April 12, 2016

Thursday, April 2, 2015

NPM 2015: What Are You Wearing, Tabatha Yeatts?

Find the official NPM 2015 poster
at the Academy of American Poets

It's the first Friday of National Poetry Month. You know what that means ... a super celebratory Poetry Friday. 

This week's round-up is at Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's The Poem Farm. Want more? Jama Rattigan has a list of kids' lit National Poetry Month projects and celebrations at Alphabet Soup.

All this month, guest bloggers are putting on their finery here at Author Amok. We're doing a month-long feature on poetry about clothes. In addition to the guest posts, every Friday in April I'll post a round-up of original clothing poems. (Send those via email to laurashovan at gmail dot com or leave them in the comments). You'll find a writing prompt at the bottom of this post.

Meet today's guest blogger, poet Tabatha Yeatts. 

Thanks for having me on Author Amok, Laura! I'm sharing poems by the inimitable Greg Pincus. "Greg Pincus" is an interesting poet, don't you think? I mean, have you ever wondered how a man who is always in such a rush that he's "gottabook" somehow manages to write poems on every topic imaginable? Or how "Pincus" abbreviates to "K."? Or how a person who claims to be an "adult" gets into the head of kids so easily? Well, what do you expect from a man who fibs every chance he gets?

“Is this really Greg Pincus?”
Here are some of Greg’s weatherproof, tailor-made, pre-shrunk clothing poems:

My Method For Tying Shoes
by Greg Pincus

Keep your "Bunny Ears" and "loop-de-loops" -
I'll tie shoes with the method I've got.
Oh, sure, it's a mess
Yet there's often success...
So I call it the "Probably Knot."

I Put Each Carrot In a Suit
by Greg Pincus

I put each carrot in a suit.
The lettuce in a scarf (how cute!).
Tomatoes? Ribbons in their hair.
The celery's in underwear.
Sneakers for the kidney beans.
The cucumber's in new blue jeans.
The avocado wore a dress.
The onion's in a tux (oh, yes!).
The jicama's in high-heeled shoes.
The mushroom? Any belt I choose.
The apple is a naked guy.
The olive's in a shirt and tie.
I put the radish in a vest.
There, I think the salad's dressed.

My Favorite Shirt
By Greg Pincus

This shirt is great - the best I’ve worn.
Who cares if it’s all frayed and torn
Or that it’s old, and I’ve been growing
And when I stretch my belly’s showing?
The words it showed in blue and red
Are gone (though I know what they said).
I know it’s stained. That’s good for me:
Each splotch contains a memory.
I love this shirt with all my heart.
I’ll wear it 'til it falls apart.
So wash it, please, with love and caring...
To make it last for one more wearing.

Hat Head
By Gregory K.

I've got hat head really bad.
You say I shouldn't care?
Well, maybe hat head's fine for you,
But me? I have no hair!

Tabatha is a mysterious figure whose home may or may not have a secret room with a tea fountain. There's a rumor she trained under Madam Pomfrey. She probably didn't raise a Golden Snidget from a snidgling. She has been known to write poems about "imaginary" places. You'll find her blogging at The Opposite of Indifference.

Thanks for visiting, Tabatha. Greg, I will never look at my apple the same way again.

ICYMI: In this series...
Jane Elkin looks in her childhood closet. Poems by Mark Irwin and Ron Koertge.

*Your suggested clothing poem prompt for Friday, April 3: Storage.
Where and how do you keep your clothes? Do they hang in your closet, organized by color? Are they crumpled on the bedroom floor? Are you an organized packer, or do you toss things into a suitcase and hope for the best. I still remember the name of the long-ago camp counselor (Janice) who taught us how to roll our clothes up tight to maximize space.

Send your poems any time. I'll post original work throughout the weekend.

Earlier this week, guest blogger Jane Elkin shared some poems where clothing was a metaphor for a parent/child relationship. That theme appears again in the Paul Hopper sent in. It's by Marc Kelly Smith. Thanks, Paul. I love how Smith uses repetition and plain language to add power to the poem.

My Father's Coat
by Marc Kelly Smith

I'm wearing my father's coat.
He has died. I didn't like him,
But I wear the coat.

I'm wearing the coat of my father,
Who is dead. I didn't like him,
But I wear the coat just the same.

A younger man, stopping me on the street,
Has asked,
"Where did you get a coat like that?"

I answer that it was my father's
Who is now gone, passed away.
The younger man shuts up.

It's not that I'm trying now
to be proud of my father.
I didn't like him.
He was a narrow man.

There was more of everything he should have done.
More of what he should have tried to understand.

The coat fit him well.
It fits me now.
I didn't love him,
But I wear the coat.

Read the rest at

Parrish Lantern left the gift of a poem this morning. I'll have to learn more about French poet Valerie Rouzeau.

I put on my walking shoes
by Valérie Rouzeau 

I put on my walking shoes 
I had shown you with the soles retreaded 
from old tires.
In pilgrim boats I floated to you
petals stuck to the leather as proofs
of my wishes on the way.

If anyone can find a link to the rest of the poem, please let me know and I will post it.


Irene Latham said...

Greg's clothing poems are so much fun! And Tabatha is mysterious and lovely and always inspiring, isn't she? This series brings up so much for me -- much I have already written about in the past. I feel deep connections to cloth and garments, as my mom (and I!) is a seamstress. Such a deep well, I have to be careful! Thank you, Laura! xo

Diane Mayr said...

"My Father's Coat" was chilling, and, disturbing. I read it last night and again this morning and will probably have to read it again!

Amy LV said...

"Each splotch contains a memory..." Ha! Yes! I can completely relate to this, and the salad poem gave me a giggle. Greg does know how to tickle the funny bone, doesn't he?

Thank you for hosting. Thsi is a fabulous series, and that coat poem - with its haunting repetition - really got me too.

Happy Poetry Friday! xo, a.

Robyn Campbell said...

Hahaha, loved the bio, Tabatha. LOVE Greg's fun poetry. I giggled out loud. I must study his poems.

My Father's Coat was unbelievably stirring. I read it again and again. As a matter of fact, I couldn't stop reading it.

Thanks for having this series, Laura. It's so much fun! :-)

Author Amok said...

Irene -- I'm glad you're enjoying the series. So many of the poems coming in focus on clothes as a language between two people. It reminds me of how my mother and I used to battle over clothes when I was a teen.

Author Amok said...

Amy -- A funny story about Greg's splotched shirt in this poem. It makes me think of a friend whose child had cerebral palsy. One day, he came home from school with a note from his aide. The note was a map of all the different splotches on his shirt and where they came from! The story always stuck with me. I wrote a poem about it called "The Map."

Linda B said...

I thought I knew something about Tabatha, but this imaginary room is new! Greg Pincus always looks at things in unusual ways, and always makes me smile. I only have seen the first one, Tabatha, so thank you! As for the Father's Coat, much to ponder there, as if he wants to make the father "fit better" even after he's gone. Clothing touches us in body and soul, right?

jama said...

Fun post -- enjoyed Greg's poems selected just for us by the mysterious Tabatha. A tea fountain? Whoa . . .

Still pondering "My Father's Coat." It raises emotional bristles like itchy nap.

Margaret Simon said...

Greg skyped with my class last year. What a treat! He gave good advice about writing and let me boys know that writing poetry is cool!

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Valérie Rouzeau is a French poet & translator born 1967. here is another poem by her

The wardrobe’s bare no skeletons no bread
Passed down from my dark ancestor a mirror dating from her birth
Like a giant Moses basket right about to leave
Inside if the whole crap ship goes up in sudden flames.

What a drunken boat the wardrobe is if suddenly recalled to the blue red black sea far away –
Unfolded sheets all sails unfurled
And history’s hoodwinked ghosts –
You lean out, life
Towards what infinite and what forgetfulness.

The moths have eaten the sheep’s wool
Oh come on
If gold’s worth less than coal
Let’s saw it saw it down!

My great-great-auntie threw herself under a train for love
The heart I never knew of her
Can’t straighten out inside the personal affairs
Of your existence at a visit atavistic auntie
On the station platform or the tube the RER for me.

The unsealed furniture has lost its handkerchief
Its biscuit crumbs all read its roll-necks full of holes its lousy fichus scarves
A ledge what prow if you’re all washed up and perch there awed
Not a single bird is left to whistle in this wood.

She’s sinking the heavy wardrobe made of short memory and solid oak
Her shelves and thinginess
Her rail paralysis
Her mirror exactness
In her prettiest dress she’s dancing she’s sixteen.

It was long ago an angel passing now
(The bridal wardrobe sent to make a blaze as soon as my late aunt claire
Buried without corsets and eyes.)

Mary Lee said...

What a fun-filled post!

jan godown annino said...

I read "My Father's Coat" first because this mouse I am in thrall to scooted me to the end when I began.
It is a chilling piece & calls to mind everyone's questions about how best to pass on the good clothing of those who are departed. I'm so pleased it was sent in & that you posted it.

On Mr. K's silly verses - wowza. I think I may copy out Greg's dressed salad surprise & read it to folks. Is it in a pub. collection by any chance? They are each of them the bowtie on the gent from Kent.

Appreciations for this 1st Poetry Friday post, of National Poetry Month

Donna Smith said...

Tabatha, thanks for adding to the wardrobe today! Nice picks from the Pincus!

Carol Varsalona said...

Laura, as usual your post was filled with an array of interested pieces. Greg's poetry is charming even for adults and My Father's Coat a different type of reading experience for me. I am intrigued by your clothing challenge and hope to be able to join in the fun. Right now the stomach bug has infested my home.

Catherine said...

I think we all have a "favorite shirt" like Greg's. So many memories are wrapped up in our clothes. You've really got me thinking...
Thanks for sharing!

GatheringBooks said...

My Father's Coat resonated with me a great deal. I loved seeing Tabatha's post here. Lovely! :)

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I'm so very late here, trying to keep up...Tabatha, thanks for giving Greg some air time--I for one have missed him around here, and I see he's taking a break from one of my favorite features of NPM, his 30 Poets/30 Days.

How great and clever are those four poems?! I'm having trouble choosing between "Probably Knot" and the salad dressing one as my favorite. I'm totally taking that one into Kindergarten where we are growing salad in our outdoor classroom. Thanks to all who made these giddy moments fascinating.

And I love "My Father's Coat" in a whole different way. I heard this on an NPR show yesterday. Same and different, different and the same....

Robyn Hood Black said...

Many thanks to Tabatha for letting us try on all these (ridiculously clever) Greg Pincus poems - love the "probably knot" knot. Thanks to Greg for sharing them and to Laura for throwing the party.

PS - I'm standing in line at Tabatha's tea fountain, cup ready, with Linda and Jama.
[PPS - Heidi, you might be trying to catch up, but you're ahead of me!]

Catherine Johnson said...

How very different Greg's fun poems are to My Father's coat. The repetition in that one adds to the chill factor. Great choice Tabatha.