Tag Archives: Poetry Project

The Poetry Project

poetry projectLu has asked those involved with the Poetry Project to take a moment to reflect back on the project so far.  Except for the times when I have been just to frazzled to remember to read poetry, the project has had me reading more poetry, introduced me to poets that were new to me, and to poetry I might not have been all that comfortable with.  I appreciate the time and energy that Lu and Kelly have put into this, and am glad to have found others who enjoy reading and discussing this varied and amazing use of language.

So here, for Winter,  from one of my favorite poets, is a poem about snow:

Snow
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Once with my scarf knotted over my mouth
I lumbered into a storm of snow up the long hill
and did not know where I was going except to the top of it.
In those days we went out like that.
Even children went out like that.
Someone was crying hard at home again, 
raging blizzard of sobs.

I dragged the sled by its rope, 
which we normally did not do
when snow was coming down so hard,
pulling my brother whom I called by our secret name
as if we could be other people under the skin.
The snow bit into my face, prickling the rim
of the head where the hair starts coming out.
And it was a big one. It would come down and down
for days. People would dig their cars out like potatoes.

How are you doing back there? I shouted,
and he said Fine, I’m doing fine, 
in the sunniest voice he could muster 
and I think I should love him more today
for having used it.

At the top we turned and he slid down,
steering himself with the rope gripped in
his mittened hands. I stumbled behind
sinking deeply, shouting Ho! Look at him go!
as if we were having a good time.
Alone on the hill. That was the deepest
I ever went into the snow. Now I think of it
when I stare at paper or into silences
between human beings. The drifting 
accumulation. A father goes months 
without speaking to his son. 

How there can be a place 
so cold any movement saves you.

Ho! You bang your hands together,
stomp your feet.  The father could die!
The son! Before the weather changes.

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A Pulitzer Poet – Lisel Mueller

Thanks to Lu and Kelly for creating the Poetry Project and suggesting the theme of reading the Pulitzer Prize winning poets in August.  I have been reading poets who are new to me.   One of my favorites is  Lisel Mueller who won the Pulitzer in 1997 for the collection Alive Together.  I borrowed this book from my library but will be sure to add a copy to my poetry collection.

Mueller’s poetry very clear and direct, based in present time and yet deeply connected to the past.  She uses folk and fairy tales  in her poems, as well as everyday events.   Her poems tell stories, are often personal,  never heavy-handed and are filled with wonderful imagery.  I find her writing striking, deeply moving and quite beautiful.

Here are two poems from Alive Together:

Sometimes, When The Light

Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs  standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

Why We Tell Stories

For Linda Foster

I
Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak

2
We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

3
Because the story of our life
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and

Lisel Mueller

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The Poetry Project

Time for the Poetry Project, organized by Lu and Kelly.  August’s Poetry Project theme is Pulitzer Prize winning poetry.  Of course, you can read and post about any poetry you choose.  I’m planning on reading the work of several Pulitzer winning poets I’m not familiar with but would like to start off with one of my favorites, W.S. Merwin.

Thanks

By W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Copied from Poets.org.

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The Poetry Project 2012-2013

Thanks to Vasilly , I’ve learned about the Poetry Project revamp organized by Lu at Regular Rumination and Kelly at The Written World.  The event is a year-long project and originally had folks posting at the end of the month.  Now participants can write about poetry, poets and poetry events any time they want.  If you are stuck for an idea there are monthly prompts and there will be a Mr. Linky post up on the first Wednesday of the month.

For the revamp Kelly and Lu have asked participants to answer a few questions:

Why do you want to join for the Poetry Project? I enjoy poetry, love to read it, love to listen to it and have on occsion attempted to write it.  I have always been hesitant writing about poetry so I feel this project is a , good way to start.
Do you have a favorite poet? I have many favorites and am adding more to my list all the time.   Naomi Shihab Nye, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, William Stafford, W.S. Merwin, John Haines, Richard Hugo, Linda Bierds , Louise Gluck, Bridget Pegeen Kelly, Adrianne Rich, Thomas McGrath, Marianne Boruch are just some names from my poetry bookshelf.
Hopefully this will go longer than a year. Do you have any suggestions for themes? Others have mentioned some great themes but I would add poetry in translation and possibly regional poetry.
What are your experiences with poetry in the past? Have they been positive or negative? I have heard many poets read their work and have read different kinds of poetry.  My experiences have been wonderful.
Tell us about a poem or poet that has had a profound effect on you. If you can’t think of a poem, how about a song? Or a line from a story? There is a poem by William Stafford that I have returned to again and again…

THE WAY IT IS – William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

What frustrates you about poetry or the way we talk about poetry? I have often found poetry “criticism” very elitist and distancing.  I would like us to write and talk about poetry the way we write and talk about other forms of writing, fiction and non-fiction, the way we share our thoughts through book blogs.
Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with poetry!  I love gardening…

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