Hello Poetry Month!

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Today is April 1st and the beginning of National Poetry Month. Today is also Poetry Friday. How perfect when the two come together!

As I usually do in April, I’m planning to do some extra writing. The goal is to write a poem a day or at least spend some time on poetry-writing every day (though I may  take Sundays off, with no guilt).  I will also contribute a line  to the 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem arranged by Irene Latham (looking forward to that–the schedule of who contributes a line when is in the right sidebar).

To begin this month I’m going to share with you some of the quotes I’ve collected about poetry over the years and end with a little ars poetica piece I wrote myself.

About the writing process:

“I don’t believe in inspiration. (I love telling my students that–everyone is always shocked.) If I sat down and wrote a poem only when I felt like writing a poem or when I felt inspired, I would have written maybe one poem in my life.

“What I believe is that to keep yourself writing, to fully live a writing life, you have to do whatever it takes to keep the engine running, so to speak. For me, that means: writing when my students write in class, writing on the subway, assigning myself writing exercises, forcing myself to sit at my desk and write.”

– Nicole Cooley from the How A Poem Happens blog.

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“If you have writer’s block, lower your standards.” – Poet Marvin Bell (quoted by Nicole Cooley in the above blog post).

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“In my opinion, no doubt a minority view, inspiration is overrated. Occasionally, lightning strikes with a word/phrase/or rhyme, but for me poems come from dedication. Strapped to a chair. I do wish my Muse were a reliable fixture on my desk, but she is usually off shopping, perhaps because she feels unwanted, which isn’t true of course, but there it is….

“A poem does not begin with an idea but with a word, a phrase. Of course, I know beforehand what subject I intend to write about, but I can sit here endlessly thinking of words before liftoff….”

– J. Patrick Lewis – in an interview by Matt Forrest Essenwine.

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“As a writer, as a keeper of a daily reflective journal, I find that as soon as I put words and ideas onto paper in my notebook, or type them into my computer, they begin to gather to themselves more images, more words and ideas. As I write I have the sensation of being at the center of a small vortex of enlarging connections…” Luci Shaw in Breath for the Bones, KL 1401

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You Say Grace

You say grace before meals
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in ink.
– G.K. Chesterton

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“Writing poetry is not putting down whatever comes into your head, and leaving it at that, never taking it any further. Poetry involves layers, and a lot of revision.” – Barbara Crooker quoted on Your Daily Poem.

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“Compose with utter freedom and edit with utter discipline.”
– Erica Jong

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“I think that as a young poet I looked for what Keats called ‘a fine excess,’ but as an old poet I look for spareness and rigor and a world of compassion.”
– Stanley Kunitz (from Writer’s Almanac – July 29, ? year).

About the reading process:

“I don’t think people read poetry because they’re interested in the poet. I think they read poetry because they’re interested in themselves.” – Billy Collins on Writer’s Almanac.

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“Take me: my theory is a poem should set you free: reading a real poem should leave you feeling less tired and more exquisitely yourself. Aerated. You’ve been speeded up and perhaps somewhat dispersed, your bits enjoying more distance from each other than they had previously. You seem to have been augmented, but not in any one place like a lump; no, just some extra electrons here and there; you could never say where. No; that can’t be right. You couldn’t be heavier if it was a real poem. So maybe it’s more of an electron swap or adjustment; hard to say, because these are very small, fast exchanges. In any case, every poem does some small thing to fit us to the galaxies.”

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“Poetry and music are sister arts. So are poetry and painting. It’s as if the eye and the ear were related through poetry, as if they had become siblings or lovers.” – Edward Hirsch, How to Read a Poem, Harcourt, Brace & Cop. Durham N. Carolina 1999. p. 17.

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“Writers are great lovers.  They fall in love with other writers. That’s how they learn to write.  They take on a writer, read everything by him or her, read it over again until they understand how the writer moves, pauses, and sees.  That’s what being a lover is; stepping out of yourself, stepping into someone else’s skin. Your ability to love another’s writing means that those capabilities are awakened in you.  It will only make you bigger; it won’t make you a copy cat. The parts of another’s writing that are natural to you will become you, and you will use some of those moves when you write.  But not artificially. … So writing is not just writing.  It is also having a relationship with other writers.”
– Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones.

P1010972

“Take the scenic route…”  (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

The road I’ve taken (a riddle)

Each April morning I’ll hit the road
with one for the road
take the scenic route
detour down a narrow
two-rutted lane
that may be a cul-de-sac to nowhere.
It’s definitely not the highway
parkway, turnpike or freeway
to notoriety, is the long way round
to trendy, this course
that has become my driveway.
It’s poetry.

– © 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (written during National Poetry month in April 2014)  All rights reserved

(Select the space with your mouse or trackpad and the word will become visible.)

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by award-winning Amy at The Poem Farm (Congratulations, Amy!!).

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I did it!!! I wrote one poem a day for the whole month of April. And this time it wasn’t even hard.

I think that’s because I sat myself down at the beginning of the month and gave my lazy, self-indulgent side a lecture:

– No excuses. Don’t even think of whining or feeling sorry for yourself or telling yourself you’re out of creative energy

– This is your work this month. Priority one. Make a spot for it in your daily schedule; list it along with your other “To Do”s. You have to have something written before bed.

– Any idea is game. Use one of the April prompts or an idea of your own. It doesn’t matter.

I have purposely not shared these raw creations here for several reasons. One, most of them need more work. And too, I’m learning that it’s nice to have a stash of poems that haven’t ever seen the light of day just in case something fits with a contest or publication where there’s a “No Previous Publication” rule.

But I want to share one here with you today, just as proof that I’ve actually been working!  Here’s my poem from April 14th.

Inspiration: that day I happened to read L. L. Barkat’s  Tweetspeak Poetry post about creating and using “jealousy stacks” to write poetry.

Inspired by her idea I then pulled an old issue of Garden Wise (now known as B.C. Home and Garden) off my shelf, made a bunch of jealousy stacks (interesting turns of phrase and lovely words that I wish I had thought of) from articles in it, and finally cobbled them together into the found poem “Gardening Gurus” below.

Butchart Gardens - Victoria B.C.

A gardening guru has obviously been in charge of this plot! (Butchart Gardens – Victoria, B.C. – photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

Gardening Gurus

Gardening gurus bypass pruning shears
for exuberant plantings. In a passion for blue
covet classic blue blossoms, lacecaps
spherical corymb flowerheads
felty silver-grey leaves.

Let nature work for you in whorls
nosegays, posies, floriferous crowns of myrtle
sprigs of rosemary, wheat for fertility
leafy bowers lavish and cascading
the vibrancy of summer.

The wound tar, desiccated roses
rangy growth habit, old deadheads
loppers, weed hounds and recipes for infection
are not in our gardening culture.

Our floral colony is a little summer house,
romantic haven where sage shares the bed
with airiness of lady and deer fern
moon-gated arbors, pergolas and pavers.
Rondel echoes colours of honey citrus sorbet.
Last rays of sunshine fill uncontainers
with peace and enchantment.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

How did your National Poetry Month go?

P.S. Oh yes, today I start as a blogger at our Inscribe Writers blog. My first
post there is “What is poetry?” Do you agree with my conclusion?

National Poetry Month #eatingpoetry

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Welcome to April and National Poetry month! What are you planning to do to celebrate poetry this month?

  • Attend a poetry reading?
    If you’re in the Vancouver area / Lower Mainland, you’re invited to ours. The Fraser Valley Poets Society‘s April event is a Blue Moon Reading, April 13th (6:30-8:30 p.m. Clearbrook Library, 32320 George Ferguson Way, Abbotsford, B.C.).

Yours truly is the featured reader that evening. I’ll be reading from Borrowed Gardens, the anthology that three friends and I published in December 2014. (There’s a small sampling of the poems in the book here.)

There will also be an open mic following the Blue Moon feature, so bring a several of your own poems to read.

Poetry Month Poster - League of Canadian Poets

Fragment of the League of Canadian Poets Poetry Month Poster – 2015 (click on image to enlarge)

The League of Canadian Poets has suggested the wonderful theme of FOOD for this month’s poetry. To go with that theme, here is a poem about one of my favourite childhood treats:

 

Puffed Wheat

Puffed Wheat—my generation’s Cheerios
for baby’s highchair tray.
Wheat grains magically blown up
beige-speckled, quarter inch
elongated puffs, tiny bums.

I didn’t like them as cereal
that I had to eat in a rush
before they shrunk small, slimy
and sticking to teeth when I sipped
the sweet speckled milk dregs
from the bottom of the bowl.

But a concoction of butter, cocoa
sugar and syrup cooked
hot enough to brand skin
poured over 8 cups in Mom’s enamel roaster
mixed frantically with a wooden spoon
before the sticky mass congealed to stiffness
then warm-pressed into a buttered pan
made the best birthday cake
in the world!

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (all rights reserved)

Share your food poems with other Canadian poets using the hashtags #eatingpoetry and #NPM15

Blooming

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Tansy buds

Tansy buds

Blooming

Some poems write themselves
with the ease of flowers
opening in time-lapse photography.

Others leave me in a litter
of scribbled pages, green petals
ripped from a hard bud.

© 2013 by Violet Nesdoly

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Are you doing a poem-a-day writing challenge during April (in honor of National Poetry Month)? I am, though I don’t have the courage to post my efforts early in the process.

Yesterday the idea I got from one of my prompt sources was irresistible but when I started writing, nothing came together. Hours later I had only a 3 stanza piece typed into my computer ending with a note to myself: “This doesn’t feel finished” along with a stack of scribbled and crossed-out false starts.

Or maybe they aren’t false starts. Maybe, as the ditty above (that came to me this morning with complete ease) would suggest, the poem I was trying to write needs a little time to ripen and those attempts were its way of telling me that.

poetry+friday+button+-+fulllThis poem is submitted to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge.