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

The day before Canada Day, Brick Book’s website features 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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New Bookends Review: The Education of Augie Merasty, A residential school memoire

Go to Bookends to read JC’s latest review: 7/10 for Mr. Merasty; 2/10 for his ‘editor,’ David Carpenter.

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“Ekphrasis at BLIZZMAX” show, co-curated by JC Sulzenko, opens July 2, 7PM

This ekphrasis show at BLIZZMAX Gallery in Prince Edward County that JC co-curated with Alice Menacer opens July 2 and runs until the 22nd. It features works of art inspired by poetry and poetry inspired by works of art.

Pairing artworks from nine local artists and poems written by nine local poets, Ekphrasis at BLIZZMAX includes sculpture, multimedia and visual art. A copy of the poem that either gave rise to each artwork or responded to a work of art will be sold with each work of art.

As a souvenir of the show, Brian Flack created and edited a chapbook which includes high quality, full-colour reproductions of each work of art and the text of each poem.

“For sale at $15, this beautiful chapbook serves as a permanent record of the unique partnerships formed by the collaboration of poets and artists for this BLIZZMAX show. I look very forward to the vernissage at 7:00 PM, Saturday July 2, 2016 at 3071 County Rd. 13,” JC notes.

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

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New Bookends Reviews: Bryson, Boyden, and Scofield

Finally returning to review some of the readings from the spring. I begin today with the posts under “Bookends” tab of three books in two reviews: See my thoughts on Bill Bryson’s “*A Short History of Everything.” I’m a huge fan of Bryson’s books, and this huge volume didn’t disappoint.

And then look at how I contrast Joseph Boyden’s book “Extraordinary Canadians Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont” with  Gregory Scofield’s “Louis: The Heretic Poems.” Both worth a read.

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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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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.

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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.

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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. )

 

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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

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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

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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

 

 

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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.

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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.”

 

 

 

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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

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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

 

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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

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