April 12, 2016

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Poetry Friday: Wish You Were Here

Now that my poetry postcard project is well underway -- 9 cards sent, 13 poems written -- people are asking me, "How did you get the idea?"

You can read some of the genesis of my poetry postcard project in my first post in the series. My e-friend, artist Sherry Richert Belul, was sending gifts out to others for her birthday. She was kind enough to send a pick me up gift to my daughter, who'd had a rough day.
David McPhail; illustrations by David McPhail Mole Music
Sherry sent my daughter this lovely book
to cheer her up after a less than great audition.
I thought Sherry's birthday project was lovely take on pay it forward. What made me think of the postcards, I can't say for sure.

There are many groups that distribute poems in your pocket during National Poetry Month. (I keep one of these cards, the Lucille Clifton poem "Blessing the Boats," in my wallet.)

Here is a video about the Poetry Foundation's annual Poem in Your Pocket Day.

And I was familiar with a wonderful imagined-postcard poem by one of my mentors, Clarinda Harriss.

Clarinda Harriss retired from Towson University in 2011 to devote more time to her writing and to BrickHouse Books, Inc., which she has directed for 40 years.  Her most recent books are Air Travel, Dirty Blue Voice and Mortmain, and, with Moira Egan, she co-edited Hot Sonnets: An Anthology.  Her collection of short stories, Lady in the Other Bed, is forthcoming in 2013.  

"Postcards From the Beach" was first published in Little Patuxent Review's  Summer 2011 issue.

Postcards From the Beach

by Clarinda Harriss 

You wouldn’t recognize me,
I’m so changed by salt, soak                          
& sand. So thin. You’d love me
this way. I’ve let my hair grow.
Lolling among the bright-striped                    This side
fish I can see it swimming like                        for address
a sea creature, near, not part of
me. Did you get the gift I mailed?
Those are pearls that were my eyes.            
                             --Love, Bill S.

You agreed I should have been
a pair of ragged claws. Who knew
how soon I’d be scuttling sideways
on an Atlantic floor? The sea change              This side
bothered me at first—a cliché, really—          for address
till I heard a salty love song and I
knew it was for me. Later I slept,
spent, in hard blue arms. Thanks for
everything.                –J. A. P.


Beside this muddy cluttered sea,
the moon illuminates my straits as if
it were a hole cut in the sky. It lets
an acid rain of light eat into me. The
waves roar like distant guns among                This side
the look-out towers beached by two              for address
world wars. Oh, Love, if only you
were here beside me, at this unopen-
able motel window, looking home.
                          --Matt  A.

Posted with the author's permission.

Think of my project as a poem for your mailbox.
The postcard messages look like this.
I had already begun collecting antique postcards to use as prompts by early December. By the time I had a few of the response poems done, a package filled with goodies arrived from Linda Baie of the blog Teacher Dance. 

One of the delights was an original postcard poem. It is, in part, a found poem -- using messages written on the backs of read vacation postcards. What a cool idea for a found poem!

Small Words
by Linda Baie

Postcards tuck the past,
into happy moments:
reflection, vacation, imagination.
This was traveling,
and reveling
in new places.

My Dear,
           In by 8pm to our cabin,
           crossed the divide,
               blinding rainstorm, but
               it was lovely, lovely.

Dear Aunt Jo,
We are out here visiting family
having fine weather, off to Long Beach this am--
tell the kids hello.

My Dear,
The memory of my day
follows me through
the beautiful Mediterranean.

Dear Mary,
I'm sure a sore beat-up woman--
  no cast yet . . .

Enjoying end of our vacation,
  picked a bucket full of beans.
The black dog in our neighborhood
was over for her handout. Reminded
of yours.
    So many jobs to be done. Don't know
where to start.
    It was a nice vacation.
                                   Emma and Edgar
          Tell  Mildred Hello!

Posted with permission of the author.

I wonder where Emma and Edgar went for their vacation. 

Special thanks to poets Clarinda Harriss and Linda Baie for allowing me to post their takes on the postcard poem form.

If you'd like to read my most recent postcard poem, it is "You Can't Get My Goat." I will post poem #8 tomorrow -- just 36 more to go!

Renee LaTulippe is our Poetry Friday host. Check out her blog, No Water River, for the Poetry Friday blog roll. And then go back and take a look at the wonderful resources and classroom activities Renee is developing for classroom teachers and librarians.


Linda B said...

Thank you Laura. Clarinda's poem is full of yearning, isn't it? It seems that the postcards (& the hunt) could fill your life. Those small slices are ever interesting, like Maurice!

GatheringBooks said...

It is the first time that I've read Clarinda's poetry, and I am moved by its lyrical beauty, and as Linda noted, the 'yearning' that is packed neatly between the lines:

"Did you get the gift I mailed?
Those are pearls that were my eyes."

- how beautiful. I also enjoyed reading about a favorite blogger of mine, Linda Baie and her poetry which always makes me smile. Glad to see her here. :)

Author Amok said...

Clarinda is an excellent poet, brave in her subject matter and her experimentation with form. She has a wonderful "broken" sestina about New Orleans after Katrina.

You're right, Linda. The postcards could fill my life! They are leading me off in so many interesting directions as I research (sometimes) information related to the image in order to write the poems.

Myra, you would love Clarinda's book Mortmain.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Love these, Laura! So much to take in - those tempting, elusive narratives emanating from Clarinda's and Linda's poems. I'll quit gushing over your whole project, though I'm so thrilled to have your Poetry Postcard 5 and your "Symmetry" poem at my place today.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

What a great idea - and what touching, beautiful poems came out of it!

Bridget Magee said...

This is such a fabulous idea. Thank you for sharing it with the world. =)

Mary Lee said...

Enjoying the countdown/write-up to your birthday!

Margaret Simon said...

Love this project! It's full of wonderful voices, Clarinda's, Linda's, and yours, as well as fine words and the whole beauty of paying it forward. Thanks for sharing your process. So much inspiration out there if only we are listening!

Betsy Hubbard said...

The idea is lovely and the results impressive. Thank you for sharing all.

Steve Peterson said...

What a cool project! Thanks for sharing these poems and ideas. I'm very intrigued.

Author Amok said...

Thank you, all. I'm happy with this poem, though my goal with the project was to generate new writing and not worry so much about polishing. Working on #15 right now, which is a little loosey goosey, poem-wise.

Ruth said...

Still so dazzled by this idea. If I'm going to come up with a project, I need to work fast, because I have a February birthday!

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

I love this project - rich with memories and possibilities.