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.
Friday, March 2, 2012
6:30pm until 9:30pm (Reading begins at 7, open mic at 8)
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.))
3. Saturday evening at The Writers Center, LPR Social Justice reading
with our visiting poets, and LPR contributors, including Dr. Tony Medina
On to today's poem, by Richard Krawiec.
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.
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
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.