Spectacular snow patterns made by Simon Beck in snowshoes.
Audio Saucepan: “The Barely Above a Whisper Episode” is my statement against bronchitis. After 2 weeks of whispering, I’m heading into the studio this evening to give it my best sotto voce.
This episode begins with marimba, and moves into a glorious Mark Orton tune from the soundtrack to Nebraska (a film I’d see just for the music). You’ll hear something new from bassist Ben Allison, a Swedish folk dance, snow music and summer music (just wishing…). I’m also playing Thelonious Monk because it’s about time I did so. Continue reading
Face sculpture by a middle school student
I wrote these words to one of my students, and want to recycle them for you to hear, too:
Sometimes, we walk out of the classroom thinking what we got down is a throwaway piece. Junk. Pointless. Or somewhere between that and perfect, anyway. Continue reading
A second year with bronchitis at holiday-time. It’s a rough way to enter winter.
For the first several days, I was not sick enough to sleep and so, found myself, reentering a manuscript that I’ve been working on for three+ years. I revised poems and tossed them beside me on the couch, then took another sip of tea. I’d wanted time to focus, and if this was how it was to be given, I was not complaining.
Then, my voice disappeared, and the poems became harder to “hear.” Continue reading
Surreal Boat by Thirsha Redfern
Everything at this time of year seems a little unsettled. Perhaps it is good to embrace the strange spirits that are in the air.
I like to talk to my students about “unpacking” a poem. Some poems require more of this than others. Here is a short, untitled poem by the late Stacy Doris (drawn from a book published in 2012, the year she died — Fledge: A Phenomenology of Spirit by Nightboat Books):
Toes mean sight mean dove called
spans a community
of whims, a whole sink pole
a whole overall lawn
entertained. As it turns
out swan’s disunity
of heart sides: a boat town
thrashed of here, entire
If you read enough of Doris’ poems, you begin to fully appreciate her enjambment and appetite for syllables and sounds; you begin, even, to believe in her transitions between thoughts, though they are not fully apparent — for example, decided decided / spans a community.
Happy Thanksgiving. May it be filled with that “community / of whims.”
“Magician’s Secret” by Vladimir Kush, Russian surrealist painter
The ever-wise poet Charles Simic offers some sage writing advice (below). I added my thoughts in brackets.
“A Few Things To Keep In Mind When Writing A Poem”
• Don’t tell the readers what they already know about life. [… and don't just write down what YOU already know about life, either. Use the writing to figure out something that you didn't know before.]
• Don’t assume you’re the only one in the world who suffers. Continue reading