What Are We Doing Here

April 16, 2016 § Leave a comment

Even in the light of day the stars are shining down on us.

The sun cascades behind the horizon as if the earth is as
flat as the celestial mysteries hidden far beyond our clouds.

No one knows the mountain, shown in the half moon light that crosses
over the river, one passing the other like a mirror reflecting a casual glance; no one knows that mountain.

A dog barks.
I sight a deer in wild bamboo—

What is it doing here?

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Patti Smith’s Woolgathering

November 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

I just finished reading Woolgathering by Patti Smith. A tiny little pocket book more poetry than prose, and all truth. It’s a beautiful journey through bits of her childhood. She gently guides us into her childhood mind, and into her childhood world, and it is a lovely journey that I highly recommend.

I always imagined I would write a book, if only a small one, that would carry one away, into a realm that could not be measured nor even remembered.

I imagined a lot of things. That I would shine. That I’d be good. I’d dwell bareheaded on a summit turning a wheel that would turn the earth and undetected, amongst the clouds, I would have some influence; be of some avail.

-Patti Smith, Woolgathering

Don’t you want to write a little book? Don’t you want to be good? Go out and be amongst the clouds and help turn our precious earth. Go Shine.

Enjoy some words of advice from Patti.

Art Lovers

July 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

1.

I straddle my lover’s lap and read Walt Whitman to him.
I whisper exhalations of “Song of Myself” like
talking dirty
and my legs tighten around his waist
because literature and poetry is our aphrodisiac.

My lover’s face is in my hair, his lips brush
the corner of my moving mouth
and his soft hush voice in my ear
repeating, keep reading, keep reading…
As “Leave of Grass” escape my fingers and hit
the floor with a gentle thud
my lover’s arms are around me with fingers
in my back up under my clothing
And Whitman is smiling
because he wrote about such wonderful naughty things.

2.
My lover paints me naked
he paints each imperfect curve
languid strokes of blue
hips, breasts, legs, and belly
round and rounder still
the painting always changing color
and never finished
This is the work we do together
being and being and being.
The paint never drying.

The Promise of Rain

July 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

No one promised to be there, except the rain.
In the October downpour she choked on the afternoon light.
Too bright to take it all in.

Her eyes were wide open in momentary wisdom.
Her fear had faded to wonder as she rested her damp
head to his sweaty chest.
The sunlight struck her face like a spotlight
and she meditated on the rise and fall of his breath.

It would be hard to hold onto this man
it would be best to let him go and not to bother,
let the moment float away from the fairytale with this one
he was not capable, too much flesh to explore, too young

She sighed away the kisses from the previous evening,
and allowed the freedom of her breath to separate from his.
She exhaled into the force of nature and mourned nothing.

Tiny promises splattered against the window pane
and streaked the glass like memories
as she dissolved into the light’s dust.

Sketching Poetry advice from Robert Hass

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

In my last post I had mentioned the first of my online classes through the University of Iowa and the Canvas project- did I mention this course was free? There is good in the world. I had really enjoyed some of the suggestions that Robert Hass had offered for coming up with ideas for poems and which are all apart of the beginning of the course of How Writers Write. I’ve been journaling/notebooking, scraping, and sketching since I was a teenager, but I had never really thought of it as a part of my writing process. Honestly, I’d never really been sure what I was doing and I definitely didn’t know what to do with all of the words, ideas, and thoughts. My notes and writing have always lacked discipline and I’ve gone months with out writing a word, so having this class is a nice way to start jotting down some randomness.

In my last post I also wrote out Robert Hass‘s breakdown of sketching. My understanding of it is that you don’t really plan out your thoughts or words but just let things fall as they may. It could be nonsense, it could be bad, or you could get something really inspiring, but the outcome at this point doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are generating some ideas, some words onto the paper.

  1. Start with a basic line
  2. write a second line: try the call and response- let the second line surprise you.
  3. Write out three lines which is the rhythm of the body
  4. Write out four lines- the rhythm of the mind.

His first video instruction was to look around your room, and your space and write a single line. I had stopped the video and wrote down 5 lines based on observations around me.

  1. This empty bottle waits for me to fill it.
  2. On my night stand I see a Chinese warrior with a bronze Japanese rabbit at his feet, and the bone of an ancient civilization safely kept behind a framed piece of glass.
  3. My laundry hangs like wilted flowers over an overturned bed frame and opened lockers.
  4. Oh these books these awful books.
  5. How I wish my lamp were a crystal ball.

Next was to write the second line. I could do either a call and response or whatever came to my mind. In the next following sentences I didn’t really take much time to think about what I was writing but just to allow myself to write- something whatever. The most important point that I’m taking away from it is not to critic what I’m writing but to just write it.

  1. This empty bottle waits for me to fill it
    but who will drink from it when I’m gone?
  2. Dear Chinese warrior with the bronze Japanese rabbit at your feet- do you know what is behind you?
    Ancient words carved into bone as fragile as glass and as clear as stone.
  3. Oh these books these awful books
    lies of little children.
  4. I wish my lamp were a crystal ball.
    And if it were, what would you ask for?

 

For the three lines he suggested another approach- one was to quickly write out a paragraph that came to your mind and then to pull the three lines from the paragraph.

  1. I awoke with a panic this morning. The same if not worse than before. There was drool, actual drool on my pillow, my heart was racing, and my mind was sunk into some kind of a hole. Where was I? What kind of anxiety was attacking my dreams, and what were my dreams telling me? There is no manual for this kind of suffering.
  2. I awoke with panic
    The same and worse then before
    dreams lost in the whole of my mind

Then for finding the four line poem he went back to suggesting that we take our ideas from the room that we are in. To use your observations and to just let the lines fall into place one after the other.

  1. I’m sitting on the dirty floor
    watching and listing to you read poetry
    We’ve never met before
    but I’m here, listening to your stories.

Anyway, something like that. Are they poems? No. Can they be? Sure it’s possible. Can I scrap them and toss them away? If I want- that’s my choice. It’s just the beginning. Only the beginning.

Poetry Lessons Day 1

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

The online course from The University of Iowa’s International Writers’ Program has begun. The course is “How Writers Write Poetry”. I found the course on the Canvas Network which has many free online classes.  I’m really very thrilled that taking this course is a possibility for me, and even though I can’t afford to get the certificate (I like that it’s an option) I can still take the course and do the work.

The first lesson was on Note-taking, basically the beginning steps that any kind of writer needs to gather information and to practice writing and capturing images, conversations- anything that you need to build your poems or stories. I watched a video with three poets discussing their note-taking processes.

The first was Lia Purpura who spoke about keeping journals and the process of note booking which is different than keeping a diary. The key points were to keep an active journal and to keep it with you all the time. You could also just have scraps of paper or small notepads both of which can be transferred to your main journal. The point is to capture the world around you. She also mentioned a way of collecting your thoughts through something she called a found journal. This is a journal that is created from all of your notes of life; meaning your check book, your lists, your calendars, e-mails, whatever you do to record and archive your own life can be transferred to your journal. I had liked this idea because it is new to me. I’ve kept journals since I was 16 (not always active journals) and I’ve done the scrap method, and attempted to use note pads, but unfortunately I’m pretty bad at keeping them on me and remembering to take notes. This found journal is something I think can be fun to try because I have tons of scrap notes that keep reminding me of what I need to do and what I haven’t done.
A couple of things that she noted that I found to be useful to hear was her opinion of the reason behind the journalling and how it is different from a diary. The reason that we journal for the purpose of writing poems or stories is to look for patterns. Patterns of thoughts, images, types of conversations. To see what you gravitate toward in your observations of the world. According to Purpura the purpose of taking notes and  keeping a writing journal is to teach yourself about yourself. I thought this was very insightful because as a person who has kept a journal for years I had never quiet figured out how to make use of the journals which tend to be a combination of observations, and diary. and story ideas. I had never thought to look for patterns of what I tend to capture, and I like the idea of looking at my jottings in this objective manner.

The next person on the video was Kate Greenstreet who spoke about her notebook or collection of words that she called “The Epic”. For Greenstreet “The Epic” is her way of collecting her words and then swirling them around until she gathered or saw what she wanted from her words.

Lastly, Robert Hass spoke and offered his experience of what he called “sketching” a way of collecting your fleeting bits of thoughts and words. Hass also offered up a loose formula to play around with your thoughts and ideas and he numbered this sketching 1-4.

  1. Start with a basic line
  2. write a second line: try the call and response- let the second line surprise you.
  3. Write a third line which is the rhythm of the body
  4. Write a fourth line- the rhythm of the mind.

I will explain more on Robert Hass’s sketching in my next post since he offered some moments in the video to pause and to try some writing.

On thing he did was give out a sentence like this one:

I’m asleep on skis, and, The rain fell all afternoon

Then he said for us (students of the course) to write our own response- what are the first thoughts that come to your mind? Below are my responses to Hass’s first lines:

I’m asleep on skies
and you are not here.

The rain fell all afternoon,
and still the grass did not grow.

So far I’m enjoying the course, and I’m grateful to have found it. Although, I won’t be getting the certificate I’ll at least be writing and listening to people talk about writing- and right now- I need that.

 

To The Man at the Bar with the Red Tie

November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

He was September cool.

We ate peaches. French music played in the background, and a car door slammed.
The Soundtrack to an evening with the man in the red tie.

I rubbed my hands over the pockets of his dark leather vest and straightened his red tie- from left to right to tighten it.
Lastly, I ran my fingers through his coarse Turkish hair fixating on the silver at his temples.

We told stories of kindred love. Or, at least, I did and he went along with it.
Flirtatious illusions like bullets moving clean through him and he was sweating.

I awoke to the train. Alone, in a blank hotel room. A single black cord held the light from the ceiling. It swayed like a ticking clock.
And nothing else, but the memory of a man walking away.

In the morning, I walked to the spot where we had met, inhaled the past,
held it in my lungs: cigarette smoke, musk, and hints of whiskey shots,
got high on the story I created in our drunken romance.

Who is to say it wasn’t love? A small momentary speck of love?

No one can say anything.

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