Welcome to another Poetry Friday Poetry Peeps Adventure!
Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of February! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing …love letters. Epistolary poetry in the form of a love poem can pull us in any number of directions. We’re writing our ways of seeing love as an animal, vegetable, mineral, emotion, decision – or anything else. Are you game? Good! Whatever way of seeing that you choose, you have a month to craft your creation and share it on February 23 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.
Mere weeks ago, I can remember thinking to myself, “If I can just make it through December…” Hm. Well. January is proving to be its own special level of Hades so far. First, I got roped into just “beefing up the choruses” for a Pergolessi piece, and somehow ended up doing a solo and a duet on top of the chorus pieces. Then, I was given a draft deadline a week before said concert for next year’s middle grade novel, and I figured out one day that the act of opening the document for my draft made me physically ill, I hated it so much, so obviously then I started rewriting THE ENTIRE THING a week before said deadline… and, THEN one of my parents had the temerity to have a minor heart attack. Oh, 2024, you’re a special snowflake already.
You’d think this would mean I would a.) bow out, or b.) sensibly at least cut my research short for our first Poetry Friday venture of the year.
That would have made sense, wouldn’t it? ::sigh::
It’s been a joy to revel in the work of Roberto Benavidez, the South-Texas sculptor who specializes in the piñata as an art form. The color and light and movement in his work is a serious treat on these gray, soggy days. From poking around on the artist’s Instagram page, it appears that it’s done via layering the thin pieces of crepe paper. Some of the paper is impregnated with glitter, but a lot of the effect is simply light filtering and refracting through the thinnest layers of paper, and it is… *chef’s kiss* WOW. We Poetry Sisters gave ourselves the latitude to write an ekphrastic poem on any of his wide body of work, and that, in itself, was a little daunting. Initially I found myself fixated on his treatment of birds, and thought that’s the direction I was going… until I saw the Medieval Bestiary from his Illuminated Piñata show. The basilisk isn’t a bird… but it’s also a bird? Or something. I obviously needed a deep-dive into the medieval mindset on monsters, didn’t I. (I mean, what deadline?)
Before I get too distracted, you should see what Sara did. Or, what Laura came up with (when she wasn’t serving as the Poetry Princess Archivist, and updating all of our challenges since sometime in 2007. Thank you, Laura). Cousin Mary Lee’s way of seeing is here, Tricia’s piñata poem is here, and Liz‘s project is here. Denise K.’s poem is here, Linda M.’s celebration of the artist is here. Michelle K.’s sandpiper piñata poem is here, and Linda B.’s meditation on the Hieronymus Bosch piñata is here. (*snicker*) You might discover more Poetry Peeps checking in throughout the weekend, so stay tuned for the full round-up as I find them. Meanwhile… Poetry Friday is ably hosted today by Susan @ ChickenSpaghetti, who I “met” blogging sometime back in 2005. Here’s to the blogosphere, which, when it’s not giving us nonsense, sometimes gives us both good friends and good old friends.
I won’t bore you with all of my reading, but I had to share a few of the hysterical historical images I found, as well as a couple of significant points: one, a basilisk was mostly a basilisk in Europe. In Britain, it was referred to in the main body of literature as a cockatrice. It’s essentially the same thing, but the Brits have always strove for distinction, historically and to the present moment. It’s part of their brand. ☺ Secondly, from Pliny the Elder on down, no one could… agree quite on what a basilisk/cockatrice looked like (I mean, the CROWN. Jeez Louise, Pliny, how much poppy was in that wine???). Or, really, even what it did. Some swore that the beast was like a giant gastropod, dragging poison via its belly and even killing plants and soil beneath it, in a wide swath, while others say its mere breath did the slaying – not to mention its gimlet gaze. So much fear! So little… detail! That… got me thinking.
As I inarticulately tried to explain what I was working on in our Poetry Sisters Zoom meetup, Cousin Mary Lee said that my description of what the basilisk was – and wasn’t – sounded like politics. I kind of laughed at that, but then the thought returned insistently. So much of what we hear via the churn and spin of the news cycle regarding the Sturm und Drang of current events is like …well, like trying to swim by committee. Too many people are trying to manage the arms and the legs, trying to coordinate the strokes and the breathing as we beat the water into a froth, aerating our fears into some whipped up thing that we cannot see through. Boy, do we need to step back! Scoff. Doubt. Question. Interrogate. Take a moment and let things settle, and really look at what’s before us. Sometimes, when we truly examine circumstances, situations, and individuals which terrify us, we will find that they really are ludicrous… and then we can laugh.
This poem makes it sound pretty darned easy to do all of this – just pack up our troubles in our old kit bag, or some folksy nonsense. Friends, we are all well aware how easy it’s NOT. Fears are sometimes a serious, crippling business, and I will freely admit that this is just my first-ish draft of this idea. But it’s an idea to which I’ll be returning this year – because I am sometimes a person deeply in need of getting out of my own head. Doubting our fears is the first step away from them… and I hope it’s an one which gives you a different way of seeing things.
And if your 2024 is beginning with a seismic shift the likes of mine, take heart – we are in the year of the Dragon, and we can a.) start this New Year thing over and b.) immolate what isn’t working, and move on. Breathe fire, friends, and make your fears take wing. Who knows, you might be the basilisk.
I love this statement from Audre Lorde’s poem of the same title – poetry is not a luxury, but a necessity to remind of us thoughts and feelings and ways of seeing. This ‘ways of seeing’ is going to be a recurring theme for me this year, as the Poetry Sisters celebrate our unique and varied visions and our ability to all look at one thing and come away with seven different ideas about it. Viva la difference!
Welcome to another Poetry Friday Poetry Peeps Adventure!
Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge for the month of January! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing ekphastic poetry on… piñatas. No, really. Those hollow-hearted paper beasts we love to beat might not be something you think are poem-worthy – usually – but you’ve NEVER seen piñatas like these. Featured on PBS’s fabulous Craft In America series, we’re celebrating the humble piñata as elevated by Robert Benavidez. Check out his work. Are you game? Good! Whichever of his creative creatures and absolutely out-there works of art that you choose, you have a month to craft your creation and share it on January 26 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.
May you offer art without apology as you celebrate YOUR way of seeing.
Welcome to another Poetry Friday Poetry Peeps adventure!
Friends, it has been a year of TRANSFORMATION and we’ve been glad to have every one of you who joined us. Thanks for being one of our #PoetryPals this year.
The Sisters are very shortly going to be in our annual poetry confab to come up with the 2024 challenges we’re setting ourselves, and to choose a theme or word of the year. While normally I’d let you know in this space what’s on for next month… you’ll have to stay tuned for the January 7th announcement! In the meantime, if you have a form or style suggestion, please feel free to drop it in the comments.
FROM PROCESS…: Our last challenge for 2023… might have been set by me? None of us remembers anymore, but since I’m a real fan of a five line poem, we suspect me. ☺ The Elfchen is eleven words, and the -chen suffix is a diminutive, so it’s a “little eleven” poem. As I began Duolingo German this year, I was happily able to try writing with my shaky grasp of another language. The basic Elfchen rules requires ONE word for line one, TWO for line two, THREE words for line three, FOUR for line four, and returns to ONE word for the fifth line. I’ve read that the first word is meant to be a topical, setting the tone of the piece, and the final word is meant to summarize and wrap things up. I did not always feel the need to summarize, as sometimes the topic wasn’t closed, but I like knowing what I’m supposed to be trying to achieve!
Of course, my restless brain took those rules and …tweaked them a little, deciding to not use only counted words, but counted syllables as well. As German is not a language known for short words, beginning with a single word of a single syllable was… definitely more of a challenge. (WHY did I feel like I needed more of a challenge? German wasn’t enough? Yikes, brain). As I made my attempts, I quickly discovered that I had to actually write in German, not take what I wanted to say in English, translate it, and then create the poem — that didn’t work at all.
…TO POETRY. What worked best for me was simply to draft many, many poems. Writing egregiously bad poetry is sometimes the only way I can get to the better stuff, so I wrote and wrote, as rain rolled down my office window. This is why so many of the poems I drafted had to do with being sleepy and or wanting to be cozy and warm… and/or wanting desperately to go back to bed with a book…! I wrote so many Elfchen it got to where I was once again counting words or syllables while I was thinking. The other day I wrote in an email to a friend: “Busy”/ isn’t true/ My holiday was/ Wholly ‘booked’ this year/…reading! However, I will spare you more of my stream-of-consciousness poetry, and share what the rest of the Poetry Sisters got up to. Tricia introduces us to a reverse elfchen here. Liz’s poem is here. Laura’s poem is here. Mary Lee’s is here, and Michelle K’s myriad Elfchen are here. Carol V.’s poems are here, and Linda B.’s Elfchen is here. Denise’s poems are here, and Heidi’s irresistible Elfchen are here.
More Poetry Peeps may be elfchening throughout the weekend, so stay tuned.
Let It Go For Now
der Tag endet:
the day ends:
In neither language does this fit the rules for word count, but it does make the syllabic rule work.
Ausschlaffen (Sleeping In)
murmur, “Safe. Sleep.
This final poem follows the actual rules of the Elfchen and not my invented ones – in an announcement that pretty much speaks for itself and explains why many are receiving New Year’s cards:
My Last Spoon
yawns empty now –
No further hungers sated
Poetry Friday today is generously hosted @ More Art 4 All with Michelle K., one of our Poetry Peeps who has been playing with the Elfchen form for a couple of weeks now. May you find warmth and light as the year burns down to its coals – and may you gather a breath of strength, purpose, and hope to fan the flames again for next year. Happy New Year.
Last year, I ended my gratitude musings grateful for community. As I return from my 6:30-9 rehearsal tonight, catching up post-Thanksgiving breather with my fellow choristers, I remain grateful. December begins in just a couple of hours – and we have so. much. to. do. before we’re ready for those final holiday concerts. Gah.
But these are my people – we do the mostly impossible every single year – holding each other up through colds and bad entrances and missed notes. Making music out of magic, or maybe vice versa. Such thanks for that…
holds the choir, sustained
a bridge made of arching voices
Hard to believe that it was way back in 1810 when tin-coated iron cans were patented, and people started to be able to have pre-cooked food available to them as an alternative for when they were done with working all day and were too tired to be bothered to cook anything from fresh. Way back in 1977 was when cartons for food stable goods were brought into use.
You care about this because like me, when the light fades as early as it does in late autumn, about all we’re good for is opening a carton or a can of soup, adding in some frozen veg, and calling it a day.
Yet another good reason to be grateful – for shortcuts.
a workday done
pathways wending homeward
as light drains from a cold, wet day:
It was my absolute delight to be able to do this interview with Laura Jackson, author, parent, and all around calm and understanding human being. I absolutely love to get a chance to talk to people about how they’ve managed their disabilities and advocated for their loved ones, and how Laura did it for her daughter’s was to write a book and start a newsletter and do her darnedest to demystify the situation and educate adults and kids alike. I have so much respect for the work and love she put in for her daughter.
You should check out Discovering Dyscalculia. I’m so glad to be able to recommend it as a resource.
When I was growing up, I cannot tell you how many lectures, sermons, and morally high-toned talks I heard as a kid about escapism. I still am not entirely sure why so many people are against it, but there are people who will bend your ear at any hour on the subject. In all seriousness, I’ve genuinely never understood what could be so bad about escaping present circumstance through the vehicle of story, since escapist reading is what I heard spoken against most often. My Dad didn’t always like to see me reading, because it was his opinion that I was wasting time.
Yesterday I was on the author website of one of my favorite pairs of fantasy writers and I read hundreds – literal hundreds – of comments about scenes and books of those authors which were their favorites, which they considered “comfort reads.” And I hugged each word of the Book Devouring Horde to my heart.
One of the greatest things about being An Old is that you read what you want, you escape when you can, and you enjoy the realm of books and comfort reads for what it is – sheer joy.
like a book
she named it frigate
but on smooth-gliding train tracks
a story moves me
Are you sick of all of the sale emails yet?
After not checking all weekend, I think I had a hundred and forty emails (granted, over three email accounts) from this holiday weekend. I like to get a bargain as much as anyone, but I’m over the ninety store emails each from Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and whatever we’re supposed to be doing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
But like most of us, I’m ever so grateful for the convenience of online shopping… For people who don’t leave the house, for hobbyists looking for something odd and rare, for all the little things you don’t really need from eBay… it’s a little odd thing to include on our gratitude list, but it’s there.
a ‘buy’ button,
gives a burst of feeling…
a flimsy sort of therapy,
Sometimes holidays churn up the silt in an otherwise settled pond.
I used to think that our collective attention span was one of humanity’s greatest problems. Observing our cycle of outrage and amnesia regarding the events of the day, it might easily be argued that if we had just paid attention to things or remembered, we might have saved ourselves any amount of grief. And yet, memory is a hard master, something that younger me didn’t really understand. It doesn’t solely allow us to exert some control over our future actions and reactions by means of recalling past mistakes, no, memory also shines a merciless spotlight on some of the worst experiences of our lives. Total recall? No thank you.
So, thanks for that, for the shadows of time, which blunt some of the sharpest edges of a sometimes painful past.
Is in snowflakes,
in drifts of attic dust;
Pressing memory’s wound until
The day I got my three vaccinations, I asked if I should have the one for RSV – not remembering that not everyone can have it.
“Are you sixty-five?” the pharmacist asked, brows raised in polite query.
“Oh. Nope,” I laughed. “I’m not yet so privileged to have lived that long.”
“And it is a privilege, isn’t it?” he mused, swabbing my arm.
Yes. It is. And as I scowl at my sugar-frosted hair – which I usually have streaked with various shades of purple and blue – I am grateful, indeed, for the privilege… even if my hair looks goofy, because silver hair has the consistency of WIRE and really likes to stick up. ::sigh::
you silver fox –
this hair that’s going white?
call it the icing on the cake
I often think of my grandmother, when I think of the work that I do, and the life that I live. She left school in the third grade so I could have my MFA. Such thanks for that word, progress…
they only worked:
school was not for brown kids,
but she raised her own to want more.