Thursday, August 30, 2018

Going Going Gone! (Midweek Prompt!)

The other day I was trying to remember various poems that I had once memorized.  (Agh.)  

I typically picked poems to learn that I liked very much; I also went for factors such as rhyme and meter as these tend to serve as mnemonics. 

When I was thinking through these old favorites, I was struck by how often they began with a “going.”  (Not necessarily a leave-taking, but simply some kind of movement.)  As in:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made,
Nine bean-rows will I have there, and a hive for the honey bee
And live alone in the bee-loud glade. 

(From The Lake Isle of Innisfree, by W.B. Yeats.)

Let us go then you and I
when the evening is spread against the sky
like a patient etherized upon a table.

(From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot.)

As I walked out one evening,
walking down Bristol Street,
the crowds upon the pavement
were fields of harvest wheat.

     (From As I Walked Out One Evening, by W.H. Auden.)

I went out to a hazel wood
Because a fire was in my head
And cut and peeled a hazel wand
And hooked a berry to a thread.

     (From The Wandering Aengus, by W.B. Yeats.)

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil’s foot, 

    (From Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star, by John Donne.)

What I realized is that “going” is a very common jumping off point for a poem; poems from the Odyssey and The Canterbury Tales on down often describe some kind of journey--be it a journey across the world, out to your garden, to the far side of the moon, or into your own heart. 

So, poets, your prompt for the day--should you choose to participate--is to use the trope of “going,” however that may go down for you as some kind of jumping off point for your poem.  You do not need to use the word “going” in your poem and you do not have to write in the present, past or imperative sense (although you probably will use one of them.)

For extra points, although we all know that the game of poetry doesn’t really keep score, think of writing a poem that someone might memorize and that won’t immediately “go” out of their consciousness--i.e. consider incorporating rhyme, meter; also keep it relatively short! 

I hope you are all well!  I am sorry to have been so absent from the blogging world and am grateful to Kerry for allowing me to remain as part of the group. 

The pictures such as they are are mine. You are free to use them, all rights are reserved and please credit Karin Gustafson.  Thanks! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Tuesday Platform

Patrick Hendry, Unsplash

Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let loose the wind in the fields.

Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will not build one
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long
will stay up, read, write long letters,
and wander the avenues, up and down,
restlessly, while the leaves are blowing.  ~ RainerMaria Rilke

The time is almost here when Autumn's sweet breath serenades the land, when begrudging leaves blush and hills turn a shade of gold and red. I have been in love with Autumn ever since I can remember. Greetings poets, wayfarers and friends it's a lovely day here in Kuala Lumpur and I am looking forward to reading poetry with a cup of coffee.

If you have any thoughts to share, ideas you wish to release into the wild or a world view to express then you have come to the right place. Please share a poem of your choice and enjoy the company of your fellow scribes.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Let's Eat!

Weekend Challenge:  Let's Eat!

Hello Fellow Toads. Let's trade some tales of the best ever bugs, flies, and crickets we have eaten. Some of you may be aware that at one point in my several incarnations, I was a chef - matriculated at the CIA, worked under some good chefs and finally became a chef.  Therefore, one of the things I always ask people is, "What is the best meal or food you have ever eaten?"  It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to have been the best thing YOU have eaten.  For example, one of my favorite meals was eaten with a coworker after a long hard night's work. The meal consisted of chicken salad from one of those plastic tubs on a hot dog roll, a couple of oreos and the crumbs from the bottom of the potato chip bag.  It was all she had at the time and it was good!  The company made it special, you see. Tony said, "You learn a lot about the person you share a meal with."

I have traveled all over and have memories of some special meals in special places - Lyon, Hong Kong, London, my hometown of Durham, NC.  One of the people I admired most in the world was Tony Bourdain.  He traveled, he ate.  He was fearless in the food he tried and I don't think he ever met a food he didn't like.  He did the Parts Unknown series on CNN and one of the best segments he did was in Manila.  Here we see Tony at his best - fun loving, sentimental, honest, eating with people who love to feed people, and children off the street.  I am including this segment which shows that the food doesn't have to fancy and gourmet, it just has to be eaten in the company of fellow food lovers.  It is the segment on Halo Halo (hollow hollow or mix mix) which is a Philippine street food.  He happily shares it with children on the street.  You can tell he is truly loving the experience.

What I would like you all to do is to write a free form poem about the best food you ever ate, the best meal you ever had. I would like you all to keep it brief please - No more than 20 lines and in a free form - meaning no form is allowed: no sonnet, no ode, no haiku, no haibun, no cherita, sonnet, etc.….I want the form to be footloose and fancy free. Travel with us and share with us your meal. Walk with us and talk with us.  Have fun with this prompt.  Tell us about the food, the ingredients, the drink, the company.  Let us in on your pleasure in a meal well eaten.  And watch this short video clip.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

On the edge of starry night ~


E.E. Cummings was born on October 14, 1894, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His style universally portrays different types of structure which adds interest and creativity into his poetry. He uses four different facets of form and structure which are: choppiness in sentence length, spacing and punctuation, overall poem length, and shape. As I was going through some of Cummings's poems, I came across one that completely blew me away:

The Hours Rise Up Putting Off Stars And It Is

the hours rise up putting off stars and it is
into the street of the sky light walks scattering poems

on earth a candle is
extinguished the city
with a song upon her
mouth having death in her eyes

and it is dawn
the world
goes forth to murder dreams….

i see in the street where strong
men are digging bread
and i see the brutal faces of
people contented hideous hopeless cruel happy

and it is day,

in the mirror
i see a frail
dreams in the mirror

and it
is dusk on earth

a candle is lighted
and it is dark.
the people are in their houses
the frail man is in his bed
the city

sleeps with death upon her mouth having a song in her eyes
the hours descend,
putting on stars….

in the street of the sky night walks scattering poems.

Our frame of reference is the last line of Cummings's poem. Choose your own form or write in free verse, if preferred. I look forward to reading what you guys come up with. Please do visit others and remember to comment on their poems. Have fun!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Toads Chat - Björn and Izy

On a Saturday in July two writers sat in front of their computers. One in Sweden, with a cold mojito in his hand as the night was just getting started. One in Minnesota, clutching her first cup of morning coffee. 

The mission: to chat. 

The following is the conversation as it took place over messenger. 

Izy: Hiya!  Happy Saturday, Bjorn!

Björn: Hi Izy, Happy Saturday... Hope you are settled down. I sit with a cold Mojito so I'm well prepared.
Ahahaha...I just poured a fresh cup of coffee and am ready to roll.  I would much prefer if I could have met you in person. Perhaps at a street cafe.  Instead, I am sitting among unpacked boxes in my living room in my pajamas.

Guess that's the beauty/pitfall of technology

Technology has a way of both building bridges and barriers I think, being and engineer I think a lot about the world we are creating. They say that technology is neither good nor evil, but I'm not always sure.

Right?  The double edge sword that is my smart phone

The one you check the first thing in the morning and the last thing to check when you wake up... I know that all too well. I just had 2 weeks out of internet, but when I get home I start to check my phone the same way again.

And we keep doing it, even though we know it is slowly draining our humanity.  Such silly creatures, aren't we? I was so happy to be paired with you, because I really like your pragmatism and how you filter absurdities onto the page!
Also, when we post this convo, I will probably take out like all of my exclamation points


I have to second the pairing. I know you mostly from the prompts, and always try to write for them... the make me think out of the box and come up with new ideas...

I might have to edit out my ellipses ... ...

Word is heard! I haven't been as active on my blog and in the garden, because so much of my writing for the past two years has been focused on performance, publishing and the magazine I started.  Sorry to leave you with so little to reference. But I am glad you enjoy the out of standard. I started it with the intent to shake us somewhere new!

This is as it should be, I would love to come into performance, but the scene for live poetry in English is so limited in Stockholm. Please tell me more about your magazine and live performances.
Ah, in the Twin Cities we have one of the best literary scenes. So many talented writers and reading series and lots of great presses that promote poetry specifically.  I have really fallen in love with reading poetry on stage, so I do that as much as I can. Be it a dive bar or a massive auditorium. I have found that poems live differently when spoken out loud, and it's neat to see something I put on the page transform as it falls out of my mouth.  The magazine, Nice Cage, has been a similar experience. I edit it with one other person, and climbing into the role of editor (instead of writer), has empowered me to think about writing and how I can help shape the literary landscape beyond my own words. With Nice Cage we are a mission to provide a platform and voice to those who seek to transform normative thinking.

but basically, we just want to publish awesome work by cool people.
That's a perfect mission statement. Stockholm is of course an international town, and if you seek it you can find good things. One of the best thing I have done was to join a course in Creative Writing locally which later on led to joint publication of two short story collections. I agree about the editing, I loved the part where we worked collectively in editing the stories making them fit together. To actually hold a book in your hand is a great experience.
Indeed, it's like...whoah....I made a thing appear and now others can hold it too!  When you start a story or poem, do you start in English or does that come later?

I am so curious about what it must be like to write in different languages

I never write in Swedish actually, I actually started late in writing. I think it has always been a specific purpose for me to challenge myself a little bit extra. Everything I have ever written is in my social media. So I'm not one of those people who had a passion for poetry from very young age. I remember more how I hated it when I was in high school and university

So it's a passion blooming late.

How is your life story of poetry?
I kinda love the fact that you hated poetry.  I was the same way (late bloomer), mostly because I wrote fiction and short stories and just felt I was no good at poetry.  But then....I read Ginsberg and Dorothy Parker....and I thought okay, these folks are saying things in a very powerful way and I think I want to explore it.  Also, I was inspired a lot by the lyrics I heard in songs. Music is very powerful, and poetry is at its back bone.
I have always loved music but more the melody than the lyrics actually. I think it's more fiction that has captured me. From time to time I will read every book I can find, and somehow I think that when I started to realize how much I appreciate how good prose use what I later realized was poetic tools. So you might say that I was tricked into poetry by well written prose.

And it's amazing to see how many great novelists who are also good poets.
There is a lot of connectivity between the two.  Yet I find so many prose writers are a terrified to write poems  — my burning question for you is - how do you see your role/responsibility as a writer in the world?  Are there things you are trying to call out/bring to light?

I have to say that I always hope to have a voice of reason in this crazy world. The purpose why I have created my persona, the aged librarian is exactly because of that, but I feel it's probably quixotic to approach these questions in poetry...

How about you?

I adore your aged librarian persona, by the by, for the reason you mentioned above.  Me? I am currently confused about it, to be honest. When I started writing poems a few years back, I just wanted to share stories and emotions and make people think.  But as an American today, it feels almost irresponsible not to try to do more. We' to say it politely, have had a set back in terms of how we approach each other, and......action is needed.  So, yeah, just sorting through my own end of empire angst

I get scared by actions actually. What we need is to sit down and talk... Compromise is not a foul word I think. Pragmatism is good.

But when all is about winning, the world is on a dangerous route I think.

But that said, I love to see anger expressed in poetry. You mentioned Ginsberg above, and I must say I love listening to Howl.

Ah, yes.  All of Ginsberg's work is delicious in its outrage.  I think by action, I just meant feels like something I could do more instrumental and intentional with my writing :)  Sorry didn't mean to get all political, etc. It's just reflective of my current brain struggle. If we were at that cafe, this is where I would buy you a drink and cheers for the good dialogue. Then move on to a happier subject.....What haven't we talked about yet that you wanted to?
We have not talked anything about the rest of our lives... but for me that is so mundane compared to my life as a poet. To me the only other thing would be influences for your writing. I love the outdoors myself and try to get into the mountains as much as I can, and sometimes that seeps into my writing.
Ah!  the mountains!  Can you'll me a little more about what they are like?  Over here is all prairie flat! Are they close by? Do you see them in the distance all the time like  friendly ghosts?
Alas, no mountains close, my favorite area takes 18 hours by train, so it's clearly a vacation thing, but we have a good archipelago and woods nearby, so we can get out also for weekends.

So they are more like ghosts in my dreams.
Squeeeee!  I can see how they would inspire you.  For me what influences my writing the most are tiny moments that I want to explore more.  For example, when I read a news article about privately funded space travel and how excited folks are....I think, okay but let's explore that.  What is brunch even like in a world where stupid rocket ships are tearing up the sky? And how stupid would the gift shops/t-shirts be. Stuff like that :)

Ha.. that's exactly what I like about your ideas. For me it's always hard to spin such thoughts from an article. I try and sometimes I manage. One trick I do sometimes is to look at a random picture and try to write something that you don't see there. Is there a pirate's ship just outside the frame? Is the photographer a serial killer planning his next crime? I find it a lot easier with pictures than stories.

Ah yes!  I love pictures too, so much to interpret and explore. is that Mojito treating you?
It's all gone, and so is your coffee I guess.
I just poured another cup, and am ready to tackle the day officially!  You're probably thinking about settling in for night things. lollers

how do we wind this down, so much I want to ask, but I don't want to take up all your weekend.

Ha.. Let us get this into a document and then send it around. Maybe we can complement it with additional questions...
sounds like a plan!  I can do that tonight, so you'll have it tomorrow?????

Sounds great. I will go back and prepare our dinner... Great talking to you
Back at you, Bjorn!  Thanks for chatting. I enjoyed the conversation.  Cheers and tah!