chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Monthly Archives: January 2015

found poem: the story

“this is just to say”…

Poets on AssignmentAs writing groups go, six years is not a particularly long time; such groups meet for decades. But last night, as we sat down for our “Poets on Assignment” session, Jennifer Bullis pointed out that in that time we had rarely missed a month. And that’s a lot of poems.

Each month, Anita K. Boyle, Jeanne Yeasting, Jennifer Bullis, Jim Bertolino and I write a poem to a common prompt.* Sometimes the prompt is formal — sestina, pantoum — but more often it’s a word, a subject or a quirky combination — yellow; Möbius; maps and diacritical marks. If the prompt percolates in our minds for a month, we have each confessed that much of the writing gets done on the day of our meeting. Still, it’s a poem we might not otherwise have written.

When we meet — in various drinking or dining establishments around Bellingham — we read the poems aloud and discuss both questionable and triumphant aspects of the writing. Our drafts go home for polishing and we rarely see one another’s poems again unless and until they appear in print. Anita, Jennifer and Jim have published books since we started meeting and we have all done readings and published in literary journals.

I suppose that writing groups don’t always work out, but ours has for a variety of reasons. First, and perhaps foremost, is that we are each utterly unique in our vision and language. As I sit down to respond to a prompt (yesterday’s was hermit crab, and yesterday’s found poem just a happy accident), I am certain that all of us will take the same approach. But even if there is some resonance between the poems, they are always entirely, and surprisingly, different from one another.

Our comments also reflect those differences, offering important perspective that helps us clarify not just the poems we have written, but the poems someone else will read. We are honest in our assessments — honest, and kind — our intention always to improve each poem as if it were our own. We are committed to the process, recognizing that the prompts take us in directions we might not have ventured, encourage us to stretch. We trust one another. And that’s a lot.

I am immeasurably grateful to this group of poets, whose work I so admire and whose generosity, honesty, humor and friendship I so value. So this is just to say: thank you.

*Dave Cole remains an honorary member; he started out with us but moved away within the first year.
. . . . .
artwork by Anita K. Boyle

found poem: fool

found poem: wind

found poem: Muse

found poem: the usual

found poem: wind

found poem: hotel

found poem: Winter’s

found poem: I’ve never

SpeakEasy 15: Poems and Prayers for the New Year

Poems and Prayers for the New Year

SpeakEasy 15: Poems and Prayers for the New Year will give voice to the hopes, beseechments and visions — both personal and global — of a select group of regional poets. Founded in 2009 and produced in Bellingham by Luther Allen, each SpeakEasy addresses a unique perspective or theme presented through written and spoken words.

Please join us this evening: Sunday, January 18, 2015 ~ 7:00pm ~ in the Encore Room at the Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial Street, Bellingham, Washington ~ admission is free (donations appreciated)

SpeakEasy 15 poets/readers include: Angela Belcaster | Betty Scott | Caitlin Thomson Carol McMillan | Carolyn McCarthy
Chuck Luckmann | CJ Prince | David Drummond | David Laws | Diane Cordrey | Harvey Schwartz | Jim Milstead
Jim Schmotzer | Joe Nolting | J.I. Kleinberg | Kari Galbraith | Kate Miller | Lane Morgan | Mo Dole | Lois Holub
Luther Allen | Malcolm Kenyon | Margot Lewis | Mary Gillilan | Nancy Canyon | Nancy Pagh | Paul Fisher
Peter Messinger | Phyllis Boernke | Steve Hood | Susan J. Erickson | Tim Pilgrim

found found poems!

Vine Leaves Literary Journal, issue 13What a lovely way to start Friday! Seven, count them, seven of my found poems are included in the brand-new edition of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, issue 13. You can read it online (or download a PDF) and like Vine Leaves on Facebook (where the found poems are included with all of the art and photography from Issue #13 in a Photo album).

Vine Leaves Literary Journal has a particular focus on the “vignette” — a form described as follows on the Vine Leaves website: “‘Vignette’ is a word that originally meant ‘something that may be written on a vine-leaf.’ It’s a snapshot in words. It differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot. Instead, the vignette focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object. It’s descriptive, excellent for character or theme exploration and wordplay. Through a vignette, you create an atmosphere.”

…clusters of found words on vine leaves…yes!

found poem: HOW

found poem: to craft

some nights

DAK self 1983In her last few years, my mother began falling out of bed, as if the compass of her dreams spun her wildly, the roadmap of sleep littered with boulders and quicksand. Perhaps the insult of the fall drove it from her memory, but she never reported fear or chases in these nights, simply that she would find herself cold and alone and confused on the carpet. Within hours her thin arms would bloom with bruises, not painful, she said, but terrifying in their sudden purple tint. This didn’t happen often, but enough that we eventually put a rail at the bedside, a fence to keep her safe in the pasture of sleep.
. . . . .
DAK self portrait, 1983


snowdrops are up
It’s not yet mid-January and the snowdrops are up.

Home from a four-day poetry writing retreat on Vancouver Island, my head and notebook are stuffed with poems – my own and others’ – and the astute wisdom of Patrick Lane. I made many beginnings, left many trails of breadcrumbs to follow another time, and wrestled a few poems into drafts. The music of shared poetry resonates through my day in astonishing images and surprising echoes along with the generous gifts of trust, listening and compassion.

There’s much to do. Winter work. Unready for spring, the vegetable garden awaits my attention. Fruit trees and hydrangeas and poems need pruning.

I’m not quite ready for the snowdrops. “Hurry, hurry,” they urge, “Begin.”

found poem: In the mirror

found poem: believe

found poem: TO GRASP

found poem: the power

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