Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The one-month poetry challenge that took almost three months to finish!

Done!  It's done! 

If you've been following along lately, you'll know that I gave myself a challenge in April to write one poem per day.  It was a concentrated effort in the beginning, because I had to write several poems just to catch up with the month.  I started on the sixth day of April, so I had to find six poems.  I found the six poems (or they found me), and I found all of the remaining 24.  I had a great time and forced a little discipline into my writing.

While I managed to write one poem per day (mostly), I struggled with finding the time to post them.  Today I have completed the posting of the poems.  You can visit the poetry challenge page to read 29 of my 30 poems.  When you reach the bottom of the page, you will see a link to the 30th poem, Movement, which is posted on my facebook page.  I invite you to click on the link, read the poem and add your own line.  I also encourage you to invite your friends to add a line.

Challenge over.  There, see, Despina--it wasn't so bad, after all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kay Ryan & Conrad Aiken & the Pulitzer

Yesterday, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize recipients were announced. A new poet for me to study, Kay Ryan, was awarded the prize for poetry. She's been around and writing for a while (1983), she served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2008 to 2010, but not until now in her 65th year, is she awarded an international prize. This stuff takes some time, folks! Here, for you enjoyment, is a link to her poem, A Hundred Bolts of Satin.

In 1930, Conrad Aiken won his Pulitzer for poetry. I am familiar with the work of Aiken and I am inspired by some of his work. Yesterday, a friend shared with me an interview with Aiken that was published by The Paris Review. This is a quote, which reminds me of my self-appointed poem-a-day challenge for this month. It is a reminder that the drudgery of trying to push it out every day, no matter what it is that you do, can be useful. Don't give up!

Yes. I compelled myself all through to write an exercise in verse, in a different form, every day of the year. I turned out my page every day, of some sort—I mean I didn’t give a damn about the meaning, I just wanted to master the form—all the way from free verse, Walt Whitman, to the most elaborate of villanelles and ballad forms. Very good training. I’ve always told everybody who has ever come to me that I thought that was the first thing to do. And to study all the vowel effects and all the consonant effects and the variation in vowel sounds. For example, I gave Malcolm Lowry an exercise to do at Cuernavaca, of writing ten lines of blank verse with the caesura changing one step in each line. Going forward, you see, and then reversing on itself.
How did Lowry take to these exercises
Superbly. I still have a group of them sent to me at his rented house in Cuernavaca, sent to me by hand from the bar with a request for money, and in the form of a letter—and unfortunately not used in his collected letters; very fine, and very funny. As an example of his attention to vowel sounds, one line still haunts me: “Airplane or aeroplane, or just plain plane.” Couldn’t be better.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Symmetry in a poem?

Lewis Carroll wrote a poem--a square poem. It's only a few lines and it is not remarkable as a poem, except for the way that it reads. It's written symmetrically, so that you can read it from left to right and top to bottom. Now, that is remarkable!
This is not an easy thing to duplicate. I've been working for several days on my own symmetrical poem, as part of my one-poem-a-day challenge. Perhaps you'd like to try to write one too?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 10 and I'm Struggling

Today was the final day of the 75th Masters golf tournament.

Some people, and I used to be one of them, find golf uninspiring--plain boring.  Other people, me included now, find golf amazing.  The skill, the tenacity, the mental discipline that a player must have, in order to make it to the top, well it's just unbelievable.  Certainly, that kind of discipline is beyond me at this time in my life, but it's also one of the reasons I gave myself this poem-a-day challenge.

How am I doing?  I am struggling to balance the rest of my life with the discipline of writing one poem every day, but I do find inspiration in the golfers who made it to the leader board in today's Masters game.  There was Tiger Wood who was failing yesterday.  When the game was over, this guy went back to practice his putting!  Today his discipline showed.  He finished fourth in a very close game.  There was Rory McIlroy--just a kid--who led this entire tournament for three days!  Three days!!!  Today, he did poorly from the beginning, but the kid didn't quit, and when he was interviewed he spoke with wisdom and maturity.  WTG, Rory!  Then there was this guy from South Africa, Charle Schwartzel, who was barely noticed in the first three days and he wins!  He wins with a 14 under par, which is quite amazing.

So, I look at these golfers and say to myself, keep writing.  I am writing.  Maybe by the last week of April I'll be 14 poems ahead.  Let's see.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poem number 6 on day 7: The Day Lyle Lovett Came to Town

On the last weekend of April, my husband and I head to Wilkesboro, North Carolina, for one of the most wonderful music festivals in the country, MerleFest, which honors the memory and musical accomplishments of Doc Watson’s son Merle Watson. This year, any day now, Lyle Lovett will be heading to Wilkesboro to perform at MerleFest. I wondered what it might be like, the day he comes to town. The Poem...

If you’re not familiar with his musical style, you may want to watch this video of Lyle Lovett singing, “That’s Right, You’re Not from Texas”.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April is National Poetry Month

Yes, National Poetry Month, and I'm a little late getting started, but I'm going to challenge myself to write one poem a day. Today is the sixth day of April, so I'm spending a little time catching up. I've got three to share with you so far (it's only 1:45 pm) and the other three will come later today. All three poems were inspired by photos created by the talented Greenville (SC) photographer, Ian Curcio, who spoke recently at TEDxGreenville about letting go of the desire for technical perfection in photography and just taking the photos or capturing a feeling.  This is a photo that Ian created for the rock band, A Vacant Soul.  It's hot, isn't it? (Are you smiling?)

See what you think.  I hope you'll share in the conversation.