Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I GIVE YOU BACK


1. What if I give you back, this land, this heart
this land of sirens, land of gunshots
the adrenaline cocktail that nourishes us.
What if I give you back this addiction to fear,
to death, to Fox News, because for you,
there is no other reality, other than fear itself.

What if the siren was an opera singer
stuck on the high notes of torture
a woman screaming in a dark alley
and yet you did nothing, immobile
and waterboard tears followed you in sleep.

I have heard gunshots late at night
waiting for a rain of bullets falling to earth
to water the gardens, the cemeteries.
I have learned friendly fire, they call it
fire, friendly, fire, fire away.
And what about collateral damage?
Dead is dead is dead is dead.

2. We are haunted by the acrid odor
of woodsmoke and petrochemical chasers.
We call it metaphor, call it simile.
Is it all good for our writing, no?
We make a cocktail for the guerilla & the soldier.
They are both one thing, caught in the cogs
of country and religion and idealism.

I have stood deep in the jungles of enemy territory.
I have stood on both sides of the equation.
Terror, night terrors followed me, they followed,
keeping me close as a shadow, as close as fear.
Terrior. How land shapes us.

There are things I tell no one:
At Lake Atitlán, boys melted into the selva
as we visited the islands of the saints
and he bought me that purple dress of sorrow,
of forgiveness, & a lapis heart made of sky & bone.
Sky & bone & blood & bone.

And in the Petén Jungle we learned the difference
between Uzis & AK-47s. What distant country?
I didn't want to know the difference between weapons,
but it was a matter of life & death. Of survival.

Once I was naive, but the shape of a man's
preferred weapon, & alliances made
in Israel & the USSR defined us as friend or foe.
I hardly knew what Communism was
but in Peru, the Puku Pukara followed us
wherever we went, hammer & sickle
stenciled on sacred stones, in black & red,
and in the act of running from danger,
we ran ever toward trouble.

We were dream swimmers adrift
on a political crest & trough,
the tide carrying us to distant shores
along with the rise and fall of nations,
the fire licking the sun on the intihuacana
licking it into the purity of an ideal.

10/29/2014

My Grandmother's Brooch


My grandmother's brooch,
a thorny 10-pointed bronze star,
alternating with ten 3-leaf clovers,
leads the eye to six small circles
and six black enamel petals,
leading the eye
to a small diamond, or a rhinestone.


DARK BROOCH SPEAKS:

Once I was a bit of dark sparkle holding wealthy widow veils, to a midnight hat. I was cheap costume jewelry, of no particular origin, with the acrid odor of merry go rounds. A thorny bronze star, lances, and clovers, flanked by small circles and six black enamel petals, leading the eye to a small rhinestone, or perhaps a diamond, it was that small. Then Mrs. Rixford gave me away to the maid who came on Thursdays to mend the clothing, and make Irish lace. But my eager arms snagged the silk blouses, so I was banished to the lapel of her black gaberdine coat, though I was no larger than a quarter. It was like a fishing expedition, who's scarf, whose hair, I could snag. I wanted to travel the world, perhaps get lost on a city street, or a park bench, and travel from woman to woman, but the clasp on a swivel bar, was well made. So my grandmother stuck me in a bureau drawer, and raised her kids, they came in a steady stream until there were eight of them, no place to wear me, except the time her second-born son died of a ruptured appendix at 17, and then she placed me in another drawer, as she grew older and changed houses, buried her husband, where I slept fitfully for decades amid bright cloisonne, crystal and jet beads, until the first grandchild stumbled upon me during a bout of dress-up. I loved hearing taffeta and velvet on watered silk, that sharp sound that contained so much anticipation. The grandmother who had forgotten all about me, but took me with her when she moved, said, you can have it, and the girl, kept it with her always, and wore it on the black sweater with a beaded collar, where it was a lodestone, a black star leading her home to the memory of her grandmother. Today is the 30th anniversary of the day her grandmother died. And still she remembers. She remembers.

10/28/2014
rev 11/12/2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

No Egrets, drawing (art) 2014


No egrets. No yeller feet either. It's a drawing from a photo I chose in Prathro Serrano's class at the CPITS retreat last weekend. I didn't write the poem. Didn't have the heart to add words to my drawing. He's backwards, in that if I was drawing fro real life, I'd choose a bird facing the other way. It's a handed thing. What feels right. So I was out of my comfort zone drawing him to the left. I suppose I could've transposed him. I've a mind like that. The walleyed ability to see two different directions at once. He had black legs and feet. I love the silly yellow feet of our native snowy egrets—they use them as bright decoys to shuffle out small fish resting in the shallows. We used to call them cattle egrets as they'd hitch rides on the backs of cows in pasture. I remember being so bored watching them at Audubon Canyon Ranch—everybody being all hush-hush and whispery like we were in church watching birds preening and flapping their wings in the treetops—but I am glad now for the experience. My grandmother had a hat decorated with egret plumage that she wore to church on Sundays. Back in the 1970s, I used to work for Alice Kent at Western Star Press, selling glossy prints of egrets to raise money for the Audubon Canyon Ranch, and tarot cards for the Aquarian Age. Funny, when I see them now, I am in a church of sorts.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Spent the day shuffling paper


Spent the day shuffling paper, and rearranging books, scanning notes and bits and dross. Shepherded large piles (including laundry) here & there & back again—including a cool article from Archaeology that someone had sent: Sacred Landscape of Ancient Ireland—on books, as in the ancient Irish mss, that I'm sorry to say, sat unread since 2011. Making a pile of orphaned work that needs to be typed, I found an email from a friend who wants to publish my book....I'd totally forgotten about it. In arrears, I am. Am actually nauseous from working nonstop. Didn't get to any of my pending POL tasks, but it's all related. Now if only I could find my old mss clip binder with all my poems in it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Cave Art


After viewing the cave paintings of Altamira, Pablo Picasso said "after Altamira, all is decadence."

Enamored by  the cave paintings of Altamira and Lascaux, I used to collect photos of cave art—I couldn't get enough of them. Usually they were poor, grainy, or worse, in black and white on newsprint.

Now we can zoom in and visit detailed images via the internet. And now there are more sites added to the list....I loved the photos of penguins in the walls at the Chauvet, France site—discovered in 1994. I'm still waiting to see a photo of the horses panel.

Celia Woloch and I once traveled the long backcountry canyons of Utah to see spectacular wall art there, petroglyphs—and also Kokopele, the water sprinkler at Los Alamos, New Mexico.

And Mouse's Tank, a winding canyon in The Valley of Fire in Nevada is a virtual garden of petroglyphs leading to a rare natural cistern in a land of no water.

I never knew about Magura Cave, Bulgaria. It even has a a solar calendar. Or the Cueva de las Manos in Argentina—a forest of left hand stencils done in the same style as Kakadu, in North Oz. Or Laas Geel, in Somalia, depicting a once lush North African landscape.

And now, the hand stencils of Sulawesi, Indonesia joins the Paleo-art hit parade.

I use Paleolithic hand stencils as an intro to poetry when I teach kids. Those stenciled hands, the first "I Am" ever written. A petroglyph of a swirled hand was once the logo for California Poets in the schools, an organization I work for, but the poets of color felt it was too negative, and now Peets coffee cups sport it.

What was the sidestory in The English Patient? The Cave of Swimmers in what is now desert? It still haunts me. All that memory of water, red deer, aurochs, mammoths, painted and written in stone. A decadent testimony on the cave walls, the megafauna that met their demise, were also immortalized by the hands of those first cave painters.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Possessed iPhone


Chris's iPhone and my cellphone are having a little tête-à-tête, a long-distance affair. It called my cellphone at least 6 times the other night—all night long. I'd no sooner get to sleep when it would ring its siren call—Mná na hÉireann—Lament of the Women of Ireland. A haunting melody.

I'd answer—no one there. We're deep in the Sonoma County hills and have poor cell reception in the canyon, so I can only send her very disturbed iPhone some random texts. Clearly, it's lonely. It called me right back within the hour and even left a few blank verse messages. Was it sexting
 me?

I was so tired from lack of sleep. Neil too. I thought about killing my phone but I needed it for the alarm function to wake up early in the morning for our poetry workshops. I finally put it on vibrate under my pillow. I had such strange dreams of earthquakes and horses running on paved roads.

So in desperation, I took my phone for a walk. Under the waning moon, I hiked to a ridgetop to get reception, dialed Chris, and got—Mexico. Then I began to imagine all kinds of scenarios. She was mugged, kidnapped, her phone was calling me for the ransom money
, but I couldn't answer it. No one there. What then? It was relentless. Apparently my friend's iPhone was busted skinnydipping without a wetsuit in the Sea of Cortez, and now it has the hots for my prime numbered dumbphone.

It's a real long distance affair (no matter that she and the iPhone are back in Vegas, baby. A case of extreme butt-dialing. Clearly, rebooting's not working for her. 

I finally had to block her number. I shudder to think what my phone bill will be. I've pay as you go plan. Now it's pay as you went. I will contact my phone carrier and see if we can stop the random charges, Nothing like a possessed, lonely smartphone and it's nearly Halloween. Somewhere in all of this is a story buried in a phone graveyard in another country.

A few nights later:

It's 3 AM. HI! I'm awake now thankyouverymuch!

Her iPhone must really be in love. It called my cellphone 16 times so, far, and keeps leaving blank little ditties in my message box. Is there any way she can delete my number (provided that she can restore her iPhone software), as a workaround? 


Unfortunately blocking her number didn't work, the iPhone can still call me. My cellphone doesn't ring. I disabled it. It vibrates and shimmies whenever the iPhone has left a message, though. Voicemail dutifully picks up every call and records nothing—no one is ever there, of course. Merely blank verse. Meanwhile, after every voicemail, the phone buzzes and spins like a sonic hedgehog with itchy 'roids. Torrid little thing.

So I pulled out the battery and SIM card—which doesn't fix the problem, Just lets me sleep. Unfortunately I had just put in $100 so now the iPhone's having a rare old time partying with my available minutes! Sort of like an open cocaine bar at a proctologist's convention. This could go on for a while. AUGH!

8     8     8     8

Chris writes:
To all my Facebook friends: my iPhone got wet and became a psycho schizo thing from hell. It has been dialing people on my list and leaving messages from Mexico. If this happens to you and there is a cost, I will be happy to reimburse you. I have tried turning it off and doing a restore but so far nada. Otherwise, things are great! Thanks for all the birthday wishes!

8     8     8     8

Sorry,
You are not the only one. It's off and unplugged and I'll be getting a new iPhone after wishing  this one a good long rest in the looney bin. I'll send you a check for any minutes that my iPhone has been gallivanting with yours. Just let me know how much. If it's any consolation, it kept me awake buzzing too, so finally unplugged. Tori got a call at 2 am.  Thank you Mexico!

8     8     8     8

I texted Chris suggesting that she delete my number. But she can't reboot the iPhone. In desperation, I dismantled my cellphone, removing battery & SIM (stomping on it, was not a productive option). A whole lotta good that'll do. It has my number. I'm sure it's still calling my voicemail. Meanwhile, that leaves me equally cellphoneless in Gaza. So don't call me, already. OK? I'm not answering da phone. OK?

8     8     8     8

Chris writes:
And the good news is: "ding dong the old iPhone is dead and gone." Stumped all the folks at Apple with its mad antics. Better news is that I only paid $39. for a new iPhone 5, with a recycle trade in allowance. If you consider that the old iPhone was free 2 years ago, I think I'm waay ahead. Anybody who incurred charges on their phones from my wacked out old one, just let me know and I'll cover the costs.

8     8     8     8

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bringing Poetry into Schools

For 50 years, bringing poetry into schools   BY KATIE WATTS

PETALUMA CORRESPONDENT

October 10, 2014, 2:11PM 

Maureen Hurley is a teacher poet with California Poets in the Schools, a collective of professional poets who bring literary craft into classrooms. This weekend they celebrated the group’s 50th anniversary with a conference at IONS retreat center in Petaluma, but before it began, Hurley took time to introduce the group and explain why and how they take poetry into classrooms.

What is the value of poetry?

Poetry allows us to examine our emotions and contemplate our thoughts. Doctor poet William Carlos Williams wrote, “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

Wordsworth wrote, “Poetry is human emotion recollected in tranquility.” Not that there’s much by way of tranquility to be had during this day and age. In the process of recollection, poetry gives shape and form and meaning to those constantly chattering voices inside our heads, and renders them into an art form.

What can poetry accomplish that prose cannot?

Prose is to poetry as math is to music. You need both, but prose is analytical, expository and tends toward the utilitarian. Poetry is like dancing with words.

Poetry gives shape to our innermost feelings and presents them in a tangible art form that others can enjoy and get the Aha! epiphany. The ancient Greeks dubbed poetry the mother of all arts.

How does the Poets in the School program capture and hold a child’s interest?

Poets create a personalized, standards-based grade level curriculum and infuse it with magic and mystery, often marrying theatre, music and visual arts with the literary arts.

Through the immediacy and approachability of our lesson plans, we offer poems from the great body of literature, as well as peer student poems as models. It’s a mirroring process. We write our poems based on other poems.

Imagine being a student cut off from writing about your feelings and thoughts. With the current state curriculum standards, most student writing is expository, or fill in the dots, and there’s no room for creative self-expression.

Then imagine these wild poets who come along, take language, damsel it up and shake it all about. Suddenly that stuffy poetry is equal parts theater and soap-box pulpit, coupled with innermost feelings fueled by wild imagination. Suddenly it’s fun.

Most kids discover that writing their own poetry is liberating, especially those who traditionally don’t do well in school, or have trouble accessing the language arts curriculum.

Because there’s no right or wrong way to write poetry, it’s a place they can excel. Then, their poems are published in a school handout or a book, and suddenly poetry matters.

Why do you do this?

As a poet, I’m a role model. I can reach those kids who traditionally fall through the cracks and show them how they can access their minds. Poetry creates a powerful tool for change and self actualization.

A former student from Mark West School, who didn’t think poetry was important, called me up at midnight to read me a poem he had just written out of the blue.

If the program isn’t at my child’s school, how can I help bring it there?

The best way to get poetry into the schools is through a parent volunteer, the PTA or a teacher. There are numerous school and community funding sources that can be used to fund a poet’s residency. We are trained to work with teachers to locate and develop funding sources.

Contact Sonoma-Napa Area Coordinator Meg Hamill at megmariehamill@gmail.com, (415) 221-4201 or go to cpits.org.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

3 POEMS draft

draft

She said, become the antelope
In the first days, in the very first days,
Purple and magenta were one thing.
Purple and animals were one thing 
but the antelope were strange people.
The young men, they who first saw the antelope, 
they fell in love, 
they fell from a great height.
They fell from grace 
and sanity fled on spindly legs,
Antelope, part wind, part bird,
They raced across the plains
I left I felt my face become long 
with shadows and lightning, 
the wind washing my body
and the birds, they sang of distant places.
They called to me, a siren call, 
irresistible magic.
It was the best of times
It was the worst of times
It was a time of wind and sorrow, 
and madness was a flower 
on the plains of forgetfulness.

10/11/14
Prathro's workshop
CPITS





The egret lifts its fans 
nuptial plumes, 
feathers of snow 
among the toyon berries, 
white to red, sine curve of neck, 
impossible doubled back on time, 
an eye of paleness, 
tender leaves 
inspired
a beak inside the sun of fire.


10/11/14
Prathro's workshop
CPITS

I should be going to workshops
I should be taking photos
But I'm so very tired of people, 
of being on, I was stepping in 
and out of people's lives and rooms.
It's Sunday morning, 
is the freeway never quiet?
I miss the days of stillness and solitude, 
where the mechanical world 
wasn't ever present.
Generations have grown up 
with this industrial noise of progress.

10/11/14
Prathro's workshop
CPITS


FOUND POEMS

Found Poems

Spirit
and the majesty of an idea
being equal and entitled
shines through
the latter is the impact of segregation
It struggles to make an intellectual adjustment
greater will be the impact to this country's honor
to dissolve the political bands
to assume the powers of the earth, 
separate and equal
The laws of nature
entitled them to the opinions
which impel these truths.

Arlen's workshop



That all are endowed 
with unalienable rights 
life liberty and the pursuit of happiness
It becomes distractive to these ends
To alter or abolish the foundation. 
Such form, most likely
should not be changed for light 
it causes sufferable forms 
of evidence, and evinces a design 
of patient sufferance 
which constrains them to the end.

10/11/14
so much word soup, legal language didn't quite float my boat, but it was fun coloring out the words we didn't want to keep.

Friday, October 10, 2014

SUDDEN OAK DEATH



SUDDEN OAK DEATH

Tussock moths teased the oak leaves.
He said why didn't you wake me?
I said: am I your timepiece?
I am most at home among the ridgetops.
I am more myself there than among the folds of earth.
Her shoes clattered on the road like a herd of goats.
Flies practiced vertical ascent in late afternoon.
Where does the self end and the horizon begin?
My mother said babies were more interesting than cats.
I hugged Blackie to me as if he were my only comfort.
I hid her craziness from the others.
The cancer, she said, it came back.
I didn't hear her and said something else.
I didn't see the truth in front of me.
She said You were made at sunset, 
on top of the mountain.
It was a wedding of light and sky.
The following Wednesday, her heart faltered.
My truck gears ground like millstones 
as I drove up the dirt road. 
Dust storms chasing me down.
I fought the urge to rewind time.
At the memorial, I remember what she said, 
that her eyes were to go to Stevie Wonder
and her ashes to the outgoing tide at sunset.
I left that box in the closet for 20 years
just like the way she had left me alone
so many time before. This crazy mother.
How was I supposed to deliver her eyes?
The horses of memory lipped at the straw,
it was a season of extreme drought, like now.
No time for more tears, I said.
Moth wings whispering in the oaks.
Sometimes the phone rings, no one there.
The clock is still set on Mountain Time.
What was the name of that song?
You are the Sunshine of my Life?
Plenty of time now for rest, someone said.
The darkness begins, it begins on the edges 
of sleep. The oaks facing their own death
their sap weeping red tears into the earth.
The moths holding vigil.

Jack Grapes Workshop, CPITS draft

DRAFT

Jack Grapes workshop 2014
Writing is about improv and subtext
inspiration will kill you every time if you don't have a craft
talent is your biggest enemy.
Transformation line has it has an I am in it
Birthday cake
Horizontal message
Vertical message
Image//movements
Bookends, action, dialogue seven elements behind each idea

Think of your poem as a set with props with mad characters
the set dressing, the costuming, the thoughts and feelings exposed
Transformation line is a personal statement.

The objective to the super objective the aha moment that's what you're looking for
The props versus being creative versus teaching the fundamental process.
Courage and freedom to make mistakes don't use gimmicks line method writing writing is the inverted pyramid one transformation line to image/moment

Paul Elouard said the difference between pros and the poem is the line it's all about the dual meaning at least in French.
Voice rhythms of your authentic voice shape shapes your poetry and your prose.
The methodology that opens you up to the creative process
Sometimes it it can be crap
The good is the enemy of the best trust your process get the accidents of genius get the authentic voice don't dumb your poem down

Transformative line the body, creative pros, hands, heart, not brain – massage it
Word massage one right about birthday cake to have a horizontal and vertical structure
When my brother walked in I was hiding the birthday cake the transformation get rid of the birthday cake I was hiding
Get lost I got lost I got lost on route to Petaluma which is juiciest
If you think talent is your enemy then is story your nemesis?
Put down the ducky to play the saxophone

Massage your transformation transformation is the answer
What is the story of my life
What is the truth of who I am
You have to be lost in the middle of your life.

Amazing grace
I got lost, I lost my wife I lost my way
Repeating that transformation
The horizontal versus vertical the direct object

I got lost, I lost myself, I lost my way repeat that transformation
Horizontal horizontal versus vertical
Not pyramid death
I got lost, I was hiding, I lost my wife
I'm unattractive
I'm ugly
I'm not a good person

I'm a bad boy my mother locked me in the closet, I no longer an adult I can't shake it that insecure vulnerable objective manipulative manipulative life your voice has to go deeper that's when people will listen that deep still vulnerable vulnerable page turner deep voice the personal tone of voice

The objective is to manipulate your voice in order to go deeper

One head voice that's analytical to report your voice those are facts exposition three deeper voice your mouth your gut your chakra

Get your voice deep that's when people will listen
Deep, still, vulnerable, the page turner, the deep voice, the personal
Tone of voice hooks you into a piece of writing. pay attention
Pay attention
Put down the ducky one I don't feel like try I don't feel

I am always on the lookout for package
Don't miss the line
I'm always on versus look out massage it
Transformation I am always…
I am always late… For stories or process

This process allows you to write out of the drop of a hat. It's okay to be crap. Get rid of your dependency on inspiration. You gotta put down the ducky.
Transition is a bridge versus transformation don't think – see! Please please whatever you do don't think
It ruins poetry.
Image, moment
See is one of the senses to write down what you see image image image three what are we doing with our thinking caps open the floodgates
Write without thinking something will come it always comes

To please others opening to vulnerability don't think, see we're trying for work we're frying bigger fish here
Write from the other side of the same coin
Not opposite
I always take I never give duality stereoscopic view, what's the story of my life
Think of this physiological accuracy the mechanical formula the image and moment
If your mechanics aren't down, your process won't hook work.
Mechanics practice the physics of writing
Image moments is like a cinematic affect the reader sees it and makes it vivid

The idea of a movie versus book which is better is God God? Beckett says I can spell anything less than a minute right that short span of a few seconds between two bookends there's the poem the two slices of bread or Stones in a sandwich one bookend to moment one again bookend action or dialogue doesn't last longer than two seconds nothing can happen between bookends nothing happens between bookends the moment the one to see not even the image the moment the event the story to

Brushing your teeth is an event not an action nor is it a dialogue

Telescoping down the action. Tara what will do rat frankly my dear I don't give a damn major stops stops Casablanca image moments in the film how do we replicate that the cell is seven elements we need to have before those bookends

Visual
One set where are you in the palm? To the set dressing the furniture the character the setting the scene the objects these are permanent items three your props small objects no bigger than the palm of your hand not important to the story a cigarette, a pencil grasses if I'm wearing it then it's costume for mood for the five senses taste, smell, feel something with sound use lighting see used minister versus set directly addressing inanimate go through paperwork numbers one through four again as soon as we do did a person creates a sex soon as we add a person creates a second tap five develop your characters six costume seven commentary backstory exposition thoughts and feelings are backstory
Bologna sandwich bread seven pieces of filling bread bookends shape of poem
This process slows time down
Filmic writing
You were wonders how to respond it's not real time it's his psychological time in the moment
How many sentences you need as much as you want
Show – don't tell Scarlett what would I do show the reader, don't tell Brett frankly my dear I don't give a damn
What most writers are guilty of is telling versus showing. Line
I can't tell you how long to suspend a moment
I can't tell you the order of the elements
You have to feel the rhythm and the pace of the peace each one is worth a certain value
What do you use to stretch your psychological time Jack says words suspended time 100 years of solitude to the white hotel DH Lawrence 400 pages of images and moments the closure only happens at the end
Image expand that image and the moments line number of words
Movie cuts not 24 frames, but 12 you have the subliminal moment which is about a second then two seconds the murder weapon then he lifted the gun and pointed it then you have a lot of action shot
Moment
You want to freeze time the concrete and technical
The golf swing, the boxing, the footwork that for
Writing is specific
We do it into these are our tools art is in the making
The character is not just a character it's a physical attribute character use physical detail simple declarative statements
Use the inverted pyramid write the poem backwards right not conventionally right disconnected image, dialogue trance formation line


I am most at home among the riches I am myself among the hills.
Her shoes clattered on the pavements I heard of ponies or goat hooves
Her shoes clattered on the road
like a herd of goats
the flies practiced vertical ascent in late afternoon
why should I heal on someone else's time?
Where does the self and in the horror horizon begin?
Why is it that we don't that we want to bring order to chaos?

Before she died
My mother said babies are more interesting than cats.
When I hugged Blackie grabbing my small comfort.
The cancer, she said, it came back.
But I didn't hear her and said angry things.
The following Wednesday her heart failed her. .
The truik years growing like small stones
—Maureen Hurley

Inverted pyramid transformation image dialog
Metaphor question dialogue
Image then story
Action exposition how to connect them together without changing it bring it all together


I forgot the urge to rewind time
I wanted to rewind time
I remember what she said, her eyes left to Stevie Wonder. Her ashes to the tide.
I left the box in the closet just like the way she had left me so many times before.

The horses listlessly lips at the hay
It was a season of continuous drought.
No time for tears
The phone rings in an empty room
The whispering of angel wings in the distance, plenty of time for rest
—Maureen Hurley


Don't allow the linear action for the first quarter of the page bring it home
Taking random randomness into meaning. Don't connect the first 6 to 7 lines let them stay there is a that gives the date pan to me like quality to the end of it. The image the moment hooks us into thereaders Louis Simpson don't write well, write truth.
Random into focused
It's not a gimmick it's a way of thinking about your thinking process
Process focus
Out of the unknown not your talent but accidents of your genius
Dawn, dusk, what does it matter, it's winter, the trees bear, the sun edging on the horizon
The roseate it done
Someone sandals
What reread
What we know to be the salmon and the cerulean ripples of Naples yellow, the sky and brooding clouds, the river on fire.

Oct 10, 2014, IONS Lots of mistakes, I was writing fast, then I dictated it. Lots more mistakes, and embedded poems which I need to lift out. And perhaps paraphrase all this, as a lot of it didn't make sense.

Freewrite on my mother's death

DRAFT

I am most at home among the ridges
I am myself among the hills.

Her shoes clattered on the pavements
I heard ponies or goat hooves
Her shoes clattered on the road
like a herd of goats.

The flies practiced vertical ascent in late afternoon
Why should I heal on someone else's time?
Where does the self and in the horror horizon begin?
Why is it that we don't that we want to bring order to chaos?

Before she died
my mother said babies
are more interesting than cats.
When I hugged Blackie
grabbing my small comfort.

The cancer, she said, it came back.
But I didn't hear her and said angry things.
The following Wednesday her heart failed her.
The dark years growing like small stones.

I fought the urge to rewind time
I wanted to rewind time
I remember what she said,
her eyes left to Stevie Wonder.
Her ashes to the tide.
I left the box in the closet
just like the way she had left me
so many times before.

The horses listlessly lipped at the hay
It was a season of continuous drought.
No time for tears.

The phone rings in an empty room.
The whispering of angel wings in the distance,
says plenty of time for rest


From  Jack Grapes' workshop

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Questions for the Medievalists


I have some questions for the Medievalists: It took one guy to carve those wooden ceiling bosses and two guys to paint them? Sounds like the beginning of a Medieval lightbulb joke. Shouldn't be the other way round—surely it took longer to carve, than to paint them. They got the easy job. Hardly any paint was used.

Did Leonardo daVinci really write backwards in his journals? (Hard to tell from photo)—I heard rumor that he did). Were mirrors offered to decode his writing? What did it really say? Was it really about his cat?

Nice manly buttocks on the carved Italian altarpiece, BTW. Could you add a close-up, for detail on the carving methodology, of course. please? 

How on earth did that old oil lamp stand up on its own spindly spider legs (or is a leg missing)—surely it was a fire hazard? Was there enough detail to see the chess game in progress on the salt cellar? What was the next move? Tristan or Isolde's? The actual salt cellar—the bowl's gone missing? Fie. I wonder if it too was as ornate? And what about the spoon? Was it a runcible spoon?

And about that roundtable of King Arthur's, very impracticable table. No one can reach the meat in the middle. Is it suspended in the air, on is it glass, where did they get sheetglass glass way back when, are there small people hiding under the tablecloth ready to serve their lordships? (But then, if they were really small people, then their arms wouldn't be long enough to reach the meat, let alone serve it.) I have so many questions. Signed, The Serving Wench.
And I'm only on my first cupp tae. And what about the cafe?

AIRHEAD


He set his sights too high
and became a citizen of the air.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Photographing the Eclipse (not)


Well, my camera decided that when it's auto-focusing, it needs to wander all over the sky like a roving eye. A camera equivalent of Damn You AutoCorect moment.  No way to stop its inexorable grinding. Like teeth. Mine. The moon swinging on a gravity-defying pendulum, the camera lens refocusing and grunting its way through fresh sets of  batteries. I gave up. So did all my batteries.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Value of Poetry: Pure Gold


After I sent out a zany email to the Press Democrat to cover our upcoming California Poets in the Schools symposium, Voices of Gold, they decided to write a little feature on me instead. Oops. I became the news. Last time the PD did a story on me, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. The next time I had something big and newsworthy, 9/11 happened—just as I was going out the door to the Marin Poetry Center reading, and the coffee table book I was promoting, Writing the Rails—Best Loved Train Stories (Black Dog & Leventhal), was remaindered before it was released. Third time's a charm? These are my soft notes. It will be interesting to see how it will be shaped. It has a Sonoma County slant as those are the newspaper demographics. It took me two days to write this—like a cat writing my way out of a paper bag. Of course, now that I've sent it in (too late now), I see all kinds of rough segues, errors, and bits in need of revision. It is what it is...


What is the value of poetry?

The doctor poet-William Carlos Williams wrote: 'It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” Poetry allows us to examine our emotions and and contemplate our thoughts. Wordsworth scribed: “Poetry is human emotion recollected in tranquillity.” Not that there’s much by way of tranquillity to be had during this day and age. In the process of recollection, poetry gives shape and form and meaning to those constantly chattering voices inside our heads, and renders them into an art form.

What can poetry accomplish that prose cannot?

Prose is to poetry as math is to music—you need both—but prose is analytical, expository, and tends toward the utilitarian. Poetry is like dancing with words. Poetry gives shape to our innermost feelings, and presents them in a tangible art form that others can enjoy, and get the Aha! epiphany. The ancient Greeks dubbed poetry as the mother of all arts. During a poetry lesson on “If…,” one of my kindergarten students at San Miguel School stood up and proclaimed: “If I were king of the universe, I’d dance for a living.” He got the Aha! moment.

Ironically I hated the study of poetry when I was young, because I didn't get it. I have dyslexia—which was part of the problem. But I was looking at form versus content, or meaning. As a writer, I’m not a big fan of metered verse, though we tend to speak in iambic stress. It took me a long time to make that full circle—which is ironic in that I coach high school students to recite poetry for the Poetry Out Loud competition.

CPITS poets create a personalized a standards-based grade level curriculum (California history, the ancient world, water cycles, or health ed.,) and infuse it with magic and mystery, often marrying theatre, music and visual arts with the literary arts.

How does the CPITS program capture—and hold—a child’s interest?

Through the immediacy and approachability of our CPTS poetry lesson plans, we offer poems from the great body of literature, as well as peer student poems, as models. It’s a mirroring process. We write our own poems based on other poems. 

Imagine being a student cut off from writing about your feeling and thoughts. With the current state curriculum standards, most student writing is expository, or fill in the dots, and there’s no room for creative self-expression. Then imagine these wild poets who come along, they take language, they damsel it up and shake it all about. Suddenly that stuffy poetry is equal parts theater and soap-box pulpit, coupled with innermost feelings fueled by wild imagination—and suddenly it’s all fun.

Most kids discover that writing their own poetry is liberating—especially those kids who traditionally don’t do well in school, or have trouble accessing the language arts curriculum. Because there’s no right or wrong way to write poetry, it’s a place where they can excel. Then, their poems are published in a school handout or a book—and suddenly poetry matters.

Suddenly you’ve kids with a vested interest in getting every word right, and every simile and comma in its exact right place. It happens like that. I was teaching in a tough East Oakland inner-city school where a fifth grader, Franklin, my star poet, was expelled. As he cleared out his desk, he eavesdropped in on the poetry lesson. He put his stuff down, grabbed some paper out of the trash, and madly wrote an amazing stream of consciousness poem that was later published in our 2012 CPITS anthology, Turning into Stars.

I wish there was a CPITS residency offered when I was in school. Since CPITS was founded in 1964, it could’ve been technically possible. It would’ve changed my entire relationship with school and with poetry. About the time I began to write poetry, I was also diagnosed with dyslexia. There’s a reason why I had so much trouble in school, and why did I have to wait until I was 30 to discover that I loved to write?

When traditional education failed, poetry taught me to think, and I went on to write essays and arts grants—I had seven California Arts Council artist-in-residency grant at Mark West School in Santa Rosa. And I became a feature writer for the Sonoma County Stump as well as for the West Sonoma County Paper (now the North Bay Bohemian.) None of it would’ve happened if I hadn’t discovered poetry.  

The reason why I’m in the classroom, is that, as a poet, I’m a role model. I can reach those kids who traditionally fall through the cracks, and show them how they can access their minds. Poetry creates a powerful tool for change and self actualization. A former student from Mark West School, who didn’t think poetry was important, called me up at midnight to read me a poem he’d just written out of the blue. Scott Meisner was a 21-year-old college student with a MBA who finally got the Aha! moment when he realized that poetry matters.

If the program isn’t at my child’s school, how can I help bring it there?

The best way to get poetry into the schools is usually through a parent volunteer, the PTA, or a teacher. At Alexander Valley School, a teacher, Peggy Maddock, brought poetry to the school—and now first grade teacher Shannon Hausman continues the tradition. Since 1991, I’ve taught an entire generation of Alexander Valley kids poetry.

There are numerous school and community funding sources that can be utilized to fund a CPITS residency. We are trained to work with teachers to locate and develop funding sources: including specialized school funds—from gifted and talented, youth at risk, library funds, etc; to state and local arts education resources: the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, and the California Arts Council. We’ve become gifted grantwriters in the process.

During this time of dire funding for the arts, we’ve some great breaking news: thanks to a California Arts Council /Artists in Schools grant, Sonoma County CPITS poets will offer long-term, in-depth poetry writing residencies at four schools in Sonoma County. Contact the Sonoma-Napa CPITS Area Coordinator Meg Hamill, megmariehamill@gmail.com, or the San Francisco CPITS office info@CPITS.org, (415) 221-4201, for more information.

CPITS, a collective of professional poets who bring literary craft into classrooms statewide, is one of the nation’s oldest visiting writers program—and this weekend we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary October 10-12 at IONS Earthrise Retreat on the Sono-Marin border. If you’re an artist and want to work in the schools, or you’re a teacher interested in enriching your language arts curriculum, our CPITS Symposium, Voices of Gold, is an excellent resource and training ground. We’ve ten more spaces open for day-use folks, either Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday. Two more IONS rooms just opened up if they need to stay over. The view from the ridge is breathtaking and the food is fabulous.

Our keynote will be former California Poet Laureate Al Young. On Friday, an intensive “method writing” workshop will be led by Los Angeles poet and screenwriter Jack Grapes. The symposium will also features spoken word artist Josh Healey and visiting poets from around the state who will share proven strategies to deliver hands-on and out-loud poetry in schools.

If you’d like to become involved as a teacher, poet, donor or school, please find us on the web at www.cpits.org to help build the future for young writers in California. Statewide CPITS residencies reach more than 25,000 students, and trained CPITS poets offer time-tested teaching tools to enhance literacy, and foster creative problem solving and self-expression. Poetry workshops are held at public and private schools, juvenile hall, libraries, after-school programs, hospitals, multilingual settings and other community venues.

And if you can’t come to the symposium, you might want to order our inaugural CPITS lesson plan book, “Poetry Crossing: 50 Lessons for K-12 Classrooms.” Edited by former CPITS AC, Phyllis Meshalum of Sebastopol, it’s a large format ready-to-roll writing lesson ideas for all ages.



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Two CPITS Poetry Books Hot off the Press: If the Sky Was My Heart, and Poetry Crossing: 50 + Lessons for 50 Years


IF THE SKY WAS MY HEART: SONOMA COUNTY STUDENTS WIN PUBLICATION HONORS

Sonoma County students sixth grader, Ryan Murgatroyd, 4th grader, Nicholas Voegels, and 3rd grader, Gemma Ahern, of Kenwood Elementary School; 6th grader, Eduardo Lopez, of Cali Calmécac Language Academy, in Windsor; 3rd grader, Gavin Rognlien, of Prestwood School; and the entire Fort Ross School Kindergarten-2nd grade class all have poems in the new poetry anthology, If the Sky Was My Heart, just released by California Poets in the Schools. The book features poetry by more than sixty students from around California, their poems were selected from among thousands of poems written during the past year.

Dawn After Sappho

A moment ago, gold-sandaled
dawn woke me up
with the voice of my mom.
She tells me to wake up
or the bus will leave me.
I get dressed and I put
on my golden-winged
sandals. I brush
my teeth and then
I grab my backpack
and go flying to
the bus stop.

Eduardo Lopez
Grade Six, Cali Calmécac Language Academy, 
Windsor, Sonoma County
Richard Meza, classroom teacher, 
Phyllis Meshulam, poet-teacher

If the Sky Was My Heart, edited by Blake More, also features poems by Sonoma County CPITS poets Arthur Dawson of Kenwood, Gwynn O’Gara (Sebastopol Poet Laureate), Phyllis Meshalum—both of Sebastopol; Jabez W. Churchill (Ukiah Poet Laureate), and Maureen Hurley. Other Sonoma County CPITS poets in the program include Molly Albracht-Sierra, Claire Drucker, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Jackie Hallerberg, Meg Hamill, Kyle Matthews, Blake More, and Kathleen Winters.
(The book title If the Sky Was My Heart, came from a poem by one of my 4th grade students Emily Mozzetti of Buri Buri School in South San Francisco. I also have a poem in the anthology, KINDLING).

POETRY CROSSING: 50 + LESSONS FOR 50 YEARS

Sebastopol's Phyllis Meshulam is the editor of another new CPITS book, Poetry Crossing: 50 + Lessons for 50 Years. It’s an anthology of teaching resources chock-full of 50 fabulous creative writing lesson plans, and contains a foreword by Susan Wooldridge, author of Poemcrazy. Said Phyllis: This book is filled with ready-to-go lessons for poets of all ages. It features model poems by award-winning poets and poets laureate, as well as student poems, and bilingual resources.”

Contributors with a California connection include former United States Poet Laureate Robert Hass along with Jane Hirshfield, Brenda Hillman, Ellen Bass, Juan Felipe Herrera, Al Young, Gary Snyder, Francisco Alarcón, David St. John, and other poets who have have donated their poems in order to further the mission of inspiring youth. Poetry Crossing makes tangible decades of CPITS creative writing pedagogy, aimed to stimulate the intellectual curiosity and creative problem-solving skills of today’s students.


A generic statewide press release in the works:

IF THE SKY WAS MY HEART: CALIFORNIA STUDENTS WIN PUBLICATION HONORS

California students from kindergarten to 12th grade are featured poets in the new poetry anthology, If the Sky Was My Heart, just released by California Poets in the Schools. The anthology features poetry by more than sixty students fromSan Diego to Del Norte counties—their poems were selected from among thousands of poems written during the past year.

Dawn After Sappho

A moment ago, gold-sandaled
dawn woke me up
with the voice of my mom.
She tells me to wake up
or the bus will leave me.
I get dressed and I put
on my golden-winged
sandals. I brush
my teeth and then
I grab my backpack
and go flying to
the bus stop.

Eduardo Lopez
Grade Six, Cali Calmécac Language Academy, 
Windsor, Sonoma County
Richard Meza, classroom teacher, 
Phyllis Meshulam, poet-teacher

The book title If the Sky Was My Heart, came from a poem by one of Maureen Hurley's 4th grade students Emily Mozzetti in South San Francisco.
If the Sky Was My Heart

If the sky was my heart
the birds would be my voice.
If the river could talk
it would tell me to swim
until the end of time.
If the wind was my breath
the sky would be my soul.
If our galaxy was a rollercoaster
there would be a line
running through the Milky Way.
If I was the sun
I would be the king of light.
If my heart were the world
it would be filled with love.

Emily Mozzetti
Grade Four, Buri Buri Elementary School,
South San Francisco, Sam Mateo County
Ms. Moussa, classroom teacher
Maureen Hurley, poet-teache


If the Sky Was My Heart, edited by Blake More, also features poems by CPITS poet-teachers.