{welcome to your poetry friday post!}

You are cordially invited to March…

In this hemisphere, March is the month of seeds, the month of being in the raw cold, pushing seeds into the clammy earth with cold fingers.

I haven’t yet gotten to the second part of that last sentence, the pushing in of the seeds with cold fingers. I’m still in the indoors stage, waiting for the raw cold to abate, trying to possess my soul in patience at each new frost warning. This is why half the dining room table is covered with seedlings, strawberry plants and lavender bushes straining toward the light. This is why both my lasagna pans are filled with mini pots of soil. This is not a month for company at my house; I have little packets of seeds and pots on most flat surfaces, and nowhere to put you that isn’t covered with proto-plants. I think I’m worse than usual this year, because it’s been such a cold, gray time. Not just winter, of course; winter is supposed to be cold and gray. I mean the cold grayness of book bans and disheartening political chicanery, of climate threats, and mass shootings, of war anniversaries. I have never needed the hope and anticipation of a garden more.

For moments like these, there’s Poetry Friday.

Join the Roundup here.

The Poetry Sisters have been riffing off of the word “transformation” as part of their poetic peregrinations this year. One of the synonyms for the word, evolution, has been quietly reverberating through my poetry practice. With my Deeper Dive group, I’ve been “diving” into some of the exercises in The Practice of Poetry, with the goal of keeping better track of how my poems change, and where I begin with them as opposed to where I end up. It’s been kind of intriguing to see some of them come together, and to feel like I am finally beginning to find my feet as a semi-sorta-kinda poet. (Don’t @ me – it’s a process.)

In doing an exercise to imaginatively embody inanimate objects, I tried to apply the idea of change. I tried to imagine what typically comes to mind when I think of this or that object – and then toss it, enabling me to think past my first reflexive thoughts. Most of my beginnings weren’t poems, they were lists – beginning with the word “I am.” Three objects later, I returned to look at my lists and try and figure out what lines, moved and rearranged, had some kind of theme to them. A few more switches and refinements, and I began to hear… something. Is it a poem yet? Maybe? All I know is, it’s a …start.

The key to having gotten this far is having… started. It sounds kind of obvious when stated so baldly, but it took me a while to figure that out. So many people want to “be a writer,” and state this desire with a fervid sort of earnestness… but writers learn that desire alone cannot be the endpoint. It’s desire and. Desire and work. Desire and beginnings, middles and endings. It’s desire and editing and rewriting. How do you get there from here? You…desire, and then you begin. Somehow in prose I knew that, but just hadn’t figured it out for poetry.

So, anyway, here you are – land cleared and furrow turned. Here you are with seeds in your back pocket, looking at this expanse of earth, wishing for a garden.

I’ve got great news for you – you can take the next step to whatever your goals are. Transformation is at your fingertips. Are you game?

A frequent saying of mine is that anything I write, I’m also writing to myself. As I have a meeting with my editor (triumphantly back from striking) in a few hours, I’ll be thinking of the transformations ahead – the beginnings and the work to be done. As I continue to noodle with various poems, as I look out at the gray world, I’ll be thinking of the transformations necessary. The seeds in my pocket. The call to… begin.

Good luck, all. Remember…

Poetry Peeps! A little reminder for our challenge in the month of March: We’re writing an etheree. This ten-line form begins with a single syllable, and each line expands by one syllable until the tenth line has ten. We’re continuing with our 2023 theme of transformation, but how you interpret that topically is up to you. You have a month to craft your creation and share it on March 31st in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

30 Replies to “{welcome to your poetry friday post!}”

  1. “Sere as moonscape, parched as bone” is beautiful line that describes beautifully the Badlands. As I was there recently, I particularly enjoyed your poem. I love how you describe the writing journey, that it takes work and more. I’m never comfortable calling myself a writer, that I might never do quite what it takes. Thanks, Tanita.

  2. The pull of the garden and the insistence of the crocuses are indeed the best medicine. Thank you for a reminder about all the seeds that are in my pockets and all the furrows that are plowed and ready. (Thanks be, also, to the shovel and trowel that can be called to service where the furrows don’t yet exist.)

    Your poem is harsh and beautiful — just right for the voice of the badlands.

    Thanks also for a peek into your poetry practice and for hosting us today.

  3. I live in the southern region, so I planted my butterfly garden last weekend. It felt good to dig in the earth with my grandson next to me. Your metaphor for this writing life is just right. I’m slipping it on and it feels a little tight. All that putting yourself out there. I want to stay in the soil for a little while longer. Thanks for hosting and being such a beautiful inspiration.

  4. Thank you for this inspiring post. I agree with so much of what others have said. I read your opening paragraph a couple of times – it was so full of inspiration for me to get my gardening things ready. I’ve been thinking about those pots I need to start but haven’t yet. Yours was the nudge I needed. I don’t know which I enjoyed more – Your lovely cactus or your powerful poem. Both with give me lots to contemplate all day and beyond.

  5. I’m with Laura. Those first two lines grabbed me, too. They are so strong! And they sweep you along. I do hope you have time to push fingers (and seeds) into damp dark soil – and enjoy the transforming blooms of your labour. Thank-you for hosting us today!

  6. Tanita, this is a beautiful post with so many wonders! My favorite is your opening paragraph about the seeds and plants “on most flat surfaces” in your house! We do need gardens and growing in March with all “the cold grayness” you described. Thanks for telling us about The Practice of Poetry. All the best as you work on process. Thanks for hosting today.

    1. @Denise Krebs: The Practice of Poetry is a great book – and since it was published in 1992, you can pick it up used. It’s a great one. Here’s to defeating all the cold gray through poetry and plants!

  7. Thanks so much for hosting Tanita and for sharing the link to the Bookbans post. Really useful though, fortunately, we don’t have as many bookbannings here in Australia. Long may that be the case!


  8. The first two lines of your Badlands poem grabbed me, Tanita! What a powerful voice. Becoming a poet IS a process. A lifelong one?

    Thank you for hosting today.

  9. Tanita,I found your post brimming with thought provoking content. Transformation, anticipation and necessary action are flowing through this post. The aim always is to narrow the distance between intention and action, so your words resonate strongly -not just for writing, but for a host of things we humans identify for ourselves. Thank you for hosting. Thank you also for your poem with its pertinent use of personification. The voice is strong. May the weather deliver you the opportunity to plant those tender seeds.

  10. The opening prose read like poetry to me, with such vivid imagery of the garden in your dining room. 🙂 It made me want to come over with plenty of takeout so that you wouldn’t need to worry about using lasagne pans or anything else. 🙂

    And then the power of that poem! And your wonderful words on process. The simple wisdom: “The key to having gotten this far is having… started.” Such truth and such wonderful encouragement.

    Thanks, Tanita, and thanks for hosting this week. xo

  11. Tanita, this post of yours is the beauty of Poetry Friday for me. Not only have you written an incredible poem with fresh images that are DESTRUCTION–you share your process, growth and encourage the rest of us to come along too. Not @-ing you! Applauding you and loving the fact that you aren’t making lasagne until you’ve grown the basil and tomatos too. This post, including your poem are inspiration. Thank you.

    1. Not only do you have me wishing to become a good gardener (why do I fear it?) again…but your cactus inspires me with its strength. All of this and…”Desire and.” You can bet that I will be copying this phrase into my notebook along with your words around it…and sharing these words (attributed to you of course) with students. Thank you for hosting us with wisdom. xo

  12. Wow, what a glorious poem — so powerful (I’m terrified). Enjoyed reading about your process and all your thoughts about planting seeds, evolution and transformation. Also smiled picturing your house filled with seedlings and plants on every surface. 🙂 If “you” can’t grow it, nobody can . . . I, on the other hand, have a black thumb. Thanks for hosting this week; may the warm weather come sooner than later, may your garden flourish.

  13. Whoa, I’m still trying to steady myself from that mighty cactus Tanita, and it’s mighty with a tude too–And pretty terrific! Hoping the destruction from the CA storms mosey on along their way, and far away… And Hope the editor meeting goes well, the poems in progress, and seeds make it into the squishy not so cold earth too. Thanks for hosting and all here–pure delight! Looking forward to more t-r-a-n-s-f-o-r-m-a-t-i-o-n…

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