Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays!



Welcome Winter Solstice!  

Happy Hanukkah!   

Have a joyous Kwanzaa!

May Pancha Ganapati be wonderful 
for you and yours!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Hogmanay!

Happy Holidays!


Whether you celebrate the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Pancha Ganapati,  Christmas - or are simply  enjoying being alive on Planet Earth, this wonderful December of 2014, Mary, Susan, Rosemary and Sherry Blue Sky want to extend our warmest wishes to all members of our global community, here at Poets United.

 May you and your friends, families and dear ones all enjoy the warmth and wonderfulness of being together around your own hearth fires. May all the pleasures of the season be yours.  

Have a nice holiday, and be ready to come out, pens blazing, in the New Year.  Thank you for your participation at Poets United. You are the ones who make what we do so rewarding. We would not be here without you.





Sunday, December 21, 2014

Poetry Pantry #232


Holiday Poetry Pantry












Greetings, Poets! Happy Holidays to You!

This will be the last Poetry Pantry here at Poets United this year.  After Monday, December 22, when the link closes, there will not be another Poetry Pantry until January 4.  Between these dates Poets United will be taking  a two-week break.  (Sherry has prepared a Holiday Message you will see tomorrow.) We will resume a full schedule again in the New Year.

We here at PU would like to thank you for your participation during 2014.  Sherry Blue Sky, Susan Chast,  Rosemary Nissen-Wade, and I  have enjoyed our 'work' here throughout, and it is rewarding for us to have so many visitors each week.  Each of you is integral and important.

And I would like to thank Sherry for all of the great interviews she has done this year, Susan for excellent challenging prompts she has provided, and Rosemary for her  features on poets both living and dead.  

Poets United is a wonderful community, and what fun it is to be in touch with people from around the world each week, get to know one another, and have the opportunity to read such fine poetry.

If any of you regular participants have photos of the area in which you live or an area that you have traveled to, I will need more photos in 2015.  Please email me or write a note below or in my blog to tell me what you have.  (I am looking for scenery - city or country or landscape views - primarily.)

Now...enjoy the Pantry.  Link your one poem below.  Stop in and leave us a comment.  Visit other poets.  The Pantry will stay open until 12 noon (Central Time) on Monday.  See you next year.

Friday, December 19, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This













After Kandinsky: Yellow, Red, Blue (1925)

By Katherine Gallagher

Watch the animal eyes that whisk corners
faster than an angel breathing passwords
in a mesh of yellow. Cloud-sure, life flags itself on. 
Circle after circle is mapped in the mystery
of a line quicker than an arrow, shot from left to right,
the dark corners turned in on themselves,
while the sea advances up the cliffs.

Presently a cat walks tall out of the waves,
eyes open, heading for the fire at the centre,
the red waves fanned, turned crimson,
surrounded by purples that ferry
the jigsaw’s spell. Choices multiply,
resonate, form patterns for love-songs
the heart claims again and again.

In the background, dark moons, resilient,
juggle patchwork squares, lines, and curves.
Light bounces off them as finally the perfect blue
you’ve been waiting for, dips, tumbles
into the still of the storm, among reds, purples,
all shades — this country you keep coming back to,
that walks you home to yourself.

From: After Kandinsky
Publisher: Vagabond Press, Sydney, 2006


Wassily Kandinsky, the great Russian-born painter and pioneer of abstract art, was born on December 16, 1866 and died on December 13, 1944. He was also known as an art theorist, and his ideas on colour, line and point are summarised in the Wikipedia article I've linked to his name.

He was a poet too, who wrote what he called prose poems, which we would perceive as free verse. He was as interested in 'pure sound' as he was in the nature of colour, but in my opinion was less successful in turning his experiments with words into great art.

I find his abstract paintings very beautiful — and joyful, which was his intention. London-based Australian poet Katherine Gallagher obviously loves his work too, as it has inspired some of her poetry.  I chose this particular poem partly because of its references to home. Christmas is just around the corner — a time when, for many of us, home becomes very significant. 

I've been acquainted with Katherine for many years, as she has made visits back to Australia, specifically Melbourne, where I used to live. But it's been a while. It was wonderful to discover her splendid interpretations of Kandinsky's paintings. Although this poem refers to the images in the painting, her descriptions seem to me redolent of Australia, as the country she 'keeps coming back to'. Stunning poem, anyway!

Unfortunately the book, After Kandinsky, is evidently out of print, but you can find Katherine's equally beautiful yet very different poem about his Blue Painting (1924) here and images of the actual painting here.  You can find more of Katherine's work at her Amazon page. I have her first collection, Passengers to the City, which is still in print, and I'm pleased to see that it and most of the others are available in Kindle as well as paper editions. You can also read a wonderful collection of her poetry, and her biographical details, at the Australian Poetry Library. The biography there tells us: 'She is active in poetry and community reading groups in London and continues to be involved in mentoring and workshops. Besides her own work, Gallagher has published translations of French poetry.'

She lived and taught in Paris in the seventies, and evidently keeps some connections with France. At any rate Viv Blake, one of our Poets United community, who lives in Normandy, spoke some little time ago of attending a workshop Katherine gave in France. Small world!

Her website also refers you to her books, and to her workshops and other projects, as well as including her literary biography and a list of interviews. She obviously leads a busy life, yet was prompt and gracious in agreeing to my request — at very short notice — to feature her here this week.

Katherine asked:
Could you please mention my publishers, Arc Publications  - www.arcpublications.co.uk  There are a lot of reviews of my poetry books on their site too. Also, my New & Selected is an e-book, details on Arc’s site.

This is the last 'I Wish I'd Written This' before Christmas. Have a great festive season, folks, and I'll see you in the New Year!


Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ MUSIC



“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ” 


“If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.” 
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan







Midweek Motif ~ MUSIC

What are you listening to?
What do you hear?
And where?

For holiday celebrations?
For love, remembrance?
For the end of the year?
For the return of Light?
Resounding through atmos-spheres?

~
Your challenge:  Match the mood 
of your poem to the music in it.
~
I tied together
a few slender reeds, cut
notches to breathe across and made
such music you stood
shock still and then

followed as I wandered growing
moment by moment
slant-eyes and shaggy, my feet
slamming over the rocks, growing
hard as horn, and there

you were behind me, drowning
in the music, letting
the silver clasps out of your hair,
hurrying, taking off
your clothes. . . .    (Read the rest HERE at Famous Poets and Poems.com)

Langston Hughes' "The Weary Blues" begins at @ 1:44. 

From You Tube: African-American poet, Langston Hughes recites his poem, "The Weary Blues" (1925) to jazz accompaniment with the Doug Parker Band on the CBUT (CBC Vancouver) program "The 7 O'Clock Show" in 1958. Host, Bob Quintrell introduces the performance.




I can't wait to read your poems!
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  
This is the last MidWeek Motif until January 2015.

"The International Year of Light"
~

For those who are new to Poets United:  
  1. Post your new music poem on your site, and then link it here.
  2. If you use a picture include its link.  
  3. Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
  4. Leave a comment here.
  5. Visit and comment on our poems.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

LIFE OF A POET AND PHOTOGRAPHER - TOTOMAI

Seeing the name of this week's poet, I know you will anticipate a visual treat, and you are so right! I don't know what we are more excited about - Totomai's poetry or his stunning, colorful, dramatic, exciting photography. His blog Totomai.net (I shoot, I blog, I distill thoughts) is alive with colorful images from his considerable travels. This poet/artist has been everywhere, as he travels extensively for his work, and we armchair travelers get to enjoy the sights vicariously through his talented lens. We will make a huge swooping circuit of the globe during this interview, so buckle up. Lift-off is imminent!




Sunday, December 14, 2014

Poetry Pantry #231

Photos of  Japan
By Totomai Martinez



Autumn Lake in Yamanashi, Japan

"This is my favorite autumn photo that I took. I can still remember the time I went around 
this lake and almost forgot to take photos because I was in awe."

Otaru Canal in Hokkaido, Japan

"One of the popular winter destinations in Japan is in Hokkaido. During winter, 
the town celebrates annual snow festival showcasing ice scultptures.
The Otaru canal is particularly famous during the blue hour."

Hanamigawa River in Chiba, Japan

"Funny but I really hate myself while taking this photo. I forgot to bring my DSLR and just settled with my phone 
camera.This was taken while biking. I need to go back here next spring. I found cherry blossoms relaxing."

Sakura at Meguro, Tokyo, Japan 

"Another cherry blossoms pic. I decided to include this, as night viewing 
of cherry blossoms are very popular in Tokyo area."

Poppies at Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan

"Another spring photo but poppies are also popular in Japan during springtime.
Most tourists think that during spring, only cherry blossoms can be seen in Japan."

Hamaorisai at Chigasaki, Japan

"This is how Japanese welcome summer.
It was one of the unique activities I have seen here."

Mt. Fuji at Yamanashi, Japan

"I guess Japan series will not be complete if Mt. Fuji 
is not included. It’s one of my favorite photos." 


Greetings, Poets!

Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry.  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  This is a very busy season of the year for many of us, so I appreciate very much that you took time to link to Poetry Pantry today and to visit others as well.  Hope each of you is enjoying holiday preparations and celebrations, as well as taking a bit of time to enjoy writing and reading poetry.

As I mentioned last week, Poets United will be taking a winter break.  All will go on as usual this next week, but next Sunday we will have the final Poetry Pantry for 2014. After that at Poets United you will see a holiday message which will remain in place until January 4's Poetry Pantry, when our usual schedule will resume once more!

This week's beautiful photos have been shared by Totomai.  Hope you all enjoy them.  Stop back at Poets United for Sherry's interview of Totomai on Monday.  I know that you will enjoy it!  And on Wednesday, you will find another writing opportunity at the Midweek Motif.  Here's a hint:  The subject this next week will involve music.  You will find out more on that day.  Smiles.  And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade features on "I Wish I Had Written This" or  "The Living Dead."

Again:  I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week (after the holidays), let me know what kind of photos you have.  Send inquiries first to dixibear@aol.com.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.  Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

FYI: The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted.



Friday, December 12, 2014

The Living Dead



Honouring our poetic ancestors

"Nature" is what we see
By Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

"Nature" is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity. 


It's only six months since I featured the lovely Emily, but she's just had a birthday (10th December) so let's enjoy her again.

This time the link on her name takes you to that earlier post, in case you missed it or want to refresh your memory.

What is new this time is a different photo of Emily than the ones we usually see, showing her as a more mature woman. She is on the left, with her friend Kate Scott Turner. 


Information about the authentication of this photo is given here.

And the poem? Oh, I just liked what she had to say about nature!

This is the final "Living Dead" post for this year.  Next week we're back to "I Wish I'd Written This" and I hope to find a fun piece to usher in the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Human Rights (Day)




 The logo for Human Rights Day 2014 and hashtag rights365

"I call on States to honour their obligation 
to protect human rights every day of the year. 
I call on people to hold their governments to account."
~ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon




Midweek Motif ~ 
Human Rights (Day)



Today is Human Rights Day. Have you read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?? I love #22. The document itself is an achievement.


Your Challenge: 


(1)Write a poem inspired by 
Ban Ki-Moon's challenge above.


OR:  


(2)Write a poem that answers 
one or more of these questions while staying within the "human rights" motif:


~ What is Human?
~ What are Rights?
~ What can/has uniting nations accomplished for human rights?
~ How do your dinner plans for tonight reflect Human rights?



HUMAN RIGHTS ACCORDING TO ELEANOR ROOSEVELT:

Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, closes to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.
 Eleanor Roosevelt
Remarks at the United Nations, March 27, 1958



“While Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
The fate of empires and the fall of kings;
While quacks of State must each produce his plan,
And even children lisp the Rights of Man;
Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some attention.” 
― Robert Burns
The Complete Works Of Robert Burns



For those who are new to Poets United:  

  1. Post your new Human Rights poem on your site, and then link it here.
  2. If you use a picture include its link.  
  3. Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
  4. Leave a comment here.
  5. Visit and comment on our poems.


(Next week's Midweek Motif will be the last one this year.  Our motif will be MUSIC in honor of Beethovan's birthday and the choral songs that arise around holidays and year's end ... )






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Monday, December 8, 2014

LIFE OF A POET - DONNA DONABELLA

Anyone with an eye for beauty will love the photos in this interview, and gardeners, especially, will be - er, green - with envy at the gardens created by Donna, whose writing you will find at her two blogs :  LIVING FROM HAPPINESS, and GARDENS EYE VIEW. Donna believes in gardening for wildlife, and her yard welcomes all manner of critters. You are going to really enjoy this visit, kids! A pond with lotus blossoms awaits. Let's dive in!



Sherry: Donna, I am so looking forward to this! Is Donna Donabella your real name? It is a wonderful one! Will you explain the meaning (and, I suspect, your philosophy?) behind the name of your blog, Living From Happiness?



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Poetry Pantry #230

Winter in Swedish Mountains
Photos by Bjorn Rudberg


A Track in Sunshine

A Windy Day in Ladjovagge

Close to Nallo

Kebnekajse

Nikkaluokta
(a Swedish Sami village)

Sami Hut
(the kind of hut built by Swedish indigenous people)

Greetings, Poets!

Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry.  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same..

Have any of you celebrated St. Nick's Day this weekend?  I know my grandchildren did.  I can only hope that they received a small gift or two from St. Nick rather than the coal that naughty children receive.

This is one of the seasons / times here where people here are especially involved in giving to those less fortunate.  This year we bought gifts (anonymously) for an 80-year-old nun & gave her not only what she asked for but a little extra as well.  And on Christmas Eve we will also work in a soup kitchen.  How about you?  Do any of you do things to help people less fortunate at this time of year?

This week I am featuring the last of Bjorn's photographs.  They were taken in the Swedish mountains. Aren't they beautiful?  I won't say I am envious....as I am more a fan of summer than winter.  Smiles.  But they are beautiful nonetheless.  Thank you, Bjorn, for the photos you provided during these past weeks.  Next week we will have another set of photographs by Totomai to look forward to.

Be sure to visit Poets United Monday to see Sherry Blue Sky's weekly feature.  This week she is featuring Donna, and I hope you will all take time to stop by for a read and a comment.  

And just for a heads up, Susan will be having a 'human rights' prompt for Midweek Motif.  So if you want to get 'ahead of the game,' feel free.  Smiles.

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade features on "I Wish I Had Written This" or  "The Living Dead."

Today link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Really it is fun to hear from you, even if you just say 'good morning.' Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And now...here is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.

Friday, December 5, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This

Eating Poetry
By Mark Strand (1934 — 2014)

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man,
I snarl at her and bark,
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.


This must have been one of Mark Strand's earliest published poems, as I seem to have loved it for a very long time now. I also remember him as having written excellent articles on poetry which helped me pass my university exams. But I didn't know the rest of his poetry.

He was an important American poet, who — as I'm sure many of you are aware — died six days ago. When I looked for a poem to use in paying tribute, I found that his work has a characteristic bleakness of mood. The Poetry Foundation refers to his "recurring theme of absence and negation". 

I think Eating Poetry must be one of his best-known works, often anthologised. If possible I'd have liked to give you something that was new to you, but this is the one I wish I'd written. I still adore it after all these years.

Wikipedia tells us:

Many of Strand's poems are nostalgic in tone, evoking the bays, fields, boats, and pines of his childhood on Prince Edward Island. Strand has been compared to Robert Bly in his use of surrealism, though he attributes the surreal elements in his poems to an admiration of the works of Max ErnstGiorgio de Chirico, and René Magritte. Strand's poems use plain and concrete language, usually without rhyme or meter. In a 1971 interview, Strand said, "I feel very much a part of a new international style that has a lot to do with plainness of diction, a certain reliance on surrealist techniques, and a strong narrative element."

All of which makes his poetry appeal to me in many ways, despite the tone. I remember in the past, when I was exploring some dark subjects in my own poetry, a reader saying to me, 'You must be a very sad person.' I was surprised. To me it seemed obvious that I had written the sadness out instead of holding on to it. Perhaps it was the same for Mark Strand; at any rate he doesn't seem to have been unduly miserable as a person.

He had a distinguished academic career, and served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress during1990-91. As well as a poet, he was an essayist, translator and editor. A painter in his youth, he also published books of art criticism. He won numerous major awards for his poetry, most notably the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. 

His poems are at PoemHunter and his Amazon page has his Collected Poems as well as many other volumes.

The Wikipedia article is rather slight, so I've linked his name, above, to the more comprehensive Poetry Foundation article. The New York Times obituary is, in some respects, even more illuminating. For instance it tells us that his interest in the visual arts was lifelong, and that for the last five years he had been making collages, using paper he made by hand. 


Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ A Date "that will live in infamy," or a Bomb of a Day


“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found 
himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” 
― Franz KafkaThe Metamorphosis

“After a cruel childhood, one must reinvent oneself. 

Then reimagine the world.” 
― Mary Oliver



General view of Pearl Harbor during
the Japanese air strikes on 7 December 1941,  

U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation
photo No. 1996.488.029.034.



     In response to the destruction of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the USA declared war on Japan and officially joined the Ally struggle in WW2. This was the occasion of  USA President FDR's famous Infamy Speech, the source of "date that will live in infamy." 



Midweek Motif ~ 
A Date "that will live in infamy" 
or 
a Bomb of a Day


Some days are so bad that 
they force new decisions and directions.



Your Challenge: Write about a turning-point event in history or in your life.



Here are two poems to inspire:


Pearl Harbor 

By Robinson Jeffers


I.
Here are the fireworks. The men who conspired and labored
To embroil this republic in the wreck of Europe have got their bargain--
And a bushel more. As for me, what can I do but
fly the national flag from the top of the tower?

America has neither race nor religion nor its own language: nation or nothing.
Stare, little tower, 
Confidently across the Pacific, the flag on your
head. . . . 
          
          (Read the rest HERE at The Los Angeles Times.)





Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.


Now I was eight and very small,

And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, 'Nigger.'

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember. 




For those who are new to Poets United:  
  1. Post your new BOMB poem on your site, and then link it here.
  2. If you use a picture include its link.  
  3. Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
  4. Leave a comment here.
  5. Visit and comment on our poems.
(Next week's Midweek Motif is human rights.)


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