Thursday, March 21, 2013

...WORLD POETRY DAY?


I know, I know... for many of us the word 'poetry' conjures up the pain of junior high: memorizing long passages from that guy Shakespeare, or maybe an incomprehensible passage from one of the Brownings. What the heck did all those words MEAN, and how did they apply to the life of one whose sole goal was to get through the day without being noticed (or at least having the right kind of notice)? How could I possibly care about Henry the Whatever-number-he-was when there was a new Madonna video debuting on MTV that night and everyone would have to have the moves down by the next dance (give me a break--I was a child of my times)? If they wanted me to care, they should have written it in real English!

BUT THEN... but then, a teacher introduced me to Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. And another assigned E.A. Poe's Alone--GASP! That was me on that page!  e.e.cummings' quote, "To be nobody but yourself..." led me to his poems, and I ate them up (still do).  S.E. Hinton introduced me to Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay, and that led me to find Fire and Ice, and that led me to W.B. Yeats, and understanding his allusions led me right back to---you guessed it--Willy Shakespeare. Only this time, he was starting to make sense. These writers were talking about life--my life as well as the lives of others far away. I found out through poetry that, when I looked at our hearts (places where poetry often leads us) those lives weren't so different after all. A new world was opened to me, and I was hooked.

UNESCO declared today World Poetry Day, and the Director General had some interesting words about the topic in her declaration:
"Poetry is a journey--not in a dream world, but often close to individual emotions, aspirations, and hopes. Poetry gives form to the dreams of peoples and expresses their spirituality in the strongest terms--it emboldens all of us also to change the world." -Irina Bokova

The theme this year is Poems of Peace, and there are several good examples on the UNESCO site

I like poetry. It feels like soul food, in the literal sense of the words. If you've shied away from this type of literature, having decided it was incomprehensible years ago, I urge you to try it again. There are as many types of poetry as there are people, and there's sure to one out there that speaks to your heart. Whether it's written as a formal 'poem' or as song lyrics, poetry is part of everyone's lives.

Here are a couple of my favorites. Remember, I'm a simple, plain-spoken person, so don't expect grandeur (lol).

This poem was in the back of my mind often when writing Cocktails & Dreams. Neruda is a lovely poet.

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

This one caught my eye when I was a kid, but it means so much more now that I AM getting grey-ha!:

When You Are Old

By William Butler Yeats
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. 
A more recent one that makes me smile:

Ode by Elizabeth Alexander

I love all the mom bodies at this beach,
the tummies, the one-piece bathing suits,
the bosoms that slope, the wide nice bottoms,
thigh flesh shirred as gentle wind shirrs a pond.

So many sensible haircuts and ponytails!
These bodies show they have grown babies, then
nourished them, woken to their cries, fretted
at their fevers. Biceps have lifted and toted

the babies now printed on their mothers.
"If you lined up a hundred vaginas,
I could tell you which ones have borne children,"
the midwife says. In the secret place or

In sunlight at the beach, our bodies say
This is who we are, no, This is what
we have done and continue to do.
We labor in love. We do it. We mother.  

There are so many poems that speak to me, some touching, some though provoking, a great many funny. If you give no other poetry compilation a try, please look at She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy. So many goodies there!

Finally, one of my favorites and one I laugh about every day (ruefully):

Grown-up

Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?






Poetry is a journey – not in a dream world, but often close to individual emotions, aspirations and hopes. Poetry gives form to the dreams of peoples and expresses their spirituality in the strongest terms-- it emboldens all of us also to change the world. 
Irina Bokova, Director General
Message on Poetry Day 2013
- See more at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/world-poetry-day-2013/#sthash.ArsZGstA.dpuf
Poetry is a journey – not in a dream world, but often close to individual emotions, aspirations and hopes. Poetry gives form to the dreams of peoples and expresses their spirituality in the strongest terms-- it emboldens all of us also to change the world. 
Irina Bokova, Director General
Message on Poetry Day 2013
- See more at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/world-poetry-day-2013/#sthash.ArsZGstA.dpuf
Poetry is a journey – not in a dream world, but often close to individual emotions, aspirations and hopes. Poetry gives form to the dreams of peoples and expresses their spirituality in the strongest terms-- it emboldens all of us also to change the world. 
Irina Bokova, Director General
Message on Poetry Day 2013
- See more at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/world-poetry-day-2013/#sthash.ArsZGstA.dpuf
Poetry is a journey – not in a dream world, but often close to individual emotions, aspirations and hopes. Poetry gives form to the dreams of peoples and expresses their spirituality in the strongest terms-- it emboldens all of us also to change the world. 
Irina Bokova, Director General
Message on Poetry Day 2013
- See more at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/prizes-and-celebrations/celebrations/international-days/world-poetry-day-2013/#sthash.ArsZGstA.dpuf

Thursday, March 7, 2013

... KINDNESS?

Isn't that a good word?  It's often interchanged with 'nice', but it's not really the same thing, is it?  "Kind" seems to me to be more about doing for others than propping up the self. It's about putting yourself in another's shoes and doing/saying what is right for them. It also means overlooking the sillier things we each say and do, some of us on a daily basis *points to self*.

I've been thinking about this a lot since an interchange I had with someone on Twitter. The original Tweeter had some strong things to say about the culture of meanness that has grown out of and around non-professional blogger reviews. I'm sure anyone who follows books or authors online has seen one or more catty, non-helpful reviews, where the writer is more interested in scoring points off of a particular genre/author/type of publication than on reviewing the book in question. Or maybe it's simply a bad review; not everyone is going to love every book (HEADS UP: I almost never give five star reviews. EVER. And I trust them even less than I give them. A reviewer who LOVES everything is great for authors, but not very helpful for readers.) Then there is the inevitable back and forth between bloggers, readers, and authors, each accusing the other of being 'mean'. The Tweeter was concerned with people getting 'butthurt' over a bad review and crying foul.

I replied that an author might as well learn to take a bad review in stride or get out of the business. I also tossed off a comment that snark is childish on either side, and was surprised when the Tweeter disagreed. She thought snark (catty comments, etc) was okay at any stage of the game.

I don't.

In the heat of the moment someone might say something slightly off-kilter. They might make a spelling or grammar mistake. They might speak/write in hyperbole that would make a gossip column writer blush. That doesn't make it okay to beat them over the head with their perceived or actual mistake. Even worse are those that use the bully pulpit of an online forum to bash an author (or reader, or reviewer, or editor) personally over a created work. Disagreement with someone or dislike of their work makes them neither an idiot or a 'sheep'; neither does it make the critic a wunderkind of refined taste. It just means you disagree. And being able to disagree without attack is a great signal that someone is an actual adult.

My mom once told me that being a gentleman or lady doesn't have anything to do with money; it has to do with making sure that those around you are comfortable. That doesn't mean that you can't ever disagree or take someone to task. It just means that you keep disagreements private and consider if what you're saying in any forum is helpful or enlightening, or if it's just noise over nothing.

Kindness costs nothing and means everything to a respectful society.



Speaking of kindness, a new twitter friend (Mike Lambson-Thanks!) tagged me with a Liebster Award and a challenge: 11 facts about me, 11 answered questions, and 11 questions for other bloggers. Here goes:

11 facts about me:

1) I read EVERYTHING. I'm not stuck on genre--a good book is a good book.

2) Applesauce makes me physically ill and has since I was a baby.

3) I learned to read when I was two, so I have no memory of learning.

4) No secret--I'm a dork. 7 year old son says I should have been on King of the Nerds because I would definitely win. DEFINITELY.

5) I once fell off of a trampoline in junior high and lost an entire day. The school didn't even call my parents. My husband says that might explain a lot of things...

6) I can't write without music.

7) Popcorn is my favorite food.

8) I have a soft spot for happily ever afters in books and movies (because I do really think that most things turn out for the best), but it has to be realistic or I turn into Annie Wilkes.

9) I have no sense of direction. I get lost all of the time, mostly because I'm usually lost in a story in my head & don't pay attention to where I'm going.

10) I cry all of the time over movies, books, and music, but almost never over real life. THERE I'm hard headed and practical.

11) I'm ridiculously loyal. Unless I'm given reason to regret it. And then watch out (lol).

Answers to 11 questions:

1. Who’s the most important person in your life and why?
 My husband. We've been together for more that a quarter century, and at this point he knows me better than anyone.
2. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Ireland.
3. Are you a little crazy?
No question :)
4. What’s the worst thing you’ve done?
Let my mouth run ahead of my brain and really hurt someone who didn't deserve it.
5. What’s the be
st?
Four smart, kind, thoughtful kids.
6. Classical, rock, pop, country, or rap?
Um... all but rap? I'm most partial to singer/songwriter and old soul.
7. What are your thoughts on ghost writing?
Not crazy about it, unless it's not a secret.
8. How do you eat a lollipop?
I don't. 
9. Do you like little children?
Yes.
10. Where would you hide treasure?
In my heart. Nowhere else is safe.
11. What is the absolute most important object in your life?
Object? Hm... first though is my iPod, but floss is right up there-HAHA! I have little boxes stashed in every room of the house & probably floss three times a day.

8 bloggers (and anyone else who cares to answer): How would y'all answer those questions?
Patricia Leever
Sandra Wright
Nicki Elson
Justine Dell
Hannah Fielding
Dee J. Kirkby
Kate Evangelista 
V. K. Ramsey