30 Days of Poetry: Days 8-14

30 Days of Poetry: a Poet's Log Book of Daily Efforts in Poetry for National Poetry Month

Day 8: get offer to read in NYC at the end of the month of April. Spend the rest of evening making arrangements to make that possible. Things to consider: transportation, place to stay, days of visit.

Day 9: revise the manuscript I'm working on. Today I just did a couple poems. What I'm doing with this current draft, to really polish the work, is making an "annotated" version. Are my annotations explaining too much or is the poem doing enough work without them? If the option is the former, I work on revising the poem to get it to stand alone better. It's painstaking, but really helpful. Thankfully, I feel there's more poems that "work" than do not.

Day 10-13: Sometimes you need to read other people's works in order to get a better focus on the direction that you want your own writing to go. On days 10-13 I read "The Diary of Anais Nin" and took notes. It's helped with the end of the mss and what I want to revise to, the voice I want to truly come through. I took my notebook and book and pen to the cafe down the street. They have good chocolate chip cookies (I'm a cookietarian, remember). I started off with cookie and earl grey and water. Then a got a couple beers, each $3 as the cafe was rotating out their winter stock.

Day 14: Looked through the "Call for Submissions" Facebook Group for journals that might seem like a good fit to submit to. I decided on two. I looked through the other manuscript of poems that I want to start publishing from (my graduate thesis) and pulled selections from those that I thought might appeal to the editors. I will let you know if there's good news in the future!

All 30 Days of Poetry entries are here.

Warsan Shire, the poet behind Beyonce's "Lemonade"

"Warsan Shire, the Woman Who Gave Poetry to Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’"

“Lemonade,”... credits Ms. Shire with “film adaptation and poetry,” 
Full story of this remarkable poet's affect on current pop culture is at http://nyti.ms/1NUJZC6

This better be the punctuation mark to the assertion many of us have combated for a while: there is not way that poetry is dying. Nor will it ever. 

Ew. RHCP Are Total Creeps. That Sucks

 I talked enthusiastically about strategy, artist development and press campaigns, and I presented ideas on further establishing their image.  None of them involved wearing socks on their dicks. 
Afterwards,  I took two of the Chili Peppers to the storage room where we kept the box sets and CDs. As we looked in the cabinet, they pressed up against me and told me about all of the ways we could make a super sexy sandwich. 
At first  I thought they were joking. When I realized they weren’t, I ran from the storage room to my office, where I closed my door, sat down at my desk, and cried. I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed, and embarrassed that I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed.  There was far worse going on in the music industry at the time, and I thought I was a badass. Being a victim didn’t fit my self-perception. 
When the Chili Peppers’ then-manager knocked on my door a few minutes later, I stopped crying and let him in. He offered an apology that sounded memorized; it was one he’d obviously offered many times before. 

Full horrific story at: https://thegrayishcarpet.com/2016/04/20/blood-sugar-sex-dickheads/ 

Washington Post Opinion: "Play the ‘woman card’ and reap these ‘rewards’!"

The Woman Card entitles you to constant scrutiny and judgment from all corners at all times, whether you asked for it or not. Try talking! Or rather, don’t.
 More on Hillary playing the Woman Card, and what treasures that entitles her to, at Washington Post:


#MoreThanMean - "Women in Sports 'Face' Harassment

If you are a sensitive soul like me, make sure you have some tissues nearby while viewing this. The vulnerability, sympathy and hurt on display as these regular guys read aloud the tweets these female sports reporters have received from other "regular" anonymous guys on the internet is powerful. This is painful and potent.

The Love Spell Box by Gillian Kemp

“The Love Spell Box: a pack of 30 love cards and book of spells to enhance your love life” by Gillian Kemp

I bought this a while ago. I take it out and flip through just to explore what’s possible to concentrate on, not to necessarily follow the spells to a T. The cards are so beautifully illustrated, too.

On Being Episode, "Pagans, Ancient and Modern"

With Beltane around the corner, I'm catching up on my neopagan notes to post here on the Commonplace Book. This is a 2008 episode of On Being in which host Krista Tippett talks with guest Adrian Ivakhiv about paganism, in its new iteration and its old.


Outlander & Herbal Medicine

Gratuitous photo of Jamie Fraser shirtless care of “Starz” network.

One of my favorite parts of the show is the herbal medicine part. Birch bark as aspirin. Vinegar, garlic, and/or witch hazel as antiseptic. All of that thrills me to no end. More than just an interest, more like a “zone” I get into when reading about it/watching Claire at the apothecary, either in this series or in any given book about herbs. I want to learn more! I want to be a part-time herbalist.

Wands and Walking

You know, I have a wand. Seriously! I want one for symbolic reasons, not because I think it actually holds Harry Potter-style magical powers; more just contains the magic or spirit that every Thing has, according to my pantheistic beliefs.
I found it at a time when I was having a very contemplative walk on a crisp late November day. Looking at it will help bring the intensity of thought that walk gave me.

I take symbols as reminders of what we hold inside, what we’re capable of seeing, if we think differently, while considering what a symbol stands for.

My wand is made if Hornbeam tree. It’s from the Arnold
Arboretum, near the Walter St/ Revolutionary Era gravestones on your way up to Peters Hill. I love my wand.

Samhain to the South

~Passage from Scott Cunningham’s “The Truth about Witchcraft Today” (side note: this book has the silliest 80s cover ever, with a feathered hair young woman in a tweed suit holding a briefcase walking down a street. I think to signify “every day” people believe in witchcraft, but it more just seems like an unwitting stock image person got smooshed onto a book about neopaganism. As a result, it brings me joy every time I think of it though.)

Anyway, as we gear up for Beltane here in the Northern Hemisphere, our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are readying for Samhain!

Outlander: Book Vs Starz Series, on the Loch Ness

Last season of the show, read the book in the middle of the season, during the break. That annoyed me too much, though. I enjoyed the show better without knowing how it varied from the book. Like there was no encounter with the Loch Ness, as I was hoping there would be. This time around, i'm just going to read the book after the season is over, so I can appreciate each entity as is.

Tarot Reading: Career Path Spread


New Books: The White Goddess by Robert Graves

The introduction is a bit crazy. Anyway, I heard about this by way of a million neopagan text references but in fact the actual first time I heard of it was from Tori Amos's "Night of Hunters" when she wrote a song about the "Battle of Trees" set to the music of Erik Satie's "Gnossienne no. 1."

Night of Hunter is one of her less popular albums but the more I've listened, the more I've come to love it. She discusses that composition here:

Crystals can store data...and do other magical things

I don't know about you but I get a thrill from just looking at this picture. 

Love Your Local Dandelion!


Eat the Weeds: The Magnificent Dandelion

(Taraxacum spp.)
I am loathe to call these incredible plants “weeds,” but weeds they are in the eyes of most. I use them as salad greens, but the flowers can be made into wine and soft drinks, and the roasted roots make a caramel-like a coffee substitute. Parts of the plant can also be used for natural yellow and green dyes.
The plant itself is a dynamic accumulator and producer or an array of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients (vitamins A, C and K, and calcium, potassium, iron and manganese).
This sunshine-yellow flower attracts pollinators to the garden, grows in a wide variety of circumstances, and with a long taproot cycles deeply-buried soil nutrients to the surface (a so-called “fountain plant”). Numerous species of butterfly rely on it for sustenance during various stages of their life cycles.
Various dandelion extracts are being researched as cancer medicines, as all parts of the plant contain a number of pharmacologically-active compounds. Long used in folk medicine as a tonic for the blood, liver, and gall bladder, dandelions have a mild diuretic and laxative effect on the system: it is a registered drug in Canada for this reason.
Dandelions are among my favourite plants, and if they weren’t already so abundant, I would plant them! If you can find them in a place that is not plagued by runoff or sprayed with pesticides, I’d highly recommend you explore their culinary and medicinal potential.
More: A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.
#foraging #dandelions #superfoods #health

Sex, Objectification & Body Positivity

Never read the comments…Although over all they have been very encouraging. I just read this one, though

About time!! Now all women can objectify themselves

WHICH DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!  I think denigrating a woman for wanting to show off her sexiness and demonizing her sexuality despite her embracing of it is just about as honorable as those oppressive conservative misogynists who criticze women for being feminist. Have you ever thought to question why we, in society, automatically put anything sexual in the category of “bad”, whether as feminists objecting to alleged objectification or conservative monotheistic religious people criticizing sexual liberation?

Anyway, love this ad. I had a bikini picture that I was reticent to post because I’m the same size and after this I went and posted it anyway. Because in ten years I’m going to look back on my body now and wish I appreciated current me. So, I went for it! Embrace yours curves. Embrace your sexuality. Damn the naysayers, from either side. THANK YOU ASHLEY GRAHAM!

On "Kissing" from "Sexplanations"

Everything about this kissing tutorial from sexplanations on YouTube is flat out wonderful. Enjoy!!!


Women Are Already Going to Jail for Having Abortions

From NY Times
I know Trump said last month that he would punish women who sought abortions and we gasped. But it's already happening: an Indiana woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for having a miscarriage. Indiana & its religious fanatics are terrifyingly disturbing for the infringement they’re inflicting on others.

“Today, Purvi Patel, the Indiana woman who was found guilty of feticide and neglect of a dependent last month, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. As we’ve covered, Patel was convicted of two contradictory charges — of both intentionally terminating her pregnancy and delivering a live fetus and abandoning …”
More at Feministing: http://feministing.com/2015/03/30/purvi-patel-was-sentenced-to-20-years-in-prison-for-having-a-miscarriage/

And NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/magazine/purvi-patel-could-be-just-the-beginning.html

"Instead of Going to AWP" ~ Gina Myers (last year) on Poetry Foundation Harriet Blog

From Gina Myers, posting at Poetry Foundation:
Instead of going to AWP, I used my vacation days from work to go to Puerto Rico and it was glorious. Instead of going to AWP, I will show up to work at 8 am each morning and leave at 4:30 pm (hopefully) each afternoon. Instead of going to AWP, I will purchase spring subscriptions […]


Advice on Publishing from Ruth Foley

Ruth Foley’s advice on publishing is a must read for anyone just starting down the road to publishing. Please heed it, prospects!


Sharing this Tumblr Post on What to Do If You're Feeling Severely Depressed

Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up

Are you hydrated?  If not, have a glass of water.
Have you eaten in the past three hours?  If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs.  Perhaps some nuts or hummus?
Have you showered in the past day?  If not, take a shower right now.
If daytime: are you dressed?  If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas.  Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress.
If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep?  Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed.  If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure.
Have you stretched your legs in the past day?  If not, do so right now.  If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please.  If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip.
Have you said something nice to someone in the past day?  Do so, whether online or in person.  Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it.
Have you moved your body to music in the past day?  If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song.
Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days?  If not, do so.  Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets.  Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them.
Do you feel ineffective?  Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it’s responding to an e-mail, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip.  Good job!
Do you feel unattractive?  Take a goddamn selfie.  Your friends will remind you how great you look, and you’ll fight society’s restrictions on what beauty can look like.
Do you feel paralyzed by indecision?  Give yourself ten minutes to sit back and figure out a game plan for the day.  If a particular decision or problem is still being a roadblock, simply set it aside for now, and pick something else that seems doable.  Right now, the important part is to break through that stasis, even if it means doing something trivial.
Have you seen a therapist in the past few days?  If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then.
Have you been over-exerting yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually?  That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment.
Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand?  That may be screwing with your head.  Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down.
Have you waited a week?  Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause.  It happens.  Keep yourself going for a full week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then.
You’ve made it this far, and you will make it through.  You are stronger than you think.

From: http://noreimerreason.tumblr.com/post/115530570541/everything-is-awful-and-im-not-okay-questions-to

Girlie Is NOT an Epithet!

I reject the word “girlie” as an epithet. I have & always will be a very proud girlie girl.

There is nothing wrong with pink Legos, or soccer balls, or sneakers. Just like there’s nothing wrong with them in primary colors. And there’s nothing wrong with a girl playing with either. AND there’s nothing wrong with a boy doing so either. How about that, eh?

It’s very empowering to embrace your inner pinkish-purple-ness & share it unabashedly. I encourage everyone on the gender spectrum to do so.

"We Need To Stop Devaluing Femininity" - Article that Prompted my Feminine Feminist Manifesto

We live in a culture that simultaneously claims to embrace the equality of men and women and at the same time seriously devalues femininity.
This woman needs to be my best friend. She read my mind!


Books on my Shelf: Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha

“We are at war with our eroticism. We battle our hungers, expectations, and disappointments. Religion, politics & even science square off against biology and millions of years of evolved appetites. How to diffuse this intractable struggle?” ~From the book “Sex at Dawn”

Plagiarism issues in the poetry world.

"Nice Poem; I'll Take It"

How it feels to be the victim of a serial plagiarist
by Sandra Beasley


IDGAF, on Controversy & Conceptual Poets

The thing about Vanessa Place & Kenny Goldsmith is not only that they’re using racism to make “art” but that they’re really boring & meh. The only credence their work has is from the fact that they’re in academia and/or on TV for doing weird shit and getting enough people, I guess those who fear seeming dumb for not “getting it,” to buy into it just enough to cause a hubbub that has their name recognized in literary conference crowds. It’s all very ephemeral. When their disgusting dust finally settles from the current chitter chat (I’m being more dismissive here of their defenders; detractors based on content I’m on the side of), history will blow it away with the breeze and no one will give a fuck in a century from now. They’re the equivalent of can-can girls, gypsies, reality TV stars. They only matter because we let them. They should be where they belong: ignored & forgotten. Not only because they’re racist, but also because they’re work is boring stupid shit.

Mad Men Dream

In my dream last night, I reimagined the Mad Men finale. I was part of it. It took place in the future: 2125, but it was more like a 60s depiction of what the future will look like. All advertising production–TV sets and studio, offices, everything–was moved to Baghdad and they (SC&P, that is) said they were doing it even though it was kind of dangerous because they knew it would be better soon and they wanted to buy cheap there and start the trend of everyone else moving commercial and advertisement production in Iraq. Roger Sterling and Don Draper were dressed as John Slattery and John Hamm and were directing commericals. I went along with the whole Baghdad thing because I really wanted the job. I was just a PA I think. Anyway, when I looked out the office building window, for miles and miles I saw pink, greeen and yellow pastel colored housing developments that looked like they were from a Dr Seuss drawing. [spoiler alert] Roger was still married to Marie. She was scoffing at me for being nervous about Baghdad. Vivid dream. I miss that show.


A glorious photo of Susan Howe in Dublin!


Welp, Now I'm Hungry...a review of "Fictitious Dishes" at Brainpickings

Fictitious Dishes: Elegant and Imaginative Photographs of Meals from Famous Literature

Full review at:

Book link at:

"Yankees Suck!" The Seedy History of Boston's Most Famous T-Shirt

This story needs to be a movie. A very stereotypical Boston movie, as parodied by Seth Meyers.

The debauched history behind the famous, jealous-little-sibling tshirt "YANKEES SUCK" is full of drugs, rock n roll, and mob violence. Yikes!

Full story at Grantland.

"Dinner with Mr Darcy Review at Brainpickings: To Read

Dinner with Mr. Darcy: Recipes from Jane Austen’s Novels and Letters

Mr. Bingley’s white soup, Lady Middleton’s apricot marmalade, Margaret Dods’s pigeon pie, and more literary treats from Georgian England.

Full review of this Jane Austen inspired cookbook at: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/02/25/dinner-with-mr-darcy-jane-austen-cookbook/

30 Days of Poetry: Days 3-7

30 Days of Poetry: a Poet's Log Book of Daily Efforts in Poetry for National Poetry Month, Days 3-8

Hey hey! Here's my update on what I've been up to to make a concerted effort to put poetry into every day. I kinda do this all the time but this month, I'm making sure I'm doing it and noting what I did.

Day 3: Reading for ideas on revising a mss I'm working on. There's something missing in the ending sections of the work. Today I read "Delta of Venus" by Anais Nin. It made me realize that I don't need to get into more of the eros in the sections, but more of the development of the voices from the beginning of the book of the poems to the end.

Day 4: Read Paris Spleen. I think maybe the prose poem form will help in writing new poems to round out the end of the manuscript. I just flipped to the middle of the beginning and read four poems.

Day 5: Research and prepare for the Book Spine Poem project. First just plain old Googling. Then I looked on Pinterest. In my notes, I realized the "formula" is making sure, as with un-found poetry, there's some concrete images and rich action verbs.

Day 6: Create Book Spine Poems. It's kinda funny how things work sometimes. You could take ages to make a body of work (like the mss I mentioned above for Days 3 & 4, which is now OFFICIALLY as of this month, in its 10th year of progress) or you just plop down 11 book spine poems in about an hour and a half. Voila!

Day 7: Took pictures and type up (and edit for artistic license) the Book Spine Poems.

All 30 Days of Poetry entries are here.

Ted Cruz Wanted to Ban Dildos (Too Bad We Can't Ban Metaphorical Dildos...Like Ted Cruz)

Full Story on Jezebel's "The Slot"

An excerpt of an excerpt...
Mother Jones reports:
The brief insisted that Texas in order to protect “public morals” had “police-power interests” in “discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification, combating the commercial sale of sex, and protecting minors.” There was a “government” interest, it maintained, in “discouraging...autonomous sex.” The brief compared the use of sex toys with “hiring a willing prostitute or engaging in consensual bigamy,” and it equated advertising these products with the commercial promotion of prostitution. In perhaps the most noticeable line of the brief, Cruz’s office declared, “There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.” That is, the pursuit of such happiness had no constitutional standing. And the brief argued there was no “right to promote dildos, vibrators, and other obscene devices.” The plaintiffs, it noted, were “free to engage in unfetterednoncommercial speech touting the uses of obscene devices” but not speech designed to generate the sale of these items. 

30 Days of Poetry - running behind on posts!

I'm going to have to play Ketchup. I'm busy *doing* poetry things instead of documenting them here! I'll catch up soon. How's your National Poetry Month going?

Cast, Director and Producers of "Bridget Jones" Talk about the Movie Franchise & Beloved Character

Hey, did you know that I'm *not* Bridget Jones? Sometimes I have to remind people that because they see so much of me in the character. Not that I'm complaining. I love Bridget! Anyway, here's an interview with the cast, director and producers about the movie franchise, the upcoming film and the ardent international love for Bridget.


To Read: The Birth of the Pill

The Birth of the Pill by Jonathan Eig

Part 8, cont - Fictive Certainties, The Art of Reading Poetry by Harold Bloom


Bloom's Art of Reading Poetry is not as structured and does not break down the parts of a poem as meticulously Voigt's "The Flexible Lyric" essay does. He addresses things to look for when reading a poem but the sections cover varying aspects without the compartmentalizing of Voigt's, as explained in the previous section of this paper.

In the first section of the book, Bloom examines figuration of language and classifies the four types, according to Kenneth Burke: irony, synecdoche, metonymy, and metaphor. I sought further explanation of these terms in my mammoth copy of The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. This text offers no definite explanation. “In practice is it often difficult to distinguish [metonymy] from synecdoche. Some hold that synecdoche entails a one-many substitution…whereas [metonymy] is a one-for-one replacement involving a change of intension…many critics use ‘[metonymy]’ as a generic term for both” (784). I liked the terminology used by Bloom of metonymy being a "romancing of the etonym to renew the 'finer edges' of words" (5). Regardless of the details, the section on figuration in The Art of Reading Poetry details what Voigt would classify as "texture" of a poem.

The next section of Bloom is fairly short and can be summed up by saying that it explains that language is concealed figuration while poetry is "aware of and exploits" the figuration (5). This is another aspect of texture.

Anais Nin on Love & Henry Miller on Routine, from Brainpickings

Anxiety is love's greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man hold on to you. You want to save hime, but you know he will strangle you with his panic. ~Anais Nin, February, 1947

Lettering by Debbie Millman

More at:

Also, while clicking around, I foudn this post on Henry Miller's 11 Commandments for Writing, including a routine he concocted to get sh*t done (my words). I could use that. 


If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.
If in fine fettle, write. 
Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all. 
See friends. Read in cafés.
Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.
Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.
Paint if empty or tired.
Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS. 
Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.
I feel like if he were arund today, he'd say "Cut the Netflix! Internet hopping once a week."

Full post at: https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/02/22/henry-miller-on-writing/ 

30 Days of Poetry: Day 2 "Childhood" (section V) by Rimbaud, trans W. Fowlie

30 Days of Poetry: a Poet's Log Book of Daily Efforts in Poetry for National Poetry Month, Days 2

Today for poetry, I read some of Wallace Fowlie's translations of Rimbaud, from "Complete Works, Selected Letters." This is probably my most worn book of poems, after "Cultural Affairs in Boston." (Oh, yeah, and they're probably literary kin, I'd say, too, so that makes sense.)

For today's post, I'm just going to share section five of the long prose poem "Childhood." It resonated very much with me ten years ago when I first read it for a course I was taking about the Symbolists poems at UMaine, my alma mater. That and "First Communion" were the inspiration for the manuscript I began working on upon reading the Symbolists. I am now slowly but surely publishing bits and pieces of the book-in-progress, a decade after I started it. Mind you, I haven't been working constantly on this one book. There's about 8 new manuscripts that have been created in the interim. But this one is my first born, and therefore very special. (Wow, that was such a biased statement about first borns. Hahaha. Of course I woudl say that, being the eldest.)

Here is Section V from "Childhood"

Now hire for them the tomb, whitewashed with the lines of cement in bold relief--far underground.
I lean my elbows on the table, and the lamp lights brightly the newspapers I am fool enough to reread, and the absurd books.
At a tremendous distance above my subterranean room, houses grow like plants, and fogs gather. The mud is red or black. Monstrous city, endless night!
Not so high up are the sewers. At my side, nothing but the thickness of the globe. Perhaps there are its of azure and wells of fire. On those levels perhaps moons and comets, seas and fables meet.
In moments of depression I imagine sapphire and metal balls. I am master of silence. Why should the appearance of a cellar window turn pale at the corner of a ceiling.
As re-read this poems, I looked at my original observations from the first time I read them. I'm pleased at how astute they are. Sometimes, you look back at old comments and they're kind of embarrassing.  These were smart. Good work, 27 year old me.

I listened to a YouTube mix based off of "James Blake 'The Wilhelm Scream'" for when I read today.

Another thing that I love about reading poetry is how it make me think about the poems and poetry I want to write. I'm struggling with a section of the manuscript I mentioned above. Today's work made me think about working on that section in prose-poem form. And the music helped me think I should write about moments, visceral moments themselves, instead of about moments, for that section.

All 30 Days of Poetry entries are here.

30 Days of Poetry: Day 1, Daisy Aldan

30 Days of Poetry: a Poet's Log Book of Daily Efforts in Poetry for National Poetry Month, Day 1

For "National Poetry Month" people often participate in "NaPoWriMo" - "National Poetry Writing Month", where they write a poem a day. I am forgoing that this time around, though I do love the daily challenges. I once wrote a poem a day for a year. That was amazing and any poet, especially if you're struggling with something or other, should do it. What I am challenging myself to do this month, however, is "NaPoReadMo" -- read a dedicated amount of poetry every day. I'd say on a weekly basis, I read, write or edit a few hours, but with my other endeavors, I definitely let reading poetry go by the wayside.
For Day 1 of my NaPoReadMo, I read a compilation of things I gathered on the poet Daisy Aldan an made a kind of homemade "Selected Works".I feel I have to have poems in front of me on paper in order to really appreciated and get into them.  I think it is because unlike reference reading--newspaper, research, non-fiction--we can't "skim" a poem. Indeed one major difference in prose and poetry is that it is purposefully not about skimming the words. Each word is deliberate and integral to the piece.

While I read Aldan's poems, I also played the "Morton Feldman" radio stream on Pandora. It was apt because the artists and poets Aldan published in her anthology magazine "A New Folder" were connected also to the abstract contemporary classical composition of Feldman, artistically and socially. Therefore, this music and this poetry went well together, like scones and tea. For me, it is difficult to concentrate on the intensity of reading poetry without something deliberately enhancing for background noise. I think it is because I am easily distracted (un-diagnosed ADD). At first I just threw on a mix stream from Pandora, but that wasn't working. When I put on the Feldman radion stream: instant concentration.

I mention all this because the purpose of my writing about reading poetry won't just be to talk about the work itself, but to talk about how we read poetry today. So many non-poet friends "don't get it" when it comes to reading poems, which is disheartening. I think so often poetry is taught as if it is a scavenger hunt, "find the metaphor, find the alliteration" instead of experiencing the work as a whole. I want to use these posts as a means of explaining how I read poetry. Part of what helps is having it in paper form and having background music to keep me focused.

These are the three internet source from which I printed to put together a "selected works":

When I taught poetry to young students, I wouldn't ask for judgment or even interpretation. I simply ask them to observe. What do you notice? Here's what I noticed from my reading:

Aldan has a poem titled "The Little Mermaid" http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse/120/1#!/20595576  written almost two decades before the fairy tale was repopularized by Disney. The feminist issues she addresses in it are still relevant today. The Little Mermaid is a very complicated mythical figure and I recently heard an interpretation of her story in which we no longer say she gives up her voice for a man to love, but for her freedom to be who she wants and love who she wants. This poem made me think of that interpretation.

The other thing I notices is just how brilliant Aldan's chunks of phrasing can be, so striking:

...Ah! There are the Daughters
Of the Air, closer than friends, closer even than breathing.
They see my tears My thoughts become feathers.

In another poem (STONES: Avesbury)
 between past and future: fluid, yet in tension
[     ] between sun and moon: fire-conquered chaos in process:
[          ] manifest mind and will: shadow casters confirming
[                ] Him:
[             ] bewitching gods tracking time toward our release in light

(Note: The bracketed space is for posting purposes, in the published poem there's only the space, no brackets) Upon first reading this, I just like the rhythm of it. This, that, elaboration/this, that, elaboration. Re-typing it I see it's something that's striking also because of it's unique use of the colon punctuation mark. That helps enhance the syncopated rhythm. Then of course how the words move across the page and that pushes the reading of it, which enhances the meaning of it. But most especially "fluid, yet in tension" the words fluid and tension are onomatopaeic and when you read them you get them more than you would if they were just laid out, in prose.

I could go on and on but that's not the point of this post a day, either. Today I get to elaborate because it's a Saturday. Other days when I post what I'm reading it might be just a link and a reason why I picked it or something. But the point is reading poetry everyday.

All 30 Days of Poetry entries are here.