Summer Hiatus

Posted in General Notes with tags on June 1, 2009 by czarnickolas

The Poetry Project will be on hiatus for the next few months so that its creator can go outside, explore the city of Chicago, and develop a series of awful tan lines. There may be occasional updates here — announced via twitter — but consistent posting won’t begin again until the end of September. Until then: enjoy your summer, sleep on a park bench, and put a bucket on your head.

HiatusSunset

Santa Monica, 2009

Advertisements

Poem #34: Weekend Haiku, Third Series

Posted in Haiku Series, Poems with tags , , , , , , on May 26, 2009 by czarnickolas

Weekend Haiku, Third Series

I arrive at dusk
a picture of a sunset
emerald-eclipsed

in the pub’s corner
a klutz waitress flips a tray
E wears our water

four wedding venues,
roast beef on paper plates and
dad, the bridezilla

somber before dawn
our last chance to surrender
our work together

we race through the rain
storms never halted Hermes
give us more to drink

Boston liquor laws
lock down the neighborhood stores
Memorial Day spent dry

@NBF 5.26.2009

BostonAirportStation-Sunset

Boston, 2009

——————–

Notes

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Boston for the Run to Remember Half-Marathon and other activities. I apologize for the intermittent posting last week and this week – I am preparing for my move to Chicago this weekend. I will be back in full force next week, with a few posts in the coming days, time permitting.

Poem #33: To Moving

Posted in Best of TPP, Poems with tags , , , on May 20, 2009 by czarnickolas

To Moving

You make me wish for fewer books. Should I
just give them all away? A bald man in a bar
once told me that taking books along
when you move is foolish. He had more money
than I did, and twin step-daughters, too, but I
ignored him all the same. After all, I like the
smell that book-filled cardboard boxes leave in my
hands when I’ve carried them up three
flights of stairs. I cut packing tape with kitchen
knives and revel in the presents I send myself
from the past via UPS, but what’s with all the taco
seasoning? I’ve never made tacos before, let’s
be serious with each other. Moving, is it true
that only death and public speaking cause
more stress than you? Maybe you should lighten
up, come around less often – I don’t know, take
a vacation. You two are related, right? You both
cost money I don’t have. At least a vacation gives
back. No, you’re right – without you, I’d never have
seen a South Dakota sunset, or the Baseball
Hall of Fame. Still, you insist upon yourself.
Have you ever thought of bringing places
to people, instead of… Ah, forget it. We’ve got
a nice thing going, I’d hate to mess it up, lest
you leave me behind for good, and why would I
want to be stuck forever in Los Angles when
you still haven’t shown me Denmark or Paris?

@NBF 5.20.2009

DSC02721_2

NYC, 2006

——————–

Notes

I’m moving to Chicago pretty soon and have just about had it with the moving process, so I thought I’d write a Koch Address to “moving” and show it who’s boss.

Poem #32: How to Say Goodbye; Prompt #5: The Villanelle

Posted in Best of TPP, Love Poems, Poems, Writing Prompts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2009 by czarnickolas

How to Say Goodbye

To sever love it’s always worse to lie
and leave your lover with a drop of hope,
but that’s just how she chose to say goodbye.

We started strong, our ceiling seemed so high,
but honesty rebuffed our toxic scope.
To sever love it’s always worse to lie.

She smothered me with ardor gone awry,
a lather built from arid slabs of soap,
but that’s just how she chose to say goodbye.

We sinned apart and failed on the sly.
Mendacious tongues prepared a gentle slope.
(To sever love it’s always worse to lie.)

She slept to dream then woke herself to cry,
and emptied whiskey bottles dry to cope,
but that’s just how she chose to say goodbye.

That night I came too late to ask her why –
she gave her final answer to a rope.
To sever love it’s always worse to lie
but that’s just how she chose to say goodbye.

@NBF 5.19.2009

DSC02669_2

Boston, 2006

——————–

Notes

The form I’ve used here is the villanelle. My favorite belongs to Elizabeth Bishop, the famous “One Art” (“The art of losing isn’t hard to master.”). Other popular villanelles include Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” alluded to here) and Theodore Roethke’sThe Waking” (“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. / I learn by going where I have to go.”).

When writing a villanelle, it’s easiest to start with your refrain lines and work backwards from there. The form adheres to the following rules (from The Making of a Poem – A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms):

  1. It is a poem of nineteen lines.
  2. It has five stanzas, each of three lines, with a final one of four lines.
  3. The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the second and fourth stanzas.
  4. The last line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas.
  5. These two refrain lines follow each other to become the second to last and last lines of the poem.
  6. The rhyme scheme is aba. The rhymes are repeated according to the refrains.

A villanelle is a powerful form for writing about loss and is still relevant today, despite our being in an age “when artifice in poetry has been distrusted.” More on this from from Norton:

“Perhaps the single feature of the villanelle that twentieth-century poets most made their own is the absence of narrative possibility. Figural development is possible in a villanelle. But the form refuses to tell a story. It circles around and around, refusing to go forward in any kind of linear development, and so suggesting at the deepest level, powerful recurrences of mood and emotion and memory.

“Unlike most other rhymed poems, where the sound of single syllables is repeated once or twice, the villanelle repeats on sound thirteen times and another six. And two entire lines are each repeated four times. It is this last feature that sets the form aside from other poems. the villanelle cannot really establish a conversational tone. It leans toward song, toward lyric poetry. and while the subject of most lyric poems is loss, the formal properties of the villanelle address the idea of loss directly.

“Its repeated lines, the circularity of its stanzas, become, as the reader listens, a repudiation of forward motion, of temporality and therefore, finally, of dissolution. Each stanza of a villanelle, with its refrains, becomes a series of retrievals.”

“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

Poem #31: Simply To You

Posted in Best of TPP, Love Poems, Poems with tags , , , , , on May 18, 2009 by czarnickolas

Simply To You

It was simple to meet you.
Meeting often is –
a collision of mistaken eyes
and accidental love.

You made me for her, a bawling
pile on the bathroom floor,
so curled and insistent.

We could have hopped bars down
18th street, or stayed inside and watched
a fire, wasting time waiting for cinders to burn.

It was simple to kiss you,
but I couldn’t close my eyes,
afraid you’d become the person
I really wanted.

You poured sugar on strawberries
and called it a cake. It was all
you could do with the little I gave you.

You let me lie, and so I ran home
in my bare feet, sure you’d
just want to lie back.

It was simple to leave you.
You were never there
to begin with, and neither,
really, was I.

@NBF 5.18.2009

MuirBeachBWWaves

Muir Beach, 2006

——————–

Notes

This poem takes its first line from Adrienne Rich’s poem “Origins and History of Consciousness.”

Last Week in Poetry #6: 5/11-5/17/2009

Posted in Weekly Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2009 by czarnickolas

If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium. Unfortunately, it’s Monday, but at least that means this must be Last Week in Poetry. Today we’ve got more great steps for women in poetry, a Yoko Ono sighting, and John Keats’ love life now appearing at Cannes.

1 – Ruth Padel Brings Some XX to Oxford Faculty

As reported by the AP, Oxford broke down another barrier last week:

Ruth Padel, the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, became Oxford University’s first female professor of poetry on Saturday.

She was voted to the prestigious five-year post by graduates and academics, and she is the first woman to hold the job since it was created in 1708.

Her series of poems about the famous naturalist — “Darwin A Life in Poems” — received rave reviews when it was published earlier this year, and Padel said she wanted to use her new post to unite poetry and science.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Padel’s appointment has been marred somewhat by the controversy surrounding one of the post’s other candidates. Not lost among the coverage of this event is Derek Walcott’s withdrawal from consideration after a smear campaign irreparably damaged his chances at the post. Covered here last week, Walcott faced the resurfacing quarter-century-old sexual harassment charges. Supporters see conspiracy:

James Fenton, a former incumbent of the professorship, went further, blaming Ruth Padel, Walcott’s chief rival for the post, and more pertinently the journalist John Walsh, who wrote an inflammatory piece in The Independent…

Fenton raged: “It has been disgusting to watch as this hypocritical duo have kicked a 79-year-old poet in the slats, not because he represented some kind of threat to the weak-willed young women of Oxford (come on!) but because he stood in the way of Padel’s ambitions.”

Padel herself has disclaimed any responsibility: “What we all should have been talking about all this time was – and is – poetry.” There are few, including Walcott, who criticise Padel’s poetry, although fewer who would place it in the same league as his.”

405Traffic

Los Angeles, 2004

2 – Keats Love Story at Cannes

Professor Harper often cited Keats in class as an example of what one can accomplish by the age of 25, but he admonished us not to get too caught up in trying to catch him. “There will never be another Keats,” Harper always said. Lost in Harper’s lectures was Keats’ romantic life. Thankfully, Jane Campion – the Kiwi director behind “The Piano” – decided to shine some light on the subject. Her latest project, “Bright Star,” shows viewers the romantic side of Keats’ last two years alive, featuring his affair with Fanny Brawne:

“My feeling was that Fanny didn’t know much about poetry, ” Ms. Campion said in an interview before the festival. “But she got Keats’s poems.”

“Fanny blooms with health and beauty, while the poet, played by Ben Wishaw, withers away: tuberculosis killed him at 25. His last sonnet, “Bright Star,” was written on the ship that took him to Rome, where he died.

“The story of Keats has so many portals you can enter,” said Ms. Campion. “I chose not to show how he died, because Fanny didn’t know.”

The movie took a while to get off the ground, in part due to marketing considerations:

Ms. Campion was captivated by Keats’s poetry in high school, and for years dreamed of making a film about his life.

“It was an incredibly unpopular subject when I first thought of it — a very aggressive time, people were only interested in making money. Slowly, shyly, I shared the idea with Jan Chapman, my producer, who also loves Keats.”

3 – Yoko Ono + Twitter + Haiku = Can’t Miss Poetry Event

Citizens of London have a unique chance participate in the world’s first interactive Twitter poetry competition. Not only that, but a certain Mrs. John Lennon will be among the celebrity judges:

“Commuters who pass through King’s Cross and St Pancras are being invited to submit haiku-style poems on the subject of “the great British summer” from their phones using the social micro-blogging tool. The poems are displayed, within minutes of submission, on a board in the stations, from today until Friday. The best will then be selected by judges including the poet Jackie Kay and artist Yoko Ono.”

The competition combines the classic icon of London transportation – St Pancras station – with the micro-blogging giant Twitter:

“From The Ladykillers to Harry Potter, the station has been recorded in film and literature but the thousands of people it brings into London each day are rarely acknowledged,” said Peter Millican, the head of Kings Place. “Poetry is a big component of our spoken word series of events on a Monday and we wanted to raise the profile of the night with a different group of people to our usual audience. Twitter and haiku just seemed to click.”

Poet Jackie Kay agrees. “I’m intrigued by Twitter; it’s a whole new form of communication,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated by the mystery and brevity of haiku, how people can say simple things, profoundly. I’m looking forward to seeing how these two forms will collide and communicate with one another.”

BlownOutTire

NYC, 2004

4 – Poetry Therapist

We covered poetry as therapy a few weeks ago, but this week we’ve got a profile on a poetry therapist. It may sound like “hoo-ha” to some, but Nessa McCasey stands by her work, “meeting with individuals, couples and groups to heal ‘individual and community wounds so often overlooked or cast aside during our busy daily lives.'” McCasey acknowledges potential shortcomings, “careful not to hold herself out as a licensed clinical therapist”:

She will not counsel someone with an issue that should be treated in a more acute manner by others. “I might need to tone things down or talk to them privately, to make sure they’re getting help,” she said.

Still, McCasey sees value in poems as healing agents, and she grew her English degree from the University of Michigan in a circuitous way that eventually led her into the job she has today.

“You’ve probably heard of music therapy and art therapy,” she said. “Poetry therapy is under that same umbrella, but it’s a younger organization than the other two.”

Be sure to check out Nessa McCasey’s Web site Writers of Wrongs.

5 – Link of the Week- The Jack Kerouac Project of Orlando

Kerouac is a favorite here at The Poetry Project. If he’s a favorite of yours, too, and you would like to live rent-free in the Orlando house he stayed in at one point, give this link a look.

Poem #30: Weekend Haiku, Second Series

Posted in Haiku Series, Poems with tags , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2009 by czarnickolas

Weekend Haiku, Second Series

selfish beach walkers
five abreast on the bike path
there are rules you know

in town for three days
my dad walks the dog alone
she asks for nothing

eleven miles
a cocky runner’s penance
legs like broken wood

Eastern remedies
vogue and unpronounceable
one man’s last resort

I like Chopin best
he got the piano right
don’t tell Beethoven

sports page doom and gloom
will David slay Goliath?
mountains from molehills

@NBF 5.17.2009

SidewalkEndBeach

Santa Monica, 2004

——————–

Notes

Some haiku about running on the beach, family, medicine, music, and basketball.