April is National Poetry Month
To open, a poem by Billy Collins
Introduction to Poetry:
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
from The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark.
Copyright 1988 by Billy Collins.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission.
Sometimes poetry is rejected or thought mysterious because we spent too much time in school flogging it with rubber hoses.
What can poetry be and what can it do?
Think of poetry as a moment
Or an expression of something that is too fragile or transitory for prose.
Poetry demands precise language and a precise command of the language.
It doesn’t need to rhyme and now a days doesn’t. So if you are intimidated by thinking your work must scan ababa cdcdc and all the lines must be in iambic pentameter, never fear, that requirement is gone.
I like haiku and Tanka poems, haiku is the infamous three lines with 5 – 7 – 5 but think of haiku in a more expansive way – it’s about nature, and the last line is surprise.
Tanka is an extension of Haiku, five lines, 5-7-5-7-7
If you need more room for your moment or to set up your surprise.
We all know that haiku and Tanka are chinese, but did you know that the beat poets were fascinated by these forms? Jack Kerouac, he of On The Road fame, wrote whole books on Haiku:
Cold crisp October morning
the cats fighting
in the weeds.
Our favorite poems:
The Listeners- Walter De La Mare
“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest’s ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
“Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
‘Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:–
“Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,” he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.
Catharine’s from the Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock – TS Eliot
LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question….
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
Another favorite of mine:
Reflections on Ice breaking
The prompt is to, of course, write your own poem. If you are uninspired, look around you, do you hear birds? Do you feel the coming of winter? Or Summer? Changes in seasons are profound and not to be dismissed. Watch a child and either remember what it was like, or marvel at how little you remember.
Word of the Week.
Curtain lecture may be simply defined as a censorious lecture by a wife to her husband, often while in bed. It has almost, but not quite totally, vanished from the language; anyone coming across it now might wrongly associate it with a talk preceding a performance in a theatre. The direct mental link between beds and curtains has disappeared because the four-poster, with its canopy and curtain creating an intimate enclosure, is no longer a standard item of domestic furniture.
Bring out your dead.
So much effort just to stay,
I want to feel them take me away.
Arms wide, I wonder why
Why to live, instead of die?
The sounds in my mind tell me what to do;
How can I tell which one is true?
They tell me to kill everyone
To rid myself the touch of the sun.
Take my place within the darkness,
Feel my insanity’s sweet caress.
These are the last things I’ll par-take.
I can feel my mind about to break.
Take a look inside this hell,
The life I have been forced to dwell.
I shall show you all the glory;
So with my death, thus ends my story.
Catharine’s Dead that she just wrote during her thirty poems in Thirty Day challenge
I mixed up a batch of comfort
Fortunately there were no witnesses
save the dog
and he vowed silence
(for comfort only)
double the ingredients
double the chocolate
half in its pre-baked
this stage will kill me
because of the eggs
If I am to go
the sticky, chippy
clinging that serving spoon
with a hard clean edge
can be the last thing I do.
I left you two cookies.
Amber Norrgard: Link to Amazon: Color Of Dawn by Amber Norrgard Buy this.