This is the house that Donna built

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Donna reads - September 2015

Donna reads – September 2015

I’ve been part of a local poetry group for about ten years! My involvement started out when the MSA Poets Potpourri Society invited me to be a guest reader at one of their poetry nights. I think it was in 2005. After a few years of attending off-and-on, I became a paid member. In 2010 I started our website. Then a few years ago I became one of the directors.

Last year we changed our name to Fraser Valley Poets Society. We also published a book of writings by our society’s founder on the occasion of her 90th birthday (titled Encouragement).

Donna Bishop started our club way back in 1981, after she got a standing ovation for reading one of her poems at a poetry reading in a neighboring town. She realized what a powerful force for good sharing poetry could be and wanted others to experience it too.

Donna’s book is a collection of poems and essays not only by Donna. There’s also an anthology section of poems by our members and a section of tributes.

We had our first poetry reading of this fall season on Monday—an open mic. Guess who was there—Donna herself, now almost 91 and still sharp as a tack! Of course she read for us.

Our president happened to read my tribute poem to her, and later in the week, the sweet lady phoned and asked if I would read it at her memorial service. Of course I said yes, but told her we sure hope that would not be for a long time yet!

It’s the poem I’m going to share with you today:

THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT DONNA BUILT
(with apologies to Mother Goose)

These are Valley poets of Potpourri
who read in the house that Donna built.

These are the words of the English tongue
and other languages living among
the Valley poets of Potpourri
who read in the house that Donna built.

These are the poems, some short, some long
crafted in words of the English tongue
and other languages living among
the Valley poets of Potpourri
who read in the house that Donna built.

These are the books of original verse
with shiny covers, thoughts diverse
crafted in words of the English tongue
and other languages living among
the Valley poets of Potpourri
who read in the house that Donna built.

And here is healing for low esteem
where everyone listens and knows your name
buys your books of original verse
with their shiny covers, thoughts diverse
and listens to poems, some short, some long
crafted in words of the English tongue
and the other languages living among
the Valley poets of Potpourri
who read in the house that Donna built.

Thank you Donna!
© 2014 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Read some of Donna’s poems HERE.
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Poetry Friday LogoThis poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Michelle at her always-something-interesting-happening blog Today’s Little Ditty.

To Mel at 60

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To Mel at 60

(with apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep on rising each day early
to swim and run and cycle in the rain
can miss the family fun and not be surly
because you’re lifting weights and must cross-train;

If you precede the body crush on entry
glide in the swimmer’s slipstream just ahead
remember to stroke round the lane-way buoy
and reach transition point still in the lead;

If you at once can change, eat, drink, and helmet
then mount that bike and grip those handlebars
pedal hills, declines, curves without an upset
and don’t get in the way of passing cars;

If tortured legs survive all of that motion
and make it through the gruelling running stage
we’ll know you’re in possession of youth’s potion
oh Ironman, doomed to live twice your age!

© 2012 by Violet Nesdoly

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This is what is often called an “occasional poem,” that is, a poem written for a special occasion. This occasion was a friend’s 60th birthday (in early June this year). My fit friend has recently taken up running in triathlons, so I tried to reflect that in my poem.

It’s fun to write poems for special occasions. I’ve written them for birthdays, funerals, anniversaries, and I even wrote and read a poem to my daughter on her wedding day.

This is also an imitation poem in that it mimics a well-known piece. I’m sure you recognize Rudyard Kipling’s famous “If—” in the wording, structure and rhythm. Writing imitation poems can be a lot of fun (I even had one in quarrtsiluni this February!).

Have you written occasional poems? Imitation poems? I’d love to hear about them (or even read them) in the comments.

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Bibliophile at Life Is Better With Books.