The Prose Poem

It’s hard to define exactly how a prose poem differs from prose. But for me, a short piece that has an edge, that stays with you, that feels more powerful than the usual snippet of prose, is a prose poem. Here are two of my favorites (I’ve already posted “A Story About the Body,” another fav):

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More about poetry

Having lunch with my daughter yesterday, we were talking about a poetry workshop at the 92nd St. Y.

“It’s weird,” my daughter said, “Nobody seems to want to read poetry, but everyone seems to want to write it.”

imageThis is an odd fact, and certainly rang true. The workshop last night with Mark Ford, was very good, though. Continue reading

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Poetry Monday

I lost Monday this week, traveling to NY. It’s odd the way you step into a sealed tube, wait, emerge across a continent hours later. In the bookstore in the new terminal they had (surprisingly) the wonderful book of Tomas Tranströmer’s Selected Poems, edited and introduced by Robert Hass. I couldn’t resist buying a copy. Here’s a selection:

Slow Music

The building is closed. The sun crowds in through the windowpanes
and warms up the surfaces of desks
that are strong enough to take the load of human fate.

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Envy of Other People’s Poems

Talking with another poet about the discouraging series of rejections, the endless worry that one’s work is really good–how can one know? I remembered this wonderful little poem by Robert Hass, from Time and Materials.

Envy of Other People’s Poems

In one version of the legend the sirens couldn’t sing. Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

Sentence DiagramLately I have been enjoying the Saturday “Review” section of the Wall Street Journal a lot more than the NY Times “Book Review.” This is an excerpt of a Polish author,  Marek Hlasko, from a review by Nathaniel Popkin. It’s from Beautiful Twentysomethings, Hlasko’s autobiography. I’m going to have to read the book:

Hlasko“There are few nations who have so many chances for good literature as we, the Poles, do.  We’ve got everything: misfortune, political assassinations, eternal occupation, informers, mystery, despair, drunkenness. By God, what else could you ask for? When I was in Israel, I lived with the scum of the earth, but still I never met people as desperate, detestable, and unhappy as in Poland.”

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Best Photo from rural CA

On my way home from Chico, I saw this:

2014-03-06 09_opt

Also saw lots of ducks! I suppose the plucking goes with the guided hunt.  And of course, such a great phrase can’t go without its tongue twister:

I’m not the duck plucker or the duck plucker’s son but I pluck the ducks till the duck plucker comes.

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Poets on Poetry

Of course, it’s Tuesday. Monday slipped by again, busy with spring planting, new baby chicks, and miscellaneous garden chores–they are endless. But for today I thought I’d share two famous poets words on poetry. Philip Levine and Marianne Moore:

LevineA Theory of Prosody

When Nellie, my old pussy
cat, was still in her prime,
she would sit behind me
as I wrote, and when the line
got too long she’d reach
one sudden black foreleg down
and paw at the moving hand, Continue reading

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The failed hatch

For those of you who follow the chicken saga, I wrote about my attempts to incubate or have my broody hen hatch some chicks.  I have to report failure on both counts. Nothing in my homemade incubator hatched. I wasn’t so surprised at this, as I had some initial problems regulating the temperature.  But for whatever reason, the eggs under the broody hen also failed to hatch.  After 23 days, I took them out. Three had complete chicken embryos inside, but not alive.  I don’t’ have any idea why, as she was a very diligent setter. I slipped seven day-old chicks from the feed store under her the night I took away the eggs, a mix of Rhode Island Red and Americana chicks.

Optimized-hen andchicksTwo of the Americanas are black, as is the mother. For whatever reason, she rejected the two black chicks. She refused to let them be, but pecked at and chased them around the cage. A self-loathing racist hen? In any case, I had to take the black chicks out and foster them inside. Continue reading

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Too much I…

KinnellSometimes it seems to me that poets, especially American poets, got derailed by the confessional poems of Lowell and Plath, and there is just too much self-absorption. Of course, everything experienced is filtered through the lense of self, but a little perspective is the mark of a fine mind. Galway Kinnell gave a craft talk at Squaw Valley Community of Writers, in which he suggested taking the words “I” or “me” or the various forms of these out of your work.  And Sharon Olds, who was also there, wrote a beautiful poem about how she loved the I-beam I, “Take the I Out.”  But I did write for a year without an “I” poem.  It was a good exercise. And it’s hard to beat this poem, with no I in it:

Saint Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing; Continue reading

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More on Shirley Temple

imagesIn my post on Graham Greene’s analysis of Shirley Temple’s charms, I mentioned how Greene had to flee to Mexico to avoid libel charges.  The other day, Girl Scouts were selling cookies by the Farmers’ Market.

“With an epidemic of childhood obesity,” I remarked to Larry, “you’d think the Girl Scouts could find something else to sell, like dried fruit and nuts.”

girlscout“I bet they’re glad they didn’t hire you as their marketing consultant,” Larry replied. “You’d have them sell dried seaweed. Of course, it wouldn’t really matter what they sold if they just dressed like Shirley Temple.”

I hope that by repeating this here, we won’t be forced into an unplanned trip to South America–I don’t think either Larry or I have a novel in us!

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