Monday, February 27, 2012

Friday Night Reading at Wisdom Well

I have some exciting poetry news. But first, a few updates are in order:


This weekend, we attended services for Grant Learman. Several of his teachers told stories about Grant's sly, silly humor and love of hanging out with kids his age. My kids said I should buy a tissue factory. Grant's just one of those kids you meet and think of as one of your own. (My post about his death is here.) After the service, we shared some of his favorite foods: Cheez Doodles, pizza and chocolate.




I will not be traveling to Nottingham for Auntie Mary's funeral. However, I will be there in spirit. Her daughter asked me to look for a poem for the services. Mary's love of flowers and long-term marriage to my uncle, Howard, brought Wendell Berry's "The Wild Rose to Mind."

Last piece of business. I have a new poetic obsession. I am working on something connected with photographer Francesca Woodman. Have you seen the documentary, "The Woodmans?" It's about Woodman, her artist family, and how her suicide has affected them. Highly recommended.


Now for some exciting poetry news. One of the other 100,000 Poets for Change hosts got in touch with me. Would Little Patuxent Review be interested in doing a literary exchange? Would we?! Of course. The exchange coincides with the recent release of our powerful Social Justice issue.




This weekend, we have three poets visiting from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I will be featuring their work this week.


You'll have a chance to hear Richard Krawiec, Debra Kaufman and Stephanie Levin on:


1. Friday Evening, 3/2 LPR at Wisdom Well
Our three visiting poets will be featured at a free reading, with open mic! I'm hoping we'll also have some snacks, wine and music. The reading is at a brand new wellness center that you'll want to check out -- they offer acupuncture and other healing arts.


Details:
Friday, March 2, 2012 
6:30pm until 9:30pm (Reading begins at 7, open mic at 8)

Wisdom Well
8955 Guilford Road Suite 240, Columbia

Books by the featured poets and issues of LPR will be on sale.

2. Saturday workshops at The Writers Center (I'll post details soon, but you can find the workshops: Crafting Images (register here) and Ripped from the Headlines: Writing Poems about Hot Topics (register here.))

with our visiting poets, and LPR contributors, including Dr. Tony Medina

On to today's poem, by Richard Krawiec
 
 
 
Richard is founder of Jacar Press, which supports local authors in Chapel Hill, and haibun editor for Notes from the Gean. This poem resonates for me today, as my family lets go of two important human beings. "Truly See" originally appeared at Prime Number.


Truly See
by Richard Krawiec.
 
They leave you, these ghosts,
and just when you think
they will never return
a single word aneurysm
pulls your grandmother
shuffling into sight,
wearing hairnet and apron,
smiling as she lifts the pot holders,
that memory more real
than the muted crackle
of dusk light on Fall’s red
leaves.  The sound of seizure
and your beloved
dog of twelve years pants
forward, cocks her head,
gives out a single yip, eager
for one more walk.  
Drowned swirls
Arlene’s purple-stained face
up from the whirlpool
of dish suds in the sink,
as if she’s rising
from the muddy bottom
of the lake where she took her final
sleep.  Everyone is so weary.
The ghosts miss you
as much as you miss them.
Can anyone say
what’s real?
Michael’s choir-smooth face
no longer gunshot
as you once again sprawl
on the rug whose mold
scent makes you sneeze
even now, forty years later.
He giggles the word Gesundheit.
The dog licks you hand warm.
If you don’t look closely
at the rain drizzle which spots
the darkening windows,
you can truly see
your grandmother bending
to rattle a sheet of cookies
from her gas oven; 
hear the hissing warmth.


Here is a note from Richard on using this poem as a model in the classroom:

"In this poem I was thinking about the difference between observation and memory.  Your memories often seem just as real as the day to day life you walk through.  Really, why can't a memory be just as real as an observation? We don't know enough about reality to say the reality of memory has less substance than what our senses observe."

If you or your students are using this poem as a jumping off point, Richard advises:

Free write (in prose or list form) about people, pets, places you remember.  Could be friends who moved, fields you played sports on when you were younger, etc. Try to get down as much as you can  remember seeing, hearing, smelling, etc.  When this pre-writing is done, talk briefly about what constitutes an image. Next, turn these free writes into poems by pulling out and developing the images contained within it.

Next, pick a setting from your life now.  Begin the poem, if you like, by setting your in a specific environment. Where are you, what are you doing?


Give students (or yourself) permission to try, and fail, to find their own way into a poem, Richard advises. "Otherwise you're not teaching poetry, you're teaching gimmicks."

I hope to see you on Friday evening. Be sure to bring your own writing to share.

7 comments:

Jeannine Atkins said...

Laura, glad you've got so much poetry-related life going on. And I'm sorry about the losses. It's been that kind of winter here, too, so Richard Krawiek's poem moved me. I'm even thinking of working up the nerve to try to follow the exercise. Loved his statement at the end, too, about not teaching poetry, but gimmicks. I've seen that happen.

And in the serendipity of life on the WEB, I remember Richard from grad school at UNH. Nice to say hi and know at least two of us are still moving our pens (I'm sure there are more, but nice to see the evidence)

Author Amok said...

Hi, Jeannine. It's great to hear from you. Thank you for the kind note. The poem truly spoke to me, and all the losses, as you say.

High schoolers can rely overmuch on those gimmicks. I feel two ways about it -- writing is writing. If a gimmick provides structure at first, fine. It's important to be aware of it, though, and even "lose" the gimmick during the revision process.

You are the third person to tell me she knows Richard. Small world. I will say hi!

richard said...

Jeannine, weren't you also involved in theater in NH? My Creeds is being produced in Durham NC in March.

I often wonder what happened to the other writers. I saw Simic last year and he didn't know. I am in touch on Facebook with Jim Kirk, who is still friendly with Franz Wright, who was kind enough to let me publish 3 haibun he translated from Basho - how's that for degrees of separation?

Jeannine Atkins said...

Hi, Richard, nope, not involved in theater at all. I was one of the shy ones in fiction. I think I knew you mostly through the great readings you helped manage. But thank you for reminding me what a thrill it was to take a course with Charlie Simic! What a brilliant, humble man. And sadly I've pretty much lost touch with everyone, though I bumped into Ruth in Boston, shocked she knew my face, until she told me that she sometimes checked out my blog. See, everyone should blog!

Laura, thanks for hosting our side conversation!

richard krawiec said...

Laura, this would also be a good chance for people to talk to us about the upcoming Jacar Press Poetry Book competitions(chapbook and full length). Stephanie was the winner of last year's competition, her book selection by Dorianne Laux, and Debra was our first published collection. As is the case with all Jacar Press authors, once we publish you, you are also involved in reading future manuscripts.

The judge for this year's full length contest is anthologized in the PUenguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry, edited by Rita Dove, and the chapbook judge has 3 collections published by one of the finest university presses.
www.jacarpress.com

Anonymous said...

This would also be a good chance for people to talk to us about the upcoming Jacar Press Poetry Book competitions(chapbook and full length). Stephanie was the winner of last year's competition, her book selection by Dorianne Laux, and Debra was our first published collection. As is the case with all Jacar Press authors, once we publish you, you are also involved in reading future manuscripts.

The judge for this year's full length contest is anthologized in the PUenguin Anthology of 20th Century Poetry, edited by Rita Dove, and the chapbook judge has 3 collections published by one of the finest university presses.

Author Amok said...

Jeannine, it's a privilege to listen in. I'd love to hear some of your and Richard's Simic stories. He's a poetic hero.

Thanks for the contest information, Richard. I'll be sure to share it.