Words

November 30, 2019

Language games, playing with language. Using the dictionary is fun. Words play leapfrog with each other. Letters disappear. And, unexpectedly, poems appear…

Poetry’s all very well
but it rhymes and scans, its lines
strap you into carved Imperial chairs, tie you
to the headboard of a four-poster bed. What I need
is words that never sleep, a futuristic babble, glossolalia
ancient words that only unborn babies understand, pure sound.

Nancy Mattson

word of witness

November 19, 2019

The poem is a thing between You and I. It builds, line by line, a ground across which You and I can meet, can see one another, can be in the moral bind of the gaze.

An elegy is a poem to a “you” gone missing. When the poem sings, “you” appears.

But what if there were a world in which, on a forced march, a guard calls out not a name, but yells out only “you,” and a young man, a prisoner, steps out from the line in which he trudges through the cold forward, and realizing he wasn’t the one being spoken too, blushes as if embarrassed at his mistake, and then the guard shoots him. What if there were a world in which children were packed into train cars and shipped to camps, and those that were too young to know their names had them written on a scrap of cardboard hung on a string around their neck, but with no food, no water, and the train ride so long, the children ate their names for they had no other food, and when they arrive, no one knows what to call them, those children to be called only “you.” But what if there were a world in which a crippled boy in a camp speaks over and over a variant of one word but no one knows what that word means, and he limps from person to person saying mass-klo or matisklo, and others in the camp think it is the child’s name, and some thing it means bread, or meat, but no one knows with any certainty this one word the boy speaks, his only word, and now nothing of him remains, because in the camp he died. What if there were a world in which that word remains speaking forever in the air. What if there were a world…o one, o none, o no one, o you…in which that word were the only word of witness.

Dan Beachy-Quick
Sibboleth

my other rule

November 11, 2019

Though my rule for this poem
is honesty, my other rule is Fuck You.

Alice Notley
Disobedience

Naked Poetry

November 10, 2019

poetry is a naked woman, a naked man, and the distance between them.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Poetry as Insurgent Art

All night

November 10, 2019

We spoke all night in tongues,
in fingertips, in teeth.

Robert Hass
Spring

My need is for poetry

October 31, 2019

My need is for poetry,
the burning magic of words
that awaken unguessed at emotion –
and understanding,
sometimes only partial.
I need poetry,
its vivid colours firing imagination
and opening the souls of us all.

P

I inherited poetry on both sides of my family. My parents met at a lecture on Shakespeare by Auden. They both loved to read poetry and recited it aloud a lot, and of their five children, I was the one poetry stuck to. I was a quiet, introspective child who felt the magic of connecting to nature and the universe, and poetry enhanced that feeling. By age seven I was memorizing and performing poems from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, and I began to write my own poems shortly after. My mother was my first poetry teacher.

My earliest poems were chants about dreams and visions. After my seventh-grade English teacher told me that real poets write in free verse, I did so for about 15 years — but I still used rhythm as much as I could, because it was like a physical hunger. I’ve always wanted my poetry to create alternate reality, sacred space.

In my 20s I performed incantational free-verse ritual poetry in the performance poetry scene in New York and San Francisco. I earned a Ph.D at Stanford, where I developed two ideas, both of which I have written about at length, that helped me define my adult poetic voice. One, “the metrical code,” explained how meter creates meaning and inspired me to write in a whole range of meters. The other, “poetess poetics,” led me to write within women’s poetic traditions as an alternative to the male Romantic ego. Now that I had my tools and my tradition, I developed my spiritual path in witchcraft and women-centered spirituality and found my subject matter.

My poetry today uses a full range of meters and participates exuberantly in the tradition of women’s poetry while reaching out to contemporary listeners in the service of the matriarchal culture I feel is finally on its way — and just in time to save the earth.

Annie Finch
Interview with Frances Donovan
Gender Focus 27th March 2016

places offer footholds

October 9, 2019

Certain places are intrinsically tied to memory for me; they hold deep meaning and power. The ideas of “space” and “place,” both in terms of an actual physical location and the spaces our bodies occupy, are intermingled within the poems as a way to orient voice and the reader’s perception. These places offer footholds, in a sense. I find myself drawn to places of power on the earth: the ethereal, the mystical, the liminal. Places were myth was once born. The sea plays an important role in my writing, as well as the shrouded mystery of the mountains, such as the Ozarks. I’m hoping each place connects and crosses over each other in some way in these poems.

Tamara Jobe
Interview with H/M

we practice romance

October 8, 2019

I met my future husband at 19, and I wrote this poem in a notebook for him. By then it had already been echoing around inside me for years, telling me the truth about love. (Love is monomaniacal, love is appalling, love is secret, love is childish, love rips you from the bosom of your family, love is woozy, love is ravishing, love is scrumdiddlyumptious.)

I should probably feel embarrassed…but am unabashed. There are many fine poems about the grown-up parts of love, but it’s as infatuated teenagers that we learn romance, and as infatuated teenagers that we practice romance, all the rest of our lives. I don’t suppose a marriage could amount to much if it didn’t have a pair of infatuated teenagers hidden in it.

Ailbhe Darcy
The Irish Times 14th February 2018