Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Goodbye to January

Fare-well to the Poets.
Goodbye to January.

As with so many of my doings, this Personal Challenge started off fine, started to fizzle (a week of Sick didn't help - but is no excuse), regained a bit of steam, and then scuttled away. Yes - started, fizzled, steamed, scuttled. So it goes.

Poorly paraphrasing Miss Dickinson:

I did not run from Poetry - 
Perhaps it ran from me - 
And, thus - will haunt me all my days - 
And through Eternity - 

However, soul and brain are better for having attempted thinking about, reading, and posting about poets and poetry this first thirty one days of the new year.

I know a few more things, about words and their writers, have recalled delightful childhood memories, and have discovered that you never know when and where Johnny Cash's name will pop up! 

Tonight I read poetry by Toni Morrison and Edward Lear. So there. But I am too lazy to post about them and their creations. Go find some poets that you are curious about. No need any longer to head for library or bookstore. The WORLD of poetry is merely one or two keyboard clicks away.

This month I've learned more about Spoken Word Competitions, the Poetry Foundation, haiku, and Robert Frost.

On the days that I do not read a poem or learn more about a poet just a little guilt and regret form round heart and brain.

And that is O.K. 

But tomorrow brings a New Month and a New Personal Challenge.

And the vow to myself to increase the number of posts in February about the doings.

Poetry WILL be near when we need/want it. Huzzah for words and their writers!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Going Going

Poetry in January

One can see the end of the month from here.
And though I have not posted thirty times about thirty poets I have read over thirty poems.

And the blog challenge "forces" brain to consider Poetry every day.
This is Something.

I think of school children memorizing poetry one hundred years ago, and wonder how many children know a poem by heart today. Maybe rap lyrics count.

Do you have a favorite poem memorized?
My go-to words are "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll.
Time to step up the doings.
Every year I vow to re-memorize "The Gettysburg Address."
A copy sits on my work desk.
In seventh or eighth grade our class had to memorize it, and recite Abe's words into a tape recorder.

It was the first time I heard myself speak on record.
It was not a pleasant thing.

But I KNEW the Address.
Now I get about a third way through, and although the Images appear in brain the Words do not. I can "see" men not dying in vain, but the specific words don't form into the waterfall of words that make up this most powerful short speech.

This early morning I was reading haiku. From hundreds of years ago to present time.

We can write haiku - even if it's not "good." Five - seven - five.
Try it.

Some words are scribbled
With a cheap yellow pencil
on white paper


On to the day and its wonderments.


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Friday, January 20, 2017

No Poem Again

No Poem
No Poet

or Quickly

But Poets
Are in brain
Both as 

And as Guilt

is on
Much more
The Challenge
Not Been

This must be counted as a Plus
And a Forward

For the month
At least

No poetry

And Shel
Might be

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Bit of Childhood Revisited - "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod"

Once upon a time most of us were kids. I don't know if your parents recited or read poetry to you, but ours did. And certain pieces more often than others. One, "The Fairies," by William Allingham, that I've just now read in its entirety is even more frightening than the much abridged version our parents would recite! My favorite was probably "The Owl and the Pussycat" - but I also loved "Wynken, Blyken, and Nod."

(In public domain)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe -
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea -
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish - 
Never afraid are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam - 
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fisherman home;
'Twas all so pretty a sail
It seemed
As if it could not be
And some folks think 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea - 
But I shall name you the fisherman three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes, 
And Nod is a little head, 
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Well, if that doesn't bring back a few memories - such as netting smelt in Lake Superior, and wondering what the heck a trundle bed was!  
For some reason I'd thought this was probably a Mother Goose poem. Nope. It was written as a bed-time story by the American journalist and poet, Eugene Field, who also penned the popular, "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat," among a number of other poems for children.

A few facts:
Mr. Field (1850 - 1895) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and was a journalist in Missouri and Chicago, Illinois. 
Many of his poems were accompanied by the paintings of Maxfield Parrish.
Numerous elementary schools in the midwest are named in his honor.

Known as the "poet of childhood,"Mr. Field was far more than this. But you will have to do your own research. I'm feeling the eyelids drooping, and have a serious yearning for a soft goose-down comforter in a large wooden shoe. The herring are safe tonight...


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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Pastels - But Thinking of Peotry

Today's adventure is a Paint-In at our January meeting of The Lake Country Pastel Society. Our meetings are held at the New Brighton (MN) Community Center - a well-used rowdy space - but with quiet meeting rooms on the second level.

It is just the right distance away - not near enough to know one can just swing everything in the van in a moment and be there, but not so far away as to make an excuse not to go. A Medium Time to Think drive. And I have to go - because powers that be have asked me to do a demo.

I think I know what I will demonstrate - or have it down to two or three options: cross-hatching, using hard stick pastels, or just grabbing a piece of velour mat board and creating a bear head from nothing.

This in-progress guy is coming along:

He was a start a couple years ago, showed promise, but was added to the piles and stack for "later." Later is now. After enjoying the time creating the large cross-hatched sheep painting, "Seth and the Girls," I figure - you can't make this piece worse - give cross-hatching a chance. So far I am pleased with the direction it's going. And I never really know the direction my work is going to take. The folks at the meeting are going to find this out....

And because Poetry is still on the tiny mind, I might brave the asking members about THEIR favorite poets and poems. One can't have a "normal" ""usual" sort of demo. And we might all learn another thing about art.

Sue The Finally-Got-to-See-The- Luther-Exhibit

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Friday, January 13, 2017


is no Fun

Many poets 

Wrote about

And stuff like that

I read and learn
Poets & Poetry

The month
be survived

be met

The Future
will hold

Till I am sick of having it

(Back on the couch for me. And a hearty "yay!" for whisky and tea.)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Little Start is Better Than None

Tomorrow's poet
will be Alice Walker.

But not tonight.
Tonight a football game matters
more than one of our most 

I shall remain a shallow sort
as long as there is football.

But will start learning about 
Ms. Walker's poetry
this evening.

A start.

For now
here is 
a small start
I made this past year.

It ended up
a big part 
of an art adventure.

of little actions
can create
A Big Thing.



Friday, January 6, 2017

A Challenge of The Challenge

I am NOT happy with myself right now, however, I am O.K. with same.
Because of this Personal Challenge.

Because of this Challenge I am "behind" in the planned postings.
T. S. Eliot pulled me into his vortex and part of my brain is still going into and into his words, and the words of his explainers. I've found I need explainers - and YouTube's a place to look and listen.

Then it was Shel Silverstein's turn. Living from 1930 to 1999, he could be the definition of "Creative Person." My brain can sort of keep up with Mr. Silverstein's words, if not with his deeds. I'd known he was a singer-songwriter, a writer and illustrator of well-known children's books, such as "Where the Sidewalk Ends," "The Giving Tree," and "The Missing Piece." I'd known he'd written the song,"A Boy Named Sue," made famous by singer, Johnny Cash. I had not known he'd also authored "Sylvia's Mother," "The Unicorn," and "The Cover of the Rolling Stone." (And a long rollicking piece about a pot-smoking competition!)

I'd known Mr. Silverstein worked as a "Playboy" cartoonist and illustrator for many years. I'd not known he also wrote screenplays. 

Those who come to his work through only his whimsical children's books have some major surprises awaiting!

A bit of Mr. Silverstein's imaginative images:
"If you were only one inch tall
you'd ride a worm to school -"

I miss Shel Silverstein...

The next morning I put my finger on the sheets of Facebook Friends' suggestions.
Edna St. Vincent Mallay (1892 - 1950)
Well, did you you that there is a recording of Johnny Cash reciting her poem, "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver"? Yes, there is.

Ms. Mallay's work earned her the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. She was well-known for her poetry, but was also featured in many publications - shot by the leading photographers of the day- as a celebrity who knew how to appeal to her audience.

Her life was not an easy one - she dealt with drugs, alcoholism, and chronic pain. 

From her book, "Mine the Harvest":
"And must I then, indeed, Pain, live with you
 All through my life? - sharing my fire, my bed,
 Sharing - oh, worst of all things? - the same head? - 
 And, when I feed myself, feeding you too?"

And her life was cut short by a fall, which proved fatal.
Her life's truth:
 "My candle burns at both ends;
 it will not last the night;
 but, ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - 
 it gives a lovely light!"

Our third poet of the day is the multi-faceted Rudyard Kipling. Kipling ALSO has a Johnny Cash connection - though separated by a degree! His famous poem, "If," was recited by actor Dennis Hopper on the Johnny Cash television show.

Kipling's poem, "The Power of the Dog," was suggested by a friend. I'd not known of this famous work. I do now. Almost any dog lover will relate to the words so true and sad.

But Kipling was so much more than a poet. This world traveler wrote in many forms, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature at the ripe old age of forty-two!

As happens with many well-known artists his reputation has roller-coastered through the years. But Kipling's spirited work continues to find fans.

He even has a connection with T. S. Eliot - who edited "A Choice of Kipling's Verse," published in 1941. Eliot wrote that Kipling had "An immense gift of using words, an amazing curiosity and power of observation with his mind and with all his senses, the mask of the entertainer, and beyond that a queer gift of second sight, of transmitting messages from elsewhere, a gift so disconcerting that when we are made aware of it that thenceforth we are never sure when it is not present: all this makes Kipling a writer impossible to wholly to understand and quite impossible to belittle."

Thus, endth today's romp through the lives of three far-different poets - 
It' might be time for me to go listen to one thing they all had in common - Johnny Cash.


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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Today's Poem - T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets"

Yes,  I Tackled Time today.
T. S. Eliot's poem, "Four Quartets."

Cheated? Yup. Eliot, himself, recites the longish work - on You Tube! I wonder what he would think of so many of us deciding to listen instead of read. 

His reading lasts almost fifty six very poety minutes - so I admit to skimming and ignoring and PAYING ATTENTION as time went on.

I cleaned my work desk and Eliot read on.
At times a line forced me to put Mr. Eliot in reverse so I could replay his pointy words.

"Home is where we start from."
"Old men ought to be explorers."
"Distracted from distraction by distraction."

Uh, I'm sorry, Mr. Eliot, I got distracted.

(Be be continued. Really.)

- Sue

Monday, January 2, 2017

Today's Poet - Mary Oliver

I admit coming late to the work of Mary Oliver. According to Wikipedia she is our country's best-selling poet, but until listening to her speak on Krista Tippet's podcast, "On Being," I was unaware of her long (born in 1935) and well-known life.

I'd missed out on reading poems created from accessible words that go straight to brain and heart. If you are one to enjoy a slow walk along a river, a sitting still to watch a busy insect, Ms. Oliver has written a poem you may well enjoy. In one interview she said hides pens in trees in case she needs to write. I like the idea of pens being available in case an idea or phrase comes to mind. Always carry paper. Try not to to lose your pen.

Although writing in short, easily-read sentences, Ms. Oliver is not a "light-weight." Among her many awards are included both the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award for Poetry.

She dares to ask the reader questions that make one STOP and think about answers. One of her most famous lines: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Well, thanks for THAT, Ms. Oliver?!? Thanks for waking me up once again to mortality and life and possibility? Thanks for saying that our lives are precious. Thanks for making us ponder, if only for a minute, something well worth the serious ponder.

If you care to read Mary Oliver's poetry online, there are many places in which to do so. Dare to read several or many. Dare to ask yourself the questions she raises. Dare to go to the library or local bookstore and actually sit with her words in your hands. (I plan to do so tomorrow.)
She seems the sort of person with whom one could invite to coffee. She seems to be that neighbor both gentle, yet firm, in her views. I don't know if she'd be one for company for a walk. But she might suggest you go on a hike of your own.

Today's Challenge "forced" me to slow down and READ and think and imagine. Dare yourself to step into Mary's landscape. The short poems can be read quite quickly - dare to read them several or more times. Allow the words and images to sink into eyes, ears, brain, and soul. Your world will be both larger and small for the doing.
Sit with Mary Oliver's poetry and you sit with Mary Oliver. Words of darkness. Words of joy. The next time you see an ant you will probably see it differently.

Because of Mary Oliver.

Oh, and I made a little hand-made book today. It's cover is the protective brown cardboard circle off of a paper coffee cup. It was fun to make. It helped me focus. I used up some other papers, linen thread, and two small beads. It's a start. We have to start....


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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Made a Deal with Myself - 1/1/17

Yes, I made a deal with myself about blogging in 2017. No, I am not going to type what it is, but I will stand accountable on last day of this year.

Personal Challenge for January is to learn more about poets and poetry. Several days ago I requested favorite works from Facebook Friends. Oh, the wide range of works/writers threaded their way onto post. Thank you, one and all! Many writers I was familiar with; others were/are a complete mystery to me.

This early morning found me exploring the world of Don Marquis' Archy and Mehitabel. Years ago I tried to care about the cockroach and alley cat, but could not read the words in the spirit in which they were written. Today I found a number of readings on YouTube, including ones by Neil Gaiman and Sam Waterston. Indeed, Mr. Waterson's recitation of "archy interviews a pharaoh" was quite delightful!

Now that I have a different outlook on the pair - well, the library is just down the hill, and I plan to check out one or more of the Archy and Mehitabel books.

Thank you, Teresa Rogers, for your recent suggestion. And on to the reading adventures the rest of the month!

And maybe I will attempt the drawing of a kitty and a cockroach? A person needs a challenge every now and then.

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