I am going to be getting my head down to editting and putting together my solo poetry collection. But I know there are some hardcore Poetry Daily readers out there and I figured I couldn’t let them go cold turkey. So last month I stashed a few little ones so they don’t get the shakes from an abrupt withdrawal.
There will be a weekend edition of some new poems. So keep an eye out for longer poems at the weekend in the Weekly Poem. Just so I can use the time with editting and dreaming the collection.
I am using the quotation poem format. Because who doesn’t like a bit of proverb or wisdome in capsule form. This one comes from W.B. Yeats, whose mother’s people came from Sligo, not a million miles from me. The landscape inspired some of his best loved poems.
While I am busy editting and tweaking I have prepared some Poetry Dailies in advance for those of you who savour a little poem a day. The quotation poem format is one I return to again and again. It’s a great mental stretch. Over time I have found that it lends itself to ten syllable line. Sometimes I can manage an a-b-a-b-a rhyme scheme. I have started to collect lines that beguile me. And then I begin to stitch them together sometimes in a mash up. The quotation poem, for those who are new to the form goes thus:
The opening quote is a President John F. Kennedy comment on poet Robert Frost, who read a poem at his inauguration (oh, weren’t those the days!). Elizabeth Bishop gets a sly line in and then Wendell Berry (read his poem “How to Be A Poet” online in that blog I have referenced above) gets chawed over in the final line.
My niece posted a James Baldwin quote which was thought provoking. The Sunday mood tends towards the soulful if you have been brought up in any kind of church. Even when you are lapsed, Sundays tend to include that thoughtful time, the reflection over the past week or the one that lies ahead. The wider world is troubling. Often the wider world reflects the movements in the the micro-world. So here is a quotation poem to set you thinking. It is from the wise James Baldwin. There is, too, a sense of wanting to do better or be better. This quotation is more instructive on what not to do.
The way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.
The dog days of August are nearly upon us, where we will be at the mercy of the barometric pressure and ambient temperature. It’s midweek, Wednesday, day of Woden and Mercury. We have another week of Mercury being retrograde and we can begin to inch forward on projects. The eclipses of July are about to roll out the effects of their causes. The Poetry Daily in closing in on the six weeks to the first anniversary of the poem a day post of what has become The Poetry Daily.
I have two little quotation poems on infographics to sing out the month of the July. The first is from British dramatist David Hare, which includes the title in the quotation. The second first line comes from Irish Nobel literary laureate Samuel Beckett. They have been celebrating him just over the border from us in Enniskillen in their Happy Days Festival.
Some of the best adventures come with the random left turn. I doubt we would be living where we are today but for late morning hunger and a random left turn at a roundabout. We were heading towards a specific direction, but the detour proved be the ultimate destination. The side track became our main road. In getting lost, in risking a left turn into the unknown, we may find so much of value. Today the Poetry Daily dives into the wisdom of some quotations from Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.
Getting lost can be enormously healing in a creative life. Living with mystery and uncertainty, as Solnit would put it, can be so illuminating. Also transforming. And magical. You see things you have never seen before and never will again. Learning to relax into getting lost is possibly the best remedy for anxiety. It can lead to all sorts of breakthroughs.
This Friday I lure you into a weekend adventure where you can get lost…and also find something you will treasure. Getting Lost is another kind of re-wilding.
The beauty of short poem forms is that they fit nicely on a social media graphic. A FBF posted part of an Arthur O’Shaunessy poem yesterday, which gave me the quotation to play with.(Thank you, Amy Bogard, for the inspiration for today’s Poetry Daily. And if readers would like to learn more about this gifted artist, please visit her on http://www.amybogard.com).
While painting and drawing are not in my repertoire of artistic gifts, I do enjoy playing with visuals. Eventually, I would like to collage a Bee’s Word Garden (hat tip to my artist college roomie, Terri Slack Hardwicke for that project title!)
But, to get on with the Poetry Daily! You have the quotation from Arthur O’Shaunessy in the first line. The image comes from an exhibition that took lines from poems in a University of Leeds project from 2017. My creative colleague, Helen Shay, and I carried out a poetry conversation in the Leads to Leeds project curated by Helen Mort. Oli Bentley,in turn, created a steel beam typeface and then took quotations and created an exhibition using lines from our poetry.
Artists collaborate. We pollinate each other like bees to create and create and create. People who make art – whether with words or visuals- have a reputation as solitary, often suffering, souls. We do spend a lot of alone time. But rarely are we working in isolation.
Quotations, lines of other people’s words, just keep drawing my eye and beguiling my creative life these summer days. Last autumn, when I was was making a concerted effort to try different poetry forms on a daily basis, I stumbled upon the cento. It is a patchwork poem made up from lines of verse from other poets. You can find my initial effort at https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/11/07/cento-on-hope/.
But it is not just limited to poetry. It is a literary collage. (I loved collaging as a kid and did many for extra credit as a 7th and 8th grader. We didn’t call them vision boards back in the day. It was play with words and image, jumbled together, contrapuntal, onto poster board. Collage is still one of my favourite activities for relaxation and/or inspiration.)
So the cento is a collage poem. Or patchwork poem.
Opiod of the People
I will be living with chronic pain for the rest of my life. Owning our story can be hard... being afraid to ever be happy again. People have begun to believe in God again.
It's impossible to get at the truth without pain. (Not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.) Ask their forgiveness for the fact bcause there is no other hope.
The persons who lent their voices to this patchwork, or collage, poem are: Brené Brown, Sonya Huber, Svetlana Alexeivich, and Caroline Moorehead. It’s a different kind of exercise doing this mash up of disparate voices speaking about the opioid crisis, the Soviet Union and ex-Soviet Union, and vulnerability.
That’s Margaret Fuller, a woman who packed more into her scant forty years than most of us will do in two lifetimes. She was a journalist, poet, feminist and activist. She was the female figurehead of the American Transcendentalist philosophical movement in the early 19th century. A popular notion is that she was the model for the vivid character of Zenobia in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance. The Poetry Daily dips into some of her wise words for some Monday Motivation. And a bit of courage.
The quotation I found is so relevent to current events. But she wrote it in 1844. Public evil that seems unconquerable and justice elusive is not a new story. Racial and gender injustice may not be written into many history books, but the struggle to achieve justice is the universal human story. Fuller had no vote. A woman was the chattel of her husband. Fuller married late and very, very choosily. Slavery was rife and Free People of Color were being impressed back into slavery after the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in 1857. Injustice was very much part of the world Margaret Fuller inhabited. But it was also an energetic world of a new nation defining its identity. Fuller was part of a cultural context that took words, and the sentiments that loaded them, very seriously. A civil war was simmering in the USA. It would erupt ten years after Fuller drowned in a shopwreck with her husband and child of Fire Island. Tumultuous times. Nonetheless, she persisted in raising her voice and being heard.
Might a sense of the true aims of life elevate the tone of politics and trade, till public and private honor become identical.
Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 Margaret Fuller
"Till public and private honor become identical..." Let past sins forgiven not be forgotten history. Upholding your shiny ideals is not so abnormal. Each generation must repeat doing so actively. Defining the true aims of life makes us incorruptible
The weekend, with its delights, is beginning early. This afternoon there will be a meet up of the summer migrants, my friend and another (we share an alma mater) who make an annual summer migration to the West Cavan/Leitrim environs. It feels like vacation for the year round residents, too. Poetry practice may be sacrosanct, but I am rushing it a bit in anticipation of future treats!
This evening I am looking forward to attending a lecture on Sheela na gigs over at Teach Ban, a cottage beside the Drumcliffe Graveyard where W. B. Yeats’ bones were finally interred in Irish soil (or maybe not, because they may have exhumed the wrong body.) Although this visit will be tinged with a certain sadness. Something is missing from the churchyard. It’s the first time I have visited since the sculpture by local artist Jackie McKenna was stolen. Another friend was the model.
I am still wanting to explore the breadth and limitations of this quotation poem form. To reprise, it is a five line poem: Line 1 being the quotation, the second line is something about or from the past, the third line is an action, the fourth line is the the theme and the final line is something about the future.
When I woke up this morning I was thinking “I wonder what Zora Neale Hurston has to say?” Apart from being a writer and a fellow lover of the djembe drum, Zora rocked a hat worn with a very authoritative and jaunty angle. (Envy!) In her life, there were hard rows to hoe, but in her writing there is something not just so resilient, but ebullient. Go seek her out in the library. Here is the quotation:
There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
Zora Neale Hurston
There are Years
There are years that ask questions and years that answer. Who am I? Where am I? What am I doing here? The who and where and what could get problematic. The core of the apple is the seed of this 'I.' Harvest is the response to the universe's call.
It’s getting a bit ridiculous with these quotation poems. They are just as habit forming as haiku and senryu! It’s has got to the point that as I scroll down Twitter quotations are hurling themselves at me for attention! Literally! Well, no, actually not. They are metaphorically hurling themselves at me for attention. One by Frida Kahlo charmed me and is the basis of today’s Poetry Daily. Yesterday I basically said that the quote needs to be short and snappy like a news headline. That observation still holds water. But I found a way of judiciously editting a quotation so that it still can work without doing violence to the essence of the Great and Good’s words.Frida Kahlo was a an artist and is an iconic feminist shero.She was also woman who lived bravely. We need all kinds of models of female bravery.
The Lover You Deserve
takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee and poetry. Once I felt the quenching joy of rain after long dought, can feel it still even in the drowning dance of hurricane. Everyone survives. Some will learn how to live with it. Wait! Some of us will even decide that we must marry it.
Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are a bourbon biscuit.
Frida on azquotes.com
This also charms me because I do so like a bourbon biscuit. And so does my husband. I am also deeply appreciative of Frida Kahlo’s attention to the feeding and watering of the beloved. Coffee, bourbon biscuits, poetry, hope and truth. Surely a recipe for a great love story.
With the internet one can never be sure of the provenance of quotations, but these are truly wonderful and also quite true. At least from my perspective. They are also great springboards for a poem.