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Friday, October 26, 2012

"Stories are verbal acts of hospitality." -- Eugene Peterson

I wonder how, then, to characterize poems?  Verbal dances?
Hm,I like that idea...something more musical and/or metrical,
surprising and allusive, than 'ordinary' prose.

I did a dance this week, around two of my poems, Pieta, and Sweet Sixteen,
that won prizes in a League of Minnesota Poets' competition, in which writers
from around the country participated.  Thank you, Grandma Lahti, and my
daughter, who inspired those poems.

They say write what you know; many of my poems are tiny stories about family. But
I wish I had interviewed and known more, especially about the women in my family.
(How could I not have known how important it was, when they were so readily
available?)  Even so, I am getting to know my family, and myself  better, as I write
poetic anecdotes about them and/or me.

Perhaps even enough to fill a book.

So, welcome stories.  Come on in!  Let's have a chat.  Then let's dance.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day Six

Last April's Day Six's poem is/was to be about an animal, creative (of course) and playful in form as well as content...written our kitchen in India, where conditions are very different from those in Minnesota, in mind.

The Mouse in Our Kitchen

Lives in a box
in a nest of boxes
behind the meat safe
in the screens of which
he has gnawed fruitless holes
in search of sustenance
but finding none
in our absence.
he lets us know he
his wife and his family
are present, or presently
going to be here, and hungry.
So the two nibble and gnaw
as they make their home
and their way through
the nest of boxes.
We don't mind
they don't find
our real provisions,
or cause any divisions
in ingredients we crave
or were planning to save.
They can forage in the dustbin,
they can

NaPoWriMo Day 4--Playing 'Catch up'

Speaking of intentions, a browse through a list of my blog entries reveals a number of drafts that never got entered, so here begins a series of 'catch up' entries.  This one is from April 4, a day in the write-a-poem-a-day month.....................

Today's prompt is to write a poem in the form of a musical structure. Wimping out due to time constraints, I'll go for the 'easy' one suggested...a blues 12-beat line....

Glorious Food

Don't go! Let me tell you what I think about food.
I eat my quota of carrots, but only raw,
I eschew brussels sprouts and broccoli, 'cause, awe
shucks, they behave in a manner similar to beans,
like cauliflower, cabbage, any veg with means
to power a vehicle or damage friendships:
aw shucks, I think you probably know what I mean.
We could feast on a turkey or pig out with pork,
and eat most anything with a spoon or a fork.
But a double chocolate chip cookie trumps all.

When things come together

My previous post garnered one comment, and that one was on our son's birthday.  Significant in that, after a pleasant visit with our daughter's family,  this month has been largely focused on his growing enlarged by the birth of his first child, a daughter, later in the month.  We grandparents have just returned from a trip to attend the event and a thrilling weekend getting acquainted with a sweet little child and her parents.  Sweet, and yet demanding, in ways natural to all new babies. The play over which I periodically wring my hands lay idle.  Fortuitously, embedded in the sermon at church on Sunday was a nugget of very significant insight for the play.  Different kinds of insights.  Different rates of growth. Significant events feeding one another in ways we couldn't have anticipated.  Am I superstitious?  Or is it simply a fact of life that when we attend to what we are intended to be doing, other pending projects/intentions grow too, albeit, like babies, in their own time and their own way.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Light on the Subject

Early on, I wrote a poem with the lines, 'sometimes a light surprises.
                                                                 What it quickens, I can't deny.'
And oh, how many times, in how many ways,  it seems to apply (rhyme not intended, but, there it is!) to what I am thinking, to what I am remembering, to an abandoned project that won't let me go.  Such are the insights, reminders and opportunities that surprise me with their possibilities for the play I developed from a writing assignment in the late 'seventies.  How guarded I am with the whole project, not letting myself get to work on the shelf bulging with notes and drafts of this project, not believing it would capture an audience, not seeing where and how to 'tweak it' as one local theater director suggested, not daring to ask yet another person to read it and possibly demur from commenting.  Yet, time and again, an unexpected light will surprise.
This week it is in reading the end of a book I'd abandoned as insight-less, at least to me, and finding it actually insightful, that I have a crucial insight about one of the minor but necessary characters in my play. (REMEMBER is the name of it.  Be looking for it on Broadway.  There, I've set my sights...)
I won't share the clarity here (I demur), but the book is THE WOUNDED HEALER, and the insight, really the crux of the book, is where the author, Henri Nouen speaks of the characteristics of leadership.  I can hardly wait to get back to the redrafting of the play from the perspective of this particular character, caring, believing, persistently hoping...revising in the light of this most recent surprise. 
You writers know that the process can be daunting and lonely, no matter how exciting.  I need to put this new-found energy into the work, rather than dissipate it by leaking out a little bit at a time (which is why I demur from further details.)  But, ask me how it's going.  It'll be on my mind and increasingly on my desk, lordwilling moving from my computer to the stage...SDG.  Hold me accountable to this new surprise.