Friday, June 26, 2020

CPITS workshops, Jane Hirshfield, Dan Levinson, Jessica Wilson


“It is important that awake people be awake.” Stafford
Poem Is Small Kindnesses by Danusha Lameris
Writing Prompt:  On left side in a vertical column:  5 -10 concrete nouns.  Make them different from each other.

On the right side of the page, do the same vertical columns - 5-10 abstract nouns.  Any school subject, any emotion, ideas…Things you can’t touch.
In between each two words in both set of columns, write the word “OF”  Should give you a set  “coffee cup of science”  or switch order “science of coffee cups”
Pick one of these sets or constellations of words that excites you and begin a piece of writing.
On left side in a vertical column:  5 -10 concrete nouns.  Make them different from each other.
On the right side of the page, do the same vertical columns - 5-10 abstract nouns.  Any school subject, any emotion, ideas…Things you can’t touch.
In between each two words in both set of columns, write the word “OF”  Should give you a set  “coffee cup of science”  or switch order “science of coffee cups”
Pick one of these sets or constellations of words that excites you and begin a piece of writing.
You have roughly 10 minutes.

Freewrite 1

In the mirror, grief waited
patiently for light to surrender,
and for the darkness to follow.
Its silvered tongue spoke of the past
when women plumbed its depths,
scrying the future from the dross.
I was once one of those women,
living in the USSR, one winter, waiting
for a glimpse of the future.
And now here we are.
The old beveled mirror, someone’s discard,
silver scratched off the back,
faithfully reflects the light, sharpens its teeth,
while I measure shadows crawling across the room
where containment is equal to life.
The banshee wailing at the door, is hunting again.
So many fallen, I do not know where to begin,
or how to comprehend such grief.
My pen is mute, filled with darkness,
my hand speaks of loss, trying on other dreams
in the mirror when I am not looking.
The clock is writing down the calendar of days.
We grow used to the genteel confinement.
It becomes our familiar. We become inured to it.
Yet the world rages on, a lethal stew of protesters,
AntiFa and AltRigh boiling in the streets
as if naming it could quell the civil unrest.
Tearing down statues of oppression
and tearing down what was once good—
there is no filter. It is all fodder for the rage that burns.
And we sit in our towers watching the wind
bending the tall grass to its will
as the ashes of the dead ride on the breeze.


Next Prompt:  Write down some things that people might actually say.
Next, write down 1-3 factual statements. Simple sentences that are true. For example: “The earth is round.”
Last thing to write down:   one question.

Cheating is allowed.  Change any elements. Write a poem which is someway relevant to your reality (and unreality.) Write a poem that has actual spoken words or dialogue in some way in it. Be aware of the typographical possibilities as well as the possibilities of how many ways there are to work dialogue into a poem: in passing, as the main way the poem moves, or something in between, or a momentary breaking of the fourth wall. Optional: include a fact, a question, or both.

Model poems:
The Act by William Carlos Willams
In the Desert by Stephen Crane
A Note on ‘Iowa City:  Early April’ by Robert Hass
[from Citizen] by Claudia Rankine
Table by Edip Canceler, translated by Richard Tillinghast from the Turkish

10 minutes… Write a poem which is someway relevant to this moment in your reality (and unreality.)  Write a poem that has actual spoken words or dialogue in some way in it. Be aware of the typographical possibilities as well as the possibilities of how many ways there are to work dialogue into a poem: in passing, as the main way the poem moves, or something in between, or a momentary breaking of the fourth wall. Optional: include a fact, a question, or both.

Freewrite 2

Where to even begin? The mind wants answers,
and some are satisfied with any answers
that will do, no matter how impossible.
People are grasping at straws as if they were liferafts
in the deep end of the COVID pool.
Lemmings flock to the beaches, as if to find the answer,
the first terrestrial “I am” ever uttered.
I want to tell the gobies and the mudskippers
there’s been a mistake, but I’ve said it all before
in another poem, long ago, when I was someone else.
As we look down the hind site
of that long barreled gun of time,
we can’t even imagine anything else but this moment,
frozen, in the perpetual now.
Each act takes us farther from ourselves,
and what we once held to be true,
makes us re-define our lives with a new timeframe,
so that we can barely remember
anything other than now.
What is happening to time?
As we speed headlong
towards our own extinction.


THE MIND WANTS ANSWERS

THE MIND WANTS ANSWERS

Where to even begin? The mind wants answers,
and some are satisfied with any answers
that will do, no matter how impossible.
People are grasping at straws as if they were life-rafts
in the deep end of the COVID pool.
Lemmings flock to the beaches, as if to find the answer,
the first terrestrial “I am” ever uttered.
I want to tell the gobies and the mudskippers
there’s been a mistake, go back,
but I’ve said it all before somewhere
in another poem, long ago, when I was someone else.
As we look down the hindsight
of that long-barreled gun of time,
we can’t fathom anything but this moment,
frozen, in the perpetual now.
Each act takes us farther from ourselves,
and what we once held to be true,
makes us re-define our lives with a new timeframe,
so that we can barely remember
anything other than what is now.
What is happening to time?
As we speed headlong
towards our own extinction.

June 26, 2020

IN THE MIRROR, GRIEF WAITED

IN THE MIRROR, GRIEF WAITED

In the mirror, grief waited
patiently for light to surrender,
and for the darkness to follow.
Its silvered tongue spoke of the past
when women plumbed its depths,
scrying the future from the dross.
I was once one of those women,
living in the USSR, one winter, waiting
for a glimpse of the future.
And now here we are.
The old beveled mirror, someone’s discard,
silver scratched off the back,
faithfully reflects the light, sharpens its teeth,
while I measure shadows crawling across the room
where solitary containment is equal to life.
The banshee wailing at the door, is hunting again.
So many fallen, I do not know where to begin,
or how to comprehend such grief.
My pen is mute, filled with darkness,
my hand speaks of loss, trying on other dreams
in the mirror when I am not looking.
The clock is writing down the calendar of days.
We grow used to the genteel confinement.
It becomes our familiar. We become inured to it.
Yet the world rages on, a lethal stew of protesters,
AntiFa and AltRigh boiling in the streets
as if naming it could quell the civil unrest.
Tearing down statues of oppression
and tearing down what was once good—
there is no filter. It is all fodder for the rage that burns.
And we sit in our towers watching the wind
bending the tall grass to its will
as the ashes of the dead ride on the breeze.

June 26, 2020

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Etruscan Smile finally released


Well, the good news is that the Etruscan smile was finally released, but sadly, to mediocre reviews. I guess it wasn’t worth the wait. Still waiting for the release date of The Etruscan Smile

Feb 2019 Still waiting for the release date of The Etruscan Smile....here’s the trailer. You can see Neil in the party scene to the right of Brian Cox, out of focus, Look for the white hair. I think that me standing sideways to the right of Neil.


Feb 2016 On the set of Etruscan Smile. Some notes.

Solstice



Instead of the usual factual, I felt a wee silly poem coming on....my Granny was always after saying the phrase, morning noon and night. This was a time for worshiping the stones. We have a big monolith of a rock that juts out of our hill in Forest Knolls and she would measure the seasonal path of the sun by that rock.

Today is the longest day of the summer solstice
when noontime shadows are at their shortest.
But it is not the earliest sunrise, that was yesterday,
nor is it the latest sunset—which is tomorrow,
the day after the solstice. Yesterday, today,
and tomorrow; morning, noon & night;
the past, present and future: a three-fold event.
The duality of the year at opposite ends of the earth.

And meanwhile on the Hill of Sin, a Dowth passage tomb, Fertae Chuile. Yes, she said, yes, yes. She was the flower of the mountain, and what of those Iberian men  Should she wear the saffron  Or perhaps the grey leine  Ah, but the stone rose up like a stallion and kissed the sky at dawn  would  she say yes to yes to the mountain flowers  the heath in a furze stretched like cats by the fire and would she put her arms around the stone and say yes yes I said yes I will Yes to the solstice?

This is what happens when Bloomsday collides with the solstice.

Monday, June 8, 2020

On self-identity, and being Irish in America

In response to an IrishCentral article, Why do Irish Americans still identify as Irish?
Why are American-born descendants of Diaspora Irish so tenacious about identifying with their homeland, even when their connections are generations distant?
Wendy C. Fries  @IrishCentral Oct 28, 2019

I wrote: I am thoroughly Irish, born in America—but raised within an Irish household, imbued with Irish culture, meaning I lived a dual life. Outside, especially at school, was America. But that ended the moment I came home. Ours was an Irish household from top to bottom. Jesus, Mary and Joseph in one corner, and John Fitzgerald and the Pope in another. I grew up in the oral tradition, raised by my grandmother from Bantry. I learned two histories—the Anglo-American version of history, and the Irish version of history. It took me decades to reconcile the two disparate threads. Us versus them. We were taught to hold tight onto our culture, not to succumb to American ways. Or Anglo ways. Because being Irish is all we had to sustain us. My grandmother faced discrimination in San Francisco, she refused to become an American citizen, even though my grandfather did. My grandparents were active members of the Gaelic League, and the Knights of the Red Branch, my grandfather collected guns for De Valera. After the uprising, Liam Mellows spent time at our house in Forest Knolls, as did De Valera. I was always terrified that my grandmother would get deported. When she went back to Ireland, after winning the Irish sweepstakes, in 1964, the Irish government met her at Shannon airport with a red carpet, because she had left before Ireland had become a free state. She also left America without a green card, without any passport, and was issued an Irish passport in Ireland— in order to get back to the United States. I remember being terrified that they wouldn’t let her back into the US, that I’d somehow be an orphan if that happened.