Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bienvenu a la Camargue

In sixth-grade French class, I saw a movie called "La Criniere Blanche" (The White Mane) about a boy living in the Camargue region of southern France.

Being a horse-crazy young girl, I was transfixed by the idea of a wild region where herds of white horses ran free. The images stayed with me for decades.

Then, one day as I was driving into the parking lot of the neighborhood QFC grocery store, I encountered a wild-eyed musician. In my head.

One poem grew into another. One character led to another. And that landscape gave birth to a made-up myth about the lost daughter of Ra. All absolutely fiction (although friends and Internet research helped a lot).

The poems work best together, and so I've put
In the Mane of a White Horse up on the sofa. I hope you enjoy the poems. And I hope someday to visit the Camargue.

Whoa, that was fast!

Last night we went out to Marymoor Park to watch the FSA cycling races at the velodrome.

Jamie won the scratch race, and Christine and her teammate rode a gutsy race in the Madison.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You are here

While walking home and looking at the deep green canopy of trees arching overhead, I realized again how important place is in a poem.

The poems that work best, for me, give me not only music or narrative or imagery, but a bearing. I can imagine where I'm at.

In the poem, I'm given the colors, sounds, and smells, the hard surfaces and the shiny ones, the weight of water or light—a richly woven fabric of senses.

In the best of worlds, the scene isn't just described in adjectives and similes. It's revealed in unexpected images that catch my breath, even though they are cut from the whole cloth of the poem.

Lately, my favorite example of this comes from "Mangoes," by Tracy K. Smith.

The woman in a blouse
The color of daylight
Motions to her daughter not to slouch.
They wait without luggage.
They have been waiting
Since before the station smelled
Of cigarettes….

I love the way this tells me so much without saying the name of a color or the time of day. I can imagine all the Greyhound bus stations I've ever been in (especially Oakland at six or seven in the morning).

Do you think place is important in a poem? Do you anchor your poems in time or place? How do you set the scene?

Hang on, little tomatoes

They aren't even a little bit red yet, but they make me think of The Pink Martinis.

Our Friday

Today is Tom's birthday, so we both took the day off and walked through the market and then we went to the sculpture park and the Asian art museum and the dahlia garden and had a leisurely lunch on the patio at Serafina's. All things we never have time to do, especially on a Friday.

Happy Birthday, Tom!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This must be the stuff

Oh my word! Or their words.

Today, I started to read Floating Bridge Review.


I haven't gotten past the first poet, Allen Braden, and I admit that I'm not familiar with his work. Or, I wasn't. But the poems here (with their parentheses) are filling me and filling me. I get the feeling that the goodness goes on. There is more to discover between these pages.

Highly recommended, and you can get it from Floating Bridge Press.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Little things

I admit it: I dread writing bios. But Robert Lee Brewer has gathered some poet-provided advice here (even including a bit from me).

The new issue of
Pinyon is out, with intriguing artwork (and, among many poems, one I wrote). The link has information, but no sample work from any issues.

The Number One issue of Floating Bridge Review from
Floating Bridge Press arrived in the mail today; it's so new that I haven't even had a chance to crack it open.

Instead, I'm trying to get a few poems ready for poetry group tomorrow night and sending yet another email submission (for a theme of snow and ice—and I'm from Seattle, where the fallen plum and cherry blossoms look more like snow than anything that comes all the way from the clouds).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Movement poetry

If you're in Seattle on July 17th, 18th, or 19th and want to see some dance, head to the Leo Kreielsheimer Theatre at the Bagley Wright for performances at 8:00 PM.

A woman in my dance class handed me this flier because her son will be performing in many (most) of the dances. I've seen him dance, and it's definitely worth the price of admission.

He came to dance class with his mom while he was on break from Julliard, and watching him was amazing. I felt like it opened a door for me, showed me This is what dance can be, and inspired me to work toward that.

It reminded me of my dance studying days in New York, when I took ballet class alongside dancers from big, famous companies—dancers from Merce Cunningham's company, Twyla Tharp's company, and Mark Morris, to name-drop a few.

Just by being there and watching, I could learn so much. (I couldn't ever do it, but I could at least see how to try.)

I feel the same way going to poetry readings or reading the work of different poets. Sometimes, I read a book of poems and really like it. But why? It's showing me something—but what? Now I'm seeing what poetry can be, and I need to figure out why.

Right now, I'm reading Tracy K. Smith's The Body's Question for the second or third time. It's showing me a new side, or a new depth, of poetry, another way of thinking and writing. Do I need to put my finger on it? I don't know, but I think it will help. I'm trying.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Blooms bursting in air

Another flowering fourth.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How to watch without looking

The other day, I mentioned how poems seem to sneak up when I least expect it—and when I'm not prepared with a paper and pen and often when I am attempting to operate a motor vehicle, most likely in rush hour traffic.

The flip side is that sometimes the poetry stream seems to run dry. Where do you find inspiration? Kelli discussed this recently—that you can get inspiration from the world and all its moments. You just have to get out in it.

But I think that there are different ways to be out in the world. I might be completely absorbed by whatever I'm doing. Or I might be casting about for poem ideas, viewing everything through that filter. The first way works better for me than the second way—but the second is oh, so tempting. (I feel like I'm doing something, like I'm being a writer!)

Perhaps there is a third way. At work, one of my colleagues writes an online comic. We'll be in a team meeting, riffing along in our usual somewhat cynical mirth, and we'll see him jotting down notes. Sure enough, in a day or a week, we'll see the nugget of our conversation turned into a comic. Somehow, he has figured out how to be aware of what's going on around him without letting his own awareness trip him up. Hmmm…

I was thinking about this while I walked home from the bus. I saw a thick stand of foxglove up the hill. I saw a tree that looked like it grew up dancing. But I did not see a poem. Maybe I was still looking too hard.

How do you do it? Where do you find inspiration? How do you watch?