The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘National Poetry Month

This year, I have not done right by National Poetry Month. I have not had an opportunity to feature a single poet. I’m correcting that today. I’m welcoming back Mary L. Barnard, a friend and fabulous poet. She’s been writing poetry for a long time and I’ve learned much from her. I love the commitment that she has had for many years of writing a poem during the weekend and sending it out to her community. The poem below was published in the 2012 collection, Hot Summer Nights: a Collection of Erotic Poetry & Prose.

I’m delighted to welcome back Mary L. Barnard to The Practice of Creativity.

SURE PITCH, TRUE ARC

Then, when he came to her, he was Broken Man,
told her the prophecy of the New Goddess
who foretold twelve women waiting for
a man, if he be good and constant, would sire
with them the New Disciples between moonrise
and moonset on the night of the winter solstice.

If a man be eaten by twin worms of lust and harm,
the Goddess will know and the women will turn
from the face of ill-placed trust.

The man who has spent himself on women who
cuckold him will have his powers taken away.

She, unaware of any goddess, played horseshoes
with men and learned their ways as sportsmen.
Her sure pitch, true arc admired, imitated.
It was rumored that the clink against the stake
of her bronze horseshoes resounded in mountains
beyond the pit.

She met Broken Man when relations were still
new to her.  As he told her about the New Goddess,
she mused on the sound of his voice, which entered
her ear as the sound of a bird foreign yet welcome
in her yard.

She dreamed of sitting alone in the cloud forest
of Ecuador where the club-winged manikin
ticks and tings on the bones of his wings
knocking together as bow on violin
to make a sound alluring to all females.

She mused, touched him with her finger
on a place he had hidden from everyone.  He did not
push her hand away.  The eyes that looked into his
were dark hazel, almost the same color as his own.

Then she spoke, How does one come to be so wounded?

He said Some day I will tell you how I came to be
so wounded. 
The words on his tongue tasted bitter
and sour in turns but when he kissed her the friction
of their tongues sparked an electrical charge
whose current surged deep in both their bodies.

With her he reclaimed his power – he did not know
his true power until then – and their nights
were mutual and long.  She waited, as twelve
women might, for the good and constant in him,
for the answer to her question.

The New Goddess knew how it would end.  Broken Man
caught her notice as he slipped his net of shimmering
he-promises over the horseshoe woman as she slept.

Goddess began to plan a place for him in a desert
where his life would be golden:  gold sun, red-gold sand,
solid gold money, golden reputation, horseshoes made
of gold – a metal too soft for the rigors of the stake.

Mary L. Barnard

 

Mary L. Barnard, a Chathamite forever, plans to write poems from her little acre as long as …
In May 2013 she received a Certificate in Creative Writing from Central Carolina Community College’s (CCCC) Creative Writing Program. She was part of the inaugural class.

 

Hi creative peeps,

I’m thinking of playing with a new feature called ‘Facebook Live’, in the fall. If you’ve never taken part in Facebook Live it means that at a designated time, I’d turn on my camera and I would be talking to you in real time. (kind of like Periscope)

It means that anyone could drop in and listen. Also, anyone watching can ask questions and I can answer them in real time! I think it would be a blast for us to interact. I’d probably hang out for about 30-45 minutes. I’d love to know if there is a topic about writing (e.g. author mindset, procrastination, perfectionism, etc.), or creativity that you want to know more about or want some coaching around during the FB live session. I created a poll with some suggestions, but keep in mind you can write in an answer. Or, feel free to write in your ideas in the comments below.

Ralph Earle is passionate about poetry and language. You find that out about him very soon after meeting him. His poems have won awards from the North Carolina Poetry Society, Main Street Rag Poetry Review, and The Independent, and appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

I often refer to myself as an ‘untutored and untrained’ poet which means that while I occasionally write poetry, I haven’t studied it as extensively as I have prose writing. For many years I had heard about Ralph’s reputation as a fantastic teacher. I heard he was especially great at creating an inclusive space for people who knew a little about poetry as well as folks who spent their lives working in the genre. Then several members of my writing group (also folks who consider themselves novelists and short story writers), began taking classes with Ralph. They raved about him and I could see a freshness and clarity in their fiction writing that was influenced from their poetry classes. I decided to do something about the gaps in my knowledge about poetry and took two poetry workshops with Ralph (‘Write Powerfully’ and ‘Revising Poems’). He is a fantastic teacher with a deep knowledge of poetry, language and grammar. He creates a space where students can ask questions, be curious and take risks. In them, I feel as if I can let go of the self-consciousness of “not knowing a lot about poetry” and just write. I thoroughly enjoyed his workshops, and like his other longtime students have asked him when there will be more.

ralph

Ralph’s poetry collection, The Way the Rain Works, won the 2015 Sable Books Chapbook Award, and he was a runner-up for the 2015 Randall Jarrell Award from the North Carolina Writers Network. I’m delighted to welcome him, in honor of National Poetry Month, to The Practice of Creativity.

 

Uncle Jack at 96

The night before my visit you fell
in the unfamiliar hall
in your new wife’s home. You lay in bed
in the sunlight and we talked
about the computer mouse
you were working out
for arthritic hands, how it could register
the change of a single pixel, how the patent
process dragged on. Last year
you showed me in your workshop
the template you cut from clear
plastic, and the tiny bearings.

We talked about the pleasure
my mother took in writing letters
in her years confined to a chair, and after,
I risked a kiss on your forehead
and held your hand, as token
of the long adulthood we have shouldered.

You said you had maybe one more year
of the clarity needed to engineer the mouse,
maybe two, or maybe it was gone already.
You explained how the software responds
to the movements of the physical parts,
the way a leg lifts and a foot sets down.

 

About this poem: Clearly, this is a poem inspired by the poignancy of a moment. I wanted to capture and convey a sense of this extraordinary man’s life and my love for him, by painting a portrait of this one moment that stood for the whole, with the economy of a few well-chosen images to convey his personality, interests, and achievements.

Ralph teaches evening poetry classes at Central Carolina Community College, and has also taught poetry at UNC-Chapel Hill and the ArtsCenter of Carrboro. His poems have appeared in many publications, including The Sun, Sufi Magazine, Tar River Poetry, Carolina Quarterly, Cairn, Wild Goose Poetry Review, and Redheaded Stepchild, as well as numerous anthologies.He holds a doctorate in English from UNC-Chapel Hill and does social media work for a large computer company.

He draws much of his inspiration and imagery from long walks in the woodlands of rural Chatham County, North Carolina, where he makes his home.

Find out more about Ralph here.

 

Judith Stanton is a historical romance author, a former college professor and scholar. She’s obsessed with horses and generally, the natural world. I know Judith as a teacher through the wonderful creative writing program offered through my local community college in Pittsboro, NC. Judith is also a former women’s studies professor and when we get together, we can talk for hours. I’m so delighted that as we come to the end of National Poetry Month, Judith is sharing one of her ‘deer poems’ that I’ve come to adore.

judith

 

The Three-legged Doe

After long drought
the white oak drops
three times as many acorns
as in a year of good rain.
Under its spreading limbs
the three-legged doe stops to feed,
her right front leg sheared off
halfway between her knee
and hoof—victim of a car?
a stump hole in the woods?
or the black rocks in the stream
she crosses to get to my yard?

In the pasture I can spot her
two hundred yards away
shoulder sinking every stride
her stump touches ground
or the lurch when she bolts
with the herd full speed.

At dusk I see her
flanked by last year’s twins
and this year’s lone fawn
its spots faded by November,
its coat like hers turned gray.
He rams her udder hard.
She watches for hunters
lurking in the woods.

About this poem: I write fiction, 7 novels and counting, so when the leader of our writers group pressed us to write a poem for our blog for National Poetry Month, I walked out grumbling, “I’m a novelist, Al. I don’t write poetry.” The next day I saw the injured doe for the umpteenth time grazing under the oak tree outside my office. I embarked on Deer Diaries, an odyssey into writing about the wildlife I see every day on our farm. Amazingly, in the four years I worked on this collection, the deer, birds, bees, snails, turtles, wild turkey hens who grace my life lined up every few days or weeks to show their lives to me in a new light.

Deer Diaries is now a chapbook forthcoming this year from Finishing Line Press. Meet Judith here at her new website and check out her Amazon page here.

 

 

 

I discovered writer and self-described ‘resource maven’, Erika Dreifus, about two years ago. And, I can say without question that my writing life is better because of her. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I eagerly await her postings on ‘The Practicing Writing’ blog. Erika curates advice and information about publishing and the writing life. She also rounds up opportunities for writers that charge no fees and publications/contests that pay writers. I also subscribe to her excellent monthly newsletter. Her work is generous and sustains community.

Erika is the author of Quiet Americans: Stories (Last Light Studio), which is an ALA Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding Jewish literature.

In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m delighted to welcome her to The Practice of Creativity.

 

Winter Haiku (2015)

By Erika Dreifus

I miss Boston lots
though as the snow falls and falls
I’m glad I’m not there.

About this poem: I go through phases—and I’m in one now—during which I try to write a new poem every day (or at least, every weekday). On some particularly frenetic days, I sometimes opt for haiku. Here’s a piece that I wrote during the winter of 2015, which you may remember as an especially harsh one for New Englanders. I used to be a New Englander myself, but I admit that I’m not sorry to have missed out on last winter in Massachusetts! Michele’s invitation to contribute to her blog happened to arrive on a day when my friends to the north were again posting snowscape scenes on social media. (Poor things!) Which reminded me of this haiku.

 To learn more about me/my work—and to subscribe to my free e-newsletter for writers—please visit http://ErikaDreifus.com.

Another poet and poem for National Poetry Month! I’m delighted to welcome Li Yun Alvarado back to The Practice of Creativity. Li Yun is a poet and scholar. She wrote an amazing guest post in January on ‘The Art of Low Stakes Daily Writing and How It Can Transform Your Year’. It’s a must read.

li-yun

A poet and scholar, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Madrid; Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education; The Acentos Review; and PMS Poemmemoirstory among others. In 2012, her work received an honorable mention for The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. She is currently the Senior Poetry Editor for Kweli Journal and is an alumna of VONA/Voices Writing Workshop and AROHO.

I’m honored that today she is sharing a poem with us. Her new chapbook is Words or Water from Finishing Line Press. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy and can’t wait for it to arrive.

 

His Thumb on My Belly

To the right of my belly-
button: purple-black

oval print on sun-kissed flesh.
A spirit pinching

while I sleep. Is it
him? A hint? Here,

he whispers. Singed meat.
His thumb on my

belly. Now you know.
And they (some strange,

foreign they) say there’s
comfort in the knowing.

Basements are forgotten
places where moldy lies

cling to dank walls.
On my back: the prickle

sting of inked flesh.
It knows how to burn.

Bruise. Heal. His thumb
on my belly. My aunt

lights candles, piles
pennies in corners, tells

tales of muertitos
who pinch at night. His

thumb on my belly. His
boys cloaked in black

masks. Friendship? Folly?
When they

faced him, (my thumb
on his belly), not flesh,

not lead, not prayer
could stop the blood.

 

Li Yun Alvarado is the author of Words or Water (forthcoming) and Nuyorico, CA. A poet and scholar, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Madrid; Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education; The Acentos Review; and PMS Poemmemoirstory among others. In 2012, her work received an honorable mention for The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. She is currently the Senior Poetry Editor for Kweli Journal and is an alumna of VONA/Voices Writing Workshop and AROHO. She holds a BA in Spanish and sociology from Yale University and an MA and PhD in English from Fordham University. Li Yun is a native New Yorker living in Long Beach, California who takes frequent trips to Salinas, Puerto Rico to visit la familia. You can learn more about Li Yun and her work on Facebook and at www.liyunalvarado.com

You can pre-order Words or Water here!

Affirmations-366Days#94: I practice developing strong powers of observation to support my writing.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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