Friday, April 28, 2017

Poem for the Weekend: Billy Collins

Born in 1941 in New York City, the popular poet Billy Collins served two terms as Poet Laureate (2001-2003) and delivered a poem he wrote to Congress on the first anniversary of 9/11. You can read more about his writing and awards here.
by Billy Collins
   There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Poem for the Weekend: Vicente Huidobro

The Chilean poet Vicente García-Huidobro Fernandez lived from January 10, 1893 – January 2, 1948. He was a prominent figure of the literary movement called Creacionismo ("Creationism"), which proposed that poems should exist only for themselves, not for their authors or readers, or to deliver any message. More about him and this notion here


Arte Poética

by Vicente Huidobro
Let the verse be as a key
Opening a thousand doors.
A leaf falls; something is flying by;
Let whatever your eyes gaze upon be created,
And the soul of the hearer remain shivering.
        Invent new worlds and watch over your word;
        The adjective, when not a life-giver, kills.

We are in the cycle of nerves.
Like a memory
The muscle hangs in the museums;
Nevertheless, we have no less strength:
True vigor
Dwells in the head.
Why do you sing the rose, oh Poets!
Make it blossom in the poem;

Only for us
Live all things under the Sun.

The Poet is a little God.

Que el verso sea somo una llave
Que abra mil puertas.
Una hoja cae; algo pasa volando;
Cuanto miren los ojos creado sea,
Y el alma del oyente quede temblando.

Inventa mundos nuevos y cuida tu palabra;
El adjetivo, cuando no da vida, mata.
Estamos en el ciclo de los nervios.
El músculo cuelga,
Como recuerdo, en los museos;
Mas no por eso tenemos menos fuerza:
El vigor verdadero
Reside en la cabeza.
Por qué cantáis la rosa, ¡oh, Poetas!
Hacedla florecer en el poema;
Sólo para nosotros
Viven todas las cosas bajo el Sol.
El Poeta es un pequeño Dios.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Poem for the Weekend: Kaylin Haught

Someone told me about this poem, a favorite of hers. It's referenced quite frequently online, and seems to be a favorite of many. Perhaps it will become one of yours.

God Says Yes To Me

by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

Thursday, April 13, 2017

On Potato Eyes and Story Ideas

Do you know how to grow potatoes? Maybe you watched Matt Damon do it in The Martian. Actually, it’s not rocket science. A potato will start to grow on its own if you leave it in the cupboard too long. To grow new potatoes, you just cut an existing potato into sections, making sure each section has at least one “eye,” which is the little, sprouting nub, then you stick the sections into the ground.
I thought about this yesterday when I went out to bring the trash cans in. I’d been thinking about two stories recently finished. Well, finished for now. I was thinking about how I’m getting dangerously close to having enough stories for a collection, and how I should stick with this cycle (which seems to be about loss, and perception, and maybe even, colors), for at least a couple more. But I’ve never been one for brainstorming story ideas; I mostly wait until they announce themselves.
So I was thinking about those two stories and what I might possibly work on while I’m trying not to work on them, and I looked up to see a piece of paper stuck in a nearby bush. Also, a chips wrapper. Both were escapees from the now-mostly-empty trash cans. Immediately, I knew it was a scrap from a story draft, which I had marked up to the point of needing to print a new copy. In dramatic fashion, I thought: I’ll write a story about whatever it says.
And this is what was on that scrap of paper, that potato eye:
"She's never done anything for herself."
I knew immediately where these words came from: which story, about which character. It was quite a good scrap, I thought. First, I started thinking about potatoes and did that for a while. But then I refocused on the found fragment, which started to grow in some possible directions and suggest possible rooms, and people, and problems. And I thought that maybe it’s not such a bad approach, growing something from a piece of something else. Sometimes the universe gives you signs and they're hard to recognize and interpret. Sometimes, they’re pretty direct.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Poem for the Weekend: Kate Knapp Johnson

Kate Knapp Johnson, a recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts award, lives in New York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of three poetry collections.

The Meadow
by Kate Knapp Johnson

Half the day lost, staring
at this window. I wanted to know
just one true thing

about the soul, but I left thinking
for thought, and now -
two inches of snow have fallen

over the meadow. Where did I go,
how long was I out looking
for you?, who would never leave me,
my withness, my here.
"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka