Monday, April 18, 2016

It's Poetry Month,
 Not A How Many Poems Can You Write in One Day Contest!

Best Intentions Sprinkled With Pollen and Balloon Shards

Weekends, children, and allergies are not the ingredients of choice when trying to stick to a writing routine, especially when a double birthday, allergies, and deck painting are involved. That's my tightly packing, sneeze-filled--think I have bronchitis--just taught the nurse about Yiddish--excuse for the day. Say, I do believe I just resined a poem in that convoluted sentence!

So let's talk about personal experiences and poetry.  But first, I have to go teach a Children's Literature class on graphic novels. Be back soon.

I'm back.  Writing from life experiences can be cathartic, but it can also be difficult because you have the  lived the experience and may not know how much context to offer to make the experience relatable without using explanation.  Economy of language is essential in poetry, so that makes creating context even harder. 

For a compelling exploration on experience and poetry, take a look at Christina Pugh's essay, "No Experience Necessary"

From Experience Comes Confusion, Contemplation, Clarity

When you write about your own experience, you can often confuse your readers if you don't provide enough context.

Shouting "I hate Mr. Rogers" 
the girl said it all.

This actually happened as my best friend and I studied one night in high school, but it doesn't "say it all" or even enough to share the experience with outside readers.  Let's try that experience again with a little more context and see what happens.

Poem (9 of 30)

When you're blind
waitresses raise their voices when 
they get to your order
because they don't know
how to get your attention

When you're human
loud voices can be startling,
make you shrink

When you're blind
teachers tell themselves to slow 
down and explain things 
(read: "as if you're a child")

When you're human
patience sweetness is hard to swallow
when it's pitched to a six year old and 
you're old enough to go R rated

 So, homework before us,
legs crossed, directions recalled,
my friend, 
who came into this world without the benefit of eyes, 
throws back her head and yells,
"I hate Mr. Rogers!"

The king of patience,
the model of kindness
the "voice of childhood"
is an irritating echo in the
directions our English teacher offered
on our way out the door.

Wishing I had the clip of Mr. Rogers 
cursing a out my mother's favorite word,
as he pitched a tent.
I laughed, recalling our own collapsing 
attempt the weekend before

"He's cool." I said. "You just have to get to know
the whole person."

"You said it all," my friend replied.

I guess we did.

Here, I wrote a poem that contextualized the line and how the over kindness of teachers drove my friend to hate Mr. Rogers--no the man, but the voice that echoed in the instructions she received far too often from well-meaning people who saw her disability and over compensated, an issue I tried to bring alive for readers in the poem. 

Mining for a Poem

Now, let's try to mine my morning and an earlier sentence in this blog for a poem. I said, "That's my tightly packing, sneeze-filled--think I have bronchitis--just taught the nurse about Yiddish--excuse for the day" because one of the reasons I didn't write poems over the weekend was because I have seasonal allergies that often lead to bronchitis.  Trying to help my husband stain the deck in the great pollinated outdoors wasn't so wise an addition. When I went see a PA today, she prescribed a shot that it was the nurses duty to administer and it was delivered to my posterior. I mentioned that it had been a long time since I'd had to have one in my "tuchus" to which she replied, you're what?

And that's how I used a slang term for your backside to introduce a nurse to the language of Yiddish. If you're unfamiliar with the language, let me offer a definition from Yiddish is a Germanic language with about three million speakers, mainly Ashkenazic Jews, in the USA, Israel, Russia, Ukraine and many other countries. The name Yiddish is probably an abbreviated version of ייִדיש־טײַטש (yidish-taytsh), which means "Jewish German".

And now for the poem (10 of 30)

When pollen makes your nose
imitate a sink with an eroding washer
And your throat becomes a slide
there's no hiding 
from the chest clenching cough
that makes sleep like the tissue
dropped on the table
blown out of reach by a hacking
that when the buds bloom
you're stuck behind glass
as your head starts to ache
But help is a 
office visit away
steroid shot in the tuchus
may indeed mean
you can return the gift
of open airways
in kindof
by telling the nurse about
a language
a way of life
a cornicopia of cultures opening up
one word at a time
like the capillaries in my 
bronchial tubes
the relief is overwhelming
I'm verklempt

 And now, because meeting call and I need to visit the pharmacy, I'm going to offer a few tidbit poems.

(11 of 30)
A candle burns
the room illuminated by sunlight
filled by shouts
mouths open
ready for cake
excitement cells fighting 
dust motes for space
a wish
stuck in the traffic
of anticipated sugar high
jack knifed 
by a truckload of impatience
she wishes for a wish
and blows!

(12 of 30)

How Many Six Year Old's Does It Take to Go to the Bathroom?

O if the show is on and cross legs will do the trick
1 if there's lima beans on my plate in the dog's outside
2 if a friends over after school and I have lip gloss to share
3 if it's a sleepover and all the guests I found the flashlight
4 if recess isn't over, but it's too cold to play
5 if it's a movie party and the scene's too scary
6 if it's a big stall at the circus and the clown car just came

(13 of 30)
As luck would have it
I needed a new bag
my strap broke mid dash for class
only thing that didn't spill out
where the bills that cling
to statement balance
making a 70 dollar replacement
a decadence
a triple-decker cake on a diet
But the tri-colored lilac can be eye candy
Thrifting to replace
the jeans the youngest of five
made holy on the 
church of the preschool playground
I see
hanging from a shelf
three shades of purple
like a canvas roll of candy
the bag
the three-decker cake I desire
is three dollars
What luck.

(14 of 30)
To do
to done
a "ta-dah" moment
I've never rightfully won

(15 of 30)

a leaf harvested 
worlds away
steeped in steamy surroundings
Set down
to scrawl out 
the next word
yet I covet my
my arm chair
cat hair covered
corner of the world
while tea leaves
turn sunward
in a place I'll 
never see

Until --Tomorrow?  I hope so. 

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