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Sunday, October 30, 2011

What does 'prose poem' mean to you?

Heard Michael Dennis Browne today, reading and commenting on the poetry of D.H. Lawrence...that's right!
He was a great poet, much of life and death and looking at life through the perspective of creatures often
couched in spiritual terms.  In fact the program was at Plymouth Congregational Church, part of their "Literary Witness" series.  Worth the trip into town.  I hope they have more poets...

This week, prose poetry...and what is it that makes it so?  The "vibration" that MDBrown says a poem needs? A developing image or metaphor that 'stays with you'? It doesn't necessarily have the rhyme or rhythm or line structure of a more traditional poem...although I think there is definitely movement, almost breathless, and/or a grand extolling, hm?  TSmith says it's often about place...I think I hadn't heard that before writing this one in class.  What do you think makes prose poetry??

Here's a draft I wrote in class last week: 
Missing the Old Guthrie
a prose poem
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Why abandon that charming building of candy bright light, light and the various concentrated attentions of the elite, the effete, and the earnest hardworking and student come seeking salve and salvation for tired souls, excitement for energetic minds, exposed under glass to entice or distance the man or woman on the street, the messenger and the driver passing under the grasshopper bridge, the man under the freeway holding a crudely lettered cardboard sign.  Why not, retaliates the stark new building across town, hurling the names of its plays like flames against the sky; why not stage a warren of dim corridors even more complicated, dark and diverse, why not stadium seating outside a proper bar in an architectural interlude more like a giant beak, brooding over flowing dark waters.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A 'prompt-in-a-box' this week was "A List."

In My Study:  A List                                                                        October 19 and 30, 2011

The bookshelves in my study are lined with books.  Too many books.  Books I intended to read when I retire, books gathering dust while I ply the library for more, order them online, haunt used book sales. A long, low row of journals.  But, on high shelves at eye level around the room are momentos, snatches of times, ancient and modern, trinkets and toys, snippets of nature, travel echoes, family photos, well wishes from friends.

 A wooden jig toy, which fascinated me, but the working of which I never mastered, its essential, wooden ‘stage’ long lost.  Two tiny shells.  Few cells of a hive.  Small paintings by two artist friends, marble doggie from a writer friend.  Subtle hint of floral pastel, water-colored by a dear heart, faraway.

Here’s a well wish for retirement from a career that took half my life away from family and the sequestered nooks and serenity of books prettily depicted on the front of the Mary Engelbreit card. Inside, a valediction from my daughter. A golden oval beside a small, heart-shaped, red-lacquered box frames her mischievous, Mona Lisa smile in her high school photo.

Come to think of it, every shelf bears photos of my daughter: in chortling infancy, self-conscious teenage, college camaraderie, exulting in soccer, basking with her fiancĂ©e, falling back on friends. In one photo, she holds her little brother, in another they hold small flags on the day they took citizenship.  In yet another, she embraces me and my mother; this picture next to one of a more fortunate friend studying her own mother who lived, joyfully alert, til one hundred.   Here’s an earlier photo of my own mother, recently widowed, smiling ruefully before a window reflecting Lake Minnewaska on which our house stood.  In a silver frame, my Finnish grandparents; grandfather,  straiaght and tall in his worsted suit, hat in hand, stands beside my beaming grandmother, who wears a brooch at the collar of her best black dress.  The photo was taken on the occasion of their first grandson’s baptism.

Here, a framed magazine photo, one of the ingenious ways my mother brought art into my childhood home.  A postcard of the big blue marble, A snap with our son in front of the Louvre, capturing his boyish delight in Paris;  his childish handiwork:  a stick-and-yarn eye-of-God.  A pale blue music box that still plays ‘The Washerwomen of Venice,” harking back to my other grandmother, “Gramma-on-the-farm.”

A red-dyed, wooden, Swedish, no-nonsense nutcracker.  Cross-stitched red and green, tasseled gew-gaw of Hmong handiwork, teal-dyed box of Polish handiwork, brimming with beads for a grand-daughter’s dress-up-and-play.  The granddaughter’s first kindergarten painting:  modernist sunshine bursting with life (she tells me it’s ‘just a design.’), waiting to be framed.  A tiny turquoise dancing doll from India.

And a worn but still workable, wind-up Cinderella, the clockwork hidden under her ballroom skirt still able to propel her along predetermined lines and circles.  The prince who was once attached has broken off, leaving her scarred hands spread wide as though extending an invitation.  Each of these memories is an invitation.  The memories invite me to write them down, let the pen or the keyboard dance, in the study.       

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hello Haiku

Whew, I'm finally back to the blog, trying to limit it to my themes of India and/or the writing life.  Taking a poetry class with Thomas R. Smith.  Great fun.  Reviewing a form a week, authors of the same, examples of their work and signs of their times; practicing writing, sharing our own.  Last week:  Haiku.  Three lines, of 5-7-5 syllables, respectively.  Or less.  Here are a couple of my own:

Two or Three Haiku
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Habit forming.                    (p.s., It really is! Like eating's hard to stop!)

Dusk in the forest.
Out of gathering silence
An owl calls my name.

Why all these
Miss-understandings?                       (spelling, sic)
Why not Mister?