29 Apr

A Poetry Lesson

No, it’s not really a poetry lesson. This is my last poetry post for April, so I thought I’d share a poem I wrote using the exercise Jeri Walker posted, 15-Sentence Portrait Poem. Wendy Bishop introduced this exercise to Jeri, and now I am copying the guidelines to share with you. Below are the guidelines regarding the 15-Sentence Portrait Poem.

For a title, choose words for an emotion or a color that represents an important person in your life. You will not mention this person’s name in the writing. I am going to use Adoration. The adoration isn’t necessarily about the person having it, but about how others had the adoration for her.

1. For the first-line starter, choose one of the following: You stand there… / No one is here… / In this (memory, photograph, dream, etc.), you are… / I think sometimes… / The face is… / We had been… / Now complete this sentence.

I think sometimes of how your life might have been if death did not come that day.

2. Write a sentence with a color in it.

Specks of yellow in your green eyes,

3. Write a sentence with a part of the body in it.

dark-haired and olive skinned,

4. Write a sentence with a simile (a comparison using like or as).

exotic like a Bird of Paradise.

5. Write a sentence of over 15 words.

We were two of a kind, opposites in every way,
but connected by genes—imagination.

6. Write a sentence under eight words.

You and I, pretenders of different lives.

7. Write a sentence with a piece of clothing in it.

With boas and scarves, we walked around like princesses.

8. Write a sentence with a wish in it.

I wish death had lost its way, or that you had beaten the odds.

9. Write a sentence with an animal in it.

Maybe we would have had our apartment full of dogs.

10. Write a sentence in which three or more words alliterate; that is they begin with the same initial consonant, as in “Suzie sells seashells by the seashore.”

Or days filled, singing sappy songs of love.

11. Write a sentence with two commas.

Everyone you met, no matter how briefly, said nothing but kind words about you.

12. Write a sentence with a smell and a color in it.

And I remember your favorite color—yellow—that went with your mellow nature.

13. Write another sentence with a simile.

But some memories have faded like the pages in a book.

14. Write a sentence with four words or less in it.

So long ago.

15. Write a sentence to end this portrait that uses the word or words you chose for a title.

Yet my adoration for you is everlasting.

One of the commenters on Jeri’s blog mentioned that this would be a great memorial celebration. My poem is a memorial celebration. Since I wrote it yesterday, it probably could use some tweaking.

Adoration

I think sometimes of how your life might have been if death did not come that day.
Specks of yellow in your green eyes,
dark-haired and olive skinned,
exotic like a Bird of Paradise.
We were two of a kind, opposites in every way,
but connected by genes—imagination.
You and I, pretenders of different lives.
With boas and scarves, we walked around like princesses.
I wish death had lost its way, or you had beaten the odds.
Maybe we would have had our apartment full of dogs.
Or days filled, singing sappy songs of love.
Everyone you met, no matter how briefly,
had nothing but kind words to say about you.
And I remember your favorite color—yellow—
that went well with your mellow nature.
But some memories have faded like the pages in a book.
So long ago.
Yet my adoration for you is everlasting.

1-years oldAnn

I hope you enjoyed my April poetry posts. As uncomfortable as poetry may feel to some people, it’s just as wonderful to be able to express feelings. It’s therapeutic, so go on and give it a try.

Have you ever written a 15-Sentence Portrait Poem?

April and Poetry,
Baer Necessities

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22 Apr

The Sounds Poems Make

smv280x150When learning poetry, one learns the different forms of poetry along with a particular culture or history. They are a part of literature, such as meter and rhyme, and of the assumption that poetry is mastery of the language. As for lyrics, the average person understands the language used. In my opinion, if songwriters don’t choose words well, the song can fail miserably. But many poets have influenced musicians, and in doing so, they have created music and applied it to poetry.

In the early 2000’s, David Gilmore of Pink Floyd put William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” to his own musical interpretation. Now I never was a fan of Pink Floyd, but I love what Gilmore did with the sonnet. The lines are broken with dramatic pause, and the melody sounds reflective.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Natalie Merchant, one of my favorite singers, got me through the tough times of adolescence and young adulthood. She devoted an album, Leave Your Sleep, to a collection of American and British poetry joined to music. When I was living in Chicago, I had the opportunity to see her perform this album. She got the idea after reading nursery rhymes to her daughter. One of her musical inspirations for the nursery rhymes was that of Nathalia Crane. At the age of ten, Nathalia published a book of poetry, The Janitor’s Boy. They dubbed her “The Brooklyn Bard.” The bluesy music fits well with the poem.

Oh I’m in love with the janitor’s boy,
And the janitor’s boy loves me;
He’s going to hunt for a desert isle
In our geography.

A desert isle with spicy trees
Somewhere near Sheepshead bay;
A right nice place, just fit for two
Where we can live alway.

Oh I’m in love with the janitor’s boy
He’s busy as he can be;
And down in the cellar he’s making a raft
Out of an old settee.

He’ll carry me off, I know that he will,
For his hair is exceedingly red;
And the only thing that occurs to me
Is to dutifully shiver in bed.

The day that we sail, I shall leave this brief note,
For my parents I hate to annoy:
“I have flown away to an isle in the bay
With the janitor’s red-haired boy.

Because I think Natalie Merchant is incredibly talented, I thought I’d share another poem from Leave Your Sleep. This one is by Ogden Nash, Adventures of Isabel. Known for light verse, he wrote rhymed poetry in unconventional lines, different length and uneven meter.

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry.
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.
Once in a night as black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch.
the witch’s face was cross and wrinkled,
The witch’s gums with teeth were sprinkled.
Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
I’ll turn you into an ugly toad!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry,
She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.
Isabel met a hideous giant,
Isabel continued self reliant.
The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
He had one eye in the middle of his forhead.
Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
I’ll grind your bones to make my bread.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She nibled the zwieback that she always fed off,
And when it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off.
Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
The doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
And the doctor’s satchel bulged with pills.
The doctor said unto Isabel,
Swallow this, it will make you well.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She took those pills from the pill concocter,
And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.

And to end my poetry/lyrical fun, I have to add another favorite singer of mine, Stevie Nicks. On her 2011 album In Your Dreams, she recorded Edgar Allan Poe’s last completed poem, Annabel Lee.

Verse and Music,
Baer Necessities

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15 Apr

The Dead Poets Society

Writers’ words live on through used pages of books and monuments. Every hand that holds and turns the pages, touches written monuments, changes us forever.

In death, we still read their words—the Dead Poets Society. These dead poets’ written words make us bleed emotions, and we feel compelled to attach them to memes, tattoo them on our bodies, or inscribe them on headstones. While we replicate their poems in life and death, some poets had provided their own inscription for the ever after. They lived and died with their words. Here is a glimpse of a few of them.

William_Butler_Yeats_by_George_Charles_Beresford
An Irish poet and playwright, William Butler Yeats, was a leading force in 20th century literature. He was the first Irishman awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In 1939, Yeats died in France and was buried there. He specifically told his wife, “If I die bury me up there [at Roquebrune] and then in a year’s time when the newspapers have forgotten me, dig me up and plant me in Sligo.” Nine years later, she granted his wish, and moved his body to Drumcliffe, County Sligo.

Many years later, people still cherish his poetry. Yeats had a major influence on lead singer, Mike Scott of the Waterboys. Because of his brief studies in literature and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Scott took advantage of English literature in his music. He used some of Yeats’ poems and put them to music. The Waterboys released the album in 2011 titled, An Appointment with Mr Yeats.

It’s a huge dedication to the once influential writer, who is now secured in Ireland. The family had inscribed the last three lines of one of his final poems, Under Ben Bulben. This is the final stanza.

Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

Robert Frost
An American poet, Robert Frost’s poems were revered for their rural life in 20th century New England. He received not one, but four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He moved from San Francisco to Massachusetts, settling in several New England states. In 1915, he bought a farm in New Hampshire, the family’s summer home, and started a career as a writer, teacher, and lecturer. Frost taught almost every summer and fall at the Ripton, Vermont campus of Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College, along with teaching English at Amherst College in Massachusetts. At the age of 86, Frost gave a reading of his poetry at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.

Two decades before Frost died, he wrote his epitaph in a poem, The Lesson for Today. His family inscribed the last line of the last stanza on his headstone. It’s unknown whether he wanted this line to be his real epitaph.

I hold your doctrine of Memento Mori
And were an epitaph to be my story,
I’d have a short one ready for my own.
I would have written of me on my stone:
I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.

William-ShakespeareThe Bard does not need an introduction from me. His words are resounded through generations. Historians pieced together much of his life since few records had survived. Some academics still doubt the authorship of his works.

In 1616, Shakespeare died, and his resting place is in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. As assumed, Shakespeare wrote his epitaph, which includes a curse to anyone who moves his bones.

Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
To digg the dvst encloased heare.
Bleste be man spares thes stones,
And cvrst be he moves my bones.

Modern spelling:

Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

I thought I’d share a few pictures of funny headstones, but I didn’t verify their authenticity.

I think I’d want my epitaph to make people smile, leaving them with some sort of an impression. Maybe something like, “She danced in the rain,” or “Lived the dream.” But I’m actually leaning towards a simple oxymoron: Old news, Slumber party, Easy task, Escaped Prisoner, Spoiled Goods, Final Draft, Disaster Relief, Virtual Reality, Rough Finish, Uninvited Guest, or Historical Fiction.

What would you like your epitaph to say? Would you want something thought provoking or humorous?

Dead Poets and Epitaphs,
Baer Necessities

Citings
http://www.poemhunter.com 
http://www.historyfromheadstones.com/index.php?id=770
http://www.thisdayinquotes.com/2010/06/i-had-lovers-quarrel-with-world.html

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08 Apr

Always the Last to Know

I wanted to look into something original, interesting that I could share about poetry. In my quest to find a fun-fact tidbit, I learned some facts about a childhood movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Of course, I’m talking about the chocolate factory with Gene Wilder from 1971.

Before I connect the movie to poetry, I want to point out a few things about the movie. I have seen it several times and never realized the film location was Munich, Germany. When I watched it as a child, the scenery seemed foreign to me, strange even. Now it makes sense. They even recruited Germans to play Oompa Loompas, which many didn’t know the words to the musical songs because they didn’t speak English.

I’m so clueless. Or maybe I shouldn’t even admit to such stupidity.

Now as a child, I did notice Willy Wonka’s spurts of words, how quick he responded to another character. I usually scratched my head in confusion. I thought these spurts of words were riddles I clearly didn’t understand. But I was wrong! Did you know that there are several poetic lines recited throughout the movie? Just say you didn’t know. And that some of Willy’s spurts are poetry lines? Well, they are I tell ya. Unfortunately, I can’t find any specifics as to the reasons for these lines other than they were written into the screenplay.

In the beginning of the movie, a tinker recites at 0:42 of the below clip, Up the airy mountain, / Down the rushy glen, / We daren’t go a-hunting / For fear of little men. This is from “The Fairy Folk” written by William Allingham.

Other lines throughout the movie include: “Is it my soul that calls upon my name?” William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”; “All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by” John Masefield – “Sea Fever”; “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” John Keats’s “Endymion: A Poetic Romance” and “Round the world and home again, that’s the sailor’s way!” William Allingham’s “Homeward Bound”. “We are the music-makers…” Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s “Ode”. “Where is fancy bred…” and “So shines a good deed…”. William Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”. The lines from the song, Sweet lovers love the spring time, are from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”.

Here is a clip of Willy Wonka saying, “The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last.” A quote from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

And at 0:22 of the below clip, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” is from “Reflections on Ice Breaking” by Ogden Nash.

This is toward the end of the movie, when Willy Wonka tells Charlie he didn’t win. Charlie returns a piece of candy, and at 2:10 in the below clip, Willy says, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” It’s a quote from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice,” although Willy says ‘weary world’ instead of Shakespeare’s ‘naughty world.’

So I leave you with a bit more about movies and poetry. Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night has been used several times by Hollywood, most recently in the movie “Interstellar.”

Poetry in Motion,
Baer Necessities

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01 Apr

Kick off April with a Slam Dunk

To start out April, National Poetry Month, I thought I’d begin with Slam Poetry. Thanks to Jeri Walker at Word Bank Writing & Editing, I started watching slam poetry over the last year. Along with it being entertaining, I also am in awe of the performers.

Slam Poetry or Poetry Slam is performance poetry. It inspires poets to focus on the words they choose as well as how they say them. The poetry can revolve around a serious issue, personal local or worldwide, or a funny subject, as long as the words and how you share them with the audience leaves an impression.

According to these poetry slam sites, Poetry Slam and Slampapi, this type of poetry originated from Marc Smith (slampapi). A Chicago construction worker and poet, Marc had started a poetry reading series at a jazz club, Get Me High Lounge, to revive open mic poetry.

I admire anyone who can stand behind a mic in front of a crowd, because when it comes to public speaking, my “ums” increase as the saliva begins to dry up in my mouth. Slam poetry takes public speaking to another dimension. The words make us think, and the performances heighten the emotional rollercoaster the listener is going through.

For this post, I’d like to share a few slam poetry videos that truly moved me. This first one is from the Los Angeles Finals called “Somewhere in America” by Belissa Escoloedo, Zariya Allen, and Rhiannon McGavin. It is a powerful poem about books, history, and women. Please watch and listen to what these young girls are saying.

“Explaining My Depression to My Mother” by Sabrina Benaim made my heart stutter when I heard her words and watched her pain.

Now onto something else poetryish. I’d like to collect poems and/or lyrics from anyone interested in having them published in an anthology under my Baer Books Press. If I collect enough interest, authors will have an “About the Author” page alongside their poems. All poets will receive copies of the eBook in “mobi” and/or “epub” form and proceeds will go to Futures Without Violence. The subject of the poems should be about violence, and you can get an idea from the “Our Work” menu on the site. It can be about violence itself, its effects, teachings to prevent it, and/or triumphs, and it can be in traditional form or free verse. Deadline is May 31, 2015.

If you are interested in this poetry anthology, please submit your poem(s) or lyric(s) to denise@authordenisebaer.com. Let’s put our creative efforts into making the world a better place. Please pass this along.

Slam, Poetry and Causes,
Baer Necessities

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