NaPoWriMo2019 Day 2

As usual I have a dual identity going on even with NaPoWriMo and GloPoWriMo. I can claim NaPoWriMo since it is from my country of origin. But I haven’t lived there since 1982 so the GloPoWriMo tag feels more accurate. But I have settled on being both.

The prompt for today is to end a poem in a question. And I just seemed to end my poetry practice for today in a volley of questions. After yesterday’s villanelle I am back to syllabbics.

An Uncertain Climate

Then the cold returns...
fat snowflakes softly settled
on the old dog's back,
blackthorn blossom briefly
obscured on the hedge.

Will the seeds we've sown shrivel?
Will the summer turn winter
like in Black '47?
How long can denial
remain inconsequential?

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Sojourning Smith Participating in GloPoWriMo2019

Writing Room

As many emerging poets gear up for writing a poem a day during NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2019 from April 1st, they may want to consider the space they occupy while writing. Virginia Woolf wrote passionately for the woman writer’s need for a room of her own. Which may sound like a recipe for writing as an occupation open only to the middle classes. However, solitude is a requirement. The lack of solitude is eloquently documented in Tillie Olsen’s “Silences,” and the deleterious effect it can on on writer productivity. A dedicated writing space can be hard to find if you share living quarters with many people, some of whom may be needy. Other’s may be time famished, hounded by the clamour of unpaid bills. Carving a place for creative work and thinking can be an act of creativity in and of itself.

This morning I was perusing a past Christmas present from my sister, a book titled “Carolina Writers At Home,” where writers living in North and South Carolina described their living and writing spaces. Cassandra King confesses that for years her writing room had to be an academic office with a door open for students to interrupt her at any time. Women often lack dedicated space for writing. They also often need to overcome the guilt for shutting out all other claims upon their attention. Women, especially those of certain past generations, were conditioned not to be selfish. The solitary nature of writing can look an awful like selfishness to people who do not appreciate the writing process.

Finding a place of solitude for regular writing can be problematic, especially since writing is not always remuneratively rewarding. That is why library closures are so heartbreaking. They are public spaces available for free, offering many of the resources writers need – a space for a laptop or use of a computer, free internet access, books for reference and refreshment, quiet. Libraries are the Democratic Republic of Books and writers are their most needy citizens. The Public Library has often been a haven for a nascent writer, myself included. (Thank you, Jean Walters!)

I started poetry practice this morning thinking that it would go one way. And then it took a sharp left turn. What emerged is a kind of ‘not a sonnet’. It has fourteen lines of ten syllables, but the rhyme scheme would not go to traditional order. So it’s a bit of a mish mash.

Writing Room

A place to look out from - also, within.
An old dog's breath is no interruption
as she gently snores and snuffles in sleep.
Otherwise, it's all silence that will keep
me undiverted, solitude replete.
That is necessary as a heart's beat.
Reading is "that selfish activity"
some would say, yet  reading is writing's key.
Find me a writer who does not worship
at the Temple of the Book, We are trollops
awaiting the penetrating insight,
the ecstatic divinely inspired light.
The writing room's holy sanctuary
is womb incubating life abstractly.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Bird Jazz

I felt like I needed a day off from my weekend this morning. I slept long and woke groggy and have obliquely crept into the day. I feel satisfied with the poetry workshop I delivered yesterday, despite my little wobble in the morning. Meanwhile, I am still processing what I saw and heard at Uisneach; no poems have cooked up yet there. It was sunny and warm this morning and, miracle of miracles, completely dry! So I thought I would take myself, notebook and pen outdoors to sit on the terrace that overlooks our acre. Sometimes, I find, I need to go and sit with a different view, mix up the times of day slightly. Also, with teaching two to three workshops a week over the next three weeks, I need to find a variation on my formula to fit in writing the Poem a Day for the #PoetryDaily during April’s NaPoWriMo.

What overwhelmed me was the birdsong, so varied in note, pitch, rhythm and melody. It was like a Babel at the birdfeeders and surrounding trees and hedges. I actually videoed a clip of the birdsong that you can view on my Word Alchemy Facebook page. Please do visit, like and comment. It’s public, so you may share,but please do reference my page as a courtesy.

The #PoetryDaily then.

Bird Jazz

"Could you? Could you?"
Bird speak...

How do they figure out
the lyrics in bird's melodies?
I can't hear those calls
as transcribed in bird guides.

But there is certainly a lot
of conversation,
a Babel at the bird table.

There! I did just get
the pheasant's harsh squawk,
the wood pidgeon's breathy coo.
The rest  are  'as Gaelige' to me.

It's a diverse bird republic out there
chattering away
along with the solitary bee's hum,

all in concert and counterpoint.
Is it all improvised?
Is all this bird jazz just
a prelude to nest and mate?

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by dfkt on Unsplash

World Poetry Day

March 21st is UNESCO World Poetry Day. Unsually, I try and guide a walk in the weekend closest to this day at one of the Marble Arch Geopark sites, since geoparks are also a UNESCO designation. This year is beginning to have lots of projects crammed into a finite diary. The closest I wll get to this is leading a workshop on poetry at the Dowra Courthouse Creative space this Sunday. We will meet from 11am to 2p, 24th March, in the restored courthouse that has become a creative space with workshops that includes a pottery kiln and jewelery making workshop. Dowra is a Geopark Community that straddles the Cavan and Leitrim county boundaries.

There are still a couple spaces available. All you need do is bring a lunchtime snack, a comfortable pen, and a notebook. Be open to experimentation, to writing truly appalling first drafts, and moving on to feeling the joy of the creative sap rising with springtime.

Meanwhile, here is a World Poetry Day bonus poem…on the state of poetry.


It sits like the elephant
in the corner of the living room,
treated as irrelevant,
a difficult to quantify
its quantity or quality
as economic unit.

Tell me the weight and rate
of soul? If you feel that one exists
inside darkest nights, within great joy?
Then everyone wants to reach
for a poem.Or to grasp a pen
to pioneer that frontier
of their understanding
of what costs nothing
and contains a world.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image
Photo by Trust "Tru" Katsande on Unsplash

A River Runs Through

We are no clearer as to what will happen to our border come 29th March, 2019, the Brexit deadline. Teresa May was hoarse and shouted down in Parliament the other day. Still the only movement seems that the penny dropped that No Deal is really a very bad deal for all concerned. Four centuries of British invasion and colonialism have come home to roost. It’s a knot they made for themselves. Well, their ancestors made for them. For those who feel no ancestral connection, who believe that post-moderns are beyond history, this is where history, ancestral decisions and actions brings us. Victors may get to write the official history. The land and the ancestors know the whole story.

As an aside, today marks six months since starting to write a poem a day and posting it on this blog. I had done the month long NaPoWriMo in April 2017 and 2018, but I felt the itch to challenge myself. I had no idea that I would still be here. You can see my flops and the successes. But at least I am having the courage to write on a daily basis.

I am really grateful for my faithful readership (you know who you are. And so do I!) and my faithful Twittership Traci York (check out her blog The blog has evolved with poetry writing as a spiritual practice and as a journal. Not so much of outward happenings – there have been momentous occurances – but of my inward response to them, or even my deflection of them.) I do at regular intervals wonder how long I can keep this up, especially as I start juggling teaching and three different projects over the next three months. That will be a real test of the practice.

A River Runs Through

Borders may shift
but the land stays still.
Rivers demarcate
the only sure
lines you can cross
on maps.
                   No matter
the tribe you subscribe,
they can deny
you, throw you to
hell or Connaught, out
beyond the Pale,
into schtetl,
township bulldozered.
you can become
a Them, a Not-Us
so easily.

do you love?
they love you at
your last moment?
the earth reject
your lifeless form?

The land knows you, that
you are their own.
Where your bones rest
it calls you its own.
No maps or border,
no tribe ever
will describe all
the story the land
tells us.
                 Listen. Here.
A river runs
through like blood.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

Majestic Difference

If you don’t live in a universe populated with bookstores, it may have passed you by that today is World Book Day. And why wouldn’t you have a day to celebrate what to many a lonely child was where the first friendships were forged?! For the shy and introverted, novels are a kind of ‘how to’ navigate the world of people and relating to them. Poetry especially, and for me discovering Emily Dickinson in particular, made the world feel less lonely and myself better understood. So do go by a bookstore today and avail yourself of making friends with some author’s wild mind, the world their imagination manufactures in book form.

Today’s poetry practice is not about a book, although I could wax lyrical about the books that have been life altering. Today’s poetry practice is a riff from a phrase used by my niece as we were journeying in the car back from some very body and soul satisfying massages in Sligo Town. Writers can be thieves sometimes. Or, maybe, more accurately, we are all magpies that pick up the glittering words and phrased that others conveniently drop in our paths.

Majestic Difference

Labels name things.
It is comforting to know
that purple flower is an iris or aquilegia,
to be able to distinguish between
the song of robin and blackbird.

In museum glass cases
they curate found things.
They mark their era and location.
They mount interpretive boards
with their speculation.
They take their joy
in their explanations.

We like to name things.
To identify, sort, code, safely label.
display in a box, interpret
the found,
explain away the mystery.

Every neighbourhood and town
has its 'odd bod'
the boy-man or Boo Riley
still living at home
with Father and Mother
too frail is some indefinite way
to go out into the world.

The sort that when a baby fails
to make its landmarks
when Mother takes them for their checks,
a worry is sowed, a fear that this child
will be one with some form of
majestic difference.

One that experts will want to poke and prod
and explain that it will never go away,
that they will try to identify and label,
what is not easily categorised. They'll
maybe medicate, maybe enable,
but rarely just sit with the inevitable
awe at the mystery
of majestic difference.

Which is not meant
as an object of fear.
Or needing to be shut away in a glass case.
They are simply subject
to their majestic difference.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Big Bang

” Let the mind off its leash.” I wrote that at the top of my notebook just to give me a little Monday jump start. Then this morning I read a poem by A. R. Ammons called Continuing. Which filled me with utter awe. That man really does know how to do wild mind! I found him in the anthology “The Poetry of Impermanence,Mindfulness and Joy.” (ed. John Brehm, Wisdom Publications.) Ammons really does know how to let him mind off the leash. His career was a confluence of science and literature in a life that began in rural North Carolina. I feel like someone just threw me a poetry stick at me and said “Go Fetch!”

Anyway, to the keyboard. I have unpoetic missions to fulfill today. But first a little limbering up, letting my mind be a little looser. I was never a natural maths and science student. So reviewing the definition of prime numbers was pretty wild for a Monday morning. And all of this because the cats are cooped up and feeling cranky.


The divisible formula:
sometimes it takes only one,
on the other hand, some
mystical prime -
one and itself -
to break it all down,
form a crowbar
to lever the whole
leaving pieces.

Oh, maybe it is how the stars align
some days when an angry planet
slings an Attitude toward
some other neck of the cosmos
where they collide -
say it smacks the moon's ass -
or a drive by dying star
frazzles a black hole's edges.
Maybe that's the whole point
of the Big Bang.

It was not to divide to rule,
but to divide and create.
Done in a massive fit
of cosmic irritability.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.