A. Garnett Weiss

The news feed for A. Garnett Weiss is mirrored at agarnettweiss.com.

JC’s interview Sunday, December 10 after the noon news on 99.3 County FM, Picton

Listen to Lynn Pickering’s feature interview with JC about South Shore Suite…Poems on her weekly program “The County Writes…The County Reads” on Sunday, December 10 right after the newscast at noon.

Go to http://993countyfm.ca to live stream the program from the FM station that speaks with the ‘voice’ of Prince Edward County, Ontario.

This first collection of JC’s poetry takes its title from its lead section, “South Shore Suite, ” with poems rooted in her experience at the County’s fragile south shore. “I committed to posting a line-a-day of poetry on my website for over a year, and the poems in “South Shore Suite” are the result of that undertaking,” JC explains.

During the interview, JC has the opportunity to read a few poems from the collection and openly discuss why poetry matters to her.

“South Shore Suite” with poems honouring Prince Edward County launched on November 18

An enthusiastic crowd attended the November 18 launch of South Shore Suite, JC’s first collection of poetry from Point Petre Publishing. Hosted by Books and Company, 289 Main St. in Picton, the event featured a reading by JC, fine wines generously offered by Half Moon Bay Winery, nibbles, and brisk book sales.

“The launch was exactly as I hoped it would be: the chance for poetry-lovers, friends and neighbours to celebrate the release of this collection and become acquainted with my work. I chose to read five poems from the collection to give a taste of each of the sections of the book, which begins with the “South Shore Suite” that lends the book its title. The Suite consists of poems rooted in nature at Prince Edward County’s south shore and influenced by forms of Japanese poetry, such as haiku and tankas.”

The story in November 15th’s The Wellington Times profiled South Shore Suite. Cut and paste this link into your browser to read the article.http://wellingtontimes.ca/the-right-words/

Lynn Pickering’s interview with JC on The County Writes, The County Reads will be aired on 99.3FM Picton after the noon news on either December 3 or December 10, 2017.

Go to the icon on the right of this website (www.jcsulzenko.com) for information on how to order the book from JC or from the publisher, Point Petre Publishing. Books and Company in Picton also stocks the book. (http://pictonbookstore.com)

Launch of JC Sulzenko’s SOUTH SHORE SUITE, November 18, 2017 in Picton, Ontario

Point Petre Publishing (PPP) launches JC Sulzenko’s first full collection of poetry in Picton, Ontario, on Saturday afternoon, November 18, 2017.

South Shore Suite cover

South Shore Suite cover

Prince Edward County publisher Brian Flack gives his reasons for electing to publish JC’s lyric and narrative poetry in PPP’s inaugural publishing program. “In our current political climate, the need for ‘something’ that speaks to the unspoiled uniqueness of the southernmost reaches of our County was not just needed, it was demanded!

“Rendered in language that is evocative of place, time, and sensation–yet straightforwardly affecting, many of the poems will transport you body and soul to the South Shore of the County, addressing head-on, as they do, issues both natural and ‘man-made’. These poems will inspire in any reader a wondrous appreciation for the area’s land, its birds, the water …”

JC responds. “I am honoured PPP chose South Shore Suite for this publishing season and gratified that poems in this collection turn the spotlight on Prince Edward County’s fragile South Shore. My work also speaks to the power of life-cycle events, whether mundane or momentous.”

The 100-page book takes its title from the first of its four sections, which contains poems rooted in the landscape of Prince Edward County and posted a line-a-day over the course of more than a year. Its second section brings a wider lens to the natural world. Poetry that reflects on life choices made by people in diverse professions comprises the third part of the book. The collection concludes with poems closest to JC’s personal experience on subjects ‘from cradle to grave.’ County artist Susan Straiton created the arresting cover art.

The launch takes place from 4:00-6:00 PM on Saturday, November 18, 298 Main Street, upstairs in the Lipson Room in Picton. JC will read from the collection at 4:30 PM.

JC serves on the Board of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO) and will donate a Loonie for every copy of South Shore Suite sold at the launch to PEPtBO.

For further information about the book and the event, email pointpetrepublishing@gmail.com.

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Oratorealis publishes two centos by A. Garnett Weiss

BC-based Oratorealis, which focuses on spoken word and experimental poetry in a triannual literary journal, published two centos by A. Garnett Weiss in Volume 2/Issue 2, which came out at the end of the summer.

“Reflection, stained glass” welcomes lines from poets such as Toi Derricotti, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Brenda Hillman and Alicia Suskin Ostriker. “Where, watching life through windows”* takes its words from poems by some of the greats of the 20th century, including Dylan Thomas, Ezra Pound and Stephen Spender.

Weiss finds great joy in creating centos. “Living with the poems I read until individual lines or partial lines dictate the way a new work, original in form and meaning, evolves is an exciting and humbling process. Each piece both pays homage to and honours the poems from which the lines have been selected. There such such energy inherent in crafting poems in the cento form.”

*The title of this poem regrettably was misprinted in Oratorealis.

New Bookends Review: Henning Mankell’s “Italian shoes”

JC gives this 2006 novel by prolific master of the ‘dark’ Swedish tale, Henning Mankell, 7/5/10 even though she couldn’t put the book down. Why? Go to Bookends to read her mini-review.

Impromptu poetry morphs into BESPOKE POETRY– JC Sulzenko writes poems on commission

“I just can’t resist the challenge: writing to a subject not of my choosing, suggested by someone whom I didn’t know beforehand, for the most part, to mark a birthday, an anniversary, a special event or person, or in memoriam,” JC admits. “I’ve now launched “BESPOKE POETRY” to give me the chance to create new poems this way.”

JC began her love affair with poetry written on demand many summers ago at what was then known as “Art in the park,” a showcase for artists, crafts people and assorted others in her neighbourhood.

Wearing a lot of sunscreen and with paper pad and pen, she set up a table and offered to write poems for visitors at $2.50 each, the proceeds of which went to a charitable organization. She cannot remember to which one the modest take went that first year.

She attached certain caveats to the process: payment upfront; she held the copyright to the poem; no one could dispute what she had written; she reserved the right to refuse to write on a subject with which she was not comfortable.

Those who dared to test her skills were interviewed briefly about the subject they had chosen, then sent away to wander among the artisans. When they returned, they picked up the poem in a neat scroll. More often than not, they unravelled the poem and read it on the spot. And commented. Almost all very pleased with the result.

Though not a big fundraiser, JC found the experience exhilarating. “I used a number of the poems written at that festival in “Fat poems Tall poems Long poems Small,” my ekphrastic book of poems for families and children to which Ottawa artists contributed interpretative illustrations.” Several other poems found their way into chapbooks.

For a couple of years, JC returned to the venue, adding a tent and two chairs to facilitate the interviews and for the sake of privacy. Each year, the price tag went up by a bit. The final year of her participation, the funds raised were donated to a local hospital.

Then she stopped, overtaken by other writing projects including “Boot Crazy” and later by “What My Grandma Means to Say,” her book and play about Alzheimer’s disease.

Now she has taken up poetry on commission again with enthusiasm. The process begins with agreement on a base price for the poem, which can take the form of free verse or rhyme. The ‘buyer’ pays JC upfront. Then, there’s an interview which can take as little as 10 minutes over the phone or up to an hour face-to-face, where that’s convenient to the parties.

JC considers carefully what she has learned about the subject and writes the poem within the timeframe agreed to in the discussions. The length of the poem can vary depending the subject matter. Once she’s satisfied, she shares the poem and asks for comments as to accuracy only. If there are any factual inaccuracies, she corrects them and then provides a final text.

She asks that the poem not be published without her prior permission and then only with clear acknowledgment as to her authorship.

“I have written about a granddaughter’s graduation from high school on her birthday, the death of a child, a dog who dreams. It’s such an adventure, never knowing where a new poem will begin or to where it will take me.”

 

 

 

Silver Birch Press features A. Garnett Weiss poem in new ‘lost and found’ series

Garnett’s prose poem “When Johnny came marching” appears online in the newest series from Silver Birch Press (SBP) in California.

This is how Garnett described her creative process: “I’m always intrigued by subjects Silver Birch Press suggests for a series. I read the cue, then waken as though from a dream to revisit experiences I hadn’t thought of in many, many years. The title for “When Johnny came marching,” comes in part from a war song. The song led me to recapture in prose poem form rather than in free verse circumstances and details around the disappearance of my favourite doll when I was five years-old and to situate that doll in my life today. I am grateful for the prompt.”

The photo, which complements this poem, shows Johnny still in Garnett’s hands and favour.

Here’s the link to Silver Birch Press:

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/when-johnny-came-marching-poem-by-a-garnett-weiss-lost-and-found-poetry-and-prose-series/

Nancy Drew met Garnett Weiss on March 11 at The Supermarket Restaurant and Bar in Toronto

From 3:00-5:30 PM, Saturday March 11, Garnett joined Toronto writer and event host Lee Parpart and other contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology, plus special guests emcee Liz Gruening-Hay, Angela Misri and Melanie J. Fishbane to celebrate this new collection of poems, artwork, short stories, and memoirs inspired by the forever-young-woman sleuth.

Geared to adults and to appeal to kids grades four and up, the afternoon entertained the enthusiastic audience with readings from the anthology published by California-based Silver Birch Press (SBP.) Each speaker shared anecdotes about her own connection to and love of all things Nancy Drew, whose mystery series was published over a period of 80+ years and enjoyed by multiple generations.

Garnett first read four poems by international contributors to the anthology and then focused on the work of Canadian poets in the anthology. She explained that SPB published her erasure poem, “With original mystery,” which extracts words in the order in which they appear from the list of Nancy Drew book titles on the inside title page of “The Hidden Staircase”, released in 1939. Instead of reading “With original mystery,” she shared her found poem, “Siren,” now posted her website. “Siren” uses non-contiguous, unaltered phrases from “The Secret of Mirror Bay,” published in 1972.

The afternoon’s festivities included prizes and a book sale. Copies of the anthology are available from Silver Birch Press and Amazon.

 

 

Two poems by A. Garnett Weiss in the 28th issue of “The Light Ekphrastic”

Editor Jenny O’Grady paired Garnett with Maryland artist Gina Pierleoni as co-contributors to the 28th issue of the online journal “The Light Ekphrastic, ” now celebrating its 7th anniversary.

Garnett chose The Deepest Sleep from among the extraordinary works of art on the website featuring Pierleoni’s art– http://ledbaltimore.com/featured-on-the-board/gina-pierleoni/. “Given the range of work Gina exhibited, so much of her art called to me, but the instant I saw The Deepest Sleep, I had to write to it. Surrender is the result,” Garnett noted.

“My poems have appeared before in “The Light Ekphrastic,” and I am grateful to the editor for publishing them in this fine journal. It’s always an adventure when I embark on a new partnership with an artist who will interpret my poetry and whose art will prompt me to write a new poem. I never know what to expect of the artist or of myself. That is the ‘magic’ of the ekphrastic process. That’s why I welcome opportunities to be surprised by each, such collaboration.“

In response to Garnett’s poem For Nathan Cirillo, soldier, Gina created Lamentation, a poignant collage that captures indelibly the relationship between the soldier’s death and an aged mother’s response. Here’s where to find these works: https://thelightekphrastic.com/2016/11/25/november-2016-issue-28/

Comments about A. Garnett Weiss’s winning centos in The Banister Niagara Poetry Anthology

For the second time, Garnett’s centos took top honours in The Banister, the annual anthology featuring “ an eclectic mix of Ontario voices,” in the words of Poetry Chair Keith Inman.Here’s what award-winning poet and author Keith Garebian, who judged the entries, wrote: ” Never mind the first unicorn is an expert cento—a form that is a level ahead of the found poem as a poetic mode because its inspiration comes from multiple poetic sources. For a good cento, the poet’s mind must never merely wander across quotations. It needs to keep a firm focus on unity of theme, tone and rhythm—which this one does superbly, using surprising images in order to channel the poet’s melancholy reflection.”

“I am most grateful to Keith Garebian for these comments, which align closely with what I set out to accomplish in each cento I compose, “ Garnett noted. “I find joy in this form of poetry, Though considered by some poets and editors as ‘experimental,’ writing centos has become my mainstream.”

Never mind the first unicorn received second prize. Honourable mentions went to We lie down in each other, we lie down alone, and to The only song I know.

Garnett’s cento Nothing is eternal. Not even the trees won the 2013 contest judged by Gregory Betts. He also awarded honourable mentions to Against a guttering candle, written dreams and to Psyche.

 

In honour of Leonard Cohen–“After ignorance, blessings” by A. Garnett Weiss republished

When Silver Birch Press (SBP) featured Garnet Weiss’s “After ignorance, blessings” in its Same Name Series, it gave her the chance to mark how as an undergrad she ‘bumped’ into Leonard Cohen at university and how she evolved into a devoted fan. Here is the link:https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/after-ignorance-blessings-poem-by-a-garnett-weiss-same-name-poetry-and-prose-series/

Given his passing yesterday at 82 and having seen a clip from the media conference at the September release of his last CD where he explained he was ready for death but rather would ‘live’ forever (and he will), it feels appropriate to republish that poem in his honour here.

After ignorance, blessings

Without much prompting, I return to that moment fifty years ago,

while we waited together for a book on reserve at college.

The librarian bellowed out my last name.

We both stepped forward, lightly bumping hips.

 

Shy as a virgin, I felt heat rush to my face

as the man at the desk glared through thick lenses.

“Leonard,” he harrumphed, dismissing me.

Just then, I realized who you were.

 

So did the other undergrads, the spectator chorus,

who stared as though it was my fault to carry

the same family name.

I bowed my head, rejoined their line.

 

Even as poems and songs brought you more fame,

I didn’t become a fan, though I recognized

some tunes, knew bits of lyrics from the CDs

my mother listened to every day till she died.

 

But after you had to come down from the mountain

‘cause someone had stolen away with your wealth,

after you started to tour, that’s when I fell for you.

 

I saw you perform live a first time, then again, and again,

just to hear you sing of love and loss and longing in that voice,

its low-growl purr seductive as the melodies that play in my mind.

 

Which is how I’ve come to regret having no kinship with you

either in blood or in the way you make your music turn words

into a benediction.

 

 

 

 

 

“Siren,” A. Garnett Weiss creates a found poem inspired by Silver Birch Press’s Nancy Drew Anthology, published October 1, 2016

Siren

 

When you feel like talking, tell

these stories.

In fine antique gallery paintings,

even those depicting angels,

a woman is seen gliding over the water

dressed in such a flimsy, evening-type dress

you will forget what happened,

if you capture her.

From somewhere nearby,

hear low singing

sounds like some fairy tales.

Refuse to follow.

Don’t look back.

Hunt for something luminescent—

the phenomenon of fireflies,

a flirtation

through a tangle of vines;

cold light

like a mirror,

calm as the water

a ways offshore—

absolutely true.

 

 

 Found poem key: all phrases are non-contiguous and are taken unaltered from “Nancy Drew: The Secret of Mirror Bay,” Carolyn Keene, Grosset & Dunlap, NY, 1972. Page references per line follow: Line 1: p.65; Line 2: p.107; Line 3 and 4: p. 95 – one phrase split into two lines; Line 5: p. 2; Line 6: p.138; Line 7: p. 8; Line 8: p.73; Line 9: p. 24; Line 10: p.65; Line 11: p.45; Line 12: p.60; Line 13: p.141; Line 14: p.22; Line 15: p.151; Line 16: p.61; Line 17: p.78; Line 18: p.157; Line 19: p.100; Line 20: p.23; Line 21:p.120; Line 22: p.105

 

 

 

A. Garnett Weiss featured in Silver Birch Press’s Nancy Drew Anthology

For kids of many generations, Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene hooked them on reading. Whenever a new book came out, the local bookstore (and there were several independent! bookstores in my neighbourhood!) would sell out very quickly, as young readers couldn’t wait to follow their favourite sleuth as she unravelled threads of the next puzzle.

Garnett is pleased that Silver Birch Press of California chose her erasure poem “With original mystery” for the anthology, published on October 1. This poem extracts words from titles of Nancy Drew books in the order they appeared on the the page preceding the inside title page of “The Hidden Staircase,” published in 1930 and reprinted in 1995. The poem and the page showing the erasures both appear in the collection.

Copies of the anthology will be available through the publisher and from Amazon.com. The publisher’s price per volume is $15. Here’s the link to Silver Birch Press’s release:

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/new-release-nancy-drew-anthology/

Garnett’s second poem arising from Nancy Drew sources has been posted under the A. Garnett Weiss tab. “Siren” uses non-contiguous phrases, taken unaltered from”Nancy Drew: The Secret of Mirror Bay,” published in 1972.

Next Bookends Review

Go to Bookends to read JC’s review of Plum Johnson’s 2015 memoire, “They Left Us Everything,” which won the Charles Taylor 2015 Prize for Non-fiction. A review and rating with reservations.

New Bookends Review: The County Murders J.D. Carpenter, 2016

Again, it gives JC a kick to keep her reviews within the same number of words as twitter allows characters per tweet. Focuses the mind. Adds discipline. Makes her not yak on and on with thoughts about a book.

Go to Bookends to read JC’s review of J.D. Carpenter’s 2016 mystery, “The County Murders.” She gave it 8/10!

Bookends Review: “Little Bee” Chris Cleave, 2008

Go to “Bookends” to read JC Sulzenko’s mini-review of Chris Cleave’s 2008 novel, “Little Bee.” Why does she give this best-seller only a 7/10 rating? See for yourself.

A. Garnett Weiss takes 3 of the top prizes in The Bannister 2016 Poetry Contest

Here’s the link to the Niagara CAA’s website which lists the 2016 winners. Three of Garnett’s centos were awarded top prizes. “Never mind the first unicorn” took 2nd Prize and “We lie down in each other, we lie down alone,” and “The only song I know” gained honourable mentions. “This is the second time my centos have been favoured in this contest. I am grateful to Judge Keith Garebian for favouring my work with these awards,” Garnett confirmed.

http://canauthorsniagara.org/poetry-contest/

Brick Books Celebration of Canadian Poetry Series features JC’s introduction of A. Garnett Weiss who celebrates Al Purdy and Friends

The day before Canada Day, Brick Book’s website featured JC’s article on A. Garnett Weiss’s use of the cento form to celebrate the writing of poets such as Al Purdy, Lorna Crozier, E. J Pratt, Monty Read, Molly Peacock and Leonard Cohen.

Here’s the link to the article:  http://www.brickbooks.ca/category/news/celebrate-canadian-poetry/

“Ekphrasis at BLIZZMAX” show, co-curated by JC Sulzenko, closes

This ekphrasis show at BLIZZMAX Gallery in Prince Edward County that JC co-curated with Alice Menacer closes on July 24. Featuring works of art inspired by poetry and poetry inspired by works of art, the show paired nine local artists with  nine local poets.

“I am thrilled with the feedback received about the show from gallery visitors and the artists and poets who participated. A good number of the works of art sold which is also a measure of the quality of the exhibition. My thanks to Alice and Peter Mennacher for embracing the concept, ” JC noted.

Ekphrasis at BLIZZMAX included sculpture, multimedia and visual art. A copy of the poem that either gave rise to each artwork or responded to a work of art was sold with each work of art.

A chapbook with high quality, full-colour reproductions of each work of art and the text of each poem has virtually sold out.

Here’s the link to the story about the show: http://wellingtontimes.ca/developmentApril16/nine-poets-nine-artists/

Day 30 poem, “Generation, from memory,” the last piece in the month-long poetry challenge

I accepted the day 29 prompt in NaPoWriMo.net because the Day 30 prompts from that site and from Found Poetry Review were not a good fit. I am pleased to have participated in this month-long writing challenge but, at the same time, feel relieved it’s over. And apologetic that I was a day late once in a while.

Here’s the prompt: “write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details… You could start… every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in….”

What has emerged is a more personal poem than my other offerings this month. Perhaps that’s fitting for the last in this series, perhaps not. I’ll let the poem be for a while, then may revisit “Generation, from memory.”

Thanks to Found Poetry Review and NaPoWriMo.net for kick-starting every day in April with great ideas.

Generation, from memory

In May, the jubilant pronouncement: “I’m pregnant!”
Your mother’s words turned an ordinary day into a celebration,
then draped me in a shawl of worry: Would she be alright? Would you?

In June, she popped pills to stem the nausea, then slept day-long.
My gentle words that this would pass so inadequate,
I offered mint-leaf tea, dry toast, warm blankets and hugs.

In July, a visit to the midwife, tattooed and pierced, tightened
the worry around my shoulders. I asked myself could I trust
her judgment, her experience? Could I trust her with my daughter?

The rapid thrum/thrum/thrum/thrum of your heartbeat filled the room
when you were smaller than a lime, still on the tree. At that moment
I understood the passion, the argument about when life begins.

In November, my hand on your mother’s stomach—smooth,
without stretch marks, swollen to watermelon size— I felt
you kick at me as though you were dancing the can-can.

In January, on walking home with your mother from the spa,
sudden cramps stopped us every ten minutes, then every five,
then every fifteen as she breathed through your false start.

I packed that evening, took the long ride home, even though
I wanted so badly to stay, to wait with her it hurt in my gut.
I gathered the shawl to me but felt its cold through the car window.

Then a text message: your mother and father were at the hospital,
your mother resting well with a local anesthetic.
I sat in the living room, sipped wine, held your grandpa’s hand.

Waiting, worrying, waiting, worrying, waiting, worrying,
waiting, worrying, waiting, worrying, waiting, worrying.
In the silence, the shawl constricted like a straitjacket.

The phone rang, delivering your mother’s voice.
She sounded like a child herself.
“He’s here! It’s a boy. I’m looking at him.”

I tasted tears as I put down the receiver. I cast off the shawl,
left early the next morning to greet you before you were a day old.
Coming into the hospital room alone that first time to hold you,

light as a feather, I studied your eyelashes and tiny fingernails, traced
the line of your soft cheek with my arthritic hand. I both believed
and couldn’t believe the wonder you are, of my flesh, my blood.

I began singing “Hush little baby, don’t say a word…”
for the first time in almost thirty years
and remembered all the words.

 

Beth Ayer’s April 29 Impromptu prompt to write a poem from an unintelligible text (in your own language)

Beth Ayer’s challenge through FPR was as follows: “In the spirit of heading into darkness after all things unseeable and obscure, write a poem using a text that is inexplicable to you. Could be quantum physics, thermodynamics, mathematics, aeronautical engineering – or something else altogether that to you speaks in incomprehensible language. Choose a text or texts and begin selecting words and phrases as they spark associations. Write a poem using the collected words and phrases. Let your imagination fire, and don’t worry about what these terms mean in their original context.”

I went online and used phrases and words largely unaltered from an article from European Nuclear Society (euronuclear.org.) What Is A Nuclear Reactor? to respond to the prompt on this penultimate day of National Poetry Month.  I certainly didn’t understand the technicalities in the article when I composed the poem below. Comments are welcome.

This basic difference

After the separation
converted their bond,
transferred power
for multiple purposes,
fission released them.

Before they escaped
slightly enriched,
they felt intense deceleration,
released from the laws of nature,
the pressure to combine.

Devices designed in a loop
fed into the fuel they use:
The same, reinforced, secondary light.

Irresistible prompt to write online erasure poem (April 27, Greg Santos in FPR)

imageerasure

I will return to April 28’s fine prompt from Jenni B. Baker in FPR which warrants far more time than one day provides.

Instead, I chose one of Greg Santos’s from yesterday to: “Go to Wave Books’ Erasures website to find online source texts…The cool website lets you click on any word or punctuation mark to make it disappear. You can save, print, or email the newly sculpted text when you’re done.”

Well, I went to the site, which, indeed, worked as he suggested. In fact, I felt a ‘frisson’ of power as I erased parts of the source text “Pointed Roofs,” by Dorothy Miller Richardson.

I failed dismally, though, when I attempted to save and email the poem, though I could print it.

So you see, above how “Home Schooled” appears, to which I added punctuation by hand, though I seem to have mislaid the period at the end. Sigh.

Here is how it reads:

Home schooled

Bright faces collected misery.
Dreadful experiences at home had swollen
until she worked her trembling wrists and hands,
elbowed the bottle of green Chartreuse on the tiles.
Full of angry discomfiture, she had poked fear,
and burning nervousness twice
had astonished her day.

 

April 27 Impromptu from Greg Santos in Found Poetry Review to write a reversal poem

Though it proved hard to select which of Greg Santos’ April 27 prompts to follow, I chose this one: “Find a draft of a poem you’ve already written. Rewrite your new poem backwards, writing the last stanza first and so on. The new order might reveal something new and exciting.” I began with a piece I had posted in response to the day 6 FPR prompt to create a poem comprised of a single sentence, spread across at least seven lines of no fewer than five words each, in which I had to repeat one of the lines three times, but not in succession, and include specific vocabulary.

Here is my April 6 original.

Uncle

You make me do what I don’t want to
but I can’t pretend I don’t understand —
you: Self-satisfied, self-pleasured, self-absorbed, self-ish Sam—
you speak to me in dialects I wish were foreign
or that I’d need a cochlear implant to hear
but I can’t pretend I don’t understand
which is to say I’m like helianthus facing south and west
as when the sun goes down toward Ecuador
and I turn, too, because you make me do what I don’t want to
but I can’t pretend I don’t understand.

Here is the first reversal I tried, where I simply began with the last line and worked back to the first (with one minor word change, some line break adjustments and the addition of punctuation.)

I can’t pretend I don’t understand,
but I turn, too, because you make me do what I don’t want to,
as when the sun goes down toward Ecuador,
which is to say I’m like helianthus facing south and west.

But I can’t pretend I don’t understand,
or that I’d need a cochlear implant to hear
you speak to me in dialects I wish were foreign,
you self-satisfied, self-pleasured, self-absorbed, selfish Sam.

But I can’t pretend I don’t understand
you make me do what I don’t want to, uncle.

Here is a variation on the first reversal,with line breaks all changed and a surprise reversal of victims in the last line. Who would have expected that?

But I can’t.
Pretend I don’t understand.
But I turn, too, because you make me.
Do what I don’t want to,
as when the sun goes down toward Ecuador,
which is to say
I’m like helianthus, facing south and west.
But I can’t pretend.
I don’t understand.
I’d need a cochlear implant to hear you, uncle.

Speak to me in dialects I wish were
foreign, you self-satisfied, self-pleasured,
self-absorbed, selfish Sam.
But I can’t pretend.
I don’t understand.
You make me do what I don’t want
to uncle.

April 26 prompt: Write a call-and-response poem

This prompt from NaPoWriMo.net resonated with me. Here’s what was suggested:“Calls-and-responses are used in many sermons and hymns, in which the preacher or singer asks a question or makes an exclamation, and the audience responds with a specific, pre-determined response….as a sort of refrain or chorus that comes up repeatedly, while the call can vary slightly each time it is used….Think of your poem as an interactive exchange between one main speaker and an audience.”

For once, I allowed myself to have a good time trying something new without setting expectations that were too high. I wrote two poems as a result.

Psalm for Hestia

Let him persuade you, let him cajole you!
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

He has love to offer, let him show you!
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

He will want you always, let him please you!
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

He will hope and hope, let him win you!
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

Let him persuade you he has love to offer.
He will want you always. He will hope and hope.
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

Let him cajole you. Let him show you.
Let him please you. Let him win you.
I’ll not listen. I’ll not heed.

 

Imaginary numbers: A song

How many rings on the tree, on the tree?
How many rings will there be, will there be?
Too many, too many, too many to count.
Too many, too many for me.

How many birds on the wing, on the wing?
How many birds will there be, will there be?
Too many, too many, too many to count.
Too many, too many for me.

How many drops in the rain, in the rain?
How many drops will there be, will there be?
Too many, too many, too many to count.
Too many, too many for me.

How many moments in a life, in a life?
How many will there be, will there be?
Too many, too many, too many to count.
Too many, too many for me.

April 24 Craig Dworkin’s Impromptu challenge (FPR) to recreate a text from an erasure poem

Craig Dworkin’s prompt through Found Poetry Review: Take an erasure poem and then add “words to fill in the empty spaces in order to create a new text that flows naturally and coherently. Words should fit exactly — to the letter — so that the result appears to be perfectly justified prose.” He added: “Don’t cheat by kerning.” ‘Kerning: ” a printing term, which means “setting of two letters closer together than usual by removing the space between them.”

I may not have followed the instructions to the letter in filling in the blanks when I based my frivolous prose poem below on Austin Kleon’s erasure poem, “The light of the universe” (available on the FPR site.)

 

If the gods wanted telescopes in heaven, would it be to see past and through evil, immorality, depravity to where the light of goodness, morality, civility shines brightly? Such a tool would let the deities close in on stories and lives of the true believers who follow their teachings through the universe toward whatever heaven awaits them. Using this trick, we might think the gods would feel sympathy for the fates they had meted out. This would not be so.

They would recognize the poor specimens, to them known as glass, because of the way fate had chipped or broken them. The creators could take pity on these victims, though it is far more likely they would spurn them. Instead, they would favour the strong, to them known as crystal, because it is easier to love where beauty and triumph dwell.

Therein lies the sad truth about the gods: It is not mercy that guides them. When we come into their view, and we appear lowly in their sight, our faith in them will not bring rewards or good fortune. To understand our place in their universe is our job, whereas to them they have only to turn toward what they wish to see, because they know where to look for the strong among us.

Day 23: Daniel Levin Becker’s prompt in The Found Poetry Review

Daniel Levin Becker suggested writing a truncated version of  the récapitul  ” a fixed poetic form created by Jacques Jouet in 2010.” For this “petit récapitul portatif:

  1. The poem consists of 10 lines total, in a 3-3-3-1 stanza distribution.
  2. Each line is 9 syllables long. No meter is required.
  3. The lines do not rhyme.
  4. After each three-line stanza comes a list, in parentheses, of three words taken from one of each of the lines in the preceding stanza.
  5. The poem is dated and addressed to a specific person (someone you know or someone you don’t).

Since I do not enjoy such formulaic exercises, I developed my own approach, based on DLB’s prompt to use random articles from Wikipedia, in which each line comes from a different article used in the order they were found. I kept to the language of the article rather than paraphrasing or /interpreting improvising from it and cited the title of the article in italics at the end of each line.

BTW: I admit I am no math genius, but I do not understand the 3-3-3-1 when ten articles actually would produce an even number of lines, given the formula. So, WTH, I offer instead  a 3-1, 3-1, 3-1 = 12 lines. Plus a day late, again. Sigh.

April 23, 2016 Choreography for Albert Einstein

One can see the continuity.                                                Nikilaos Lavdas
Stop in the borough of Media,                                           Olive St., SEPTA Route
deprived of maintenance, and again                                Autodrome de Linas-Montlhery

(see media again)

there would be no consolation to                                     Mukesh Kapila
a player who specializes,                                                    Lineman (Gridiron football)
does not want to believe the earth is                               The Kid from Hell

(no player does)

associated with tango music,                                             Orquesta tipica
an interactive environment                                                Katonah Museum of Art
to absorb or adsorb molecules.                                          Sorbent

(tango interactive molecules)

Day 22: Earth Day poem challenge

Once again a day late. Since I found the challenge in the Found Poetry Review forced me to admit how poorly I understand that kind of ‘computerspeak,’ I turned again to NaPoWriMo.Net. Here’s the prompt from Gloria Gonsalves: Write a poem in honor of Earth Day, which led to two poems. The one below and on the page “For Readers”,  click on “Read this to a child,” you will find a ditty for my grandson.

I wish I could save her, single-handed.
She’s so lovely, so delicate, at least what I perceive.

What lies beneath her skin, that’s more mystery
than I can master on a given day.

But give me this Earth day, not my daily bread,
just the guts to do something for her.

She’s aging; too many potions poison her,
scrape at her beauty in the name of booty.

Promises to honour what she alone provides forgotten,
now everything’s for profit, her nature forsaken, too.

She deserves better, but I don’t know what to do.
So shame-faced little me does gutless nothing.

 

Day 21 prompt: Fairy tale skew

The April 21 prompt from NaPoWriMo.net appealed more than what was on offer at The Found Poetry Review, which has suggested a number of prompts that would require a week’s efforts. Here’s the prompt: “Write a poem in the voice of minor character from a fairy tale or myth.”

Of course, always blame the woman
with hair growing out of her mole,
which is as old as I am, which is…
pointless for me to quantify. I’m forever.

Can’t help it that I’m always dressed in rags.
When you’ve lived as long as I have
you outlast the threads.

And the hair, well, how would your hair look
after centuries of dust and lice? Exactly!

Ah, my hair: Long, to my waist,
blond almost to silver
it caught sunlight and moonglow
once upon a time.

.Well, no point dwelling in the past.
What’s done is done.
That ancient troll’s curse made me
what I am and will stay.

No wonder I spike apples with
my special brand of wormwood
and slick it on needles in haystacks,
thorns, spindles, whatever sharp will
pierce the soft, white skin

of anything young, anything happy.
Wouldn’t everything lovely
make you angry, too?

Day 20 Challenge: to write a Kenning or two

Today’s prompt through NaPoWriMo.net comes from Vince Gotera, who suggests a “Kenning” poem. “Kennings were riddle-like metaphors used in the Norse sagas.” Definitions: “A Kenning is a two-word phrase describing an object often using a metaphor. A Kennings poem is a riddle made up of several lines of kennings to describe something or someone.” The structure: Several stanzas of two describing words. It can be made up of any number of Kennings.

Amusing and surprisingly difficult. Here is a poem made up of Kennings that relate to two different subjects. Can you guess what they are? Let me know.

Cellar-dweller.
Flag-maple.
Dwarfs’ girl.
Top-stopped.
Transparent-apparent.

Emotion, commotion.
Life sign.
Paper greeting.
Dead end.
Rhythm section.

 

Day 19: Lost in translation in response to Michael Leong’s prompt in the Found Poetry Review

Here is Michael’s prompt. “When we speak of “translation,” we usually refer to the process of turning a text that is written in one language into another language. But if think about translation more broadly, we can imagine a diverse range of experimental processes that can spark new writing. All you need is to find a source text and invent a method of transforming, altering, or changing it.”

This is an interesting challenge, which I only tackled in part. First I provide the text from which I removed articles and nouns, plus a few other words, to come up with a short ‘translation’ of sorts. I will bank this approach for future consideration when the pressures of time are less.

“But much more importantly, even if there had been such a contract, what would it prove? We could hardly maintain that it explains the political obligations of exiting citizens. After all, no reasonable legal system allows one generation to make a contract which binds succeeding generations. Yet this is exactly what the doctrine of the original contract seems to presume. “p. 44 Justifying the state, An introduction to Political Philosophy, Jonathan Wolff 1996 Oxford University Press

Lost, in translation

But much more importantly,
even if there had been such,
we could hardly maintain that
explains existing after all.

‘No’ allows, binds, succeeding
exactly what seems.

 

Day 18: To incorporate in a poem the “sound of home” (from NaPoWriMo.net)

NaPoWriMo optional prompt for April 18: To write a poem that incorporates the ‘sound of home,’ figures of speech, ways of talking people around you may have used and you may not hear anymore. “Coax ear and voice backwards.” Which is what I did, though I deliberately didn’t seek to abandon adult words as had been suggested. What surprised me? That the sound that came to my ear was my Austrian’s mother’s voice speaking in German when I was a child. I was bilingual until I was about eight. but now there is no one in my life now who speaks the way she did. (I apologize for the crude attempts at phonetic rendering of what I remember.)

 

Liebe kind remembers

The black Bakelite phone rings, once, twice.
My mother always answers on the third brrrring!
“Ya, vie gehtes; ya, alles ist in ordnung.
Was ist passiert? So etvas? Das kannicht sein….”

My head cupped in my hands,
I’m glum at six years-old, because I know
that’s how a l—–o—–n—–g conversation begins.

My mother talks with her best friend
for at least one hour every afternoon
just when I come in from Grade 1,
which makes me feel as though I’m not there.

Ich kann alles verstehen.
At least from my mother’s end of the conversation,
I understand what’s going on.

Though I couldn’t write the language then
and cannot now, I could speak it well.
Aber ich vill night is what I would say.
Whenever and however sweetly my mother asks,
I refuse to talk German on command.

Except when I lose patience
with my mother’s telephone chitchat/chitchat/chitchat:
That’s when I pick up the extension down the hall.
“Kann ich mit meine mutti sprechen, bitte”—
I muster as polite a demand as I can.

After which my mother usually sighs and signs off
with auf wiedersehn, as though she and her friend
had been speaking face-to-face,
and then she turns to me.

Day 17 Prompt from Jeff Griffin through the Found Poetry Review

The prompt from Jeff Griffin took me to the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology. As suggested, I read it through and transcribed chronologically and without punctuation what words or phrases I found “remarkable.” I then copied the text into Google Translate through a cycle of 5 different languages and then back to English. I’m afraid the chronology and substance of what I first noted remained more or less in tact in spite of Jeff’s prediction of translations going awry. Perhaps I was inept at the process. Would not be the first time. The poem below uses unaltered words and phrases which keep faith with the order in which I noted them originally.

Misspent

How the feminine gains strength
smelling of silence, prayers wearing out,
old thoughts—unbroken, never corralled.

To keep us from home, now I expose
the ironed life in ‘glorious’ childhood
which did not heal with time.

Nothing passed between us
but, under this wing, hard love,
possibility, memorable patience.

Day 16 Prompt from NaPoWriMo.net — choosing words from a specialized dictionary

Instead of the April 16 prompt from The Found Poetry Review, which may have provided a constellation of possibilities to others but left me cold, I followed, instead, the optional prompt for April 17 from NaPoWriMo.net, which both intrigued and amused.

Here’s the prompt: “Use ten words from a specialized dictionary in a poem.” The source I consulted: “Foyles Philavery,” by Christopher Foyle, 2007. (The 10 words appear in bold.)

Hunting season

Sophomania sufferer, I hear
your insufferable banter in the name of venery:
Your lust for a fitchew’s fur, mellisonant to your ears,
your craving for inchpin, sweet as the sorbite you seek
to drain from a breathing creature you dissavage
with death by pheon and crossbow.

It’s otiose for me to argue, I know.
As the black vulture circles free above us,
I turn remontado and disappear.

 

Day 15 Found Poetry Review Prompt from Joel Katelnikoff: Love what you hate

Joel Katelnikoff’s prompt took me to the reading list my book group set for 2015-2016 over my own objections to a sole focus on fiction and non-fiction related to Canada’s aboriginal or indigenous peoples. I felt the weight of the choices but read the books, on occasion with gritted teeth. What follows, then, is my take from those sources on finding “love within what we hate,”  which to be honest surprised me.

In this partially found poem, I’ve used the actual titles of books, exhibits and reports that I’ve experienced. They appear in italics, and I can supply footnotes, as necessary.

Manifesto

The World Until Yesterday before I learned to read
was a child’s playroom filled with toys and possibility
under skies, cloud-free.

The World Until Yesterday before I chose to read
about Riel and Dumont, A life of Revolution,
residential schools, Indigenous Healing,
was a simpler place, where conscience slept
in comfort, largely undisturbed

until the day a little Birdie sang Celia’s Song to me,
to expose the present day’s ugly past,
to show Truth and Reconciliation as necessities.

Walking with our sisters, I inched down
a corridor of moccasins, beaded or plain,
each one for a woman missing or murdered
because she was The Inconvenient Indian,
or from the Métis Nation: Hiding in Plain Sight.
So easy to overlook, to forget till now

failed governance, broken promises,
abuse, and deprivation, which make
The Comeback of indigenous peoples
a triumph of will, talent, patience
over settler greed and duplicity.

Never thought of myself as a colonizer before.
Never assumed my share of the shame for
the suicides, attempted or successful,
of Extraordinary Canadians,
though they might not self-identify as such.
Extraordinary because they were here first.

Time now
to embrace justice,
to listen,
finally to learn
we can’t be white tourists
in an indigenous land.

Now The Reason We Walk
toward An inconvenient truth
is that at long last we begin to see our future
as one to share.

Day 14: Prompt from Brian Oliu Re: The Found Poetry Review Challenge

Brian Oliu suggested setting aside “about twenty minutes of your day with the intention of “doing research” for a piece. Do not allow yourself to write about anything that you do not experience firsthand….Allow yourself to be immersed in your project & only trust “first hand research” take notes, but don’t let the notes dictate your experience. After you have concluded your “research” begin writing immediately & without prejudice–don’t stop, don’t worry about linebreaks or punctuation, or word choice:capture whatever fleeting magic you have conjured until the feeling is gone.”
Well, it’s not ‘magic’ that characterized the firsthand experience captured in the piece, below. Again, a day late.

Cliché Ritual

Papers come out of my ears. More than I imagined all over the carpet. Raked charge card slips, bills, receipts, form into neat, little heaps just days before the deadline! Still cross- referencing, double-checking, collating, misplacing what I’ve just seen, I have to dig for it. Rather be doing anything else, except visiting the dentist. I pay my accountant through the nose to submit my return. A relief, frankly. Though I wish I could give him the piles as they are, let him work his magic in that high glass palace. Though I’d have to pay double, which would piss me off. Instead, I struggle to hold onto the string from where the story of each category begins before the whole darn shebang unravels, and I have to start from scratch. En route, I slice fingertips on sharp sheets and bleed, and then I mis-staple till I figure out a stack’s too thick and use a clip instead. That’s expensive, too: I use coloured ones, ‘cause ‘silver’ clips stick like rust, make me cringe as if I had chalk on my hands. Only then do I assemble the still-fluttering papers and stuff them into a giant envelope with a blank cheque, dated April, owing.

Day 13: Prompt from the Found Poetry Review

The April 13 prompt from Senna Yee had a light-hearted side: “Travel websites have always intrigued me with their language– visual, lush and sometimes a bit dramatic and naive. Browse and write down any words/phrases that interest you….Craft a poem using only these words/phrases. You may arrange them in any way you wish.”

Of course, a variation appealed more than the strict letter of the prompt. What follows is a poem drawn from words and phrases found in the winter 2016 magazine of the Canadian Automobile Association. Each found word or phrase is non-contiguous and so appears on separate lines.

Milestone

I had a mission
to feed
the fantasy,
explore
trails that lead to
hard-to-find,
forehead-slapping
experience;

to cross the river,
embrace
hours of daylight,
diamond-quilted
thermal
danger,
caught by sunlight.

Don’t panic!
You’re like me,
driven,
hoping for
biodiverse
quirkiness,
tango lessons,
ruins,
bazaars,
almost any kind of trinket,
cheese and chocolate.

Take the two.
Life happens,
pays tributes to the gods
I’m craving.

Day 12 Impromptu poem through the Found Poetry Review

Oh dear. Another day late. Well, can’t be helped. Here is the prompt from Robert Fitterman, borrowed from Steve Zuttanski: “Collect found language from individuals who articulate how they feel, specifically, in their bodies…physical symptoms in the body (neck, head, stomach, feet, etc). Use at least 20 different posts from different speakers. Modify, arrange, modify.” Which I modified, as you will see below.

I have no fuse

How do you cope with fear
You get used to it

I don’t get thrown by it
don’t sound like an idiot saying
I was invisible when I was underneath
massive rifts
some minor slippage

Trying to go out every day
hearing voices
troubles
being good to others
just didn’t work out

Honestly
I suffered a lot of nostalgia

People who do not believe
shouldn’t be surprised
it’s a workout

To cry or think of something sad for a while
really takes off and catches

 

(Phrases or words (and the title) which constitute within a single line are non-contiguous and taken from about 20 different articles or reports from different sources in the April 9 paper edition of The Toronto Star. )

 

Day 10: Catch up impromptu poem

Instead of taking the cue from the Found Poetry Review for April 10, turned to NaPoWriMo.net and the lead from Lillian Hallberg’s challenge: ” to write a “book spine” poem. This involves taking a look at your bookshelves, and writing down titles in order (or rearranging the titles) to create a poem…. that is seeded throughout with your own lines, interjections, and thoughts.  Here’s what emerged:

Behind the second shelf

After the falls galore
and running with scissors
she broke into the school of essential ingredients
to ‘edit’ the accidental indies,
those festival films
awaiting her cuts, her fearful
symmetry about the big why
for her virgin cure

 

Key:  “After the falls,” Catherine Gildiner
“Galore,” Michael Crummy
“Running with Scissors,” Augusten Burroughs
“The School of Essential Ingredients,” Erica Bauermeister
“The Accidental Indies,” Robert Finley
“Her Fearful Symmetry,” Audrey Niffenegger
“The Big Why,” Michael Winter
“Virgin Cure,” Amy McKay

April 11: impromptu poem from another prompt

Fell off the wagon yesterday (April 10) and didn’t write a poem in response to Found Poetry Review’s prompt. Perhaps will have a chance to catch up later today. Perhaps not.

Didn’t really feel any affinity for today’s prompt from that source which had to do with astrological signs and other stuff. Instead, attempted a response to this Day 11 optional prompt from NaPoWriMo.net: “…write a poem in which you closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does….An abstract, philosophical kind of statement closing out a poem that is otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details.”

 Waiting for the axe

She’s like a tree—all bark, no sap
inner rings wrung out

pre-leaf, as if leaves could limp out of buds
discouraged by April frosts

Winds sigh through her branches
arthritic, sore, stiff limbs
outstretched toward a pale sun in a pale sky

till, in the notch of a heavy bough
a robin lands, strands of grasses in his beak

Back-and-forth he flies
all day and the following day, too

to form a nest at shoulder-height
A messy pile takes shape
Hope flows to her roots

underwater, without Noah

Impromptu poem 9 (Found Poetry Review)

Here’s the prompt for April 9 from Frank Montesonti about a novel (for Garnett) and intriguing way to approach erasure poetry and the start of a poem employing the new approach:

“Erasure poetry in its essence….is just the idea of selection. Highlighting the words you do want to keep instead of erasing the ones you don’t ….creates new possibilities in poetic dialogue and polyvocal erasure texts….Think in terms of creating a dialogue. Highlight some phrases or words in one color, then feel if there might be a response to those words somewhere else in the text. How many voices do you hear in the text….What is the conversation…?”

Since importing colour to this post seems impossible, after the full text, are notes to show the three voices that emerged from colour-coding on the original text, which is:

“Nothing fills the spirit and lowers stress hormones like taking a walk in a nature preserve and connecting to the natural world, or sitting by the seashore and listening to the sound of crashing waves. We are surrounded by movement in nature, and yet, in this high-speed world, we have become disconnected with ourselves, from our ancestral ways of life, from our own sense of internal movement, and from gut rhythms. “Happy Gut”, Vincent Pedre, 2015, p. 207

A first ‘voice’ emerged as:

Nothing lowers nature
listening to ourselves
our own sense

A second ‘voice’ emerged as:

the spirit connecting sound
disconnected from movement, rhythms

A third voice emerged as:

our ancestral ways of life

The piece as a whole:

Nothing lowers nature
listening to ourselves
our own sense

the spirit connecting sound
disconnected from movement, rhythms
our ancestral ways of life

 

 

Impromptu poem 8 (Found Poetry Review)

Harold Abramowitz suggested this prompt: “Write something you cannot remember: a memory of something – a story, an anecdote, a song, another poem, a recipe, an episode of a television program, anything, that you only partially or imperfectly remember. Write multiple versions, at least 6, of this memory.”

What came to me were distinct ‘verses,’ using the syllable discipline of the tanka form and relating to the same TV broadcast, parts of which I remember, though not all of it.

Reflections: “On the Beach”

                                                     (after Nevil Shute’s novel and subsequent films)

Black and white flicker:
men, women, well-dressed,
standing on Florida sand.
They face west, the ‘mushroom’ cloud,
armageddon, now upon them.

*

Unwilling witness,
my eleven year-old self
watches the action;
cannot tear myself away
from panic or acceptance.

*

Services all off,
a woman on insulin
sees her future
without electricity:
A two days’ supply of life.

*

What happened to them,
the characters in that play?
I do not recall.
It could not end well for them
as their world, their lives collapse.

*

I’ve walked that shore since,
never thinking of the outcome,
of their hopelessness,
but I’ve shuddered in my dreams
at how being trapped would feel.

*

What I can’t forget:
The anguish of no way out;
scavenging, begging;
my survival unlikely;
desperation palpable.

April 7, Impromptu poem (Found Poetry Review)

Simone Muench  suggested the following prompt: “write a cento that is a self-portrait, or anthology of your life, utilizing lines and fragments from your own work,” an intriguing and somewhat daunting task.

 

You’re lost if you look, if you listen, if you follow

 

Austere, without edges or colour,
small-smiling, she looks down,

watches, waits for a sign, any sign,

listens for the story
as cardinals sing a requiem among apple blossoms.
Otherwise, she feels invisible.

Her life lies on her lips like a mystery,
like the ice that coats trees when you thought it would rain.

And I begin to understand
the legacy of those cruel shards,

to be herself
what will shatter with her
in a way both welcome and not.

                                     

Cento Gloss: Each line in this ‘self-portrait’ poem is taken unaltered from the following poems written over the past decade+: “Panorama,” “Woman of ice, woman of glass,” The April Dead II,” “Fairy Tales,” “Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” “Huis clos,” “The days of billy boy bad,” (a line from which furnished the title for the cento,) “Debut,” “Elegy for a Thrush,” “Post Partum,” “Vanishing point, “ “Where does it hurt”, “No regrets.”

 

 

 

Impromptu poem: Day 6 (Found Poetry Review)

In response to Noah Eli Gordon’s prompt to “write a poem comprised of a single sentence, spread across at least seven lines of no fewer than 5 words each. Repeat one of your lines 3 times, but not in succession. Include the following: the phrases ‘as when the,’ a scientific term, a flower’s proper name, the name of a country in South America, a person’s proper name, the phrase ‘which is to say,’ something improper.”

Uncle

 You make me do what I don’t want to

but I can’t pretend I don’t understand —

you: Self-satisfied, self-pleasured, self-absorbed, self-ish Sam—

you speak to me in dialects I wish were foreign

or that I’d need a cochlear implant to hear

but I can’t pretend I don’t understand

which is to say I’m like helianthus facing south and west

as when the sun goes down toward Ecuador

and I turn, too, because you make me do what I don’t want to

but I can’t pretend I don’t understand

Impromptu poem: Day 5

Here’s Garnett’s response to Sarah Blake’s prompt in the Found Poetry Review Impromptu series for National Poetry Month. She suggested choosing a song and having its dynamics open the door to a poem.  The song Garnett chose is Carole King’s “You’ve got a friend, ” which Garnett sang and read until this poem happened. Perhaps Garth Brooks will be taken by the lyrics and turn them into his next hit! LOL!

Country, western

So it’s a dark day, and a darker night
And the rain’s still coming down

You wanna put down the bottle
but instead you take another swig

And when I call you say you love me
And I hesitate, oh I hesitate

‘Cause it’s hard to believe, so hard to believe
after all that you’ve done, done to me

I wanna say I love you, too, because I do
But I hesitate, oh I hesitate

So I ask, “is it still pourin’? Are the streetlights all on?
Do they shine up the pavement? Ain’t they pretty”?

You take another swig
Then you tell me again you love me

And I wanna say I love you, too, because I do
Still I hesistate, oh I hesitate

till it’s late; time to get off the phone
watch the rain through my tears

 

April 4 Impromptu Poem through the Found Poetry Review

The prompt from Woody Leslie involves meanings that have multiple words. He said “write a word, make list of other words related to it, combine these words into a woodblock sharing letters, keep rearranging, adding or subtracting words till you have a woodblock you like aesthetically both visually and linguistically… it can stand alone as a one-word poem or….)” Garnett began with one word: ‘reconciliation.’ This is what resulted.

Afterwar

image1

April 3, Impromptu Poem

 

Kay lied to us. She
couldn’t cope with such colour.
Her vision shattered
like stained glass, kinetic: An
apocalypse on that day.

 

Here is the prompt: “Stare at a word until the letters start to discorporate. You will find that letter cohesion, the letter glue that keeps letters stuck inside a word, is disrupted and dissolves. Fragments of letters will dislodge too. You are then free to visually interpret or document the life of letters outside their word existence as loosely or succinctly as possible.”

While the idea was to dissociate the letters and come up with a visual interpretation/imagery that departs from the word, here’s what happened to me. Having chosen the word ‘kaleidoscope’ and having stared at it for quite a while, I found the components of the word suggested the lines above. I also tried to import a visual to add a view through the instrument as background, underneath the words, but couldn’t find a way to do that. So the short piece above appears untitled and unadorned. And I used the syllabic discipline of the tanka, BTW.

April 2 Impromptu ‘Lite’ Poem in Response to Found Poetry Review’s Prompt of the Day

Drunktime is even more spectacular

Whatever your potion
it’s all here
in the liquor cabinet
packed with endless blends
perfect proofs and an unrivalled flood
of possibilities.
There are so many drinks to discover
everyday this way.

 

Prompt: go to an ad, take out the nouns and add others as you will.

Source: Ad for the Cayman Islands, The Globe and Mail, Section T, page 1, April 2, 2016

Original text: “Paradise is even more spectacular when it’s up to 50% off. Whatever your passion, it’s all here in the Cayman Islands. Packed with endless activities, perfect beaches and an unrivalled culinary scene, there are so many reasons to discover Cayman this summer. “

A. Garnett Weiss to write a poem-a-day in Found Poetry Review’s April challenge

Starting yesterday, (yes, is a day late, explanation to follow), JC, using her pseudonym A. Garnett Weiss, will follow prompts from the Found Poetry Review (FPR)  to create a poem a day during National Poetry Month.

She intends to post them on this website at a minimum. “What can I say? I am a luddite and have as yet to figure out how to participate in this challenge on FPR’s website, except by adding the poem to my ‘what’s new’ page each day,” she sighed. “That’s why I’m a day late starting out.” She sighed again.

“This is my first experience with writing to a regime imposed by such relentless cues. I may decide some of the ‘output’ should stay as drafts, in which case, I’ll post a ‘gap’ message, just to keep me honest.”

Here is the first piece for April 1

 

they came in May on
the breeze; blown like tumbleweeds
dandelions seed

 

Prompts: word–tumbleweed; First 5 words–“They came in May on”

Source: ad for Fibre Containers in Oct. 1918 monthly Magazine

JC’s New Cento Honours Award-winning Poems in the 2016 Awesome Authors Contest

JC delighted in announcing the winning poems and identifying the poets who entered the winners’ circle at the 21st Awesome Authors Awards ceremony on March 29 at Centrepoint Theatre, Ottawa.

Then she shared her decision to step down as English poetry judge after more than a decade of serving in this capacity, for which the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) awarded her the Order of Friendship in 2010.

“I love the contest and will remain its biggest fan,” she promised.

She asked everyone who had submitted a poem to the contest in English or French or English and French to raise their hands and declared it awesome that so many emerging writers aged 9-17 had the courage to do so.

In the autumn, winning poems and short stories will be published in the anthology, Pot Pourri. Copies can be ordered directly from The Friends of the Ottawa Public Library.

To honour the poets who won awards this year, JC has created a cento (pronounced ‘sento’), a form of poetry, which uses lines or parts of lines written by different poets and combines them into a poem, which is new in form and meaning. JC (often writing as A. Garnett Weiss) is focusing now on this form, and a number of her centos have been published and won awards.

Ask me anything you want takes lines or parts of lines, unaltered from how they appeared in the winning poems in this year’s Awesome Authors Contest. The gloss links to the source of each line, including the title of the poem and the poet’s name.

Ask me anything you want

Drunk on madness and intoxicating fun,
head spinning, feeling awfully faint,
I wish for you in my dreams,

wishes long forgotten
where all birds sing as if it were the same song
if only they could be heard.

I have too many names, I can’t even count them,
and, having no one to turn to for love,
to withstand any enemy
my candles and matches do nothing to fight against,
something blocks all open gates,

moving with sudden purpose
a mixture of your blood with the waters.
However no one can know except for you and me.
Wherever you go, whomever you meet,
no one understands who we are.

 

            Cento gloss: Ask me anything you want
             Title: Alyson Moncur-Beer, “Girl Power”
             Line 1: Shannon Noah, “Awakened”
             Line 2: Irine Stripinis, “Fall from Grace”
             Line 3: Maariya Toman, “Breathless”
             Line 4: Julia Dolansyky-Overland, “Lost”
             Line 5: Owen McKibbon, “What’s Around You and Living in Love”
             Line 6: Mitra Dadjoo, “Summer”
             Line 7: Francine Stripinis, “Eternally Cursed”
             Line 8: Kara Cybanski, “The Mistake of Solitude”
             Line 9: Lucy Boyd, “Lily flies”
             Line 10: Belinda Xu, “Pins and Needles”
             Line 11: Maleeka Ellaithy, “Hand in Hand”
             Line 12: Lily Inskip-Shesnicky, “Solo”
             Line 13: Sara Rwentambo, “Creativity”
             Line 14: Leah Sullivan, “The Seamstress”
             Line 15: Shannon Creelman, “Fly like a bird”
             Line 16: Zara Hewson, “Powerless or Powerful”

 

Bookends Review of Wab Kinew’s “The Reason You Walk”

Go to Bookends and read JC Sulzenko’s review of journalist, broadcaster, musician and activist Kinew’s 2015 “The Reason You Walk,” written in part as eulogy, in part as catharsis.

Silver Birch Press features “After ignorance, blessings” in its new Same Name Series

California’s Silver Birch Press (SBP) features Garnett’s recent poem in its new Same Name Series. The poem, based upon Garnett as an undergrad bumping into Leonard Cohen at a university library, goes beyond that moment to capture her evolution into a fan. “I am honoured to be included in this innovative series and thank the editor for choosing this poem,” Garnett states.

The post by SBP includes a photo of Garnett around the time of the incident, plus notes on Garnett’s creative process. Here is the link:

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/after-ignorance-blessings-poem-by-a-garnett-weiss-same-name-poetry-and-prose-series/

A. Garnett Weiss: Sole Canadian poet in Silver Birch Press’s “Ides” collection of chapbooks

The past has a habit of not only of catching up but also of having a future.

A few years ago, JC Sulzenko began interviewing people whose choices about what to do and who to be in life interested her. In many cases, she spoke with friends and acquaintances. She also sought out strangers in lines of work she thought could offer possibilities for reflection and subject matter for her poetry.

Her purpose: To assemble up to forty ‘portraits’ as the basis of a volume of poetry which would capture what she learned and from which she could draw out the essence of her subjects through free verse.

She met with more than two-dozen individuals and wrote poems arising from each of these discussions. Several poems appeared in such publications as Maple Tree Literary Supplement and various volumes of The Saving Bannister.

Then, JC admits she allowed the project to be overtaken by other events, including the production of her play and later her book for families about Alzheimer’s disease, “What My Grandma Means to Say.”

That is until Silver Birch Press offered her the chance to have 15 pages of thematically-linked poetry included in its 2015 chapbook anthology, “Ides,” which was released on October 16, 2015.

Published under her pseudonym, A. Garnett Weiss, “Cameos, appearances” features poems informed by the lives of a doctor, a puppeteer, a passenger train engineer, an adjudicator, a jewelry artist, a librarian, a lyricist, a friend, a teacher, a composer, an innkeeper, a chef, a volunteer and a naturalist.

Here’s the link to the excellent video trailer Silver Birch Press produced for “Ides.”

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/ides-a-collection-of-poetry-chapbooks/

The collection is available from Amazon.com at a cost of $ 15.

Silver Birch Press tells all about JC’s multiple identities

Today, Silver Birch Press has featured “What’s in my name” by A. Garnett Weiss in its ALL ABOUT MY NAME poetry series.

Here’s the link to the post:
https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/whats-in-my-name-by-a-garnett-weiss-all-about-my-name-poetry-series/

The poem and additional biographical and explanatory notes reveal choices JC has made to govern how she is called and calls herself.

“Yes,” she admits, “I have multiple identities that serve my purposes well, professionally and personally.” I enjoy being whoever I am at the time!

“Vallum” features Weiss’s “Hesitation marks” as its poem of the week

Garnett is delighted that the magazine’s editor has chosen “Hesitation marks” for the poem of the week. This poem first appeared in Vallum among the selections on the topic of speed.

“The piece is a cento that I wrote using lines from different poems by Robin Robertson. I am honoured that Vallum features it again this week.” Here’s the link: https://vallum.wordpress.com/

Silver Birch Press Publishes “Solo for a princess” by A. Garnett Weiss

Silver Birch Press has been running an amazing series with the theme of  “Me as a child.” The quality, depth and variety of poems which have appeared to date bring the series into the realm of  ‘spellbinding’ reading.

Among the offerings which appear today is Garnett’s “Solo for a princess.” Garnett is honoured to have this poem published in this series. Here’s the link. https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/solo-for-a-princess-by-a-garnett-weiss-me-as-a-child-poetry-series/

Death of Nobel Laureate Tomas Transtromer – a cento in homage by A. Garnett Weiss

When no one was looking

It happens in this or maybe that way:
Inside you opens up, vault after vault endlessly.

I am not empty. I am open
and grow milder and wilder than here.

Time streams down from the sun and the moon
with journeys in its claws.

While the sleepless days relieved one another,
I have paid for what I ought to and have receipts for everything
heavier than life.

I know the deep. Where one is both prisoner and guard,
everything living sings, stoops, waves, creeps.

 

Cento gloss: When no one was looking

Title: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Epigram”
Line 1: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Indoors is Endless”
Line 2: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Romanesque Arches”
Line 3: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Nightingale in Badeluna”
Line 4: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Six Winters”
Line 5: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Vermeer”
Line 6: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Flyers”
Line 7: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “The Longforgotten Captain”
Line 8: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Streets in Shanghai”
Line 9: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Lullaby”
Line 10: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Yellowjacket”
Line 11: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Madrigal”

“Where I live series” features A. Garnett Weiss poem on March 10

Here’s the link to Garnett’s “Through My Window,” published on March 10 by Silver Birch Press. http://Silverbirchpress.wordpress.com as part of its series entitled “Where I live.”

Garnett is delighted that the editor chose a photograph of the Rideau Canal in winter to complement the poem occasioned by Ottawa, Canada, having  the dubious distinction of being the coldest capital in the world on one frigid day in February.

The Light Ekphrastic publishes two poems by A. Garnett Weiss today

How does a piece of poetry inspire an artist? What does a poet take from a work of art? That process is what lies at the core of the on-line journal, The Light Ekphrastic.  Its February issue features two poems by A. Garnett Weiss, linked to two works of art by Isabelle P. Laureta. http://thelightekphrastic.com

“The selection process is ‘blind'”, says Weiss. “That’s its charm. I submitted a few poems to the Editor and heard that my work had been selected and would be forwarded to the artist with whom the editor linked me. In return, I would receive a number of artworks by that artist.

“It was left to each of us to select to which piece we would respond. Neither Isabelle nor I knew what the response would be until we saw the journal published.”

Garnett’s poem, “Woman of Ice, Woman of Glass” inspired Laureto to create the image of a woman that is striking in its use of lush tropical flowers, water, and crystals. In turn, Garnett’s poem “Antigua” riffs off Isabelle’s portrait of a woman floating among Men-of-War jelly fish to address matters of the heart.

“I have never had the opportunity to work with an artist in this reciprocal way before. I’m hooked and look forward to other such collaborations.”

Garnett thanked the editor of The Light Ekphrastic and Isabelle Laureta for the experience.

New WEBSITE Dedicated to the Work of A. Garnett Weiss Launched

Although information on A. Garnett Weiss is available from www.jcsulzenko.com, an independent Web presence has now been established.

“Since Garnett’s work is receiving attention and being published in literary journals and on-line, it seemed a good moment to create a site dedicated to Weiss’s poetry. ” Go to  http://www.agarnettweiss.com to access the site, which will be updated on a regular basis.

“Vallum: Contemporary Poetry” Publishes “Hesitation Marks” by A. Garnett Weiss

“Vallum” devotes its new issue to the theme of speed and travel and features poetry from Gary Barwin, Evelyn Lau, Jacob Scheier, Karen Solie, and Jan Zwicky among others.

“Hesitation marks,” a cento  by A. Garnett Weiss which pays homage to Robin Robertson’s poems, appears in the issue.

“It’s an honour to have Garnett’s work included in this fine magazine,” JC noted after attending the launch at the Supermarket in Toronto’s Kensington Market on September 29, 2014.

Here’s a link to the website where the magazine is available as a digital subscription: http://www.vallummag.com

 

 

Cento by A. Garnett Weiss featured by Silver Birch Press

Silver Birch Press has honoured Garnett Weiss by publishing “Had a window” on September 4 in its series of found, free verse poems, based on an interview with a celebrity.

The source from which Weiss extracted words and phrases for the four-stanza piece was Richard Ouzounian’s “The Big Interview: Ryan Reynolds,” which appeared in the Toronto Star on August 23, 2014.

As Weiss explains, “I read the source material, extract phrases or words of interest, then live with them until a sequence emerges and then the poem clicks. I am delighted that “Had a window” has gained a place in the series which this imaginative press is posting through the whole month of September.

Here’s the link to the poem and the series: http://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com

 

Silver Birch Press Blog features “In the third person”

Silver Birch Press’s focus in August is on self-portrature.  A. Garnett Weiss’s “In the third person” appears on August 9 at: http://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/in-the-third-person-poem-by-a-garnett-weiss-self-portrait-poetry-series/

“It’s grand that Silver Birch Press published this piece, which uses the syllable count and form of the tanka, ” Garnett Weiss notes.  “The poem examines how the brain is central to our individual human-ness and what vulnerability in the brain brings home to a person.

“The Editor chose an arresting image that complements the poem so well,” Weiss added. Artist Sandra Silberzweig created “The Truth is Reflected.” “Based on this experience, I wish I could involve Silberzweig in creating visuals that would complement my whole poetry collection. ”

The Silver Birch Press series feature two poets/poems per day by contributors from Canada, Australia, Austria, Colombia, India, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

 

JC Sulzenko, Writing as A. Garnett Weiss, Receives First Prize in The Saving Bannister Contest

Judge Gregory Betts awarded prizes to three of JC’s poems in this Contest sponsored by the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association. “I am honoured and delighted that my centos enjoy such prominence in The Saving Bannister Anthology which the CAA launched over Thanksgiving weekend,” JC said. “I thank Gregory Betts for giving “Nothing is eternal. Not even the trees” First Prize and Honourable Mentions to “Against a guttering candle, written dreams” and “psyche.”

In his remarks that preface this year’s anthology, here is what Professor Betts said about the prize-winning poem:
“The winner is a cento. Now the cento is an ancient form, most famously used by the early Christians to produce versions of epic Greek poetry that didn’t contradict the tenets of their faith. The cento is a form that allows writers to look back on previous writing they admire and highlight precisely what they liked about their predecessors. “Nothing is eternal. Not even the trees” uses the cento in a remarkable way, turning back to Canadian lyric poetry of old and discovering a unified voice across the work of nine different mid-century Canadian poets. I don’t know if you know about Canadian poets, but they are a famously fractious bunch. They tend to disagree on weather that is good. This poem captures a shared note and tone of yearning for greater unity: form and content married in the uncovering of something new. It would take an essayist half a book to describe what this poem instantly captures in a handful of lines.”

JC approaches centos as though they were jigsaw puzzles. Lines written by poets from the last century and this one which speak to her in some way provide rich material from which JC crafts her own piece. “I am so encouraged by the response to these poems that I am now working toward a full collection of centos.”

JC uses the pseudonym A. Garnett Weiss when she writes poetry for adult readers. “Because so much of my published prose and poetry reach out to young people and families, I took on the pseudonym to distinguish what I write for a more general audience. Weiss already has been published in the Maple Tree Literary Supplement, for example.”

For more information on The Saving Bannister Anthology, please go to:http://canauthorsniagara.org/poetry-contest/. Copies of the anthology are avialable from The Canadian Authors Association Niagara Branch c/o 70 Champlain Avenue, Welland ON L3C 2L7 at $15 per copy, plus $3 for shipping/handling.