Friday, December 19, 2008

Show and Tell

"all things flow one into the other/like lines of poems that take me/to the far reaches/of myself/where I meet you." Richard Jones from "Comment on this: in the real scheme of things, poetry is marginal."

Deadline: December 20th

In his book The Blessing: New and Selected Poems, Richard Jones does something beautifully "expected" yet amazingly original...he answers 48 interview questions with 48 poems. Brilliant. Try one on for size and then give his book a glance (or just go ahead and devour it...its yummy!)

What is the most foolish question you have been asked?
How would you like to be remembered?
What have you bought lately?
What is your favorite body part?
What are you not telling us?

If you'd like to share...cut and paste your piece into a "comment".

If you live on the Peninsula...keep in mind that Tidepools (Peninsula College's literary magazine) is running it's annual contest. Entries are due mid-January. More information can be found at their website and entry forms can be obtained there or at Odyssey Books and Port Book and News.

Here are mine...

Poems inspired by Richard Jones’ “48 Questions” poems in his book The Blessing: New and Selected Poems

What are you not telling us?

I’m not telling you how I feel when he touches me.
Language is too basic, raw, and slippery.
And it’s no one’s business.
I’m not telling you what I day dream about at work,
or where I go when I don’t want to be found,
rocky beaches and pine trees in summer.
I’m not telling you about the hidden place
behind my childhood home
where I played house with the boy next door.
My first kiss, uninvited.
And I’m not telling you about that night in a hotel room,
teenagers drinking, fumbling over each other
like puppies in heat, mangled attempts to be accepted,
to grow up too fast, ending in tears and ruined reputations.
And---because I have no words for it—
what it felt like to see my father in a hospital bed
throwing up apple juice,
or my mother without hair.

What has writing in common with dance?

My pencil scoots across the page in fits and starts,
tapping and sliding to its own stilted beat;
it stops to reflect, to regain balance,
jumps out of my hand and makes marks outside the line.

The lead smudges easily, the eraser is worn.

As the point dulls, the energy quickens.
It is less precise, eager. Softness subdues fear of
perception, and the angles of the script become
round and heavy, childish and messy.

When I have to pause for sharpening,
I breathe in and out several times,
stretch, and listen to the quiet creaks and pops
as my back falls into place.

Why do you read?

For comfort, for travel, for love, for death.
For inspiration, for mystery, for constancy and breadth.
For intrigue, for beauty, for truth and regard.
For angle, a viewpoint, a walk in the stars.
For childish laughter, for times all alone.
For knowledge, for strength, for mood, and for tone.
For springtime in winter, for snowfall in heat.
For being somewhere that I cannot now be.
For anger, release, vindication, and scorn.
For pity, cliche, and the tender heart torn.
For simple old lines, and to coax forth new eyes.
For trivial facts, and sumptuous lies.
For unexpected ideas, for mother’s advice,
For faultless penmanship, for salt and for spice.
For journaling fodder, for escape, and for home.
For peace, and for sanity, for reasons unknown.

Has teaching affected your love of poetry?

Poetry is like a dog.

For some, it represents fear,
the unknown,
something that cannot be trusted,
that might hurt, or maim.

For others, life finds its rhythm
because of its presence.
With loyal eyes, it sits at the bedside,
constant and peaceful.

It plays.

Sometimes it follows commands.
Sometimes it frolics with abandon
and will not listen to reason.

When it snows,
its joy is so impressive,
even the sternest spectator
must smile.

Monday, I took my dog to school.
Ice and snow had consumed her kennel,
and I didn’t want her to freeze.
I locked her in my classroom
so she wouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the commotion.
She sat at the window and gazed at me adoringly
as I stood guard in the hall.

I heard a girl exclaim,
“There’s a dog in that room!
I hate dogs.”

I have never met a child who hated dogs.

What effect has your new son had on your writing?

Procrastination has never been so sweet
as when he smiles up and says “no”
even though he doesn’t know what that means.

There are so many more poems to write
and so much less time
because he is here.

I cannot just write when I feel the inspiration come.
It used to be that romantic--
my excuse.

Now, time is too precious.
I write between sneezes and lullabyes.
Briefly, when the house has stopped its noise.

There is a sleeping cat at my side,
a restless dog,
and a dreaming toddler in the other room.

I have written five poems
because I have to.
He is the sweetest
most profound

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