FALL IN LOVE WITH A POEM TODAY!



"There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either." ~
Robert Graves



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Farewell, Maya Angelou

I remember tearing up as she delivered "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Clinton's inauguration.  Ordered the audio tape and listened to it many times.  She was the second poet in history to be invited to write a poem for an inauguration. 

I liked her poems; I liked her prose.  I loved her strength, her courage and the dazzling, luminous spirit  she wore as comfortably as a well-worn pair of slippers. She was at home in herSelf.  And she was at home in Winston Salem when she died today at 86. 

Tributes will be written, her life revisited.  She deserves all the glory she will be given—and then some.  For now I will just say it's hard to believe she has left this world, and I'm sad.  Not for her.  I imagine she was okay with the transition.  And I have little doubt there's one fine welcoming celebration going on in the Hereafter.  I'm sad most of all for the turbulent world which was a little better because she was in it. 

Of so many favorite Angelou quotes, I this one keeps taking over the space in my head today:  "The first time someone lets you see who they really are, believe them."  Great advice.   

May you rest in peace, dear Maya Angelou.  That "little light" of yours was never little, m'am.  May it shine on through your generous work.  And may we continue to be inspired by the Light of your spirit.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Rebirth

Happy to see the University of South Carolina Press is resurrecting the Palmetto Poetry Series.  The Series editor is none other than National Book Award winner, Nikky Finney.  The first book, just released, is the New and Selected Poems of Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina's Poet Laureate.   For more details, check out today's piece in The State newspaper linked below:



http://www.thestate.com/2014/04/27/3411927/usc-press-brings-poetry-series.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Poetry Month


Poets and poetry lovers will be enchanted by the beauty at Brookgreen Gardens in Litchfield/Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.  Treat yourself to a meditative walk among the majestic oaks and amazing flowers.  Give yourself the gift of enchantment this spring. . . maybe before Poetry Month ends!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Best Napkin Quote

Best note on napkin EVER. From Minerva King during Nikky Finney's remarks at her father's Commitment to Justice Award Reception.  Thanks for posting this on Facebook, Marjory Wentworth!   Marjory, our cool Poet Laureate has a new book out, "New and Selected Poems."  Don't miss it!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

PSSC Fall Competition Winners

The Poetry Society of South Carolina announced the following on their Facebook Page.  I add my congrats to each winner and thanks to the PSSC for sponsoring these opportunities for poets:

 Thanks to all who entered the fall 2013 PSSC contests, and special thanks to our three capable, esteemed judges: Paulette Beete, Josh Bell, and Sean Heuston. Congrats to all winners and runners-up. Because of icy weather, the deadline for the spring contests has been extended until February 19th. We hope you'll enter! Sending our best, Barbara and Katrina (Barbara G.S. Hagerty and Katrina Murphy, PSSC Contest Co-chairs)

The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Society Prize
Winner: Ellen Hyatt
"Daffodils"
Judge: Paulette Beete

The John Edward Johnson Prize
Winner: Michael H. Lythgoe
"Lenten Sonnet (II)"
Judge: Sean Heuston

Lyric Poem Prize
William Winslow, Winner
"Last Night at Home (letter from Vietnam)"
Judge: Paulette Beete

The Jane Moran Prize
Winner: Brian Slusher
"The Means of Production"
Judge: Paulette Beete

The Marjorie E. Peale Memorial Prize
Winner: Debra A. Daniel
"Photography Class--Lessons in Black and White"
Judge: Sean Heuston

The Pegasus Prize
Winner: Libby Bernardin
"How the Painter Giovanni Signorini Renders Celebration
as the People Gather on the Ponte alla Carraia in Florence"
Honorable Mention: Aly Goodwin
Judge: Josh Bell

The Nancy Walton Pringle Memorial Prize
Winner: Debra A. Daniel
"Violin Played as Titanic Sank Sells for 1.7 Million"
Judge: Sean Heuston

The Constance E. Pultz Prize
Winner: Laurel Blossom
"Jason Is Risen"
HM: Aly Goodwin
Judge: Josh Bell

The Kinloch Rivers Memorial Prize
Winner: Tim Harkins
"Choosing Totems"
HM: Ethan Fugate
Judge: Josh Bell

The Archibald Rutledge Prize
Winner: Susan Finch Stevens
"Scuppernongs"
Judge: Sean Heuston


 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Litchfield Tea and Poetry

On Thursday, March 6, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University and The Poetry Society of South Carolina will host this year's Tea and Poetry Series finale.  

Michele Reese, an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter and the director for the South Carolina Center for Oral Narration, will be reading.  Her poems have appeared in literary journals, including Connotation Press, The Paris Review, IthacaLit, and American Athenaeum.  Her first book of poetry, Following Phia, was pubished in 2006.

Open Mic! As part of the 2014 series grand finale, all poets in the audience are invited to read a short poem that he or she has written (a single poem, no longer than a page).  Expect a variety of voices, and make one of them your own!  

The reading at Litchfield Higher Education Center (just down from Bi-Lo) begins at 3 pm, ending around 4— followed by refreshments, conversation and  book signing.  There is no admission fee for this open-to-the-public event.  Questions?  Contact Susan Laughter Meyers at bardowl2@aol.com or Libby Bernadin at libbypoet@gmail.com.
 

 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Poetry Reading February 6

Thanks to Susan Laughter Myers and Libby Bernadin for coordinating the Tea and Poetry Series at Pawleys Island, South Carolina.  It's an honor to be reading with Michael Lythgoe on February 6.
Details below.  Y'all come!

Litchfield Tea & Poetry

Thursday, February 6, 2014

3 - 4 p.m.
LUCINDA SHIRLEY & MICHAEL LYTHGOE
Litchfield Education Center
(just north of The Exchange)
Pawleys Island , SC 29585
Free & open to the public
Reception & book signing following the reading

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Jimmy Stewart's Poem

On the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy's death, I was thinking about how much he loved poetry.  His favorite poet was Robert Frost.  I'm sharing a video link to a Johnny Carson Show in which actor Jimmy Stewart reads his own poem.  Enjoy this trip down memory lane.

http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/the-dog-poem-that-made-johnny-carson-cry


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Only Vessel

Thanks to Heidi Darr-Hope of Healing Icons for posting this quote on Facebook:

"There are days when books are the only bread for those who hunger, and those who thirst have only songs to slake their aching tongues. And there are nights when those who have lost their voice find it in the contours of a canvas, and poetry is the only vessel for holding all the pain..." Jan L. Richardson


"Poetry Is Not A Luxury"

A delicious essay by Audre Lorde, Poetry Is Not a Luxury:  http://www.onbeing.org/program/words-shimmer/feature/poetry-not-luxury-audre-lorde/318


Our chaotic world needs poetry now more than ever, don't you think?  The Poetry Peddler is looking at ways to make it an integral part of community life, of our culture.  Poetry can be a force for healing, for good, for connection and understanding.  Let me know your thoughts, if you will.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Column You'll Want to Read

One of my favorite poets, Libby Bernadin, has a guest column in Charleston's Post and Courier today.   It's every bit as intriguing as the title:  "Take time to find unhurried truth."  Excellent advice beautifully presented.   Her most recent book of poems, Layers of Song, is one you'll want to savor unhurriedly.  Here's the link to her column: 
http://www.postandcourier.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20130426%2FPC12%2F130429510%2F1002%2Fguest-column-take-time-to-find-unhurried-truth&fb_action_ids=10201010372569321&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map={%2210201010372569321%22%3A135327046657594}&action_type_map={%2210201010372569321%22%3A%22og.recommends%22}&action_ref_map=[]

Sunday, April 14, 2013

i carry your heart with me

I've been reading e. e. cummings and want to share this one:


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

 

i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

- e. e. cummings ~

(Complete Poems, 1904-1962)

 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

THANKSGIVIING CELEBRATION

  He’s trussed, stuffed, baking slowly
  to please the assembled well-connected
  who in early youth defected
  to orthodontists and summer camps.

  The bird, center stage,
  subject of praise
  from ones who know:
  Presbyterian prayers before,
  wine with, champagne after.
  Malignant silences grow
  beneath smiles
  thin as bone china.
  

(First published in The Petigru Review, Vol. 6)

BLUE SURPRISE

Just when you think it’s over,
think you’ll meet eternity
at the next turn
and burn for all the joy you
passed up in your sorry life,
someone shows up
out of the blue
and asks for a kiss
a kiss

right out of the blue.

For once you don’t pause
to think yourself out of it.
You give the kiss
know it’s the thing
to do, know the moment
will change your life

just out of the blue.


In the eyes of love
you are created anew,
know who you are
for the first time
In all this time

right out of the blue.


—First published in Inner Landscapes -  Writers Respond to the Art of Virginia Dehn  (Grayson Books)

AT THE ZOO

Lovers in pairs visit the zoo
        touching
          tangling
            arms and hands,
animals in search
 of a new ark.

 Lovers feed lovers
          secret smiles & whispers,
              toss peanuts
                 to the elephants.


(First published in The Petigru Review, Vol. 6)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three Books

Happy to share three books where some of my poems can be found.  The poems were chosen for inclusion ( through juried competitions) within the past year.   It's been a pleasure to take part in these projects.  In addition to the good feelings that come when one's work is appreciated by the judges, the contributor receives a copy or copies of the book when it's released. 

 

 The Petigru Review is the literary anthology of the South Carolina Writers Workshop, a competition open to members of the Workshop.  The anthology includes categories for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and novel first chapter.  This year three of my poems were chosen:  Thanksgiving Celebration, Mama and At the Zoo.   (www.myscww.org)

 

Intimate Landscape - Open to Interpretation ( www.open2interpretation.com).  "A good photograph tells a story, but it tells a different story to every viewer.  These stories are fleeting, and can disappear from the viewer's mind the moment he or she turns a page or walks into the next gallery.  Open to Interpretation captures these stories by pairing the work of fine art photographers with the work of writers thorough a series of international juried book competitions."  The poem of mine you'll find between these covers is Stumbling Around Eden.

  If you're a writer or photographer, this competition might be fun for you, too.  Exposure to the photographs always stimulates creativity for me and takes me to places I might not have noticed in my own interior landscape.  Have a look at their site.

 

Inner Landscapes showcases an interesting combination of writers of all ages responding to the art of Virginia Dehn.  Writers in the book were selected for their interpretation of a painting or paintings for this volume, edited by Ginny Lowe Connors for Grayson Books.  (www.GraysonBooks.com)  I liked Ms. Dehn's work, and it was hard to decide on which piece for a poem.  Ultimately I chose a beautiful one entitled "Out of the Blue."  My poem is entitled Blue Surprise.   I will post it here soon.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Congratulations to Susan Laughter Meyers!


From the South Carolina State Library

http://www.statelibrary.sc.gov/sc-academy-of-authors-announces-4th-annual-poetry-fellowship-winner

by Curtis Rogers

The South Carolina Academy of Authors is very pleased to announce Susan Laughter Meyers is the 2013 winner of the Nickens Fellowship in poetry, as chosen by this year's judge, Nick Lantz, author of award winning poetry books and the recipient of a number of poetry prizes.

Meyers’ poetry was selected out of 43 submissions. In selecting her work, Lantz stated, “The author’s lines move like one of the rivers that figure so prominently in the poems: twisting, slowing, pooling, speeding off, they savor the precise textures of the world, from pluff mud to laughter like ‘a bale of loose hay’.”

Lantz also commented, “Showing equal ease with free verse and traditional form, the author displays great range, though the poems contain a common strength in the clarity and insight of metaphor and image, in their fresh and exacting syntax and diction, as in ‘Night after night/combing the fog of your troubled/heart, red wolves./Wild, gracile & dolorous’ or ‘Her handkerchief, tatted, an unplowed acre.’ The longer persona poem ‘A Dervish of Sand: That Summer with Her Sisters’ is especially admirable for the complex and heartbreaking portrait it weaves from its vivid, impressionistic details.”

Susan Laughter Meyers, of Givhans, is the author of My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass, recipient of the inaugural Cider Press Review Editor’s Prize and scheduled for release this fall. Her book Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press) received the SC Poetry Book Prize. Her poems have also appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Beloit Poetry Journal. A long-time writing instructor, she currently teaches in various community programs in the Lowcountry.

The Academy wishes to congratulate this year’s winner and to thank all who participated in the competition. Meyers will receive a $1,000.00 prize at a special brunch held in conjunction with the Academy's annual induction ceremony. This year's ceremony events will be held in Columbia, April 26-28, when Jack Bass, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, and Eugene Robinson will be inducted into the state's literary hall of fame.

The submission period for the 2014 Fellowship will open next autumn.
For more information about the South Carolina Academy of Authors, please visit www.scacademyofauthors.org.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Scholastic Writing Award Winner from SC

This from Hub City Writers Project (Sparanburg, SC).  To learn more about them check out their Facebook page.

Wow! Chelsea Regoni of Landrum is the international gold medal recipient of the Scholastic Writing Award. Her poetry collection has been designated "the most outstanding in the nation," and she will read at Carnegie Hall May 31. Now attending the Governor's School, Chelsea is a student of our friends Mamie Morgan, George Singleton and Scott Gould. Congratulations to all!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tea and Poetry Series 2014

If you're in the South Carolina Lowcountry and missed the first two events this year, take heart:  There will be another lovely afternoon featuring poetry—and tea — at Litchfield Education Center, Litchfield Beach (shares entrance from Highway 17 with Bi-Lo).   The series is co-sponsored by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University and The Poetry Society of South Carolina. 

Michele Reese will be reading next time.  She is an associate professor of English at USC Sumter and director for the South Carolina Center for Oral Narration.   Following her reading, the grand finale for this year's series will be an open mic. Poets in the audience are invited to read a short poem he or she has written.  (Keeping your reading to a single poem no longer than one page.) Readings will be from 3-4 pm, followed by some time to enjoy conversation and refreshments.

 There's no admission charge for these open-to-the-public events.   Questions?  Contact series facilitators Susan Laughter Meyers at bardowl2@aol.com or Libby Bernadin at libbypoet@gmail.com. 



A Gift for St. Valentine's Day

This, my Friends, is a love poem to remember every day.  Happy Valentine's!


Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.



 ~  Derek Walcott

“Love After Love” from Collected Poems: 1948-1984.  Copyright 1984 by Derek Walcott. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Richard Blanco Reads

This poet crafted a sweeping portrait of today's America; his was a theme of unity and shared destiny.
Inspiring and uplifting for me.  How did you like it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tea and Poetry on January 10

 

 On Thursday, January 10, the Litchfield Tea and Poetry Series presents poetry readings from 3-4 pm at Litchfield Exchange, North Litchfield Beach.  Featured poets will be Caroline Cahill, Jim Rogers, and Susan Scheno.    If you're reading this, you're invited.  This series is a gift to the community, and the Poetry Peddler is excited about going!  Be there if you can.


Caroline Cahill’s poetry has appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review and Copper Nickel. A Myrtle Beach native, she teaches at Coastal Carolina University. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University (2011) and a BA in Communications from the College of Charleston (2006). During her studies she served as an editorial intern for Crazyhorse and Blackbird journals.

Jim R. Rogers is the author of Starts And Stops Along The Way, a personal memoir with observations, philosophies, hopes and dreams, success and failures of a life lived so far. For 15 years he was a columnist for a regional specialty newspaper. He also worked in television, advertising, and production before becoming a Parenting and Family Life Educator.

Susan Scheno is the author of the chapbook Woman of Water, Woman of Sand, published by Finishing Line Press in 2012. Her poems have also appeared in The State newspaper, Journey-Work of the Sea, Kakalak 2009, the New Hampshire Troubador, and elsewhere. A native of Hudson Falls and Long Island, NY, she currently lives in Pawleys Island—where she writes surrounded by water.

Happy News!

South Carolina's favorite poet-daughter will return to her native State and teach at USC.   We're excited, Nikki!  The red carpet awaits.

 

http://www.thestate.com/2013/01/07/2580787/poet-nikki-finney-to-teach-at.html#storylink=addthis

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Intimate Landscape: Open To Interpretation

This photo doesn't do this book cover justice. My contributor copy arrived recently, and I'm impressed.   It's a juried anthology of photographs and the poems and prose interpretations chosen for inclusion.   Happy that a poem of mine, "Stumbling Around Eden," is under these covers.  Check out the Open To Interpretation web site for upcoming competitions and information on this book.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Indeed, Mary Oliver!

          (Thanks to Parker Palmer via Facebook.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Kindness" is one of my all-time favorite poems, and Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet I admire.   It was a privilege and pleasure to attend an experiential workshop with her; it was a treat to hear her read some of her work, too.  That was in Columbia, South Carolina, where she was the featured guest at the Poetry Summit sponsored by the South Carolina Poetry Initiative.  "Kindness" is a poem I return to again and again for comfort and inspiration.   So might you.


  Naomi Shihab Nye

The following poem, “Kindness,” is from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, copyright © 1995. Reprinted with the permission of Far Corner Books, Portland, Oregon. Click here to read an interview with the author, who tells the story about the making of this poem.

Kindness

By Naomi Shihab Nye

 

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

 

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

 

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

 

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.




From the Sprituality & Health's web site.  Click here to visit them:
http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/articles/kindness-naomi-shihab-nye


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Power of Poetry

 
Sharing this link from poet-author-friend Cassie Premo Steele.  She posted it on Facebook today.
 
A heart-opening testament to the power of poetry to create peace. One soldier at a time.

Friday, August 3, 2012

News of Contemporary Poets I Admire

Capturing the London Olympic Games

In today's Wall Street Journal, Arts & Entertainment section - Speakeasy blog- you will find poems from a former University of South Carolina professor and Poetry Initiative pioneer I greatly admire:  the one and only Kwame Dawes.  He's a masterful poet, as you will see.  We miss him here in South Carolina.

The lead-in to the poem du jour explains what he's up to on their pages:

"Throughout the 2012 London Olympic Games, Guggenheim fellowship-winning poet Kwame Dawes will be writing verses that capture the spirit of the day’s action, with a particular focus on the Jamaican team.
In his latest installment, he explores why gold-medal winning gymnast Gabby Douglas is so much more than a “Flying Squirrel.” (Can we retire that awful nickname please?)"

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/08/03/so-much-more-than-a-flying-squirrel/


                                                             



Friday, July 13, 2012

Caution: This Book Contains Poems


My first book is a genre-bender—mostly a "lively memoir" expanded to include the perspectives of other women.  And there are poems.  High time I mentioned the poems.  They were written over a few decades, and I had no plan to include them.

 Because it was either logistically impossible or cost-prohibitive to secure reprint permissions for a few of my favorite poems written by others, I decided to include my own instead— in relevant places in the story.  It felt like a big risk at the time.  Why?  Many people believe they don't like  poetry.  And the poems also make the book more difficult to "pitch" or describe.  Much as I want to produce a book of poems, this isn't actually a poetry book.  And once I decided to include my original work, there were more poems than I had considered including.  I didn't want them to distract or detract from the prose.  Didn't want to overpower the prose.  Didn't want to change the character of the work.  Yet each poem that ultimately became part of the book "begged" to get between the covers here.

Even though the book doesn't fit neatly into a single genre,  there was no need to lose sleep over this somewhat unorthodox book form.  Readers have responded enthusiastically to the poems; a few have even quoted lines that were especially meaningful to them!   I've been told that the poems "enrich the prose" and are absolutely not distracting.  The book is "laced with poems." (See reviews at Amazon!)

I've also been told that my poems are "accessible."  I see that as a good thing. Hopefully it simply means they're clear and easy to understand, rather than simplistic.  I will choose the former interpretation unless given a damn good reason to believe otherwise.  Time to live more fully with the passionate optimism that is part of who I am, right?  It's there unless— Well, now I have something else to contemplate.  More evolving.  More becoming.  There's always more.

I'll get back to you when I'm clearer about the optimism thing.  Meanwhile, take a poem into your heart today, says the Poetry Peddler.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

from Cafe and Then Some on Facebook


A Wake on 521

I witnessed a wake today
on the drive down the old
highway toward home,
saw a family, maybe
a neighbor-friend
or two sitting
at a picnic table,
sitting there
in the heat, grateful
for the grace
of what little shade the
maple was putting out.

It’s a picnic table,
but no picnic, just
weathered benches holding
up a few wobbly humans
in the middle of a Saturday
in early June, a day too
beautiful for this.

They must be remembering
and lamenting, looking for
a bright side to this gaping hole
of a loss beyond understanding—
why this, why now, and what
would they do
after sitting
with the remains?

Would there be some tribute
to this friend and protector
so suddenly lost to them,
I wondered, as I began
to feel the pull
deep in my belly
wanting to turn around,
drive right up the red clay ribbon
into the yard and stop my car,
walk right up and put a hand
on the shoulder of every one
of them, wrap my arms around
anyone who would let me.

My heart begged to look
into their eyes and say,
 “I’m so sorry, so sorry."

I didn't turn around though,
did not go back, did not give them
the moment’s relief I might have given
by shifting their attention to this
strange white woman who came
into their midst and asked if she could
give them a hug; they might
have shaken their heads, or scratched them,
maybe had a good laugh on me
once I headed home again.

That would have been the least
I could offer
the least I could have given—
but I knew the price I'd pay
for getting out of the closed car,
putting myself among the mourners:
   trying to breathe
      head throbbing with smoke
          still rising and spreading
               from the rubble
                    that only yesterday
                         they had called home.


**************************************
It's one week later,  and I headed back up the road,  stopping to take pictures. 
Most of the charred remains were gone — so were the people at the picnic table.  The steps standing alone and leading to nowhere made my stomach clutch; two trees stood respectfully, offering comfort.


Dream Yourself

     

Dream yourself a big dream,
Then wake up and follow it
Down the soft lichen lane
And over the cockle shells
Where dolphins call.

Go where the blue flamingo drinks
Gin and saints are partial to jazz.
Jump over the stumbling blocks
Or fly over, wishing a good day
To the snails taking their time
On the way to Wherever.

Push the boulder aside
With one finger
And blink yourself
Into the cave.
Trust the light to appear
Once you commit.  Begin
To feel your way along
The centuries-pocked wall.

Sure enough, bats wearing
Miners' hats light your way
To the gemstones.  You take
The big one, a diamond
Encrusted in purple clay.

Now you hitch a ride
With a dragonfly to the next
Part of the dream, waving
And blowing kisses
Like a beauty queen to
The crowd at a parade.

You'll throw your head back
Laughing when the spotted horse
Invites you to climb on
And go the distance.

Dream yourself a big dream,
Then wake up and follow it.
                                

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A line from Zora Neale Hurston

This fabulous, feisty woman is no longer in the world, but she made her mark and left a legacy of words for us to enjoy again and again.  I ran across this quote the other day and want to share it:

"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place."

Yes, indeed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No Expiration Date On Poetry

National Poetry month is over, but there's no expiration date on a good poem.  So the gifts of May can include poetry, as well, if you'll take time to give them to yourself.

I just re-read Galway Kinnell's St Francis and the Sow and fell in love with it all over again.  Other favorites I recommend for starters/appetizers this first morning in May are:  Elizabeth Bishop's The Fish,  Mary Oliver's  The Journey, The Sun, and Wild Geese (all of hers, really), and Pablo Neruda's Ode to My Socks.  Let me know how you like those! 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Huffington Post article by Cynthia R. Green, PhD

Cynthia R. Green, Ph.D.
Clinical psychologist and brain health/memory fitness expert; founder, Memory Arts; author, 'Total Memory Workout'


'A Mad Obsession': Poetry on the Brain
Posted: 04/13/2012 11:15 am
Huffington Post

What is it about a poem? We seem to have fallen out of the habit of reading, studying, let alone writing poetry. Yet there can be nothing quite like a stanza of fine poetic prose to bring us back to a moment, move us to tears, or force us to think about something twice.
April is National Poetry Month, and a good time for us to reflect on why poetry is good for our minds (and for our souls, but that we'll have to leave for later). Poetry is just one of the many different, often unexpected ways we can keep our brains challenged and vibrant. Numerous studies have shown that intellectually engaging activities such as reading or writing poetry can be critical to maintaining our mental acuity and potentially reducing our risk for dementia over our lifetimes. While many activities can provide us with the "stretch" we need to stay sharp and ward off memory loss, engaging with poetic verse is one of my personal favorites.
Why is poetry good for our brains? First, poetry engages our minds. Often we read passively or simply to learn what we need to know. We cannot do this with a poem. By its very nature, a good poem asks us to delve a bit deeper to best discern its intention. Second, poetry gets our creative juices flowing. Whether we read or even choose to write verse, poetry forces us to think out of our own box or experience. Finally, since poems come in all sizes, we can all find a poem to engage with no matter how short we are on time, making it an intellectual exercise that fits all time budgets.
Dr. Milton Ehrlich is a clinical psychologist who has in recent years become a prolific poet. Now 80 year old, Dr. Ehrlich first began writing poems when he began to work part-time at age 70, leaving him with more time to pursue what had always been an interest he had limited opportunity to explore earlier. "I'm now passionate about trying to master the craft of writing poems" writes Dr. Ehrlich. "I am always working on a poem and seem to crank out a new poem almost every week. I think about it all the time. Some would call it a mad obsession." Ehrlich's body of work is quite varied, but reflects a comfort in exploring our inner psychic world, with all its contradictions and conflicts, yet bound by a wisdom and integrity reached through experience. "Writing a poem that works always stems from the unconscious. When the reader is moved, the poem succeeds." Dr. Ehrlich has published over 50 poems and three books of his poetry, including his latest collection, "Trying in Vain to Remember Who I Am."  (Visit Huffington Post to see the poem included at the end of Dr. Green's piece).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From Charleston Currents - April 9, 2012

THE LISTS - Andy Brack

Five South Carolina poets
One of the things that good writers do is to read other good writers to learn from them. Award-winning Georgetown writer, poet and writing coach Lucinda Shirley recently sent along a list of her five favorite South Carolina poets:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poet Adrienne Rich Dies at 82

latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2012/03/adrienne-rich.html

Ohhhh Adrienne, we need you now, maybe more than ever.  I like to think you'll be looking out for us from the other side.  Thank you for all you have done for poetry and feminism.  You've earned a rest.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 18 Poetry Reading

I'm happy to report that Ann Carlson of Harborwalk Books in Georgetown, SC, is coordinating a series of Sunday afternoon poetry readings.   On March 18 from 3 - 4 pm, Deborah Lawson Scott and I will be reading at the Coffee Break Cafe on Front Street.  For further information, you may call Ann at 843.546.8212.

It will be fun spending this time with other poetry lovers — and what a wonderful prelude to Spring!   Thank you, Ann.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Libby Bernadin's LAYERS OF SONG

I'm excited as a kid who got exactly what she wanted Christmas morning!  I found Libby Bernadin's beautiful poetry book at Harborwalk Books here in Georgetown.   The Book of Myth (Stepping Stones Press 2009) must have been a hard act to follow, but Ms. Bernadin offers a powerful collection of poems in Layers of Song.

Finding myself deeply inside a poem,  for moments I would forget to breathe.  There were times  I laughed and smiled, as well — one example, "the women all say."  Her words are perfection, clear as Waterford, complex and yet never "fussy" or overdone.  She knows how much to say and how to say it.

I felt the tension, as I read,  between awe and thinking I should just stop trying to write in the face of poems this fine — and then I felt inspired to try a whole lot harder.

Thank you, Libby Bernadin.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sharing a Site

My friend and poetry lover, Debbie, introduced me to High on Words Radio.  I look forward to listening again soon; the readings I heard were a delightful change of pace.

 High On Words Radio is a poetry show that features conscious poetry, oddball poetry, slam-competative poetry, music-poetry fusion, classical poetry...

http://soundcloud.com/

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Coleman Barks Reading Rumi and ...

other poets reading.  The Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival sent this link to videos from that festival and also from Bill Moyers' new PBS show, including a sit-down with Rita Dove.  I watched Coleman Barks read/recite Rumi's "I See My Beauty in You" and forgot to breathe.  Wow.

I'm headed back to this site to enjoy more.  

http://billmoyers.com/content/pure-poetry/

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

DANCING ON MARS

I haven't mentioned my book on the poetry blog, and I really should.  Some of my poems are in it.

None of the poems were written specifically for the book; in fact, I hadn't planned to include my own poems at all.  It just—happened.  I won't go into the long and winding story about seeking permission to use other people's poems and finally giving up.  Now it seems my own poems were meant to be in there; they're a good "fit."

 Selected poems, written over the past thirty years, have been placed in related text in this memoir/exploration.  They amplify what's said with the prose, sharpen and distill it. At least I hope that's what they do.

 Dancing on Mars opens and closes with a poem.  The first, "The Reluctant Thespian" was written very early in my poem-making life, in the mid-1970's.  The last poem in the book, "Dream Yourself," was written while I was writing the book, but with no thought of including it.  It just— happened.

With "Dream Yourself" I had challenged myself to get more comfortable with fantasy and allow my imagination to have its way.   Far too reality-based, I wanted to broaden my scope of themes and images.  I like to believe that particular poem points to "growth," but mostly it was just fun to write.

It's my hope that the accessibility of the poems will convert any poetryphobes out there.  Maybe it will show readers that poetry isn't about dissecting a poem or "getting" what the poet intended to say.  Very often this poet isn't at all sure what she intends to say herself!  What matters is what the reader gets from experiencing a poem.

I invite you to check out the book trailer my generous, talented, and very busy son created for Dancing on Mars.  Here's the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV4YjoQ9ksw&feature=youtu.be   If you like it, there's a place to indicate that next to the video; you can also leave a comment.

The book, published by All Things That Matter Press,  will launch this spring —I'm thinking fairly early this spring, sometime after the sap begins to rise and before butter melts on the table in the South Carolina Lowcountry.  Stay tuned, y'all!

Welcome back to PBS, Bill Moyers

One of my favorites, Moyers has a new show on Sunday mornings—at ten EST in my neck of the woods.  I believe Sunday, February 19 was the show's debut, and I was lucky to see it.   Why am I posting this on the poetry blog?  Because Bill Moyers is a lover of, and advocate for, poetry.

This past Sunday Rita Dove (two-term Poet Laureate of the United States) was one of his guests, and what a delightful visit they had.  The joy they were experiencing (as they read from the anthology of 20th Century American Poetry Dove recently edited) beamed its way to me.  I was positively "floating" when the show ended.

He will have non-poets as guests, too.  I'm sure all will be interesting; Moyers himself is interesting. He's someone I can count on to be fair, honest, intelligent and accurate in his presentations.

Next week the editor of Poetry Magazine will be a guest.  I will abandon my usual political talk shows for that hour.  No doubt I will feel far better after this PBS offering than after the Sunday morning network shows.

Thank you for coming back, Bill.

Monday, November 28, 2011

MARJORY WENTWORTH'S NEW BOOK!

South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth has co-written another nonfiction book, released at the end of September.

Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights
by
Juan Méndez and Marjory Wentworth "is an incisive look across the most pressing human rights issues of our time, how they have evolved, and how effective action can be taken to address them."

Having read her poetry and her children's book, Shackles, I know this must be an exceptional offering.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seasons

Here's one of two poems I wrote for a competition that involved interpreting an interesting black and white photograph:  An autumn scene, trees nearly bare;  the centerpiece was a swimming pool with leaves floating on water's surface; the pool is encircled by empty white chaise lounges.  


We were sun-happy at Solstice
as the parade of Summer days
began, days hotter than dog’s
breath begging
deliverance of night. 
We soothed our passion
in the cooling water here.

Like Dervishes we spun
ourselves into Summer,
spinning out into the world,
spinning until mirages
of foreverness appeared
before our thirsty eyes.

But the Equinox brought reason,
sobering us for the season
of reflection, has us looking
at reality
through a sharper lens.

The trees have shrugged off
their leaves, stripping us
of our own green foolishness,
leading us to solid ground,
planting our feet firmly in it.

Autumn rules now,
leading us toward
the dark caves
of Winter
where we will fold
into the warm blanket
of our softer selves
and delve into mysteries
beyond summer’s reach.

And one day we will answer
the robin’s songful appeal
for our return to a world
where sap is rising
and green shoots
beckon.
We will inhale
the fragrance
of possibility,
anticipating
the gifts
of a new season.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Poetry In-Service for Tidelands Volunteers

What a delight to spend a Tuesday morning with volunteers at Tidelands Hospice, reading poems and encouraging the use of poetry.   It was a joy and an honor to be in the company of these impressive women and their amazing leader, Ellna Silver.  They each have the Poetry Peddler's respect and admiration for who they are and what they do.

                                           
Volunteers and The Poetry Peddler with  Ellna Silver behind the camera.
 October 18, 2011 -  Bravo and shine on, y'all!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sharing the Power of Poetry

The Poetry Peddler soon will be taking poetry to some Hospice volunteers, hoping they will choose to share poems with clients, families, staff, and other volunteers.  Maybe with their own families.

I will tell them the story of my friend Cathy.  She had cancer and was weary from fighting it.  I sensed she was ready to leave the physical world.

Her husband called to ask another mutual friend and me to visit Cathy at their home.  Not long before our visit, I thought of taking a few poems along, and I followed the impulse.  I took Mary Oliver's Wild Geese, another poem or two I'm not remembering at the moment, and my poem, Snow Lesson.   I had written the poem with Cathy in mind on a rare snowy day in the South Carolina Lowcountry.  It's a poem about letting go.

When we arrived, it was obvious that Cathy was extremely weak.  I felt she was glad we were sitting at her bedside, but she was not up to conversation.  We said a few things that required minimal to no response, and I covered her hand with mine for a little while.  Then I told her I'd brought a few poems  if she'd like me to read them.  She affirmed the idea with a nod, and I began to read.  As I read,  her face began to relax; there was the hint of a smile, and her breathing seemed easier.    

When it felt like the right time to go.  I said I would come back, but that next time maybe I would leave the poems at home.  She made a great effort to speak, managing a barely-audible whisper:
Bring. poems

Two days later Cathy left this world.  The visit that day was something I treasured.  I was glad to have seen her and glad to have taken the poems.  It had felt like the right thing to do, sharing on a deep level that demanded no back and forth.  The poems created a peaceful intimacy; they "said it all" for us,  reader and listeners.  I hope the Hospice volunteers and staff will want share poems with clients who want to listen.  And I hope these generous volunteers who give so much to others will be able to give themselves the gift of poetry.