In New York City this spring, I woke to sunlight and a bleary eyed view of the Brooklyn Bridge. A dream was fresh in my mind, present in it's beauty -- a coffee shop, a little creek in the middle of the city, golden light. I was writing for Tupelo Press' 30/30 and this line from the dream is all that came to me that day. It's not much but the vision is with me still. Is there more to the poem? Is there more to the mystery, that other life the dream speaks of?
But the girl with golden freckles tattooed across her arms shows you where the river disappears.
Last year, I wrote a post about Yeats and losing in love. And that enduring, hopeless love of his produced "When You Are Old. It's been stuck in my head for weeks. A poem can't be a requitation for love, for that kind of love, but it's something.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled And paced upon the mountains overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Gertrude Petra Landrum (June 10, 2011 - June 10, 2011)
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox,\ and dust shall be the serpent's food.
Fashion is a field rife with newly coined words. At CVS today, I came across plumpify in an ad promising to add volume to eyelashes. I can't help but thinking it's sending the wrong message. And it makes my skin crawl on a purely sonic level.
Honore de Balzac wrote "I am a galley slave to pen and ink." I wish I could say this was true for me all the time. But I write in fits and starts. I've learned to accept this over the last years and I've also found ways occasionally to chain myself to the galley bench of my desk and do some writing. Last January, I wrote a poem a day for Tupelo Press' 30/30, a writing experiment in which a writer is subjected to the pressure of writing a poem a day for public reading. It was difficult and grand and scary and exhilarating. I pushed past my limits, living poetry for a month. And the results were amazing, work I'm most willing to hang my hat on.
I'm undertaking the challenge again this month (February, 2016). Here on the brink of it, I feel that uncertainty, the knowledge that I will be tested, that the next month will at times hold panic and despair and at times (I hope) triumph and beauty. I invite you to pace alongside me for the next 29 days -- February is short, even in this leap year, so I'm spared one day -- and see where poetry takes us.
There are three ways you can support me during this coming marathon of writing.
Read. The best way to support my journey to read along. Last year, so many people were kind enough to follow my daily progress and to get in touch with messages of encouragement and appreciation. Just knowing you're out there means a lot. And get in touch with my fellow 30/30 sprinters if you like what they're writing.
Collaborate. My friend Laurel got off to a head start on this one dropping me a postcard with a great poetry prompt on it. Many of my poems last January came from reader suggestions. Others doodled out lines from my poems in art/word drawings. One friend sent a postcard from her honeymoon in Grandada with my poem Granada written on the back.
Donate. 30/30 helps raise awareness and funds for Tupelo Press. For the last fifteen years, Tupelo Press has been publishing and supporting work from a diverse array of poets from around the world. They're innovative and creative and maintain a wonderful community of poets through projects like 30/30. My goal is $350 dollars. That's just a few donations of ten and fifteen dollars. If you choose to donate, I have some perks I'll throw in.
$1+ -- A postcard
$15 -- A handwritten poem from the month's work
$35 - A copy of my chapbook, The Lonesome Savior - translations from the Faroese
$50 -- A limited letter-press print of my poem Cicada by the artist Marie Kinscher
$100 -- A private reading at your home or any venue of your choice