.  I have always been mesmerized by his voice, such a booming baritone for such a shy poet.  I felt that I needed to listen to him in his entirety when I stumbled upon these albums.  How could I not peek in on the hunchback in the park as he eats bread from a newspaper?  How could I pass on the opportunity to tour Fern's Hill and Sir John's Hill?  I have never traveled to Wales, but I felt myself transported to Loughharne with each poem; especially "Poem on his Birthday" and "Poem in October."  The best part of these recordings is that they are the poems that Thomas wanted people to hear and read.  I have always been a Thomas fan; his language and metaphor exquisite!  But I wanted a deeper dive into his use of sound, alliteration, assonance, and consonance.  I mean, who else write and speaks lines like these?

"Man be my metaphor."
"Now I am a man no more no more"
"seesaw Sunday nights"
"midlife mourn"
"tumbledown tongue"

His poetry can quicken and slow down immediately with his tongue-twisting language! Thomas' use of the personification of time as an omnipresent, binding force is mesmerizing.

Read this from "Fern Hill":

"Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes"


"Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means"

When I sat in my chair these last weeks, listening to his roaring roll of a voice, I began to really understand the intentionality of language in poetry. Poets use words and language to discuss and interpret their thoughts and feelings and interactions with the world around them.  Poets, especially Dylan Thomas, choose words pack a powerful punch and crafts lines that could not be written in any other way.  For example,

"When black birds died like priests in the cloaked hedge row"

What an image!  So, I am emerging once again with a renewed reverence for the language and imagery that I use in my poetry.  Dylan Thomas loves and reveres language.  He "cared for the colours the words cast on [his] eyes (Thomas, 1951).  He knew that he "must live with [words] and in them, always: a "writer of words" (Thomas, 1951).  He played with language, dragging up images from the depths of his mind in order to see how they would look and sound on the paper.  Listening to his voice reminded me of his 'imaginative purpose, which is to write the best poem he can" (Thomas, 1951).

I enjoy poetry.  I enjoy reading and writing poetry.  I feel that I can communicate through poetry.  My hope for the rest of the poems I post here, is that you, too, will enjoy them, because that is all that matters.  I will work hard at crafting my images and alluding to other moments only when absolutely necessary.  I promise not to just throw in an obscure Greek or Biblical reference!  I will concentrate more on how my poetry sounds, as well as how it rests on the page.  I may not be able to write a successful villanelle, but I will write more and more and more!

Saturday, April 08, 2017

What's next?

It has been a week since my last Project: #UndiscoveredPoetry post.  I reflected on the process and took some time to figure out where to take this blog in the future.  April is #NationalPoetryMonth, which is always exciting.  When I was creating Project: Undiscovered Poetry, I purposely placed it in March so that I could give myself a nice head-start moving into April.  That is exactly what has happened!

Even though I have not posted any complete poems in the last week, that does not mean that I have not continued reading and writing poetry.  In fact, taking the pressure of posting every day has allowed me to go back to some of my favorite poets and spend more time diving into their work.  I am continuing to push myself to write every day, even if that means just journaling my thoughts, with the hope that I can mine through various entries for some precious poetry gold.  I am happy with a few images and ideas for poems that have come up in the last week.  So, what's next?

I would like to continue using this blog as a platform for improving my poetry.  Although I did not receive a huge amount of feedback, the feedback I did receive was valuable and I got better as a writer.  I wish we all had access to our own personal community of editors and copywriters and creative writing teachers; where we could workshop our writing from the comfort of our homes and coffee shops.  I think there is a need for this.  Sure, there are online writing courses and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that aspiring writers can sign up for.  Unfortunately, many cost money to enroll, and more often than not, we all cannot invest 20-30 hours per week for entire semester in order to learn all the ins and outs of creative writing.  Yes, that would be fantastic!  I love being a student, but when it comes to writing poetry, I love diving in to each other's work, making meaning, offering suggestions, and rewriting.  There is something satisfying about the creative writing workshop process that I would love to create here on this blog.

So, my plan is to continue posting poems that may or may not be finished.  I will continue to solicit feedback from anyone out there reading.  Please feel free to leave any comments that will move the poem forward.

I am going to continue researching the possibility of self-publishing a book of poetry, since that was the original endpoint for Project: #UndiscoveredPoetry.  I am not sure if that means using Amazon's self-publishing services, or possibly submitting some poems to journals and various writing contests. That is another world that I know very little about, so I will be taking some risks putting my poetry in front of specific editors.  We shall see...

In the meantime, thank you for all of your continued support and feedback.  I'd love to figure out a way that you can also share your undiscovered poetry with me and others in this budding community.  Perhaps you can start by leaving a poem in the comments section, asking for feedback?  I would love to read what you all have written, paying it forward for reading my poetry.  No matter what happens though, we all need to keep writing!  Write through the writer's block, even if it's crap, it is still writing and you are still improving as an writer.

I will be posting soon!


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Project: Undiscovered, a Reflection

When I started this project, my goal was to self-publish 31 poems in one month.  I wanted to force myself to get my poetry out into the open.  I thought that National Poetry Month eve was the best time to launch my poetry, hopefully soliciting writing advice from all over the world.  It is now April 1 and I posted my 31st poem yesterday morning.

I did not receive the amount of writing advice that I was hoping for.  In fact, when one writes a poem and shows it to another person, there is a moment when you feel both confident in your words and completely terrified that you are an absolutely terrible writer.  It is an odd paradox.  By forcing myself to write an original poem each day, I concentrated these feelings, slowly building up a tolerance to my dependency on the outcome.  I started letting go.  Each day, I let another poem go, releasing it into the void and cosmos of the Internet.  Some days, I released a poem that I had been holding onto for many, many years.  Some days, I wrote feverishly and let the poem go quickly, almost throwing it out into the open.  At first, I cringed each time I clicked PUBLISH.  Then, I realized that it would be less painful to schedule the release of each poem, and just watch them go out on their own.  Each day, however, this project forced me to let go, and had the unintended consequence of completely letting go of my original goal: to publish.

I felt that the more feedback I received, the stronger the poems would become, and the better writer I would become.  However true that statement may be, I became a stronger writer by doing just that: writing.  I wrote every day this month.  One week into March, I began flipping through some of my favorite poets for inspiration: Whitman, Hughes, Yeats.  I pulled down some anthologies that I hadn't read in years, reacquainting myself with poets I hadn't read in years: William Stafford, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Robert Frost, Anne Sexton.  After two weeks, I began binge-reading poets that I needed to know more about: Seamus Heaney, W.H. Auden,Tennyson, Wordsworth, Robert Hayden, Mary Oliver again.  I began seeing old poems with fresh eyes, new meter, and even newer imagery.  Project: Undiscovered reawakened in me a creative side that I thought had either withered away, or never existed at all.  Don't you need to take creative writing classes from some of the best poets in the world in order to become a poet?  How lucky are Billy Collins' students or Rita Dove's graduates?  Robert Frost was friends with Ezra Pound, who helped him promote and publish his poetry!

So, I hid my poetry away because I did not have any fancy creative writing teaching, or famous poet friends who took a particular interest in my work.  With all of those insecure questions floating around in my head, I had forgotten that the strongest writing teacher I could find, or the best poetry course I could take were sitting on my bookshelves.  Mary Oliver taught me the importance of sound, line breaks, diction, tone and revision.  W.B. Yeats reminded me that poetry can be startling and vigorous and musical all at the same time.  W.H. Auden reminded me of the importance of both the urban and pastoral landscapes.  Seamus Heaney taught me that it is okay to take some risks with more metered verse, and to always write what you know. Robert Hayden taught me to honor language and to be laborious in revising and editing my work.

Project: Undiscovered may be over, but my journey is not.  I have more to read and write. My goal is to keep reading and writing poetry, posting poems on Undiscovered Poetry as often as I can.  I do want to eventually take those 31 poems and bound them in a book, but that isn't as important now as is used to be.  If you are just discovering this blog and this project, I hope you enjoy my poetry. Please feel free to comment and leave feedback on any poem.  I really do read the comments and make changes accordingly.  If you know of someone who may like reading some contemporary poetry, pass me along! In the end, I will still be writing, no matter who out there is reading.

Thank you to Nanci and Laura and Gwen for leaving a comment here and there!  I really appreciate your support.