Archive for January, 2013

Once Again

Wind Chime in Snow

Pines bow with weight

of snow

once again

I am nearly finished working my way through ModPo, the Coursera class taught by Al Filreis at the University of Pennsylvania.  I now understand the dashes in Emily Dickinson’s poems and see Rae Armantrout (b. 1947)as Emily’s descendant.   I recognize the restless modernism in William Carlos Williams and appreciate what an influence Gertrude Stein had on subsequent poets, especially John Asbery.

There is a long middle section of ModPo that takes into account anti-modernists who thought more traditional forms could better express their social justice concerns.  Then the post war years move from formalism to the explosion of The Beats.

I enjoyed reading Allen Ginsberg’s Howl so much that I also watched the film from 2011 with James Franco as Ginsberg.  The movie is taken completely from the poem, court transcripts and a taped interview with Ginsberg.  Animation fills some of the time when Ginsberg is reading and is not as successful as the courtroom reenactment or Franco acting out the interview or reading Howl.

Studying poets of the New York School taught me the difference between non-narrative and anti-narrative styles of poetry as well as the ambiguous use of pronouns and non-sequitur imagery.

Finally, Chapter 9, recent trends in three parts.  First, Language Poets, who eschewed sequential writing and wrote paratactic sentences, sentences which, when used together have little or no relationship.  The form fits the discontinuity and disruption that is their subject matter.  Language Poets are also among the most difficult to derive meaning from for me.

Then, the Chance poets who wrote according to a pre-defined procedure.  Here, we can see the divergence into Post-Modernism.  The previous “Moderns” wanted to “make it new.”  These post-modernists say there is nothing new, so you may as well use a procedure or just use the language that is all around you.

This leads, finally, to the Conceptual poets who reject creativity and expropriate language or use found language or borrow it and, ironically, some of this seems quite creative to me.

It’s been a fabulous learning experience and Coursera just announced that ModPo will be repeated in the fall of 2013, so if you want to sign up – it’s free, remember – just go to and look for Modern and Contemporary Poetry.


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Look What I Got!

What's in Your Heart Swap

In October I shared in this blog the small art card I designed and stitched to swap with another quilter.  The theme was, “What’s in Your Heart,” and a few submissions were selected to appear in the February/March 2013 issue of Quilting Arts magazine.  When the issue arrived I looked at the cards selected for the magazine and was especially drawn to one that used a technique similar to the one I chose but to much greater effect.

When I got the mail on Saturday, there was a brown envelope and I knew my swap had arrived.  And look!  It’s the card I had admired so much.  I recognized it immediately.  The name of the artist and her email were on the back.  I discovered she lives four hours south of me in Illinois and is a retired art teacher.  Of course.  Such a good eye.  We did actually swap, so she has the piece I made, but I’m really certain I have the best one!

So…since this is a poetry blog, I should say something about poetry.  Today was a good day.  I wrote two poems when I woke up.  One was inspired by friends who are struggling with losses and yet soldier on because there is nothing else to do but keep going.

The second poem was in response to the Ellsworth Kelly Prints exhibit that just opened at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.  I agreed to write a poem to be read at an event in March called, “Distilled from Nature:  Poetry and the Works of Ellsworth Kelly.”  I had written a funny poem about a conversation between two colors, but after I listened to the curator and the collector discuss their long relationships with Kelly, who is 92, I felt I had to try something more respectful.  It came together quite nicely, I think.

However, instead of sharing my poems, I am sharing the artwork of a woman I have just “met.”  Isn’t it amazing what art can do!

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Six Degrees of Possibility

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Austin, Texas

It is mid-January and the forecast is for high temperatures of six degrees.  Just two months ago we were enjoying the end of autumn in Texas.  Some Monarchs were enjoying the flowers in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin before continuing their migration to Mexico.

Butterfly Water

The up-turned bottles I push into my garden –

amber, clear and two shades of green –

sparkle in the sunlight after a shower,

their concave bottoms ready to catch


the rain for butterflies in my garden of verbena,

blanket-flower, and yellow goldenrod.

Forester grasses are bent and dripping;

there’s a soft buzz of bees near butterfly weed.


Then, a Monarch flutters by and hovers

at a cluster of purple verbena blossoms,

proboscis prodding for sweet nectar

to sustain the long migration to Mexico


where Oyamel trees provide shelter

until the Monarchs turn north again.

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Birthday Roses

Birthday Roses

My mind expands,

molten glass.

A vase for red roses.

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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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