Archive for March, 2010

Poetry’s in Motion this Month

March 31, 2010

Don’t hesitate                                                                                                                                                                                                              Let’s celebrate!
Just you and me
with poetry.
April is that special time
to share a poem or read a rhyme.
~cmash 4/10

Established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is celebrated each April to increase awareness and encourage appreciation of poetry.

This is a time for publishers, booksellers and educators to take advantage of this special opportunity to highlight the diversity of poetry across the country and over the generations.

Looking for ways to join the fun and participate?

Why don’t you sit down and write some poetry that you have longed to do?

You say you’re not that bold; then head over to the library and check out a book or two on poetry.

While you are at your local library, ask the librarian how they are celebrating.

Are they hosting a poetrywriting contest for teenagers?

Will they be having a lecture or poetry reading this month?

If you are up for a little travel, you may wish to visit one of the many American Poetry Landmarks: whether it’s Emily Dickinson’s home in Amherst, Massachusetts or the American Poets Corner at the Cathedral Church of St. John Divine in New York City, New York, you can explore homes, gravesites and cultural centers that offer poetic inspiration in April or anytime.

You might consider the always popular “Adopt-a-Poet” program established to support the care and maintenance of Academy of American Poets. And just who is the AAP? The Academy of American Poets was founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. To Academy administers a wide variety of programs, including National Poetry Month. offers online educational resources and free poetry lesson plans for high school teachers.

Check out the  Academy of American Poets website, http://www.poets.org/ for a list of events and activities around the country.

Turning Asphalt into Shimmering Liquid Gold

March 30, 2010

The following two poems are delivered to you by men who, if alive today, could turn brick chocolate into fondue or asphalt into shimmering liquid gold with the wave of a writing instrument. In order to have the permission to re-print these poems, I summoned the galaxy royalty.

LISTENING

What is the deep listening? Sama is a greeting from the secret ones inside the heart, a letter. The branches of your intelligence grow new leaves in the wind of this listening. The body reaches a peace. Rooster sound comes, reminding you of your love for dawn. The reed flute and the singer’s lips: the knack of how spirit breathes into us becomes as simple and ordinary as eating and drinking. The dead rise with the pleasure of listening.

If someone can’t hear a trumpet melody, sprinkle dirt on his head and declare him dead. Listen, and feel the beauty of your separation, the unsayable absence. There’s a moon inside every human being. Learn to be companions with it. Give more of your life to this listening. As brightness is to time, so you are to the one who talks to the deep ear in your chest. I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears when that one steps near and begins to speak.

Rumi (1207-1273) Whether you study the quatrains and odes of this masterful 13th century Persian or not, it will be impossible for you to deny the hypnotic appeal of the poetry of Rumi. Even if you have not spent time learning about the life and beliefs of this ageless writer, his words cast a spell of both magic and certainty.Are you listening? Rumi asks?Do you hear? He reiterates his question!

In his poem, Listening, Rumi may be trying to tell us that the power of knowledge comes alive when we pay attention. Nature, simplicity and even the deceased are among the living by simply listening.  If you do not heed the voices inside you are better off dead and buried. For we are one with God, the universe and all life form and yet we do not quiet ourselves. Quiet yourself is Rumi’s message. We recognize the power and beauty of the moon, and yet we do not accept that we are the “moon”. Such simple and complete wisdom from Rumi’s closing line  as we are called to pay the closest attention when man or nature or the spirit is at our feet.Do not read Rumi in your head, speak his words in your heart and say them aloud and you, too, will hear with a thousand ears.

I Know The Way You Can Get

I know the way you can get…When you have not had a drink of Love:Your face hardens,Your sweet muscles cramp.Children become concerned About a strange look that appears in your eyes Which even begins to worry your own mirror And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness And call an important conference in a tall tree.They decide which secret code to chant To help your mind and soul.Even angels fear that brand of madness That arrays itself against the world And throws sharp stones and spears into The innocent And into one’s self.

O I know the way you can get If you have not been drinking Love:You might rip apart Every sentence your friends and teachers say, Looking for hidden clauses.You might weigh every word on a scale Like a dead fish.You might pull out a ruler to measure From every angle in your darkness The beautiful dimensions of a heart you onceTrusted.

I know the way you can get If you have not had a drink from Love’s Hands. That is why all the Great Ones speak of The vital need To keep remembering God, So you will come to know and see Him As being so  Playful Wanting, Just Wanting to help.That is why Hafiz says:Bring your cup near me.For all I care about Is quenching your thirst for freedom!All a Sane man can ever care about Is giving Love!

Unlike Rumi, very little is written on this 14th century poet, Hafiz.  Myths, rumors and tales swirl around the Persian like the “name” he earned, hafiz, which is a title given to someone who is said to have memorized the Koran. Hafiz is known to have done so in fourteen different ways.I know the Way You can Get makes it to the top of my all-time favorite poems. I  am convinced that Hafiz wrote this for me or to me. Or perhaps, I wrote this poem at the beginning of time and Hafiz had stolen the words from my hearts hundreds of years ago.How true it is that the universe, your universe and mine is out of sync without that drink of love.

Inside your very being there is disruption without love. Visible to all creatures: small and mighty and to God and his messengers affected by your need to drink from the cup of love. And Lord knows, as well as this author, that at the very core of evil exists the absence of love.Hafiz equates the presence of love to freedom. For without love we are bound by chains, burdens and torment. I Know the Way You Can Get when you are giving away all of your love: alive, free and truly who you are meant to be.

A Poetic Fog

March 29, 2010

In the late 1800’s a man who would put poetry on the map in this special midwest  town was born. Carl Sandburg spent much of his life in and around Chicago. While he was an eighth grade drop out, he would make a name for himself as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News.  Much of his poetry explored the Chicago that Sandburg knew.  And if you’ve been to Chi-town when the air is thick and cool you will know it by its:

FOG

The fog comes on little cat feet.
It sits looking over harbor and city
on silent haunches and then moves on.

It’s the windy city. It’s “My kinda town, Chicago.”  A city famous for many things: Al Capone, Second City, skyscrapers, a playboy mansion, Marshall Field’s and poetry.  Indeed, poetry is alive and thriving in Chicago. Poetry is found in an array of venues from The Newberry Library, Harold Washington Library, Columbia College or the Art Institute.

Waiting for the Bus located by the Damien Avenue Blue Line Bus Stop is a poetry collective offering workshops and opportunities to hone your craft.

Come sit awhile at The Cafe in upscale Lincoln Park where a weekly poetry connection is served up with your cup of coffee and share in the fun with a poetry wheel.

Not afraid to take to the stage? The Tall Grass Writers Guild hosts its monthly meetings at the Bourgeois Pig Cafe where the Open Mike format may be just what you are looking for.

Seeking something out of the ordinary? The Next Objectivists meet  at the Mess Hall in Rogers Park for an evening of exploration of “outside the self” poetry.

So many options are available in Chicago to feed the poetic wandering soul in each of us if you can just get your head out of the fog.

A Poet Never Travels Alone

March 28, 2010

Perhaps recalling your childhood,  you have fond memories of sitting on your mother’s lap as she read from the classic  Mother Goose, a soothing or silly sing-song rhyming story of an old lady with a shoe full of children.
Or maybe you remember that elementary school teacher who required poetry memorization and to this day you can still recite “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer.

If you are like me, you were smitten with the poetry bug in those difficult teen years when writing a sonnet or a ballad became a way out of sadness, rejection or an unrequited crush.

Whatever brought poetry into your life, this art form that predates the written word began to keep tradition alive in the hearts of young and old and does so today, more than ever.

Poetry may be defined as an evocation of images through words.  And while it is possible to put poetry into categorical style, form and tests to determine what type a poem may be; it just may be that poetry gives rise to emotional responses quite unlike anything else can.

Therefore, the best poetry is poetry undefined.

Today you have stumbled upon a place of poetry. While I will not confine poetry to a dictionary definition, exploring the power of a poem can be an amazing adventure.

A poet never travels alone.

Words may turn into techniques,

rhyme without reason,

something great or something small

or really nothing at all.

Nouwen Loosely Interpreted

March 14, 2010

Life is a gift to be shared.

Being is more important than having.

You are worth more than the results of your efforts.

Pain is the experience of not receiving what you most need.

March 13, 2010

Jesus, you lived to show us the way.

Jesus, you died to give us a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind and a new body.

May we open our clenched fists and closed hearts to you, Lord,  and receive your prayer.

Amen.

Words Matter Week 2010 #5

March 5, 2010

What person in your life helped you understand the importance of choosing words carefully? What would you say to them if you met them today?

There was an adversary in my life who was a masterful wordsmith. I learned that with nothing but time on your hands you can turn words into swords. You can control,  manipulate and destroy anyone and anything. In truth I would say nothing to that person today. I would walk on by. I realize that I will take passion over word choice. It may not be the smartest decision. However, it’s my passion that brings my words to life.

Words Matter Week 2010 Posting #4

March 4, 2010

If you had to eliminate one word or phrase from the English language, what would it be? Why?

Hate, prejudice, violence, hostility, disrespect, war, hunger, homelessness, murder, infidelity; There, I’ve said it… There isn’t a word I would eliminate.  For eliminating any of those words will not eliminate what we see everyday. I would eliminate all of the ACTS mentioned above.
Oh,  and two more things I would criminalize the bastardization of the English language and the improper use of grammar and cursing.
But wishing those “words” to go away, doesn’t make it so.

Words Matter Week 2010 Posting #3

March 3, 2010

Writers are people who take isolated words & craft them into memorable phrases, stories, poems & plays. Who are the writers who make your heart sing? What is the magic ingredient?

Because I have been able to read and write (over the years) in two languages, I believe that the ability to translate dramatically increases ones love of words, their purest meanings and the truest form of communication from an author to the reader.

Having said that, however, I would say unequivocally, that Solomon, the son of David, the King of Israel is one of the most articulate writers of all time. The “magic” of his words are in his honesty.


Words Matter Week 2010 Posting #2

March 2, 2010

Communication breaks down when words are misused. What is the funniest, most interesting, or worst break-down you’ve ever observed?

I was young. Yes, I was young once. It was a time of naivete and it was my first office job. Always striving to rise among the ranks quickly and be recognized for promotions and great work… So when an opportunity would arise where I might shine, I eagerly volunteered. It was at once such occasion when I offered to take on a project. All I needed for this filing assignment was to find and insert the “drawer stretcher.” As I searched the building bottom to top for this handy device, I would return to my “cubbie” (yes I thought the cubbie was a short form of cubicle) to find the entire office laughing at me, the joke at my expense was that you could not stretch a drawer.