Today, Poetry

Today at lunch
I wrote a poem about war
and thought
this is what it’s come to
after all these years
of killing.
War again.

That’s not the poem
but it’s what I was thinking.

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End of August Postcard Poetry Fest 2017

I got a lot of postcards and enjoyed the cards themselves and the words written on them. Some of the poems were striking, one gave me chills (in a good way) and all made the connection we all hope for: I sat down and came up with these words to send you, a thought, an image, a rant, a mysterious string of ideas… put them on this card, put your address and a stamp on it and sent it off into the world.

Sometimes you get an acknowledgement that the card arrived, sometimes a response from the recipient to the poem itself, but I never get too tied up about that. Postcards can go in different directions way too easily. One thing happened this year that may not have happened before, someone in the postal handling part of the postcard’s journey wrote a response on the card. Pretty sure they weren’t agreeing with the sentiment but wow – wrote on the card. That card took about a week or more to get to me, so I’m not sure if they pondered it for a few days or if it just took that long.

Be that as it may, my own August Journey was pretty smooth. I had written down a list of words to act as prompts in case nothing came to mind in the hour of writing. Sometimes in the past I’ve used a group of haiku as my fall-back on hard nights. This year a theme developed, not of my choosing, around the idea of “a place to stand” and it popped up over and over again in different ways. One night I started writing and came out with something that ended up 75 lines. Way too big for a postcard, even in its beginning. I excerpted it for the card.

A good month, now I’m ready to do other things. Stand by for photos and painting and travel and who knows what else.

Easy Listening

I was listening to the Thistle and Shamrock on the way home from work on Sunday and caught some wonderful music. See below for the whole playlist via the show’s website, and a link to the lyrics. Prompted me to buy the original album that this song came on – what a treasure.

April 27, 2017

Program 1770: Singer Songwriters (April 27, 2017) Week 17

An abundance of songwriting talent on this week’s show takes us on a tour around the landscapes that inspire their music.
Vanity’s Child…by Aine Furey from Celtic Woman 2 (Celtic Woman Records)
The Mermaid of Galloway…by Emily Smith from Too Long Away (Shoeshine Records)
Glint of Silver…by Eddie and Luc from Tirade (EdLucCD)
Nottamun…by Bert Jansch from Jack Orion (Transatlantic Records)
As the Day Grows Longer Now…by Bert Jansch from Sketches (Temple)
The Fairy Queen…by Ailie Robertson from Little Lights (Lorimer Records)
[ID excerpt] Ellen’s Dreams …by Battlefield Band from Beg & Borrow (Temple)
All the Fun of the Fair…by Eamon Friel from Phone Tapping (Thran Records)
Gnossienne #1…by Tony McManus from Mysterious Boundaries (Greentrax)
King of Birds…by Karine Polwart from Traces (Borealis)
Eternity…by Dougie MacLean from Essential Too (Dunkeld)
The Japanese Hornpipe…by Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire from The Emigtrant’s Song (Celtic Conspiracy)
Both Sides the Tweed…by Dick Gaughan from Favourite Scottish Songs (Greentrax)
Sporan Dhomhnaill/Mist on the Glen/Miss Monaghan…by Battlefield Band from Beg & Borrow (Temple)

Found the words

Visiting Emily’s Bedroom

This very cool 360 experience from the NYTimes

https://static01.nyt.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000005045504

NaPoWriMo Day Eight

Based on a real-life encounter.

To R. who’ll not read this
because we only met once

During a pause you asked,
how do you handle fear?
and that stopped me in mid-breath.
I mean, fear’s the big one, right?
I sputtered for a bit
trying to come up with something
meaningful, without knowing what
might be helpful to you.
I ask questions. You are a musician.
You want to write music, put up videos —
your family doesn’t understand.
I tried to be encouraging.
Now days later I still hear your question
and think – what artist is without fear?
How can I go on? What if no idea comes?
What if everyone laughs?
What if no one cares at all?
What if the page is always blank?
So some of what I said was true –
you have to follow your dream,
do your work, show by example
that this is your life.
This is important.
This is why I live.

NaPoWriMo Day Five

This was a stretch and I know, before the editing is done, there will be even more alternate ending couplets than I have already….

Clean out the closet, the drawer-fuls of things
making room, space, to welcome in the new
Throw out the ratty, the tattered and worn
the last decade’s style, the no-longer-fits.
Perhaps these can be re-purposed, perhaps
they can be donated, gifted, elsewhere
but it’s as likely that they must go out,
out in big black bags, or some old boxes
to a donation bin, or a thrift shop
maybe to the annual rummage sale.
The same is true of words, writing poems,
words and fashions come and go, like seasons
I’ll put on my own clothes, comfortably
and use my own words to write a sonnet

From William Carlos Williams

Footnote 151.22 re Sappho (From William Carlos Williams, Selected Poems, Edited by Robert Pinsky)

This is a translation of Sappho’s Fragment 71. When it was published in Poems in Folio (1957), Williams included this note:

I am 73 years old. I’ve gone on living as I could as a doctor and writing poetry on the side. I practiced to get money to live as I please, and what pleases me is to write poetry.

I don’t speak English, but the American idiom. I don’t know how to write anything else, and I refuse to learn. I’m writing and planning something all the time. I have nothing to do——a retired doctor who can’t use his right hand anymore. But my coco (my head, you know) goes on spinning and maybe occasionally I work it pretty hard. It goes on day and night. All my life I’ve never stopped thinking. I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.

I have worked with two or three friends in making the translation for I am no Greek scholar but have been veritably shocked by the official British translations of a marvelous poem by one of the greatest poets of all time. How their ears can have sanctioned the enormities that they produced is more than I can understand. American scholars must have been scared off by the difficulties of the job not to have done better. Their prosy versions were little better——to my taste. It may be that I also have failed but all I can say is that as far as I have been able to do I have been as accurate as the meaning of the words permitted——always with a sense of our own American idiom to instruct me.