Category Archives: A. Garnett Weiss

Posts specifically by or about JC’s adult writing’s pseudonym

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.

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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.”

 

 

 

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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/

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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.

 

 

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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/

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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“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

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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/

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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/

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“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/

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

 

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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?

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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