April 12, 2016

Friday, February 24, 2012

Poetry Friday: Writing about Current Events

Crazy things are going on y'all, keeping me up at night.

News in my life: the death of my aunt, Mary; I performed at a fabulous reading last night in Baltimore's Greektown -- 60+ people (was it the free spanikopita?); my son's rugby drama; Maryland's same sex marriage bill moving forward; plus it's three AM and I still haven't written my Poetry Friday post.

Awesome series hosted by awesome Rafael Alvarez.

It's all swirly in my brain.

What do you do when the events of the day create thought loops in your head? Some of my favorite options are meditating, stress eating (does spanikopita come in chocolate?), talking it over with my family, writing about it.

This week, I heard about an online literary journal devoted to current events poetry. What a great concept. I have written a few "inspired by the headlines" poems. My friend, Shirley Brewer, has a great newspaper-line love poem, "Kentucky Valentine." (I'll have to ask her permission to share it some time.)

Using headlines for inspiration works well for high schoolers. Just grab a stack of newspapers and go leafing until something catches each writer's eye. Need model poems to look at? Read on!

For Poetry Friday, I'm sharing two favorites from The New Verse News, edited by James Penha.

The first is "Never Having Seen a Wave" by Rochelle Adams. This poem is about the European deep freeze. Visit The New Verse News to see an accompanying photo of a wave frozen in mid-crash.

Never Having Seen a Wave
by Rochelle Owens

Never having seen a wave
frozen in mid-air the glassblower

manifold images in his brain

the rays of the sun

amorphous the forms boiling forming

a floating toothed leaved plant

floating Acanthus

a Black Hole a crucible a bubble glowing

one millionth one millionth of a second

an episode

a ferocious s c a t t e r I n g

white ovals glassy crystals orbiting
never having seen a wave
 frozen in mid-air the glassblower

turning spinning blowing hail-stones

shaping winds oceans storms

storms eddying

layers of ice cracking piling lifting

molten glass swelling lifting arching

never having seen a wave

frozen in mid-air the glassblower

dipping into the furnace

around and around rolling and shaping

around and around

a gob of molten glass

melting shards spiraling flaring
glittering hot glass
amorphous dazzling light frozen

in the glassblower’s brain

The rest of the poem is here.

I shared the next poem, "On the Death of Whitney Houston," with a friend who felt that loss deeply.

Whitney came on the scene when I was a teen.

On the Death of Whitney Houston
by David Feela

The news of her death arrives
in a paper cup, bitter and dark,
barely enough to cover the bottom,
its sediment like a fine powder,
and though you know it’s fresh,
you’ve tasted this cup before.

All day her songs will play

on the radio, on the television

The rest of the poem is here.

When I heard about my aunt's death, I needed to write about it. Within a couple of hours, I had a draft of a poem. It made me feel better to read the draft at last night's event, raw as her passing is, to share a little of her story.

If you live in the DC area and this topic appeals to you, come down to the Bethesda Writers Center next Saturday (3/3). Poet Patricia VanAmburg and I are offering a three hour workshop called, "Ripped from the Headlines: Writing Poems about Hot Topics." Link for registration is here.
(Wow! Registration just went on sale.)

Have a great Poetry Friday, friends. In today's PF news, Jone at Check it Out is our host! Stop by for more poetry posts.


GatheringBooks said...

Deepest condolences Laura. Similar to you, I turn to poetry when things get all jumbled up and 'run amok' in my mind. Lots of things going on in your area indeed. Never thought about using newspaper headlines as poetry writing prompts, very interesting! :)

Author Amok said...

Thank you, Myra. Headlines (or ads, or found items in the paper) can be a great poem starter. It's all about what catches your attention -- the usual way with poetry!

Tabatha said...

My condolences, Laura. It's a wonder you got any sleep at all. Time for us to arrange a lunch?

Thanks for pointing us to the New Verse News site -- it's one I'd like to return to!

jama said...

So sorry to hear about your aunt, Laura. What is it about February? Two deaths on my husband's side of the family -- in the same week!

Thanks for sharing these poems, and for the heads up about New Verse News. Great concept, always fun to see what others are up to.

Author Amok said...

Tabataha -- lunch for sure. March and April tend to be busy, but we'll find a time!

Jama, thank you. This is the second "big" death for us in 2012. Sending hugs to you and your family too.